Jeff heard me whimpering. It was 3:30 a.m. My body was in bed beside him, but my mind was a universe away.
He nudged me awake.
In my dream, I’d been yelling for help, help, help. Two bad guys in green uniforms had my arms pinned and a third was coming directly at me.
Even though now awake, the dream left me fidgety. My mind swung from one anxious thought to another.
…Did I put the ham back in the refrigerator?…How many days until we go to Julie’s?…Should I look at the clock again?…Did I tell Jeff about the funny bumper sticker I saw yesterday?…How many pages are left in my library book due Wednesday?…Am I prepared if the new grandbaby comes early?…Will I ever get back to sleep?…
My monkey mind was still yelling, “Help, help, help!”
Mind Your Thoughts
It’s been said we have around 50,000 separate thoughts each day. How are we supposed to wrangle these thoughts into meaning, into purpose, into peace?
A popular answer these days (but not a new answer) is meditation. Mindfulness is all the rage. It’s especially needful in this age of distraction.
But meditate on what? Just anything? A single word? Nothingness?
Maybe. Sometimes each of those is needed. Each has a purpose it can serve.
But for me, the most calming cure for monkey mind is having a solid go-to passage to think about. To pray. To recite. To believe.
- I want it to be true.
- I want it to be good.
- I want it to be God.
That’s one reason I keep returning to scripture memory as a primary spiritual discipline. I memorize verses that are engaging enough to focus me, but not so hard to frustrate me.
In the middle of the night, familiar favorites pop up the quickest.
But in the day, when my mind needs stronger weapons, I call on newer passages I’m learning.
Psalm 1 Memory Challenge
I’m starting again on Psalm 1.
I learned it years ago, but I want to relearn it again for who I am now, for where God has brought me now.
No, the words haven’t change since I first learned it. The truths haven’t changed.
But I have changed.
As we grow older and are exposed to life, our faith grows and matures, too. How I understood “for the Lord knows the way of the righteous” (Psalm 1:6) as a child is different from how I understand it today. Today it has more depth, more nuance, more life experiences underneath it.
Psalm 1:2 reminds me that meditating on God’s truth can be delightful. His love makes me stand firm like a a tree by water’s edge. It blesses me and helps me bear fruit.
Scripture memory isn’t magic. But it is powerful. The more I focus my mind on God’s beauty and his goodness, the more I know he loves me. And the more I love him in return, and am more capable of loving others.
It’s a lot to ask from my mind, to stop swinging from limb to limb, to rest quietly for a few minutes on one thought. That’s why we call it a discipline. But the rewards are worth it.
You might even say delightful.
“But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
* * *
What helps you calm your monkey mind? Please share in the comments.
Get LOTS of resources on scripture memory at Do Not Depart:
- Put Your Shoes On – Be Ready to Bring Peace
- Can You Change My Mind? Can I Change Yours?