Thursday, December 23, 2010

dhyana-the group

The Centering Prayer & Meditation group has still been continuing, but attendance has been very sparse. I did not get to use the December 9 meditation until December 16 because my husband and I were the only ones there. On December 23 I used an Advent meditation by Henri Nouwen:

"Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for. We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus. We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory. We are always waiting, but it is a waiting that we have already seen God's footsteps.
Waiting for God is an active, alert - yes, joyful - waiting. As we wait we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

dhyana-the group

Centering Prayer & Meditation
December 9, 2010

Are you awake?
This meditation is excerpted from the book “Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now,” by Gregory A. Boyd.

Living in Love
Whoa! Challenging chapter. In this chapter of Boyd’s book, he gets right to the heart of learning to live in love of others.

The chapter begins with a discussion about our addiction to information. Contemporary Christians are very much into reading books, hearing sermons and attending seminars. We do this because we have the belief that acquiring more information will help us grow and become more Christ-like. This quote by Brother Lawrence says it all:

“We need neither art nor science for going to God. All we need is a heart resolutely determined to apply itself to nothing but Him, for His sake, and to love Him only.”

I know in my own life, I tend to rely on a lot of research to improve myself. I Google, I read books and I ask others about whatever it is I want to become part of my life. In fact, Boyd’s book is one of the many I have collected recently about meditation. On Friday night I plan to attend a class about meditation. I am currently participating in a global meditation challenge to practice for 11 minutes each day for 40 days.

But ultimately, what has really helped me in my practice is just DOING IT.

Boyd does not throw out information as a bad thing. But he does gently encourage us to just DO the practice of awareness of God’s presence. We are to practice loving each other as Jesus does. We need to practice seeing others as individuals that Christ died for. No matter how much they may annoy us or hurt us.  He says, “It’s not about having a nice warm feeling toward another. It’s about ascribing worth to another, at cost to ourselves when necessary.”

I John 3:16: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

Boyd points out that loving like Jesus requires next to no information.

So back to the “Present Moment” thing: we will not be successful in our attempts to love as Christ loved unless we are aware of His presence in our lives each moment. If we can learn to see each moment as a sacred moment in God’s presence, then we can see each encounter with others as sacred, as well.
And so, Boyd gives us this challenge: “…to remain awake to the truth that each person you encounter has unsurpassable worth, not because of anything worthwhile you happen to see in them, but because their Creator thought them worth dying for.”  And this is the essence of what it means to seek first the Kingdom of God:

Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Sunday, December 5, 2010

dharana & dhyana & pranayama-but ultimately, ahimsa

samskaras: "The samskaras are built up by continued action of the thought-waves, and they, in their turn, create new thought-waves, the process works both ways. Expose the mind to constant thoughts of anger and resentment, and you will find that these anger-waves build-up anger-sanskaras, which will predispose you to find occasions for anger throughout your daily life. A man with well developed anger-samskaras is said to have 'a bad temper.' The sum total of our samskaras is, in fact, our character at any given moment." ~yoga sutras (as read in Gates's book, "Meditations from the Mat:)
So I copied that down at 10 a.m. That was all I had time to do before reporting for church.
Where I proceeded to work myself (internally) into a lather. Our church tends to do that to me. I just want a quiet place to come and worship. I don't care about the socializing. I don't care about the big, huge project we are about to undertake. I just want to come to contemplate and be challenged and led.
The big, huge project was the subject of much of our worship time today, which upset me and left me feeling quite nauseated. I hated to sit there with the poster boards up with information about the project and how successful we are being about it. It's the second Sunday in Advent, for pete's sake! I could barely see the Advent wreath because of the thermometer on the poster board that showed how we exceeded our project goals!
And so I stewed. And I thought about leaving before communion (1st Sunday of the month, you know). But that would have been hard. We sit in the second row. And my husband would have wondered. And others. I would have had to explain. And I didn't want to talk about it. I was too mad.
And then I remembered this quote.
Then the pastor unexpectedly asked me to assist with communion. And as I repeated "the body of Christ, broken for you," 90 times...once for each anger began to subside. And compassion and calm began to wash in.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

dhyana-the group

Centering Prayer & Meditation
December 2, 2010

Are you awake?
This meditation is excerpted from the book “Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now,” by Gregory A. Boyd.

Boyd begins this chapter by discussing how we’ve been programmed to view the world as though God were not present moment-by-moment. We are caught up in the human experience and not aware that God is here, with us, every second. He refers to this as the “flesh-mindset.”

Romans 8:6-7 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.  The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” And Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

How does this flesh mindset happen? Through our lives we have experiences, see things, hear things, that we use to develop our worldview. Our minds are “programmed,” so to speak, with beliefs that run in the background of our lives.

So then we accept Christ, or even become aware of God, we learn all about Him and that he is omnipresent, but that knowledge doesn’t actually CHANGE the way we view the world moment-by-moment. Sure, we are aware of God’s presence, but we seem to dance in and out of awareness. Boyd says “we are living as semi-conscious slaves to our past programmers, and God’s presence will be habitually censored out of our awareness.” He says this is what James meant in chapter 1 verse 8 when he said we are “double-minded.” In verse 6 he compares us to a wave in the ocean, tossed and blown by the wind. Boyd recaps this by saying “We live in contradiction between what we believe is true and what we experience as real.”

So, we need to become single-minded. There you go. Easy! (maybe not so much)
The main way to do this is invite God to be your companion in everything you do. Try to remain conscious of the fact that, no matter what you doing…washing dishes…reading the paper…working at your desk…doing things, that there is another thing going on at the same time all the time. God is there. Next to you. Within you. Share with Him what you doing. Keep up a running dialogue with Him. Turn everything you do into an act of service and worship.

As we begin to wake up to God’s presence we’ll start to notice how much garbage there is in our brains. We’ll start to notice how caught up we have been with the past and the future, and how focused we’ve been on ourselves. The key is to just take note of it, and redirect. Don’t get caught up in self-judgment. Just take notice and redirect. Eventually you’ll start to notice less and less garbage and more and more God.