Archive for the ‘Meditation’ Category

Finding A Consistent Time

May 22, 2023

Research into when the best time in your day for strength training popped into my morning reading. Morning? Midday? Evening?

It turns out that it doesn’t matter. The best time of day for your strength training is that time that fits best into your lifestyle. It’s that time of day when you can consistently go to the gym or basement and face your weights.

Some people insist that you must rise from bed early in the morning for your meditation and prayer time. You must have a thick pillow upon which to sit. Perhaps light candles or incense. Play a chime.

The best time is the time that you can consistently find some quiet space in your day. The best place is where you are. If you have a ritual, fine. If not, great. You can sit anywhere not too comfortable. You can lie on your back or side. You can walk (keeping your eyes open, of course).

I have taught on the method of Ignatius of Loyola, a founder of the Society of Jesus—the Jesuits—within the Roman Catholic tradition. His method included morning, midday, and the evening Examen. That’s fine if you live in a monastery. For some of us (most?), that is a difficult discipline within our lives.

Benjamin Franklin, the American philosopher and statesman, also had a routine asking of himself in the morning “what good shall I do today” and in the evening “what good did I do today.” That’s a good discipline.

What time should you meditate, pray, work out, exercise, read? That time during the day when you can consistently devote time mindfully to the practice.

Searching Diligently

March 30, 2023

My morning chair for meditation and writing faces across a yard. This time of year I begin at dark and continue into the first light of dawn. Just before I can really see much outside, my eyes catch dark shapes flying low across the yard.

It’s the proverbial early bird searching for the worm. Robins have awakened. Soon I will see several hopping or running from spot to spot diligently looking for breakfast—for nourishment.

I should be at the same. Reading, reflection, meditation—diligently looking for food for the soul.

They are driven by basic survival needs—they find food or they die.

What drives us to search diligently for food for the spirit?

What causes us to become complacent and lazy? Can we admit that  sometimes we open today’s devotional or reading and fail to concentrate? Our spiritual energy has come to a low point.

It’s the routine of the chair that helps. We are there. We are aware. We awaken to the need and begin return to the word.

And now we are ready for the day.

See Visions

December 29, 2022

Contemplating on the “Christmas Story” still this week. Did you ever notice the number of visions Matthew and Luke record in their stories?

  • Elizabeth
  • Zechariah (more than one)
  • Mary (several)
  • Joseph (several)
  • The Magi (including one to avoid Herod)
  • Simeon (at the Temple)
  • Anna (at the Temple)
  • The Shepherds

There were probably more that didn’t make it into the stories.

What was the most common command in the Bible?

Had to be Fear Not whenever God was about to communicate with people either through an angel or directly.

Have you ever experienced a vision? How did or would you react? Fear? Disbelief? Thinking it’s indigestion?

Sometimes these come to people to break through their fears and anxieties. Sometimes people cultivate a relationship with God such that God does speak to them.

I’ve had some. Two had major impacts even unto this day. Much like Peter was shown every unclean food and told to eat, I was shown all forms of sin and evil and told that within me I was capable of all sin. And that I was full of sin. And I was left with a feeling of humility–not to think of myself as perfect. Sometime later I was shown a more positive vision of humans of every race, ethnicity, gender all together at a huge party and God said these are all my children. Love them.

I don’t teach cultivating visions, but if they come pay attention to them. It could change your life.

We Are All God’s Children

December 16, 2022

During my meditation many years ago, I found myself walking past an old, empty house. I walked up the path through the overgrown weeds to the front door. It was unlocked. I entered. I had previously explored the house and entered the basement. (If you are Jungian, go for it.)

That day’s meditation took me down the steps into the basement with some fearfulness of what I would find.

Well, there was a huge party going on down there. I was shown people of every race and nationality and tribe. They were all partying together. There was no rancor. No small groups over in the corner peering suspiciously at the others. It was all one family of humanity. I was told we are all God’s children.

Either in business or on holiday I’ve interacted with people from most of the areas of the globe. I’ve shared meals and conversations. I’ve tried every day to live up to that vision treating everyone like I learned from that party experience (well, maybe except for the idiot that cut me off driving in traffic–no one is perfect!).

Today’s meditation returned me to that time. We are in Advent and also Christmas season. We hear a lot about “peace on earth and goodwill toward man”. Beyond hearing that, perhaps we need to practice it during our everyday lives.

It Is All In The Pause

November 4, 2022

Through meditation, I journey deep within. Sometimes I see thoughts and actions which bring shame. Sometimes I’m presented with memories of being on the right path.

As I am the dispassionate observer, I also begin to see how God has been there. Sometimes as a path finder. Sometimes as a corrective influence.

The pause brings it all together. Life is nothing without the pause. The pause between  thought and speech. The pause between impulse and action. The pause to look within and find God meeting with me.

To Pray in Spirit and in Truth

August 12, 2022

To pray in spirit and in truth enables us to enter into contact with that infinite love, that inscrutable freedom. 

Thomas Merton

The church I attended for years sponsored a youth camp in the hills of southern Ohio every summer. The theme was JOY—Jesus, Others, You.

All the writers of the New Testament agreed, but James was most clear, that first you need to be in communion with God, then you needed to exhibit that faith through how you treat others. Then, of course, you have to take care of you.

We need daily—some of us several times daily—to reconnect with that source of love, energy, direction we call God.

One of my Biblical mentors is Daniel. Not for the visions at the end of the book about him. No, what impressed me was that he took time from his busy days administering the greatest empires known at the time to reconnect with God—three times a day. Regularly. With intention.

He remained focused until the end of his days as far as we know.

It works also for us. To come with intention to pray in spirit and in truth. Set aside time and place and prepare to meet with God.

Who Is Smarter Than God?

July 25, 2022

Certainly, not I.

Like many young liberal and feminist students of long ago, I had a general dislike of the Apostle Paul. He was seen as the standard bearer of male domination/female subservience, apologist for American slavery (and therefore against civil rights), and homophobe.

Then I became a scholar of Paul. With that a deep appreciation of what he was trying to do.

I even started to reply to someone I know on Facebook who said Paul supported male domination of women. He asked me to prove from scripture that he was wrong. I thought of a dozen things immediately. It’s never a good thing to reply on Facebook. I came to my senses just in time. No one was convinced of error on Facebook. Ever.

This thought came to me recently that we spend too much time and energy thinking and memorizing from the Bible and not enough time living out Jesus’ commands–that we love one another.

I thought about that guy who was proclaiming how he should be the master of his wife’s body and soul (good luck doing that!) when I came across this teaching of Paul from Romans:

Is there anyone around who can explain God?

Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?

Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice?

Romans 11

I have met such people. I have read the works of such people. I have read of their failures in the news.

The next paragraph from Paul:

Everything comes from him;

Everything happens through him;

Everything ends up in him;

Always Glory, Always Praise

Romans 11

Every morning I sit quietly with God listening for advice and wisdom. I don’t tell God what to do. I don’t assume I know the mind of God. I wait upon God with attentive ears.

Why Meditate?

July 22, 2022

Mindfulness meditation infuses all manner of psychological and New Age counseling. Varieties include thousands of apps on your phone, Zen, Yoga, and, yes, our Christian tradition going back to ancient times.

Regular meditation of whatever variety will change your personality. You become calmer. Centered. Aware of people and circumstances. That has been my experience. If your meditation is focused on God, then you are given occasional glimpses of life with God.

Spiritual writer Eberhard Arnold points to another benefit coming from meditation, if we but dare to go there.

Eberhard Arnold

The only justification for fleeing the confused and hectic whirl of contemporary culture so as to withdraw into the inward self is if doing so will increase our fruitfulness. The goal must be to unite with eternal powers in order to gain a strength of character that is ready to be tested in the stream of the world and is equipped to meet the demands of our day. Our watchword is not “Retreat!” but rather “Gather for the attack!” 

Eberhard Arnold

We retreat into the silence of meditation to prepare ourselves for life outside when we meet people who are at odds with us. How will we deal with people and circumstances? With a solid core of spiritual strength, we can face the challenges.

Debilitating Power of Stress

July 21, 2022

I have lived through many stressful times. For some, the pandemic and economic slowdown may be their first. Some feel stress constantly from just trying to survive.

Check the Christian scriptures. Jesus dealt with daily stresses, but then there was the night before he died when he was sweating blood. He could see what was ahead. That’s stress.

Or Paul having rocks thrown down at him and escaping a city in the dead of night hoisted over the city wall and running away. And other pillars of the faith like James and John and Peter. They all experienced times of great stress.

Yet, the message of them all was founded on the fruit of the spirit that included peace, joy, calm.

Living in the spirit and experiencing that fruit is often not easy. Stresses large and small eat away at our inner balance.

Even so, follow their example of periodic withdrawal to have silence and alone time with God heals. Awareness of God’s surrounding presence helps us through those times.

We must not neglect intentional time to connect. Probably more often than five minutes every morning.

Chipping Away At The Block That Binds Us

June 22, 2022

The carpenter takes a block of wood. She chips away at it until she uncovers the shape that he needs for the project.

The anonymous author of the 14th century work The Cloud of Unknowing in another work commenting on the 12th century monk St. Denis, takes this illustration from Denis applying it to us.

We travel through life accumulating ideas, thoughts, emotions, scars. These accumulate and harden like that block of wood.

We have all met probably far too many people who are stuck in this hardened state of the spirit. This seems also to lead to physical manifestations of hardening.

We need not be condemned to be stuck in this block for the rest of our lives. We devote ourselves to meditation, study, prayer, service to others. God, seeing our right attitude, will assist us with our task of chipping away those hardened detritus of life to uncover the whole person that was there all the time.

We become free.