Thursday, September 9, 2010

dhyana-the group

So tonight is the first night of the Centering Prayer & Meditation group I'm going to facilitate at our church. Our plan is to meet from 7 - 7:50 each Thursday evening. I will open each week with 10 minutes of meditation tips and techniques, maybe something inspirational to chew on, and then we'll go into 20 minutes of silence. We'll end with whatever the group would like to do...share or write in notebooks...we'll see how that pans out.

I'm nervous. I don't want to set myself up as some sort of champion of contemplation. I just want to offer what I know and have experienced and then, over time, I hope we will all just learn and grow together.

Tonight I'll read I Samuel 3: 1-11, which is the story of Samuel first hearing God's voice. He heard his name called in the middle of the night and thought it was his rabbi, Eli. Here are the points I'll bring out from that reading:

  • Samuel was resting. His body and mind were relaxed as he lay in his bed. This kind of quiet for his body and mind enabled him to hear God’s voice
  • After Eli told Samuel to listen and then how to respond, Samuel was able to hear God’s voice again and tell Him he was ready to hear what God had to tell him.
    You have to be quiet in body, mind and spirit to hear God's voice. I Kings 19: 11-13 tells the story of God speaking to Elijah. He was not heard in the great and strong wind, he was not heard in the earthquake, or in the fire. Scripture tells us his was a "still small voice."

    Teachers often use that technique to get students to pay attention in the classroom. They will speak softly so that students must be quiet to be heard. I used to have trouble falling asleep. I could not quiet my body enough to relax and sleep. At some point, I don't remember when, I began turning on the radio to a talk radio station. I figured out that if I played the radio very very quietly, I had to lay perfectly still to hear it. In laying perfectly still I stopped fidgeting and fell asleep.

    Of course we don't want to fall asleep in meditation, although there may be times that we do. (If that happens, don't beat yourself up. You may need the sleep. Eventually you'll be able to calm yourself and still stay awake)

    back to the story--

    • Eli. He’s the funny part of the story, I think. He’s an unlikely teacher here. Eli was a poor excuse for a rabbi and father. He had no control over his sons, who committed so much evil that it brought a curse down upon his family for all generations to come. And yet he was chosen to be the one to train young Samuel. And he gave correct instruction to Samuel about how to hear God and respond. To me this says that sometimes timeless truth and instruction comes from what we think are unlikely sources. My journey into my meditation practice has actually about from my quest to quiet my central nervous system and calm my aching body. As I study yoga, which is not a religion, I find that I am growing spiritually each and every day. It is true that the point of the yoga asanas is to teach the body stillness so that the practitioner can meditate on the Divine. In my case, as I hear about the teachings of yogis through the ages, most of whom are of Eastern religions, I find my own Christian beliefs strengthened.

      I plan to write each week's 10-minute blurb here. Hopefully eventually I'll have a nice record to review and maybe even stuff to re-use as we go through this journey.

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