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Themes from story of Mary and Martha: being busy, always on the go vs making space for mindfulness and being present

Do you ever feel like there’s just too much to do and that you can’t get it all done?  Do you feel like you don’t have enough time for the things that really count? — Mary Stephens

Help me find a way to be a perfect blend
of Mary’s heart and Martha’s hands

— from song: Mary’s heart and Martha’s hands
by Carlene Thissen & Martha Christian


SONGS about BEING:


MARTHA and MARY Annie Johnson Flint

Martha was busy and hurried,
Serving the friend divine,
Cleansing the cups and platters,
Bringing the bread and wine;
But Martha was careful and anxious
Fretted in thought and in word.

She had no time to be sitting
While she was serving the Lord,
For Martha was “cumbered with serving,
Martha was “troubled” with “things”—
Those that would pass with the using—
She was forgetting her wings.

Mary was quiet and peaceful,
Learning to love and to live.
Mary was hearing His precepts,
Mary was letting Him give—
Give of the riches eternal,
Treasures of mind and of heart;
Learning the mind of the Master,
Choosing the better part.

Do we ever labor at serving
Till voices grow fretful and shrill,
Forgetting how to be loving,
Forgetting how to be still?
Do we strive for “things” in possession,
And toil for the perishing meat,
Neglecting the one thing needful—
Sitting at Jesus’ feet?

Service is good when he asks it,
Labor is right in it’s place,
But there is one thing better,
Looking up in his face;
There is so much he can tell us,
Truths that are precious and deep;
This is the place where he wants us,
These are the things we can keep.


A BLESSING for PRESENCE John O’Donohue
May you awaken to the mystery of being here
And enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.
May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
May you respond to the call of your gift
And find the courage to follow its path.
May the flame of anger free you from falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame and anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.
May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.
May you be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift, Woven around the heart of wonder.


THE BUSYNESS EXCUSE — Beverly Joy

Mary had finished her daily chores
When Jesus came knocking on their door
Come in, come in, Martha welcomed them
They often stayed there to eat and rest.

Martha decided to cook up a feast
For Jesus and friends at the day’s end
Mary sat and listened, at Jesus’ feet
A rare opportunity, the dishes could wait.

Martha was seething in the kitchen
Angry at Mary for not helping
Nobody noticed how hard she was working
Cooking the feast, so perfect and quick.

She’d forgotten that her work was for God’s honour
Not to receive the honour for herself
That she was the servant to serve her Lord
She lost her true purpose in her work.

Jesus would have been happy with takeaway
Allowing time for Martha to spend time with Him
He would be gone the next day, travelling far away
But, she chose the busyness of chores over time with her Lord.

She accused Jesus of not noticing
But Jesus has seen the dark kitchen scene
“Martha, you’re always so busy
You choose busyness over me.”

Is our agenda more important than God’s
What matters to our Lord is our attitude to work
Yes, it’s important to do our chores
But it’s more important to love our Lord.

We rush about doing this and that
While Jesus sits under the tree and waits
For us to stop and sit with Him
To listen and learn, to chat and relax.


MARY, sister of Martha, at your feet for the first time — Andrea Skevington

You came in search of rest
away from the road,
that bright, shadeless road,
where so many came,
and you gave so much.

You came and sat down
in the cool room,
the shutters pulled
against the heat,
and Mary sat, too,
and it was enough.
Just sat, quietly, at your feet,
her face turned up to
yours as she listened.
And you saw how the light
fell across her,
as if for the first time.

And this is what you want,
what you long for.
Not the elaborate
preparations we would make,
not ourselves swept and
scrubbed to perfection,
our acts and our
thoughts impeccable
in lifeless rows,
but to be,  here in this light,
to be, here at your feet,


MARY, sister of Lazarus, at your feet a second time — Andrea Skevington

She sits in the shuttered room,
the room where her brother had laid,
dying, dead, the messengers sent out
returning empty, with no reply,
like prayers that bounce  off ceilings
or stick to the roof of the mouth,
choking with sorrow.
When you stay by the Jordan
that shuttered room is where Mary stays.

This is her shadowed valley, the dark forest of her path,
foreshadowing yours, it is all foreshadowing you.
The room where her brother had laid,

how can she ever leave it now?

But leave she did, at last, when you called for her,
she came quickly, running, trailing darkness behind
her weeping.  Mary, once more at your feet,
and when you saw her weeping, you wept too.

You know us in our grief.  You come to us, call to us.
In our darkest, most shuttered places,
your spirit moves, breaks with ours.
Death lay heavy upon you, too, and all the sooner for
this, what you do now, standing before that tomb.

For now, you who are Life,
Word made warm and beating flesh,
and weeping,
call Lazarus out,
You, who are life, and will rise,
call out one who is dead from the cold tomb.
You watch as they run to free him from the graveclothes,
pull darkness from him, calling in strange bewildered delight,
and you see Mary’s face as she sees now,
her brother, who was dead, once more in light,
astonished, seeing your glory, part of your glory,
as she weeps again, is weeping again
breathless with joy.


MARY, of Bethany, at your feet a third time — Andrea Skevington

And so you come once more to Bethany,
and share a meal with Lazarus,
a resurrection feast,
foreshadowing, foreshining
all those kingdom feasts you told of:
wedding banquets with long tables
set wide with good things,
with room enough for all,
welcome at your table.

Now, in Bethany, the house is ablaze with light,
shutters and doors thrown open,
all wide open with joy unspeakable,
music, laughter, dancing, wild thanksgiving
for one who was dead is alive again,

And all night, while crowds pour in from Jerusalem,
the feast goes on, and on,
as Mary enters now, cheeks glistening with joy,
past her brother at your side, back from the grave.

She kneels at your feet again,
pours out extravagant nard,
scandalous anointing of your warm, living feet,
unbinds her hair and lets it flow like water
over them, wiping them in such reckless
and tender thanksgiving.
Fragrance fills the room, the house, the night,
as more people pour from Jerusalem to you,
to you, who comes to us in our weeping,
who shares our bread with us,
and brings us to such joy as this.


To LEARN From ANIMAL BEING — John O’Donohue

Nearer to the earth’s heart, Deeper within its silence: Animals know this world In a way we never will.

We who are ever Distanced and distracted By the parade of bright Windows thought opens: Their seamless presence Is not fractured thus.

Stranded between time Gone and time emerging, We manage seldom To be where we are: Whereas they are always Looking out from The here and now.

May we learn to return And rest in the beauty Of animal being, Learn to lean low, Leave our locked minds, And with freed senses Feel the earth Breathing with us.

May we enter Into lightness of spirit, And slip frequently into The feel of the wild.

Let the clear silence Of our animal being Cleanse our hearts Of corrosive words.

May we learn to walk Upon the earth With all their confidence And clear-eyed stillness So that our minds

Might be baptized In the name of the wind And the light and the rain.


The SONS of MARTHA — Rudyard Kipling

The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

They say to mountains, ” Be ye removèd” They say to the lesser floods ” Be dry.”
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd – they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill tops shake to the summit – then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.

They finger death at their gloves’ end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.

To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden – under the earthline their altars are
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city’s drouth.

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not teach that His Pity allows them to leave their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s days may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with blood some Son of Martha spilled for that !
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd – they know the angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the Feet – they hear the Word – they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and – the Lord He lays it on Martha’s Sons !


ON MARY and MARTHA: A Sermon— Nadia Bolz-Weber (article: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/nadiabolzweber/2013/08/sermon-on-mary-and-martha/)

Just to get it out there, this story about Mary and Martha has always irritated me, because I think Martha is awesome, and she’s always made out to be a busy-body and a whiner.

 

See, Jesus is welcomed into the home of Mary and Martha and the thing to understand is that Jesus didn’t exactly travel alone.  Dude had an entourage – so to welcome Jesus is to welcome who Jesus brings in with him.  And to extend hospitality to that many people, takes a lot of work, so Martha becomes understandably overwhelmed by her tasks and tries to get Jesus to talk her sister Mary into helping her, since Mary up until this point has only been sitting at Jesus’ feet listening. Jesus tells Martha that Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.

Now, you guys know I’m not one to lay on the guilt trip – I never really mastered that technique employed by clergy since time in memorial – so when I tell you that at our last leadership meeting we found ourselves once again trying to figure out how to get the monthly jobs covered I am not saying that to shame anyone except myself – because, in the end, I honestly got a little bit snarky and slightly self-righteous (even for me) and said the following of which I am not proud: I said, “It’s like I really want to say to folks that every week they show up here at 5 after 5 SOMEONE has set the chair up that they get to sit in, and SOMEONE has baked the bread for the Eucharist they receive, and SOMEONE has greeted them at the door and handed them a bulletin and when they leave right after the dismissal, SOMEONE will sweep up and wipe down the counter and that maybe it’s their turn to be that SOMEONE for others”

Now all of this is well and good, and yes of course we need people who are willing to serve, who are willing to do the sometimes thankless tasks of making hospitality and community work since to welcome Jesus is still to welcome all who Jesus brings in with him…

And yes, I spent several days this week distracted by how much work it is to keep this community running and how Martha gets a bad rap, and that all felt really satisfying until Saturday when I went to my 12 step meeting…the one I’ve gone to for 15 years and I arrived 5 minutes late like I so often do. I took my seat on a folding chair and sipped at the light brown coffee in my hand before realizing: oh dang it.  SOMEONE had set up all these chairs and SOMEONE had made the bad coffee and when I leave right after the Lord’s prayer, SOMEONE will clean it all up and in a decade and a half that SOMEONE has never been me. Wa-wa.

So try as I might this week, I could not find a comfortable place to land in this story when I was trying to make it into a moralism about the relative merit of doing or not doing tasks. …of action versus contemplation. Because it felt bad to be snarky about people not doing the work and it felt bad to realize in another situation of my life I was the one not doing the work.

Honestly there is merit to action and there is merit to contemplation and I really don’t think that was Jesus’ point.

When Jesus said to her Martha, you are distracted by many things Mary has chosen the better part it will not be taken away I wonder if he meant not that we are distracted by work itself, but that we are distracted from the better part when we judge the actions or inactions of others through the lens of our own personality.

Here’s a small example – when I am sitting in the turn lane waiting for a green arrow…I take it upon myself to consider the people behind me and to leave as short a distance as safely possible between me and the car in front so as many of my fellows as possible can also get through the turn signal. Inevitably, when someone leisurely leaves 4 car lengths between them and the car turning  in front of them allowing only 2 cars to get through a green arrow instead of 6, I assume that they are not a team player, only out for themselves and either just selfish or lazy. Wow. That’s a lot of judgment on the personhood of someone based solely on how quickly they turn on green.

But that thing we do where we judge the actions of others based on how we ourselves move through the world – that is a distraction from the MAIN THING.

If the reason you help set up chairs is because you value this community and are grateful that others have set up chairs for you, that does not mean that those who don’t set up chairs do so because they don’t value community or because they are ungrateful to others.  And the more we live our lives in these kinds of judgments about the actions of others, the more distracted we are from the better part – from the MAIN THING which will not be taken from us.

When we think the main thing is who does what and why, when you think the main thing is whatever you get out of this, or the main thing is that your friends are here, it all is just busyness and distraction and all of it will eventually be taken away. The main thing – the thing that will not be taken away and that we (myself included) so easily forget is our sacred story.   It’s a simple story, really. Even as it is unfathomable in it’s beauty…So here it is again…since I too often forget – there is a God who created us and all that is, this same God spoke through prophets and poets, claimed a people to be God’s own and freed them from the shackles of slavery. This same God led those people through the wilderness to a land of milk and honey, and told them to always welcome the stranger and protect the foreigner so that they could remember where they came from and what God had done for them. Then in the fullness of time, and to draw ALL people to himself, God came and broke our hearts like only a baby could do and made God’s home in the womb of a fierce young woman as though God was saying, from now on this is how I want to be known. And as Jesus God kissed lepers and befriended prostitutes and baffled authority. Jesus ate with all the wrong people and on the night before he died held up bread and told us to do the same thing and he promised us so much: that he would be with us, that forgiveness is real, that we are God’s, that people matter and that grilled fish makes an awesome breakfast.  And from the tree on which Jesus hung he pronounced judgment on us all. “Forgive them Father, they know not what they are doing”.

We never do, really, we never seem to know what we are doing and sometimes we think the Bible is going to solve that for us…that a story like Jesus’ visit with Martha and Mary is going to give us a clear moral lesson so we can know what we are doing. And then we think we’ve got it down and then we begin to judge the actions of others and the moment we do this we’ve once again lost the plot.

So maybe choosing the better part isn’t about choosing between action and contemplation, maybe it isn’t about working or sitting at Jesus feet, since the Christian life has always been a combination of the two. Maybe choosing the better part is not judging the actions of other through the lens of your own personality. Because when we do so it is just a distraction from the Main thing – and this story around which we gather…this MAIN THING, can never be taken away because it is always forming who you are and like water on rock, it slowly and sometimes imperceptibly shapes us into the glory of God.

That’s why we come here.  It’s not to see our friends or to take advantage of free popsicles, it’s to remember our story. And the story of God and God’s people will stand. And unlike so much else in life, It will not be taken away.


BEING vs DOING: The Difference Between “Being” and “Doing” — This article was adapted from Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression, by Zindel V. Segal, Ph.D., C.Psych., source: https://www.mindful.org/difference-between-being-and-doing/

How our goal-setting mind causes us to fixate on one track, and how we can become more responsive to the richness and complexity that each moment presents.

The activities of the mind are related to patterns of brain activity. Different mental activities, such as reading a book, painting a picture, or talking to a loved one, each involve different patterns of interaction between networks of nerve cells in the brain. The networks involved in one activity are often different from those involved in another activity. Networks can also be linked together in different patterns. If we looked into the brain, we would see shifting patterns in the activity of networks and in their connections with each other as the mind moves from one task to another (being vs doing). For a while, one pattern predominates, then a shift occurs, so brain networks that previously interacted in one pattern now do so in a different configuration. Over time, we would see the different activities of the mind reflected in continually shifting and evolving patterns of interaction between brain networks.

If we looked long enough, we would see that a limited number of core patterns of brain activity and interaction seem to crop up as recurring features in a wide variety of different mental activities. These core patterns reflect some basic “modes of mind.”

We can think of these modes of mind as loosely analogous to the gears of a car. Just as each gear has a particular use (starting, accelerating, cruising, etc.), so each mode of mind has its own particular characteristics and functions. Over the course of a day, as the mind switches from one kind of activity to another, the underlying mode of mind changes—a little like the way that a car, driven through a busy city, there will be a continuous series of changes from one gear to another. And in much the same way a car can only be in one gear at a time, when the mind is in certain modes, it will not be in other modes at the same time.

Our continued dwelling on how we are not as we would like to be just makes us feel worse, taking us even further from our desired goal. This, in turn only serves to confirm our view that we are not the kind of person we feel we need to be in order to be happy.

The fact that a limited number of fundamental modes of mind underpin a wide variety of mental activities has important implications. It opens a way for us to use aspects of everyday experience to learn new ways to relate to the kind of mind states that lead to rumination. We can think of mindfulness training as a way to learn how to become more aware of your mode of mind (“mental gear”) at any moment, and the skills to disengage from unhelpful modes of mind and to engage more helpful modes. We might describe this as learning to shift mental gears. In practice, this task often comes down to recognizing two main modes in which the mind operates, and learning the skills to move from one to the other. These two modes are known as “doing” and “being.”

Being vs Doing: The “Doing” Mode

The ruminative state of mind is actually a variant of a much more general mode of mind that has been called the “doing” mode. The job of this mode of mind is to get things done—to achieve particular goals that the mind has set. These goals could relate to the external world—to make a meal, build a house, or travel to the moon—or to the internal world of self—to feel happy, not make mistakes, never be depressed again, or be a good person. The basic strategy to achieve such goals involves something we call the “discrepancy monitor”: a process that continually monitors and evaluates our current situation against a model or standard—an idea of what is desired, required, expected, or feared. Once this discrepancy monitor is switched on, it will find mismatches between how things are and how we think they should be. That is its job. Registering these mismatches motivates further attempts to reduce these discrepancies. But, crucially, dwelling on how things are not as we want them to be can, naturally enough, create further negative mood. In this way, our attempts to solve a “problem” by endlessly thinking about it can keep us locked into the state of mind from which we are doing our best to escape.

How the Discrepancy Monitor Works:

  1. First we create an idea of how we want things to be, or how we think they should be
  2. Next, we compare that with our idea of how things are right now.
  3. If there is a difference between how things are and how we want them to be, then we generate thoughts and actions to try to close the gap.
  4. We monitor progress to see whether the gap is increasing or decreasing, and adjust our actions accordingly.
  5. We know we have reached our goal when our idea of how things are coincides with our idea of how we want them to be.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this doing mode. In fact, quite the reverse: This approach has worked brilliantly as a general strategy for solving problems and achieving goals in the impersonal, external world—whether those goals be as humble as buying all the items on our weekly shopping list or as lofty as building a pyramid. It is natural, then, that we should turn to this same doing mode when things are not as we would like them to be in our personal, internal worlds—our feelings and thoughts, or the kind of person we see ourselves to be. And this is where things can go terribly wrong.

But before we go on to describe how, it is important to forestall any possible misunderstanding. We are in no way suggesting that the doing mode necessarily causes problems—it does not. It is only when, doing mode “volunteers for a job it can’t do” that problems arise. In many, many, areas of our lives, doing mode volunteers for a job it can do, and our lives are the better for it. To make the distinction clearer, we call problematic applications of this mode driven–doing, as opposed to the more general doing.

In being mode, the mind has “nothing to do, nowhere to go” and can focus fully on moment-by-moment experience, allowing us to be fully present and aware of whatever is here, right now.

If action can be taken straightaway to reduce a discrepancy, and the action is successful, there is no problem. But what if we cannot find any effective actions, and our attempts to think up possible solutions get nowhere? With an external problem we might simply give up and get on with some other aspect of our lives. But once the self becomes involved, it is much more difficult simply to let go of the goals we have set.

For example, if we are upset because a long-standing relationship has just ended, there will be many potential discrepancies between our current reality and how we wish things to be. We may wish for restoration of the relationship, or for the start of another relationship. Most likely, we also wish we were not so upset. There may be solutions we could find. But what if we begin to feel that we are bound to end up alone, concluding that there is, in us, some basic failure, a person that caused the relationship to fail? This conclusion suggests no ready solution, and the discrepancy remains. And yet we cannot let go because we have such a central need not to be this kind of person—what could be more important to us than our own sense of identity?

The result of all this is that the mind continues to process information in doing mode, going round and round, dwelling on the discrepancy and rehearsing possible ways to reduce it. And our continued dwelling on how we are not as we would like to be just makes us feel worse, taking us even further from our desired goal. This, in turn only serves to confirm our view that we are not the kind of person we feel we need to be in order to be happy.

The mind will continue to focus in this way until the discrepancy is reduced or some more immediately urgent task takes the focus of the mind elsewhere, only to return to the unresolved discrepancy once one has dealt with the other task. When the doing mode is working on internal, self-related goals like this, we can more accurately call it the “driven–doing” mode.

If we look closely, we will see the driven–doing mode in action in very many areas of our lives. Whenever there is a sense of “have to,” “must,” “should,” “ought,” or “need to,” we can suspect the presence of doing mode.

In doing mode, by contrast, this wonderful multidimensional complexity of experience is boiled down to a narrow, one-dimensional focus: What does this have to say about my progress in reaching my goals?

How else might we recognize the driven–doing mode subjectively? Its most common feature is a recurring sense of unsatisfactoriness, reflecting the fact that the mind is focused on processing mismatches between how we need things to be and how they actually are. Driven–doing mode also involves a sense of continuously monitoring and checking up on progress toward reducing the gap between these two states (“How well am I doing?”). Why? Because where no immediate action can be taken to reduce discrepancies, the only thing the mind can do is continue to work on its ideas about how things are and how they should be, in the hope of finding a way to reduce the gap between them. This it will do over and over again.

In this situation, because the “currency” with which the mind is working consists of thoughts about current situations, desired situations, explanations for the discrepancies between them, and possible ways to reduce those discrepancies, these thoughts and concepts will be experienced mentally as “real” rather than simply as events in the mind. Equally, the mind will not be fully tuned in to the full actuality of present experience. It will be so preoccupied with analyzing the past or anticipating the future that the present is given a low priority. In this case, we are only aware of the present in a very narrow sense: The only interest in it is to monitor success or failure at meeting goals. The broader sense of the present, in what might be called its “full multidimensional splendor,” is missed.

Driven–doing underlies many of our reactions to everyday emotional experiences—we habitually turn to this mode to free ourselves from many kinds of unwanted emotion. It follows that we can use such everyday emotional experiences, and other reflections of the general driven–doing mode of mind, as training opportunities to learn skills that enable us to recognize and disengage from this mode.

Let us consider an alternative mode of mind, “being.”

Being vs Doing: The “Being” Mode

The full richness of the mode of “being” is not easily conveyed in words—its flavor is best appreciated directly, experientially. In many ways, it is the opposite of the driven–doing mode. The driven-doing mode is goal-oriented, motivated to reduce the gap between how things are and how we think we need them to be; our attention is narrowly focused on these discrepancies between actual and desired states. By contrast, the being mode is not devoted to achieving particular goals. In this mode, there is no need to emphasize discrepancy-based processing or constantly to monitor and evaluate (“How am I doing in meeting my goals?”). Instead, the focus of the being mode is “accepting” and “allowing” what is, without any immediate pressure to change it.

“Allowing” arises naturally when there is no goal or standard to be reached, and no need to evaluate experience in order to reduce discrepancies between actual and desired states. This also means that attention is no longer focused narrowly on only those aspects of the present that are directly related to goal achievement; in being mode, the experience of the moment can be processed in its full depth, width, and richness.

Doing mode involves thinking about the present, the future, and the past, relating to each through a veil of concepts. Being mode, on the other hand, is characterized by direct, immediate, intimate experience of the present.

Doing and Being differ in their time focus. In doing, we often need to work out the likely future consequences of different actions, anticipate what might happen if we reach our goal, or look back to memories of times when we have dealt with similar situations to get ideas for how to proceed now. As a result, in doing mode, the mind often travels forward to the future or back to the past, and the experience is one of not actually being “here” in the present much of the time. By contrast, in being mode, the mind has “nothing to do, nowhere to go” and can focus fully on moment-by-moment experience, allowing us to be fully present and aware of whatever is here, right now. Doing mode involves thinking about the present, the future, and the past, relating to each through a veil of concepts. Being mode, on the other hand, is characterized by direct, immediate, intimate experience of the present.

The being mode involves a shift in our relation to thoughts and feelings. In doing mode, conceptual thinking is a core vehicle through which the mind seeks to achieve the goals to which this mode of mind is dedicated. This means, as we have seen, that thoughts are seen as a valid and accurate reflection of reality and are closely linked to action. In doing mode, the relationship to feelings is primarily one of evaluating them as “good things” to hang on to or “bad things” to get rid of. Making feelings into goal-related objects in this way effectively crystallizes the view that they have an independent and enduring reality.

By contrast, in being mode, the relation to thoughts and feelings is much the same as that to sounds or other aspects of moment-by-moment experience. Thoughts and feelings are seen as simply passing events in the mind that arise, become objects of awareness, and then pass away. In the being mode, feelings do not so immediately trigger old habits of action in the mind or body directed at hanging on to pleasant feelings or getting rid of unpleasant feelings. There is a greater ability to tolerate uncomfortable emotional states. In the same way, thoughts such as “do this, do that” do not necessarily automatically link to related actions, but we can relate to them simply as events in the mind.

“Allowing” arises naturally when there is no goal or standard to be reached, and no need to evaluate experience in order to reduce discrepancies between actual and desired states.

In being mode, there is a sense of freedom and freshness as experience unfolds in new ways. We can be responsive to the richness and complexity of the unique patterns that each moment presents. In doing mode, by contrast, this wonderful multidimensional complexity of experience is boiled down to a narrow, one-dimensional focus: What does this have to say about my progress in reaching my goals? Discrepancies between actual and goal states then trigger fairly well-worn, general-purpose habits of mind that may have worked well enough in other situations. But, as we have seen, when, in the driven–doing mode, the goal is to be rid of certain emotional states, these habits can backfire and lead to perpetuation rather than cessation of unwanted mind states.

Clearly, doing vs being are fundamentally different modes of mind. Before drawing out the implications of this difference, it is important that we be very clear on one point: Being mode is not a special state in which all activity has to stop. Doing or being are both modes of mind that can accompany any activity or lack of activity. Recall that we gave a particular name to the type of doing mode that causes problems— “driven–doing”—and this point may become clearer.

For example, it is possible for one to try to meditate with so much focus on being someone who gets into a deeply relaxed state that if anything interrupts it, one feels angry and frustrated. That would be meditating in a driven–doing mode rather than a being mode because the meditation is “driven” by the need to become a relaxed person. Or take another example: It is your turn to do the dishes and there is no way out of it. No one is going to rescue you from this chore. If you do the dishes with the aim of finishing them as quickly as possible to get on to the next activity and are then interrupted, there will be frustration, since your goal has been thwarted. But if you accept that the dishes have to be done and approach the activity in being mode, then the activity exists for its own sake in its own time. An interruption is simply treated as something that presents a choice about what to do at that moment rather than as a source of frustration.

A Mindfulness Practice to Shift out of “Doing” Mode

Try this guided mindfulness practice called “‘Two Ways of Knowing” to take a moment and examine how it feels to disengage from a busy mind and shift into “being” mode:

Begin this practice by settling yourself in a chair with both feet flat on the floor. If it feels okay close the eyes.

Part One: Connect with Your Thoughts

  • In this first part of the practice you’re invited to take a few minutes to think about your feet without looking at them.
  • What thoughts come to mind when you think about your feet? Perhaps there are judgments about your feet. How much you like them? How much you dislike them?
  • Perhaps there are thoughts about how you’d like them to be different. Maybe thoughts come to mind about the places your feet have taken you. Perhaps thoughts about problems they may have caused you.
  • What thoughts come to mind for you?
  • There’s no need to control your thoughts in anyway. Just let the thinking unfold naturally. Taking your time. Taking a few minutes now simply to let thoughts arise.

Part Two: Shift into Being vs Doing

  • And now, for the second part of this practice, the invitation is to gently bring your attention down the legs into the feet, sensing your feet directly without looking at them.
  • Allowing your awareness to sink into your feet and fill them from the inside to the outside, from the bones, right out to the surface of the skin, perhaps sensing the many small bones within the feet, maybe feeling the sensations of touch on the skin, the sensations in the soles of the feet, the sense of touch and pressure where the feet make contact with the floor. Perhaps exploring with your awareness the boundary between the feet on the floor.
  • And now, if you will, clenching your toes, drawing them in as close as you can, being aware of the sensations in the toes, the soles, and the body of each foot. Directly sensing the pressure in the toes, feeling the tightness in the muscles, the coming and going of sensations throughout the feet, ankles, and legs.
  • And now, just relaxing the toes, keeping the awareness in your feet and noticing any changes in the sensations in the feet and toes as they relax.
  • Before changing your position, taking a few moments to get a sense of the body as a whole.

SUN, April 14

  • WORSHIP
    10:30am   • Jackson Community Church
    In-person & Livestream to Facebook 

    • We are not meeting through Zoom.
    • Facebook will show livestream.
    • Facebook video will also feed to the righthand navigation bar on church website: jxncc.org.
      • Message by Rev Walt Hampton (being called as fulltime pastor of First Church, North Conway, UCC)
      • Music by Sharon Novak
  • (which also appears on righthand nav bar of jxncc.org website) virtual zoom is discontinued
  • HOSPITALITY following church
    11:30am • Parish Hall
  • Community Event: OPEN HOURS @ Jackson Historical Society
    1-3pm • Jackson Historical Society (Also open by appointment.)

    • More info: https://www.jacksonhistory.org/
    • White Mountain Art Sale
      • The Jackson Historical Society is holding its 21st annual White Mountain Art Sale. There are currently over 50 items from private collectors, primarily 19thcentury paintings. To see the online catalog, go to https://www.jacksonhistory.org/catalog.html. Items are available to purchase as they arrive, so check the catalog frequently to see new additions.
      • The Society is open Saturdays and Sundays 1-3pm  If you are interested in a painting, the Society can open by appointment. Contact info@jacksonhistory.org
  • Community Event: MUSIC AROUND TOWN
    • Red Parka: Mitch Alden • 5-8pm
    • Shannon Door: Jeremy Dean • 6-9pm

SABBATICAL COVERAGE & Events at JCC and around town for THURS, April 11 – WED, April 17

SABBATICAL COVERAGE

  • Rev Gail is on sabbatical for 5 weeks (until after Mothers Day) to welcome her family’s first grandchild.
  • Sun, April 14, 21 & 28: Rev Walt Hampton will preach and offer emergency pastoral support in April. Rev Walt is being called as fulltime pastor to First Church, North Conway, UCC. He is now a fulltime resident of Bartlett, NH. Highlights from his bio are featured in our April INSIDE OUT newsletter, which you can view at this LINK.)
  • Sun, May 12: Beloved hospice chaplain and regional sacramental minister Rev Sue Davidson will celebrate communion with JCC during worship and provide our message for the day. She is both a retired nurse and recently retired from her role as the pastor at Center Conway United Methodist Church; she periodically provides support to other local churches, and has been guest preacher for JCC many times.
  • Mother’s Day on Sun, May 12: JCC’s own Erica Corbett-Klein, mother of twins Vivian and George who are students at Jackson Grammar School, facilitator of the local French Conversation group, and educator, will be our guest speaker for Mother’s Day.
  • During Rev Gail’s sabbatical, if you need pastoral care, please contact Deacon Wendy McVey or Deacon Sue Carrigan by phone. They will put you in touch with minister(s) available to provide pastoral support thru Mid-May.

THURS, April 11 – WED, April 17

THURS, April 11

  • Community Resource: LIBRARIES
  • Community Events: MUSIC AROUND TOWN
    • Wildcat Tavern: Jonathan Sarty • 7-9pm – $5 cover
    • Red Parka: Shark Martin • 8-11pm
    • Shannon Door: Jeremy Dean • 6-9pm
    • Ledge Brewing: Food for Bears • 6-8pm
  • Community Event: ‘WildCARD’ featuring Rafe Matregrano, Al Shafner, Craig Bryan, & Don Walden
    7pm • Majestic Cafe, Conway

    • Walk-ins are always welcome, but space is limited; reservations are available to guarantee your seat and to indicate a seating choice.
    • $5 per person cover charge.
    • Doors at 6 pm; music  at 7pm.
    • Come in early and grab a panini before the music starts
    • Info and tickets:: https://www.conwaymajestic.com/cafe

FRI, April 12

  • Community Event: ZUMBA with Dottie
    8:15am • Whitney Community Center, Jackson

    • $5/pp
  • FITNESS CLASS  with Laurie McAleer 
    9:30am • Jackson Community Church

    • Free to all participants.
    • Gentle, chair-based stretch and fitness for all levels of ability
  • Community Event: LINE DANCING with Dottie
    9:15ma • Whitney Cmmunity Center, Jackson

    • $5/pp
  • Community Resource: LIBRARIES
    2-5pm • Jackson Library (more info: https://jacksonlibrary.org/)

    • 3-4pm • TGIF BOOK SHARE:
      What have you read lately?  Something fantastic?  Something not so fantastic?  Come share with us during our Friday afternoon book share.  All are welcome to come and share what books you are reading, what’s on your TBR (to be read) pile, and what you are looking forward to reading.  This is a great time to learn about new titles, authors, and genres that other JPL readers are reading.
  • C3: COCKTAILS & CHRISTIAN CONVERSATION (resumes May 17) – 5pm by zoom when meeting
  • Community Event: A SONG for MOTHER WATER
    7pm • Majestic Theater, Conway

    • Celebration of the earth’s water in story, song and poetry.
    • Envisioned by Fredericka Chapman and presented by Theater for the Earth.
    • Using story, song and movement.
    • For tickets and more info: https://www.conwaymajestic.com/
  • Community Events: MUSIC AROUND TOWN
    • Wildcat Tavern: Al Shafner • 7-9pm – $5 cover
    • Red Parka: Shark Martin • 8-11pm
    • Shannon Door: Marty Quirk • 6-9pm
    • Ledge Brewing: Tin Mountain Trivia • 6-8pm
  • Community Event: MAJESTIC CAFE FRIDAY: Mike Hathaway Quartet
    7pm • Majestic Cafe, Conway

    • Walk-ins are always welcome, but space is limited; reservations are available to guarantee your seat and to indicate a seating choice.
    • The Friday Night jazz series has a $10 per person cover charge.
    • Doors at 6 pm; music  at 7pm.
    • Come in early and grab a panini before the music starts
    • Info and tickets:: https://www.conwaymajestic.com/cafe

SAT,  April 13

  • Community Resource: LIBRARIES
  • Community Event: OPEN HOURS @ Jackson Historical Society
    1-3pm • Jackson Historical Society

    • Also open by appointment.
    • More info: https://www.jacksonhistory.org/
    • White Mountain Art Sale
      • The Jackson Historical Society is holding its 21st annual White Mountain Art Sale. There are currently over 50 items from private collectors, primarily 19thcentury paintings. To see the online catalog, go to https://www.jacksonhistory.org/catalog.html. Items are available to purchase as they arrive, so check the catalog frequently to see new additions.
      • The Society is open Saturdays and Sundays 1-3pm.  If you are interested in a painting, the Society can open by appointment. Contact info@jacksonhistory.org.
  • Community Resource: LIBRARIES
  • Community Event: A SONG for MOTHER WATER
    7pm • Majestic Theater

    • Celebration of the earth’s water in story, song and poetry.
    • Envisioned by Fredericka Chapman and presented by Theater for the Earth.
    • Using story, song and movement.
    • For tickets and more info: https://www.conwaymajestic.com
  • Community Events: MUSIC AROUND TOWN
    • Wildcat Tavern: Jonathan Sarty • 7-9pm – $5 cover
    • Red Parka: Mitch Alden • 8-11pm
    • Shannon Door: Al Shafner & Jeremy Dean • 7-10pm
    • Ledge Brewing: Diana’s Bath Salts • 6-8pm

SUN, April 14

  • INTERFAITH SERVICE
    8am • JCC sanctuary

    • Join us for poetry, prayer, and conversation
    • Participants facilitate the gathering while Rev Gail is on sabbatical, resumes in regular format on Sun, May 19
  • WORSHIP
    10:30am   • Jackson Community Church & Livestream to Facebook (adding Youtube post-sabbatical)
    (which also appears on righthand nav bar of jxncc.org website) virtual zoom is discontinued

    • Music by Sharon Novak
    • Message by Rev Walt Hampton (being called as fulltime pastor of First Church, North Conway, UCC)
  • HOSPITALITY following church
    11:30am • Parish Hall
  • Community Event: OPEN HOURS @ Jackson Historical Society
    1-3pm • Jackson Historical Society (Also open by appointment.)

    • More info: https://www.jacksonhistory.org/
    • White Mountain Art Sale
      • The Jackson Historical Society is holding its 21st annual White Mountain Art Sale. There are currently over 50 items from private collectors, primarily 19thcentury paintings. To see the online catalog, go to https://www.jacksonhistory.org/catalog.html. Items are available to purchase as they arrive, so check the catalog frequently to see new additions.
      • The Society is open Saturdays and Sundays 1-3pm  If you are interested in a painting, the Society can open by appointment. Contact info@jacksonhistory.org
  • Community Event: MUSIC AROUND TOWN
    • Red Parka: Blue Sunday with Erin Harpe Duo • 5-8pm
    • Shannon Door: Jeremy Dean • 6-9pm

MON, April 15

  • Community Resource: LIBRARIES
  • Community Event: A MORNING with MARY ESPOSITO
    10am • Majestic Theatre

    • Program presented by the Mountain Garden Club: A morning with Mary Ann Esposito!
    • Mary Ann Esposito, creator of the PBS series Ciao Italia, will offer insights from her most recent cookbook, Ciao Italia: Plant, Harvest, Cook!
    • Each attendee who purchases a ticket by Monday, March 25 will receive a copy of Ciao Italia: Plant, Harvest, Cook! at no additional charge.
    • General seating. Doors open at 10 AM. VERY LIMITED TICKETS AVAILABLE CALL NEYSA AT 617-816 4642
  • Community Event: CHAMBER MUSIC CLASS SPRING CONCERT – Frostiana and more
    7pm • Majestic Theater

    • Mountain Top’s Monday night chamber music class plays Randall Thompson’s “Frostiana,” settings of beloved Robert Frost poems. The program includes other small-group pieces.
    • Admission by donation. The cafe will not be open for this event.

TUE, April 16

  • FITNESS CLASS  with Laurie McAleer 
    9:30am • Jackson Community Church

    • Free to all participants.
    • Gentle, chair-based stretch and fitness for all levels of ability
  • Community Resource: LIBRARIES
  • CLERGY of the EASTERN SLOPE
    12:30pm • Zoom

    • Local clergy gather for peer support, collaborative event planning and conversation
  • Community Event: COMPOSTING: Turning Table Scraps into Garden Gold
    7-8:30pm • Whitney Community Center

    • Learn practical tips for turning a year of vegetable, lawn and garden discards into rich compost using familiar garden tools, mostly free materials, and a bit of productive exercise. Topics will include different methods of backyard composting. Materials that are appropriate for maintaining an active pile. The importance of aeration, humidity and temperature, plus much more.
    • Program is taught by Allan Brooks, composter with a wealth of hands-on knowledge to share
    • FREE sign up at https://whitneyccprograms.com/
  • Community MUSIC & EVENTS around town:
    • Wildcat Tavern: Hoot Night facilitated by Jon Sarty • 7-9pm • $5 cove
    • Ledge Brewing: Ping Pong Night • 5:30pm & Ledge Trivia Night • 6:30pm

WED, April 17

  • YOGA with Anjali Rose
    9am • JCC Parish Hall

    • Anjali Rose will be teaching yoga remotely for 6 qeeks and rhe class will meet in JCC parish hall
    • $5 class charge
  • Community Event: CANASTA GAMES
    4-6pm • Old Red Library
  • Community Resource: LIBRARIES
  • Community MUSIC & EVENTS around town:
    • Wildcat Tavern: Trivia• 7-9pm • $5 cover
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