This past five days I spent in a mental hospital. I went there voluntarily to try to get help for symptoms of bipolar disorder. I check myself into the hospital with the help of two friends. This was my third hospitalization, and in many ways was the most eye opening. My eyes were opened to the extent of human suffering. Many questions surface during my stay there. How can my future Christian ministry contribute to improving the lives of those who suffer from mental illness? Where is God in the suffering of these patients? How can I alter my life to live a life of submission to God so that he can use me as an instrument of healing for others? Authentic stories of positive life conversion are needed for the epidemic of substance abuse filling jails, homeless shelters, and mental hospitals. I’ve seen God too, but it has taken time to realize who he was. In the hospital, I met a man from Trenton, a house painter, who hurt his back leading to ruptured disks. He started prescription pain medication, but when that got too expensive he turned to a cheaper alternative heroin. This man wants to be clean of heroin addition. He said he wants to find religion of some kind. I will try to call him again and help him. Please pray for this man that he may find a path into the Light. I believe God is found in helping others. I believe I believe in God. In a way, this man converted me back to the faith that I had when I was helping feed the homeless at the Open Door Community in Atlanta. There is something extremely redeeming about extending a hand to another.
I am absolutely committed to practicing good health habits to avoid hospitalization again. I got three books from the library on meditation. It has helped in the past, I think it will help again in combination with regular exercise. I am also going to cut out all meat, alcohol, and caffeine. I want to walk in the footsteps of the desert fathers. I believe there is something to the idea that strict monastic practice can serve as a treatment, in parallel with conventional treatments, to improve the life of patients who suffer from mental illness and who have problems with substance abuse. The question is what of St. Benedict’s Rule and Buddhist literature can provide insight into how to live a better life. First, I checked out The Sutra on the Concentration of Sitting Meditation. It has a very interesting section on purifying the body of lust, “… one should know that inside and outside the body, whether alive or dead, everything is impure … If [the practioner] is at the introductory level, [the master] should teach that person as follows: “Create an image of broken skin. Remove impurities and visualize a man of red bones. Fix your mind and meditate, without letting your mind be distracted by other objects. If your mind is distracted, you should concentrate it and return it [to the original objects of the meditation.]”” The first step to becoming a postmodern monastic is removing the false needs that Western civilization creates in each member of society. Thus, meditation exercises that seek to curb lust are good. The rest of my blog will detail my evolution on the topic of postmodern monasticism applied to helping others, particular those who need help.
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