Tag Archives: mindfulness

Pray Like a Show-off.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, January 24, 2017

luke-18-pharisee-and-tax-collector

Pray Like a Show-off.

There are many, many books on prayer and meditation, from any number of faith traditions and religious orientations, both modern and ancient. I very much appreciate this little volume by the teacher Thich Nhat Hahn. I have read a fair amount of books by Christian writers on prayer and meditation, and I wanted to broaden my horizons. Thus, the little book by the Buddhist teacher, featuring prayer, meditation, mindfulness, and how to sit (in meditation and prayer).

As I read the short portion for today, I was vividly reminded of a section from one of the Gospels. First, from How to Sit: “There are some people who sit in a very funny way; they try to show that they are practicing sitting meditation.” [1] This reminded me so strongly of Matthew 6, verse 5, where Jesus tells those listening, “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.”

What a show-offy thing to do! Whether it is sitting meditation, out in the open where everyone could see, or praying loudly on the street corners, where everyone could (likewise) see, this person’s inside attitude of the heart is not quite on target.

What could I do, to avoid such a predicament? The first thing I can do is to get my inside attitude oriented toward God (or, Ha Shem, or the Higher Power). If my inside orientation is straight, my outward expression and practice has a much better chance to be oriented in a God-ward manner.

The second thing I need to focus on is my relationship toward God. I suspect this (imaginary) person’s eyes were on other people, in both the case of Thich Nhat Hahn’s example as well as that in the Gospel of Matthew. That person’s number one priority was the horizontal relationship, with other people. I think Jesus would say—every time—that our number one relationship needs to be with God. The vertical relationship is primary. God comes first. Then, everything else falls into place.

Thanks for the excellent lesson, dear God. Now, comes the hard part: putting it into practice. Help me, Lord. Help me both practice prayer and meditation more regularly, as well as keep my relationship with You number one in my life. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 37.

Daily, Mindful Prayer.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, January 20, 2017

Daily, Mindful Prayer.

flower-in-rocks-mindfulness

Sometimes, life happens. In my life, other people’s lives. Mindfulness helps when life happens. Daily, mindful prayer.

I went through life, as usual. Yeah, I encountered some rough spots, as well as some great times. Sometimes stuff happens to me, and sometimes stuff happens to my family. Like, when an elderly loved one of mine had a serious illness in November, and the doctors finally told the family that he needed to enter hospice at the beginning of December. Then, two weeks later, he died. So, the extended family had to deal with something quite serious—a death in the family. On top of which, things were complicated by the holidays.

Sometimes stuff just happens. All during the fall, during my loved one’s illness, I was reminded that I could pray and meditate anywhere.

Prayer and meditation are not determined by anyone’s position. Sitting, standing, walking—however you would like to practice, it works. What’s more, prayer, meditation and mindfulness are is not exclusive, or only for one particular group of people. Each one of us has the opportunity to reach for the stars.

Each day, each night, mindful meditation and prayer are good options. I need to remember that. Gracious God, help me. Dear Lord, thank You for the opportunity to come before You, at any time, any place.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Look Deeply. Pray. Meditate.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, January 18, 2017

lily-and-lily-pads-mindful

Look Deeply. Pray. Meditate.

When I think about meditation and mindfulness now, my breath automatically starts to slow down. I don’t necessarily have to begin the practice of mindful meditation and prayer. It often just starts to happen.

Yet, this is not the only thing that happens during meditation. Thich Nhat Hanh had some excellent insights in the small section of the book I read tonight, including where he talked about the practice of meditation giving us the opportunity to heal and transform.[1] I don’t know about you, but I particularly need the chance to heal and transform. I often feel broken and hurting. When I am offered the possibility of healing and transformation, I’d be foolish not to take it!

Slowing down, slowing my breathing, stretching my neck, back and shoulders—all of these are so helpful to my relaxation. Preparation for a time of prayer, of healing and transformation. And then, even if I quiet myself for just a few minutes, I feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

Finally, as I enter into that quiet place of mindful meditation, I also have the opportunity to see clearly. To look deeply into what surrounds me on the outside as well as what is inside of me. This does not completely banish fear and anxiety, but it certainly diminishes it. Anything that lessens fear and anxiety is definitely something I support. And, mindful meditation certainly does that.

Thank You, God, for this spiritual practice. Thank You for leading me to it, and giving me the opportunity to practice prayer and mindful meditation. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 31.

Sitting in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, January 2, 2017

sitting-sunrise-mindful

Sitting in Prayer

While out of town a few days ago, I visited a bookstore. I picked up several books, including a slim volume called “How to Sit” by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist monk.

I practice yoga at least once a week, usually twice, and three times a week, when I can. This is so beneficial for me! I don’t follow the whole spiritual aspect, but I very much appreciate the focus and mindfulness part of yoga.

This reminds me: I tried to practice Centering Prayer in 2015, for a whole month, with fair-to-middling results. For those who do not know or are not as familiar, Centering Prayer involves simply being quiet before God. Centering one’s physical, spiritual and emotional selves. Some people choose a word or brief phrase to assist them in centering. Alas, I did not excel. (Far from it.) However, I tried my best—most of the time.

This new slim volume convinced me that I ought to try to sit and center again. So, I did. And, I will try again, for the next month.

Similar to when I practice yoga, my breath slowed. My mind cleared. I expressed a welcome to God, but not really in so many words. (Just a welcoming feeling.) I did not pray in words, as I do so often. (I am so dependent on words.) Yet, my prayer time was restful and quiet.

Just what I needed. Thank You, God.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Regaining Soulfulness

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, June 26, 2015

SOUL be the soul of that place

Regaining Soulfulness

Ah, for the old days, when a high percentage of Americans attended church on a regular basis. (I am only being partially serious.) I’m talking earlier in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Actually, by today’s standards, church and synagogue attendance has gone down. However, more people are saying they are “spiritual, but not religious.” Whatever that means—because it means different things to different people.

The author of today’s chapter, Phil Cousineau, said that many more Americans do not associate with a specific house of worship today. (This is borne out by reports made about spirituality and the “nones” in various recent newspapers and news magazines.) However, Cousineau was interested in the expressions “divine spark” and “soulful.”

What do you think of when I say “divine spark?” Do you think of something like “the measure of the depths of our lives”[1] when I mention that? This can be contemplation. Slowing down enough to enjoy writing a letter. Attentiveness, thoughtfulness, mindfulness. These are the areas in which I find some suggestions. Good suggestions, too, I may add.

Moreover, according to Cousineau’s chapter in the Handbook for the Soul, there is some kind of American myth that aids in isolationism. Regardless of this tendency to isolation, many people are drawn toward connecting, meeting together, in a cohesive matter. Whether associated with a faith tradition and meeting place, or not. And, that is a welcoming and positive thing! Amen!

Whether you or your loved one believe in connecting, whether contemplating the mysterious continuity that is this world, or the spark inside of you and me is made to go higher and higher, we can say amen for that!

Please, God, help me—help us to become more and more like God. Less and less like the world.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995.), 162.

Is Mindfulness Soulful?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 18, 2015

mindfulness - stone and leaf

Is Mindfulness Soulful?

Meditation. Mindfulness. Soul work. Soulful.

Not—as Jon Kabat-Zinn might say, “spiritual.” In today’s chapter in Handbook for the Soul, Kabat-Zinn shies away from that word. He prefers the term “truly human.”

Spiritual, soulful. Regardless of exactly how and why a person does soul work, Kabat-Zinn considers that work nourishment for the soul. (He says that he isn’t sure about how or why it does whatever it has been found to do. But—it does!)

Kabat-Zinn was fortunate to work for the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. He has found something that greatly assists many who come to the clinic. Or, perhaps I’ll let him tell you himself:

“We train people in formal and informal ways to cultivate greater nonreactive, nonjudgmental, moment-to-moment awareness—what the Buddhists call mindfuless.” [1] This manner of meditation is so beneficial. Instead of spacing out, or depression, or hopeless and helpless thinking, the author of the chapter thought we could generate positive thoughts and commends. Lo and behold, he was correct, in the best possible way.

How to reduce stress, anxiety, worry? Meditation–mindfulness. Take advantage of this positive method, and get rid of frustration, anger, sadness, and a whole host of other negative feelings and emotions. God willing, we have an opportunity to be free of whatever prison is locking us in.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995.), 109.

Sorrow, Healing, Forgiveness—in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, May 30, 2015

FORGIVE thanks for the beautiful life, forgive me for not loving

Sorrow, Healing, Forgiveness—in Prayer

After spending the last few days with my daughter in Washington D.C., I am back at home. Preparing for service tomorrow, and getting ready to preach a sermon for Trinity Sunday.

However—I need to give another installment of Ignatian prayer, meditation and spirituality. I know we have barely scratched the surface of Margaret Silf’s book Inner Compass and the helpful ways she lifted up St. Ignatius and his manner of prayer. We are almost finished with the month of May, and another mode of prayer awaits us for June.

We will take a closer look at the next step in what Silf imagines as St. Ignatius’ Daily Examen, the examination of the internal workings of our intellects, feelings, our very souls.

The next step is Sorrow. “With hindsight you may realize that much of your reaction to the events of the day has been centered on your own kingdom. . . . Whatever inadequacies you find in your day’s living, let them be there before God now, not for judgment, but for His Spirit to hover over the mess, bringing wholeness out of brokenness. Express your sorrow to God, and confidently ask for His healing and forgiveness.” [1]

I see this as a healthy sorrow, not a constant or continual recitation of every single, minute sin ever committed (or omitted). God’s grace and mercy are wider, deeper, and more comprehensive than anything I could have ever imagined.

Yes, we can discuss this tremendous grace and mercy, but I suspect this needs to be felt. Not just intellect, but feelings and emotions, too.

Praise God. Help me to see my inadequacies and sinful behavior, dear God. As John 3:17 says, God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. Thank You, Jesus, for extending Your grace and mercy to all those who are anxious and worried. Thanks, God!

. @chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Silf, Margaret, Inner Compass: Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality (Chicago: Loyola Press, 1999), 59