Category Archives: Spiritual “Practice”

I BELIEVE I CAN FLY!

Ever since I was a child I’ve had repeated dreams where I can fly. I literally just bend my legs and lean upward and I fly. At first there is a bit of an unsure feeling, but I quickly get the hang of it and delight in my ability to fly!

 

A couple of weeks ago I was privileged to attend a day long retreat/teaching with the Dalai Lama. He spoke of meditation within our current frenzied cultural context as a source of peace, focus and something that engenders compassion. He also spoke about the endless chatter that we all have going on in our minds, whether or not we are aware of it. He said: “Who wouldn’t want a break from all that every now and then!”

 

The other night I had another dream that I was able to fly. As always I woke up feeling sad that it was a dream and that I really can’t fly. Yet, for some reason, this particular dream of flying began to get connected with my meditation. Meditation is a way to fly on this side of life; it’s a taste of the total freedom and total weightlessness that we will experience – both a psychological weightlessness and a physical weightlessness. When one meditates, the deeper we go, the more unaware of our body and mind we are and, in a sense, we begin to fly! Some even say we get more in contact and at one with everything that is around us – because, as physicists say, everything that exists is simply wave energy vibrating at a certain frequency. This creates matter. When we meditate I believe we are in touch with this Energy (capital intentional, i.e., God) at more fundamental levels and so we begin to experience a freedom from this particular body and a unity with all that exists, all Energy – and in this sense, we fly!

 

Jesus said “the kingdom is at hand,” it’s here! What a blessing and what a relief that we can begin to experience the kingdom right here and now. I believe I can fly!


I DON’T WANNA!

I have so NOT been into my zazen sitting/meditation practice lately! The sweetness has disappeared and sometimes it takes everything for me to stay with the meditation and not bolt! I simply don’t want to do it! I’m not feeling anything. It doesn’t seem like I’m getting anything out of it.

It’s precisely during times like these when I should stay with it.

Developing any kind of disciplined practice is countercultural. We live in a culture which basically says: when ya stop feeling it – move on to something else. That’s why we live in a “throw away” society, where we see much brokenness in relationships.

Whether it is in my job, my writing, my meditation practice, my relationship/s, my music practice – it’s precisely when the going gets tough, boring or unfulfilling that I should stick with it. Just because I’m not “feeling” it doesn’t mean that nothing’s happening. Just become I’m not “feeling” it doesn’t mean I should stop my practice or acts of love toward another. Something magical actually happens when we stick with it.

In the book Benedict’s Dharma: Buddhists Reflect on the Rule of St. Benedict Norman Fisher, a Zen priest, married man and co-abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center for five years says this: “After going through a time when you don’t enjoy your practice (add here job, relationship, exercise etc), you learn that the tough time is always where the reward comes in.” Somehow in the process of sticking with something or someone a greater depth, fulfillment and freedom is developed within us.

So, even though I don’t wanna, . . .can I keep trudging along and discover the reward that exists on the other side of boredom?


STOP THINKING SO MUCH!!

The silence of no thought

It speaks with increasing volume
Enticing me . . .

“Wanna figure it out?”
“No thought”
“Wanna change?”
“No thought”
“Wanna create?”
“No thought”
“Wanna love?”
“No thought”
“Wanna live well?”
“No thought”
“Wanna die well?”
“No thought”

In this silence, the song rises in my heart again
And I am made new.


I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO IT!

As I continue “Just Sitting” – my Zazen practice – I remain intrigued by what it’s doing, yet at the same time trying to be unattached from expectation that anything will come of it. This simple (and not so simple!) opening of the body, spirit and mind connects us directly to Source Energy, God, Spirit and when you think about it, that’s freak’n amazing!! I find myself more aware, looking to see what this silence will bring.

Most of the time I find it difficult not to think, and simply concentrate on my breathing. The mind, the ego will not easily shut up. It does NOT want to give up control! Yet, what a relief it is to stop the incessant chatter within! I can only imagine what this must do to the brain. I can’t help but believe that in the process of this silence of the mind, the brain is literally making new connections. I am convinced that in this silence I am more lined up with Source, and Divine will becomes my will. In this silence the ego is shut up and I somehow feel more directly connected to God – I let go of control. I get out of the way. Maybe that’s what “let go, and let God” means. Normally when I give up control, I find myself, at least apprehensive, if not downright fearful. Yet as a result of this silence I find myself looking forward in hopeful expectation to see what will unfold in my life – and that of the world (because it‘s not just about my life, but affecting the world). Instead of a problem to be solved, life is becoming a Mystery to be lived. I look forward to the journey!


SEDUCED

The other day I was made aware of a movie called “Into Great Silence.” It is a documentary film directed by Phillip Groning which portrays the lives of the Carthusian Monks of the Grande Charteuse Monastery high in the French Alps. It’s known to be one of the most austere monasteries. I imagine that many people might be bored out of their minds by this movie, as it definitely takes one “into great silence,” as its title suggests. The movie is around two and a half hours long and most of it is silence. It simply shows the monks in their day to day lives – without offering commentary or explanation. These monks do not talk, except when they are in common prayer and once a week after a meal on Sundays. So it’s quiet! Disturbingly so! Yet, . . . Refreshingly so. Talk about counter-cultural!

After watching this movie I wondered how much we may all be seduced away from the silence by the incessant, and sometimes, unnoticeable noise all around us. I wonder if all the noise that surrounds us, or that we choose to be surrounded by – lulls us into a dull sense of living, and ultimately – in our society – a crisis of meaning.

When I enter into the silence, which is initially disturbing, I am lead to a greater sense of myself, a more peaceful place and, in the process, I become a more compassionate presence in the world. It is nothing short of hard work to stay with silence, but I am becoming more and more conscious of the tremendous difference it makes in my life and work. I feel as if I am slowly being seduced by it. In entering the silence I give up control to a Higher Power, which is initially disturbing. But now I am intrigued by it, curious and interested to see what happens. And something is happening. I don’t quite know what it is, but I know it’s good.


IN THE ARMS OF YOUR SILENT EMBRACE

Today I was meditating, and, as often is the case, my mind gets going and I want to get up and start getting something done that I’m thinking about. Sometimes it is “work” just to sit there. Funny huh? “Work” just to sit there?

The White Robed Monks call this “Just Sitting,” a practice adopted from Zen, where one simply sits 15 minutes a day, concentrating on the breath and clearing the mind of all thought. When we do this our mind, our ego revolts. That little voice in our heads just doesn’t want to leave us alone.

What struck me this morning again is that when I want to heed that voice within, when I want to get up and start moving and stop this sitting – I am not trusting! In essence, when I break the meditation and start running, I am saying that I trust more in myself than I do in Divine Power. My experience, however, says that when I stay with this “work,” when I simply sit and make an empty space in my mind, I connect directly with Source Energy, God, the Spirit. Suddenly my work is given energy and much more is accomplished – and somehow – directly as a result of thinking no-thing, my thoughts are clarified and my life is given meaning and direction. It’s like I have suddenly been plugged in!

Can I trust enough to stay with the silent embrace and make a space in my life to connect with Source? Try it. And see what happens!


First Things First

Can you relate to this?

Why is it that when I hit a stressful time in life, the very things – like meditation and exercise – that would help relieve stress, are the very first things to get bumped from the daily routine? It’s like something within me says, “there’s no time for this!” And so, I begin to shave these things from my daily routine. Then over time, I wonder why I am getting more stressed, having difficulty sleeping and focusing!

In reality, these are the most important things NOT to bump from the schedule in the midst of a difficult time. They are the very life-blood that keeps me grounded. Without them, all else begins to suffer – my work, my relationships, even my play time!

I lay awake last night, once again, feeling the pent up energy in my body and my restless spirit as my mind whirled. I have not exercised in a while. No wonder I am having difficulty sleeping. So much pent up energy! I have not really given myself to meditation in a while. No wonder I have difficulty focusing!

The irony is this: when I bump meditation and exercise from the schedule, it seems I don’t have enough time. When I take the time to meditate and exercise, it seems as if I have much more time on my hands, time even to play!

First things first. What are the REALLY important things that I need to maintain in order to live well, even in the midst of a stressful time?


Wild Child!

“My friend had a vineyard on a fertile hillside; . . . but what it yielded was wild grapes.”      See Isaiah 5: 1-7

Ever feel like you’ve got some wild grapes growing within you? Ever feel like there are some weeds among the wheat that are spouting up?

Lately, I have felt some wild grapes sprouting up, some weeds among the wheat. I have good intentions and then it seems my actions take me in a different direction. I know full well why the wild grapes are growing within. I have not been caring for the inner vineyard lately. I have been a bit lax in my spiritual practice, body care and my loving. I have been letting these things slip ever so slowly to the wayside. And then I wonder why I begin to feel off center, if not WAY off center!?

It is my spiritual practice, my body care and my loving that keep the inner vineyard that is my life healthy, strong and growing. Like a garden, if I don’t continually work at it, the weeds quickly begin to overtake it and the strength and beauty of the good plants begins to fade. I feel that my strength and beauty has faded of late. Sometimes I just need to force myself to do that which keeps me healthy. And when I do, I know that life will again begin to blossom, beauty will return.


My Spiritual Practice – What Works For Me? – Part VI

 Service and a Grateful Heart

 

Two other aspects of spiritual practice that I find helpful are being of service to others and having a grateful heart.

This morning I was listening to Wayne Dyer’s Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling. I have this on CD and when I’m in the car I like to listen to it. It’s just another way to absorb some good information in the midst of all the garbage! As I drove this morning Wayne spoke of the ego and how the ego tries to distract us, keeping us agitated and grasping after more and more. It feeds on the illusion that we need more, and need to protect what we have or else someone is going to take it from us. Spirit, on the other hand, is infinite and ever giving. Having no sense of lack, but a firm belief that there is infinite abundance, Spirit has no need to protect or hoard. To be like Spirit, our Source, believe that there is abundance and that we will always be taken are of. When we do so we will naturally become more preoccupied with being of service than protecting and hoarding our time or what we have. When we let go and give, we will find that it comes back to us; and then some! So part of good spiritual practice is to be of some service to others. Conversely, I find when I am in a mode where I am totally self absorbed, I lack energy and vibrance.

Finally, maintaining a grateful heart is a part of my spiritual practice that I find helpful. I do this in a simple way that takes about 60 seconds. At the end of each day, right as I get into bed, I take around 60 seconds to become conscious of at least five things that day that I have to be grateful for. I find this, not only a good review of the day, but something which lifts my spirits. Those who have grateful hearts walk through life with a much more positive, happy attitude. Simply by knowing how blessed we are, we become a blessing for others in the positive energy that we radiate.

All of this being said, I am NO saint. I have my ups and downs; my good days and bad. Ask any of my friends who know me well! Yet in the midst of it all, when I maintain some spiritual practice, there is a pervading sense that life has meaning and that I’m going somewhere and somehow contributing to this world.

Whatever your spiritual practice may be, I pray that it is something which gives meaning and energizes your life and relationships.


My Spiritual Practice – What Works For Me? – Part V

Carrying It Through the Day

I once had a spiritual advisor who said to me that I was like a horse at the gates on the Kentucky Derby. Once my meditation was done in the morning, the bell rang and I shot out the gate and God consciousness was left in the dust! I laughed when he said this, but man, was it, and is it ever true! Do you ever experience that? You take time to focus, to meditate, to pray to become more aware of Spirit in your life and the life of the world; then you get up and begin to go about your day and forget about it until the next time you intentionally sit down to meditate again?!

One of the challenges of my spiritual practice is to carry a sense of this Spirit consciousness through my day. I am beginning to get better at it. Sometimes just taking a book that I’ve been reading to work is helpful. I may not pick it up, but when I see it, it’s a reminder. Or perhaps carrying a symbol of some sort in my pocket or around my neck would be a helpful reminder. These are things which might call me to consciousness again, reminding me to watch my thoughts, think positively, to watch the grasping of the ego, to live in the moment, be aware that I’m connected to Something which is infinitely abundant, and not to resist difficulty, but see it as a possibility for growth.

What do you do to stay “conscious” through your day?