Archive for February, 2014

Spiritual Practice

Friday, February 28th, 2014

josh with sylvia
 In the morning, just about as soon as I can I find a place where I can have some solitude, I engage in my daily spiritual practice.  My tools are a cup of coffee and a book to read.  For me, it doesn’t matter if it’s cold or hot, or light or dark, just as quiet as possible.

 I close my eyes and I meditate.  I get in a position that’s comfortable for me.  I don’t assume some “holy position.”  I assume the comfortable position is the holy position and that’s why it’s comfortable.

 What I like to do is focus my attention on listening—appreciating what I hear.  Some focus on the breath, some like to stare at something like a candle flame, I just listen.  Some mornings I’m immediately into it and feel connected with life but most mornings involve a forgiveness practice.  I have to forgive when so much is coming to mind that is incomplete or that I am incomplete about from the day before.  So I forgive myself, I forgive others, and if I can’t in that moment, I promise myself I’ll look at it later and try to move on.  If I’ve learned anything about my challenges it is that they will wait.

 If what is keeping me from being present is something going on later in the day I try to let it go for now, and make a mental note to address it later.

 Meditation for me is really about appreciation.  By appreciation, just being in the moment, I become enlightened by life, by the spirit, the newness of right now.  Usually just five minutes or so of this is all that I need.  If I do too much longer than that I get anxious.

 Then I read little.  Just a few paragraphs.  My rules for the book I read is one, it has to be spiritual in that it addresses our relationship with the whole, and two, it has to be to the point.  By that I mean the two paragraphs can’t be there to set up for what comes three pages later–the statements have to be complete in themselves.  It’s got to be the kind of thing you can just flip to a spot and start reading.

Take something from the mystic Meister Eckhart for example-

“What is Truth?  The truth is something so noble that if God could turn aside from it, I could keep the truth and let God go.”

 Then I’ll just contemplate that for a bit.  Then I pray…

 I use the technique of affirmative prayer which is not to ask for anything but to know something.  I establish my consciousness of the infinite and I know the purpose of my prayers relationship with it.  It might go something like…

“I know that God is all.  The sacred is everywhere.  Divine Love, Divine Meaning, Divine Joy is at the heart or life and in the heart of my life right now.  I know it is at the center of my meeting today, and I know it is present in my meetings and interactions. I also know this is true for all of those who have requested prayer from me.  It is true of my loved one’s.”  And so on.

 That’s my everyday spiritual practice. I’ve been doing it just about like that for 15 years or so.  I’ve absolutely come to believe it’s the most important thing I do each day.  And in a more mystical sense I’ll claim it’s the only thing I really do.  Because everything that I do from then on–every response, every choice, every creative idea, every confrontation… I can usually trace back to that consciousness I cultivated in my spiritual practice.  Over time more and more what I do no longer seems as based on neurosis, esteem issues, judgment, calls for attention, self-inflated fantasies and so on but the best consciousness of wholeness that day that I can muster.

 What I’m doing on a daily basis is seeing the piece of my life (whatever’s up) in relationship with the whole.  Then I’m taking my awareness of the whole and applying it to the pieces of my life.

 The practical benefits of that for me are—I’m more a person of wide perspective–I’m more compassionate and understanding–I’m more present and a better listener–I’m more at peace, happy and if I’m angry or bitter it isn’t for long.  I’m more mindful.  I feel alive, that I live with purpose, and that something genuinely sacred lives within me and is active in my life.