Three Kinds Of Meditation July 26, 2014

Those of us who have studied beyond traditional Christian teaching, realize that we are really two people in one body.  Our “true” selves, that deep inside part that lives with our Universal Creator, and our “outside” person which is how we see ourselves and how we present ourselves to the world.  The outside person is called the ego.  Modern spirituality will tell us that the ego is the part of us that causes all our suffering.  Maybe that is true.  What I do know is that our egos get in the way of a stress-free, feel good life.  Our thoughts are oriented inside and they are all about us and how we feel.

Meditation is a way to get inside our true selves.  It came from eastern tradition and has been studied extensively since it has reached our western shores.  We know that the practice of meditation, much like yoga (which can be a form of meditation), has a number of physical and mental benefits if practiced consistently.

Generally speaking, meditation can be divided into three main groups:  concentration methods, awareness methods, and surrender methods.

Concentration methods, the most universal kind, rely on the principal of attention.  We focus our attention on a specific word or thought, or we count our breaths.  We might choose a word like Maranatha  (Come, Lord).  If the mind wonders, simply let the thought go and come back to your word and breathing.  Our minds are refreshed by the Universal presence which the word invokes.

Awareness methods are favored in Buddhist practice.  In this meditation, we align ourselves with an inner observer and watch our thoughts as they come and go.  If we are angry we might  label it “angry thinking.”  We can stay with the thought, sometimes feeling painful, or let it go and wait for the next thought.  This practice is very good for being present to the moment.  We learn that what we project to the world is sometimes not such good energy.

A surrender method is simpler than awareness.  We don’t name thoughts, we just watch them come up, then watch them go.  It is not a prayer of attention, but of intention.  This form of meditation is called Centering Prayer founded by  Father Thomas Keating.  It has a certain fluid, dreamy quality to it.  This form of meditation begins and keeps coming back to intention.  What is the aim?  To be totally open to God.  This is my favorite form of meditation.

There is a story about a nun who tried her first twenty minutes of Centering Prayer meditation.  She then told Father Keating that she was a total failure since she had ten thousand thoughts.  “Lovely,” Father Keating said.  “Ten thousand opportunities to return to God!”  Think of it like Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will be done, oh Lord, but Thine.”

When we sit quietly, and do it consistently, we come to understand what it means to consent to the presence and action of God within us in whatever form it comes.

The Jesus Prayer July 19, 2004

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner.”

I have always loved this prayer because it is short and simple.  When I am in crisis mode, I like to have a prayer that I can repeat over and over because it calms me.  But I have always had a problem with the part….”me the sinner.”  I  think , “Well, how bad can I be anyway?”  Even now, with all the studies I have completed, I still have trouble with “sinner.”

What is it?  For years I believed it meant “missing the mark.”  Okay, that made sense.  But not in this prayer.  Lack of doing our best?  Okay, but that seems a little lame to me.  Negative versus positive?  Yes, possibly, but this is the Jesus Prayer, not another spiritual leader’s prayer.  Although, I really don’t think Jesus would mind if any spiritual leader borrowed it.

This morning I was reading one of my favorite sages, Richard Rohr.  He spoke about this prayer and it was so eloquent I wanted to share it.  I will give you the short version.  Should you want more, just Google him and it will take you to his foundation and website.

Let’s break it down.  Master Joshua, the chosen anointed one, please give us the salvation of love to overcome our fear-based disconnection.  Help us remember our true selves.

Richard Rohr writes, “Remember that “sin” is simply that which keeps us from knowing and living out of our True Self….Nastiness is shame-based thinking and does not get us to a good place.”

Say the words over and over again until they pierce your heart. You will then be praying and connecting with the Glorious Presence.



Prefection and Creativity July 14, 2014

Being perfect is like being in prison.  As long as we demand it in ourselves and in others, we are not free.  I think freedom is important.  We abuse and misuse it but as the psalmist said, it makes us a little lower than the angels and crowned with glory and honor.

As we watch children get older, we see them stop trusting the dreaming and doodling part of their brain.  They start looking for the “right” answer.  Wow, all of a sudden they see things with their own eyes and ears.  They learn to like and dislike certain foods. This is exciting and it also takes courage.

When they are allowed to do something just one way – the “right” way – they are less likely to try other things.  If children are allowed to experiment, and to fail, they are more likely to grow creatively and think outside the box.

We live in a complicated world today.  We need creative thinkers.  If these young people are encouraged positively in their endeavors, they have the freedom to dream, to remember, and to share.  They can also learn to accept irrationality because it is what makes us human.  They will have the courage to dream the impossible dream.  God Bless the children.

Mystical Emotion July 5, 2014

Every now and then I let myself get “off course,” and when that happens, my imagination starts to run away from me.  We have a lot of things going on in our lives now, a major move, putting our current house on the market, logistics, my father illness – the list goes on and on as I am sure it does for all of us at times.  I have a tendency to panic.  Fortunately, I have a very calm, analytical husband that keeps me pretty stable.

But if I do not pray and meditate every day, it is like I start to see sideways and upside down.  I know it, feel it acutely, and start immediately to make things right.  If I don’t, my imagination begins to run.  I start to wonder about things we really cannot answer like evil, and suffering.  So I tell the Holy Spirit about it and ask him to give me some kind of an answer.  Tonight was rather extraordinary.  For some reason, Albert Einstein came to mind.  I started to read about him (this is when I think the computer is just about the greatest thing going), and the following is what popped up.  Thank you so much Google, Mr. Einstein, and Holy Spirit.

“The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical.  It is the sower of all true science.  He to whom this emotion is a stranger can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.  To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms – this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness.”

A Lesson On Meditation June 29, 2014

That outstanding writer, Madeleine L’Engle, told a wonderful story once about a conversation between a girl and her very old, frail grandfather.  She came into his room and saw that he was sleeping.  Not wanting to disturb him, she quietly started to back out.

Her grandfather opened his eyes and smiled.  His granddaughter asks if he was sleeping.  He told her no, he was meditating.  Of course she asked him, “What is meditation, Grandfather?  How do you do it?”

Her grandfather thought a moment and then ask her if she liked to go down to the sea and sit on the rocks by herself.  She told him that yes, she loved to do that, to look at the sea.

“Do you need to go down to the sea?” he asked.

“I do and sometimes I don’t think anybody understands that but you.”

Grandfather asked, “What do you do when you go to the sea?”

“I sit and think, but those aren’t the best times.”

“What are the best times?”

“Gee, when I sit and look at the sea somehow I feel part of it, and everything around it.”

“What does that feel like – when you’re a part of everything?  What is it like?”

“Grandfather, it is almost beyond words.  It is like being on the other side of myself, and part of everything, but I know deep down I am still at the sea, but I’m not at the sea.  I know!  It’s like I’m not in the way of anything.”

“That’s meditation,” said Grandfather.

I love this story because it shows us just how underrated silence is.  When we find a place that calms us and beckons us to stay, we sometimes stay.  I like to think that is when the Holy Spirit takes over.  In fact I invite him to journey in my imagination with me.  We have conversations.  Sometimes I don’t like what He has to say, but I know He is always right.  And I am always calm.  That is when God and I are one.

Ruach June 22, 2014

John 3: 8-9.  The wind blows wherever it pleases; you hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  That is how it is with all who are born of the Spirit.

The Hebrew word for wind is ruach, and it was also the word for God.  It seems like the wind is the wild heart of Jesus.  At times it is lusty, overwhelming and painful.  Then at other times it is refreshing, clean, and invigorating and it can clean our minds and urge us to dance.

Movement is the sign of life and can change our moods in an instant.  We can’t see it, but we know it.’s there.  One of the most beautiful images I have is God blowing ruach – blowing us into life.  Please don’t ask me what He looks like.  I have an active imagination. To me it means to go forth and experience all there is to experience and try to do it with grace.  If I get on the wrong track, I look up and He will blow ruach in a different direction.

Vacation, Turtles, And The Holy June 16, 2014

We are here in our favorite place in the world, Vero Beach, Fl.  This time we rented a lovely home on South Beach with a pool and one SHORT block from the beach.  We kid each other about the terrible traffic.  Usually all we see is a couple of cars and lots of bicycles.  They have a bicycle built for two in the garage but I’m afraid I would kill myself or Chuck if we tried it, so it shall stay put.  Flora and fauna abound  and our little dog, Buffy, is having a ball chasing the tiny lizards that seem to be everywhere.  She managed to drink Chuck’s coffee while he was sitting at the pool this morning.  Maybe that’s why she had an extra spring in her step at the beach today.

Something very interesting is happening on the beach this month.  It is the time that the turtles come up out of the sea, dig a deep nest and lay their eggs.  It takes them quite awhile and if they see light they get disoriented so everybody drives very slowly and if they are found in the road; the car stops, picks up the turtle and takes it back to the beach. People gather quietly to watch and make sure the eggs are safe.  In a couple of months, the babies will be ready to go to the sea. They are very tiny and their odds of survival  are poor.  But again, people are there, watching the process and gently guiding them on their way with a prayer.  It is really something, and very Holy.

I started thinking about when spiritual awareness first broke my mind.  For me it was very early because as long as I can remember, I have wondered about God, Heaven, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  Steven Charleston in Cloud Walking, his spiritual diary, writes, “God is scattered like diamonds, like dew dust….”  We all find Holy in different places and at different times.  We find it in unique ways and always in a loving tradition.  Just like the turtles.

Peace be with you all as you travel your journey.  And a lovely blessed Father’s Day, Dad.

The Lord’s Prayer June 10, 2014

This is translated from the original Aramaic.  Please note that there have been many translations from scholars, but this is so beautiful, I wanted to share it with you.  I am not aware of the source.

Oh thou, from whom the breath of life comes, who fills all realms of sound, light and vibration.  May your light be experienced in my utmost holiest.  Your heavenly domain approaches.  Let your will come true in the universe just as on earth.  Give us wisdom for our daily need.  Detach the fetters of faults that bind us like we let go the guilt of others.  Let us not be lost in superficial things, but let us be freed from that what keeps us off from our true purpose.  From You comes the all working will, the lively strength to act, the song that beautifies all and renews itself from age to age sealed in trust, faith, and truth.

The words “Fetters” and “Superficial” I feel certain are from the author’s imagination.  They just don’t resonate.  However, they are his/hers so I left them.  May peace be with you.

The World Goes On June 1, 2014

I recently went to a surprise retirement party, which was very successful by the way.  The gentleman who retired was completely surprised – hard to pull off, but we all managed to keep our mouths shut.  While he relished in the well wishes, I was meeting a hero.  Let me call her Sally to protect her privacy.  She is in her late 50′s, extremely pretty, dressed in pink.  I sat down and introduced myself because Sally could not stand.  She was in a wheel chair.  We began to talk about the weather, and how difficult it was to be outside.

She told me she was always so active and loved to be outside until “this” as she indicated the wheel chair.  I told her that I am cerebral and love nothing more than a book and to sit.  We both laughed.  I ask her why she was in the chair.  “MS,” she replied.  Then we started to get serious like girlfriends do.  She shared facts about her early marriage, as did I.  “When he hit me, I left that very day and filed papers,” she said.  Then while working she met Sam (another pseudo name for privacy).  He too had been emotionally and physically abused.

They found they had much in common, fell in love and married.  Just a few years later, Sally found out she had MS.  Sam never wavered.  She said she doesn’t know where she would be today if it weren’t for Sam and MS.

Now take a very deep breath because here is the rest.  Sally is an exceptional harpist. She cannot read music.  She just hears the piece and can play it.  It’s the same with the guitar.  Her husband took her to a voice coach to improve her singing and she found out she could sing the scales over and over with perfect pitch.  The vocal coach said he had never seen anything like it.

Today Sally cannot walk and she has limited mobility in her arms.  Her voice is weak but soft and mellow.  Sam is far more important to her than her musical gifts.  I am still in awe. I believe I would wallow in misery.

This makes me wonder still again about this crazy world of ours and why some things work out the way they do.  It reminds me of poet Mary Oliver who wrote, “Ah world what lessons you prepare for us.”

In honor of Sally and Sam let me leave you with Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese.

You do not have to be good.  You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.  You only have to let the small animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.  Meanwhile the world goes on.  Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.  Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, and calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting over and over announcing your place in the family of things.


The Smallest Most Powerful Part Of The Body May 25, 2014

If you have read the gospels, you know it is the tongue.  It can do much harm and it can do much good.  St. James tells you to keep your tongues very quiet.  St. Mark tells you to speak up about what you need.  What to do?

If you can control your tongue, you can control your bodies.  Think of a bit and a bridle.  If you put a bit into the mouth of a horse, you can control its body.  How you use your tongue can steer the whole direction of your life.  Sometimes you speak, and sometimes you keep silence.  Jesus did that.  He said little unless He was asked or speaking to the gathered crowds, or to God.

This is a really hard thing – this judgement about when to use the tongue.  Just remember that whatever is said can never be taken back.  Apologies might be accepted, but the words spoken will never go away.

My wonderful husband once said that.  We have been married ten years and he has never uttered a harsh word to me.  Thank you, my darling.

“You say you are right and we are wrong.  How do you know this to be true?”
Red Jacket, Seneca, 1800s