This past week Sarah, a senior drama student, was leading her classmates in a yoga exercise. She reminded them of what her yoga instructor had said: "It's very difficult to empty our minds ... but we must try."
"No problem for me," I thought. "I've been losing mine for quite some time." It's been a painless process, but it's definitely escalating. You think I'm kidding? I have proof. Why else would I repeatedly search for my errant eyeglasses and not check on my head to see if they are -- as usual -- docked there? Is there any other excuse for standing at my front door, frustratedly trying to make it open, only to realize that I am, instead, pushing the button that unlocks my car doors? Why would I answer the remote control instead of the phone or stand, staring in the refrigerator, wondering why I've gotten out of bed and walked into the kitchen? Yes, indeedy, almost daily my brain cells are oozing away. I am misplacing more, creating more "to do" piles that do not get ta-done, and returning fewer phone calls on time. It's a normal part of aging, I am told, but I have to wonder, why isn't the real brain junk, the part which I know needs to exit, as easily removed?
This is how I see it -- the things I need to remember -- those that organize, those that accomplish things, those that think good thoughts (especially those) -- are escaping in record numbers, while the junky goop -- the ugly, sarcastic, prideful stuff -- is staying behind, clogging up what space I have left. It's becoming apparent that my filtering system is flawed. My brain needs a fresh start, a sort of cerebral roto-rootering, so that I can begin again and have some control over what stays and what leaves.
Paul's letter to the Philippians tells me what my goal should be.
Think about the things that are good and worthy of praise; think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected." (Philippians 4:8, NCV).
Obviously none of us are capable of emptying our minds and certainly we cannot totally prevent predictable brain cell loss, but we can begin today by making our positive thoughts --those that fit into Paul's list -- so dominant, so "big," if you will, that they squeeze out the negative garbage.
Sounds so easy, doesn't it? Too bad it isn't, for our mind is fertile ground for an on-going battle. Good and Evil. fighting it out. One stays, and one needs to leave. And that's where the yoga instructor and I disagree. To his advice I would add that we must try to empty our minds, not of all thoughts, but of the un-Christ-like ones. The Christlike ones need to stay and proliferate.
Who wins that war is up to us, for even though we are Christians, we still have to choose to allow the mind of Christ to control our thinking. It's an hour-by-hour skirmish. For some of us, minute-by-minute, but think of the benefits. Our prayer life would improve. We would soak up what God has to say instead of pounding Him with our selfish requests. We wouldn't worry. We would see the good in everyone, no matter how rude or insensitive they were. And we'd be content. Probably even joyful.
I'll take that any day.
And maybe, just maybe, if I get rid of all of my brain's toxic waste, I'd even have room to remember where I put my glasses.