Showing posts with label Spiritual Practices. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spiritual Practices. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Spiritual practice #12 - Turn it over

E. Stanley Jones quote: Surrender the thing you fear into the hands of  God...

Turn it over

The twelfth component of spiritual health is not knowing and curiosity and the cardinal sin # 12 is certainty, arrogance, and the need to be right. The spiritual practice to mitigate certainty, arrogance, and the need to be right is to regain our childlike qualities of awe, wonderment, and mystery.

Children continually ask their parents, “Why is this, mommy? Why is that, daddy?”

The little boy asked his father, “Why is it raining, Daddy?”

His father said, “It’s raining son, because God is crying.”

“Why is God crying, daddy,” said the little boy?

“I don’t know for sure, son,” said the father, “but it’s probably because of something you did.”

And we groan to hear this joke. It makes us aware of our hidden fears of our defectiveness, our inadequacies, our guilt, and our fear and expectation of punishment. And so we turn to faith that God is benevolent and loves us unconditionally.

We come to realize that it is the ego that wants us to live in fear and gives us the tools of certainty, arrogance, and authoritarian tendencies to identify with things that confirm our deeply held values and beliefs and condemn and punish people and things that threaten them.

The spiritual practice of questioning authority, admitting our ignorance, and engaging in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning gives our lives a vitality that is nourishing and provides a level of delight and wonderment which is otherwise missing.

Jesus said, “Unless you become like little children you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” What Jesus is teaching is that we have to give up the idols of the ego and return to a place of innocence and wonderment. We need to recognize that the universe is too vast and mysterious for us to think that we know what it all means. This practice of curiosity and wonderment should fill us with awe and gratitude rather than fear and shame.

Every day we should admit to ourselves that we don’t really know what anything is for. If we think we do, we are taking things too literally and just making stuff up. We need to let our certitude go, and ask and trust in the power of the transcendent. Doing this, our lives become much more peaceful and joyous. As they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, “Let go and let God” or simply “Turn it over.” Everytime we find ourselves fearful, angry, resentful, annoyed, full of grievance, self righteous, judgemental, we can ask the Holy Spirit, Jesus, God, Mother Nature, our Higher Power to help us give up the burdens of the certainties which seem to be burying us alive.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Spiritual practice #11 - Cultivating a sense of humor

Laughing Jesus Paintings | Fine Art America

Spiritual practice Eleven
Cultivating  a sense of humor

The eleventh component of spiritual health is laughter and the cardinal sin # 11 taking the idols of the ego world seriously. The spiritual practice to mitigate taking the ego seriously is telling a joke, making light,  and laughing as well as crying.

The world of the ego is insane. Taking it seriously leads to anxiety, depression, and in the extreme homicide and suicide. Taking the world of the ego seriously leads to war, and laughing at the incongruities and absurdities of the world of the ego leads to peace, joy, and bliss.

How can you make a joke, lighten up, and alter your mood and awareness in a spiritually healthy way? Puns and ironic bumper stickers are great. Jokes and humorous stories are fun as well.

Some of the stories about Jesus are pretty funny such as His turning water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana, and walking on water, and feeding five thousand people with  a few fish and a couple of loaves of bread. Even Jesus’ dying on the cross and forgiving his executioners takes panache.

Tell a joke or funny story at least once per day. Laugh with people pointing out the absurdity or incongruity in situations. Practice your comedy routine and see to what extent you can bring light to a dark and ugly ego world. Experiment with ways to further develop your sense of humor. The smiling Buddha is one of the world’s favorite representations.

Laughter is a form of play and studies have shown that adults can become more playful if they practice play with intention. Tom foolery is good for you and your relationships. As St. Paul wrote, “We are all holy fools for Christ.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Spiritual practice #10 - Keeping it real doing God's will

Discerning God's Will | Metro Atlanta SDB Church

Keeping it real doing God’s will.

The tenth component of spiritual health is authenticity and the cardinal sin # 10 is phoniness and pretentiousness  The spiritual practice to mitigate phoniness and pretentiousness is regularly doing a life review and continually being attuned to God’s will.

If you ask most people, “What makes you tick?” not only can’t they tell you, but they don’t even have a way of thinking about it, let alone answering the question. Socrates taught that an unexamined life is not worth living. How many people do you know live examined lives?

An excellent spiritual practice is two fold. First performing a regular life review which could be done daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semiannually, and annually. It also is a good idea to have another person to report the results of your review to such as a trusted friend, a counselor, a pastor, one’s life partner, a sponsor. Secondly, it is helpful to attune ourselves to what we, deep down in our hearts, believe is God’s will for us. By “God” we are referring to the Higher Power, or transcendent ground of existence.

In order to live an authentic life, we must be alert to and on guard against the fake and the phoney pretentiousness of the ego. Our materialistic culture tempts us continually with objects and experiences that we are promised will enhance our egos so that we can experience happiness. We come to realize that these promises of the ego, the idols the ego encourages us to worship, are false promises. What truly makes us peaceful and blissful is the experience of the authentic, the genuine, the sincere, the honest, what some call, “the real deal.”

A person said when she moved to California that when people would greet her with “Hi, how are doin”? She would reply with “Keepin it real.” Keepin it real is a spiritual practice of being mindful by examining our functioning and then attuning ourselves to what we believe is God’s will for us. As St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “If God is with you, who can be against you?” Indeed you and God are a dynamic duo.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Spiritual practice #9 - Responsiveness vs. reactiveness, and purposefulness

Learning Reactive vs. Responsive Empowers Your Productivity
Responsiveness vs. reactiveness,  and purposefulness

The ninth component of spiritual health is self efficacy and the cardinal sin # 9 is helplessness and playing the victim.  The spiritual practice to mitigate helplessness and playing the victim is striving to be responsive instead of reactive, and to develop a sense of purposefulness.

The concept that is helpful in considering this spiritual practice is “agency.” To what extent does a person feel in control of and in charge of their own life? Do they feel like a victim or do they feel that they can control themselves in such a way as to influence their relationships and circumstances?

Often people are reactive, their buttons get pushed, they fly off the handle. If you ask a person who is highly reactive what makes them tick, they can’t tell you. Their ability to observe their own functioning is impaired or appears to be nonexistent. They are easily provoked and their goat is very easily gotten. The opposite of being reactive is being responsive meaning that the person can back off, calm down, get things in perspective, develop a level of objectivity, and formulate a response that is deliberate and purposeful. Being responsive is taking responsibility for one’s own level of emotional arousal and being aware to then consider the best way of managing the situation.

Reactivity vs. responsiveness can be measured in percentages. What percentage of the time does the person manage things in a responsive way compared to a reactive way; none of the time, 50% of the time, 80% of the time, 100% of the time? 

Jesus and Buddha were self aware, self actualized, self efficacious, enlightened human beings who were responsive 100% of the time. Most of us probably don’t achieve much more than 80 - 90% of the time. Working on becoming more responsive and less reactive is a developmental process which we intuitively label as “maturity.” The more responsive and the less reactive a person acts, the more “mature” we say the person is.

As a person becomes more responsive, they also become more purposeful. Their behavior is no longer a random response to triggering by external circumstances. When distressed a person can ask, “What is the purpose of this relationship? What is the purpose of this interaction?”

In situations where we feel emotionally aroused, it is helpful to take emotional distance so that we can get things in perspective and then decide the best way to proceed. When a person develops this spiritual way of seeing they are more self efficacious.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Spiritual practices #8 - purification and detachment

Detachment Is Spiritual Freedom | Reaching for The Sky

Spiritual practices #8
Spiritual practice of purification and detachment

The eighth  component of spiritual health is freedom from and freedom to  and the cardinal sin # 8 is slavery and acedia.  The spiritual practice to mitigate slavery and acedia is purification and detachment.

In order to open one’s heart to the world of the soul, a person must detach from the idols of the ego. All the things we are socially conditioned to think will make us happy in the world of the ego is an illusion and impermanent. The Buddhists teach four noble truths which include the idea that suffering is caused by attachment and the end of suffering is facilitated by giving up attachments and practicing detachment.

Throughout religious history there have been many spiritual practices of purification, the primary one being fasting. However, there are many others such as the giving of alms. Making sacrifices and offering our sacrifices up to gain holiness is a primary idea in Christianity. The great Christian prayer which Jesus taught His disciples to pray says in part “...and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil….” Temptation being referred to in this prayer is attaching ourselves to the idols of the ego believing the ego’s promises that they will make us happy.

Freeing ourselves from the shackles of this “veil of tears” liberates us to pursue the holiness, the oneness of the soul, which we yearn for by returning to the Oneness from which we separated ourselves at birth.

Everyday, moment to moment, we ask ourselves, “What would love have me do?” and choose the path of the soul instead of the path of the ego. Practices of purification and detachment help us become aware of our power to choose which is the source of our freedom: the world of the ego or the world of the Spirit..

In principle five of Unitarian Universalism we affirm and promote the “right of conscience” which is our innate compass gulding us from slavery under our ego attachments and towards liberation of the soul into the world of the Spirit.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Spiritual practice #7 - Empathy and collaboration

13 Simple Ways to Build Collaboration Skills in the Workplace

Empathy and collaboration

The seventh component of spiritual health is attunement to the interdependent web and the cardinal sin # 7 is individualism and attachment to the ego.  The spiritual practice to mitigate individualism and attachment to the ego is empathy and collaboration.

The ability to put oneself in someone else’s shoes is the skill of empathy. Empathy is different from sympathy. The empathizer does not feel the same way the perceived person feels, but rather stays in one’s own shoes but can imagine what the other person might think, feel, and prefer. It is this empathy that contributes to the ability to effectively and efficiently collaborate.

This ability to empathize and collaborate requires that the person can be objective, nonjudgmental, and see things in the perspective of the big picture. This takes self awareness, self discipline, mindfulness, and the ability to use one’s personality in a purposeful way for the mutual welfare of the whole.

This ability to understand another’s point of view and the good of the whole requires good listening, and “reading” skills of other people’s thoughts, feelings, and preferences as well as the well being of the whole of which they are a part.

This skill of empathizing and collaborating is based on knowledge, understanding, and wisdom which comes from the individual being a lifelong learner motivated by curiosity and open mindedness.

This practice involves daily study and deliberate practice of using the knowledge obtained through study in improving one’s functioning. One of these traditional practices is called “lectio divina” which is usually thought of as reading religious or spiritual texts. More commonly known in Christian circles as “bible study.” It is the understanding developed from lectio divina which allows a person to be more empathetic and collaborative and develop a greater appreciation of the interdependent web of which we all are a part.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Spiritual practice - Life review, confession, taking one's inventory

I Love Confession. Here's What to Do If You Don't | Catholic Dating Online  - Find Your Match Today!

Life review, confession, taking one’s inventory

The sixth component of spiritual health is mindfulness and the cardinal sin # 6 is the unexamined life and reactivity.  The spiritual practice to mitigate the unexamined life is the periodic life review, confession, and taking a personal inventory.

Mindfulness is the skill of stepping back, getting one’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior into perspective, viewing them objectively and nonjudgmentally with curiosity. This requires a periodic life review optimally done daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and during the course of one’s waking hours as needed.
In some faith traditions and in twelve step programs there is the practice of confession. Telling one’s sins, mistakes, failings to another human being with the intent of learning from one’s mistakes and considering strategies for repair and change nurtures self understanding, agency, and self efficacy..

The key marker of this spiritual practice is taking responsibility and learning which leads to spiritual growth and improvement in functioning.

It is a good idea to take one’s personal inventory on a daily basis and periodically report the results whether to a priest, a pastor, a sponsor, a therapist, or a best friend.

The concept that best describes this practice is witnessing nonjudgmentally. It takes practice. It can be done meditatively for at least 5 minutes at a time with the goal of expanding the time as desired. When one can clear their mind of all clutter and just become one with all, enlightenment has arrived.

Unfortunately, one of the weaknesses of the Unitarian Universalist tradition is its failure to ritualize the need for periodic life review, confession, and taking of one's inventory. The closest it gets to this practice is the affirmation and promotion of a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Having articulated this fourth principle there are no recommended practices to apply it in an efficacious way. This is a failure in the UU tradition to nurture and guide spiritual development.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Spiritual practice #5 - Listening with undivided attention

Listening with undivided attention

The fifth component of spiritual health is unconditional love and the cardinal sin # 5 is conditional love and indifference. The spiritual practice to mitigate conditional love and indifference is listening with undivided attention.

Who would think that listening with undivided attention is a spiritual practice? It seems so pedestrian and easy. Try it especially when the person is saying things that are upsetting.

Giving people our attention nonjudgmentally and just listening is the most precious gift in the world. It takes much self discipline and restraint and forbearance. Peace Pilgrim said “I look for the Divine Spark in every person and focus on that.” Unitarian Universalists covenant together to affirm and promote seven principles the first of which is the inherent worth and dignity of every person. The best way of living this principle is to develop the art and habit of listening to people with your undivided attention.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Spiritual practices: Component #4 - Meditation

Rajneesh quote: Meditation is a state of no-mind! You can not find...


The fourth component of spiritual health is attunement to the non dualistic Oneness and the cardinal sin #4 is separation from the Oneness and the enhancement of the ego. The spiritual practice to mitigate separation and enhancement of the ego and strengthen the attunement to the non dualistic Oneness is meditation.

Meditation is the going within and clearing the mind of all thoughts. This can be done while sitting quietly or sometimes when engaged in repetitive physical activity like walking, jogging, swimming. Another way of thinking about this attunement with the non dualistic Oneness is the psychological experience of entering into a state of flow. Flow is when time stands still and the person loses awareness of their physical body and engaging in any effort. One is just coasting or floating.

Sometimes people say they can reach this state through prayer or engaging in some ritualistic prayer activity like saying the rosary, chanting, or repetitively saying a mantra..

Sometimes people attempt to alter their consciousness using chemicals or other compulsive behaviors like gambling, working long hours when the person has gotten their “second wind.”

Sometimes people describe reaching this state in orgasm.

Sometimes people describe reaching this state by singing, playing a musical instrument, dancing or some other creative activity.

The most widely and best spiritual practice though is called “meditation.” Start for short periods of time, just 5 minutes and sit quietly and just watch your thoughts pass by in your mind with the intent of clearing your mind to a point at which you attain “no mind.” When a person attains “no mind” the person has left the ego and entered into attunement with the non dualistic Oneness.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Spiritual Practices - Component #3: Working miracles

A Change of Heart and Mind | Unity Center of Norwalk

Working miracles

The third component of spiritual health is forgiveness. The cardinal sin is blame, attack, and vengeance. The spiritual practice is what in A Course in Miracles is called a “miracle.” What is meant by the term “miracle” in A Course In Miracles is not some supernatural phenomena which is akin to magic but rather a change of mind and heart.

A miracle is something we can practice when we shift our perception from the world of the ego to the world of the Spirit. We shift our perception from the place of fear to the place of unconditional love.

Blame, attack, and vengeance is based on fear. We fear losing something whether it is a relationship, a material object, status, reputation, getting our way, even saving face. Disrespecting someone can bring out the worst in ourselves and in others because our egos become hurt.

Forgiveness means giving up making other people or circumstances responsible for our unhappiness. We decide to no longer play the victim and dwell on helplessness, but rather to tune into our power to decide how we will respond whether in love or in hate.

We have tens of forgiveness opportunities every day when our feelings are hurt, or we are annoyed, or become angry, and we can stop and ask ourselves “What would love have me do?” It is this awareness of a choice which we always have, and the choice itself that strengthens every time we choose love instead of blame which arises from fear and guilt.

How many times a day do you pause and ask yourself “What would love have me do?” and then do it? There are multiple forgiveness opportunities every day. Look for them, reflect on them, and act on them. When we do, we change our hearts and work miracles.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Spiritual practices - Component #2: Kindness - Do a good deed daily and random acts of kindness

The Boy Scouts of America: A Comparison of Handbooks and Merit Badges | The  Art of Manliness

Do a good deed daily and random acts of kindness

To strengthen the spiritual component of kindness and eliminate the cardinal sin of meanness we can regularly practice random acts of kindness.

Boy Scouts of America in the 1950s had a motto, “Do a good deed daily.” The silly meme involved a boy scout in uniform helping an old lady cross a street. While the meme was somewhat silly, the motto is excellent and, if practiced daily as instructed, is a spiritual practice which contributes to an intentional desire to inculcate kindness into our daily lives.

As my friend, Al, reminded me at a low point in my life, the measure of a man’s life is not money, glory, honor, or any other indicator of success in the world of the ego, but kindness.

Kindness is not the same as being nice. Kindness is caring enough to help people become their better selves. In doing so, we become our better selves one day at a time, and hopefully one day after another.

So while it is a good spiritual practice to do random acts of kindness it may be even better to do a good deed daily. Of course these two ideas are not mutually exclusive. We can do both. How about doing a good deed daily and in addition engage in other random acts of kindness as well?

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Spiritual practices - Component one: To strengthen our experience of peace and joy we need to practice forgiveness.

4 Core Limiting Beliefs Preventing You from Letting Go ⋆ The Wellness  Universe Blog

To strengthen our experience of peace and joy we need to practice forgiveness.

Today we begin the first article in a series on spiritual practices to enhance the components of spiritual health and reduce the prevalence of immoral and sinful behavior.

The first component of spiritual health is peace and joy and the first cardinal sin is the destructive management of fear. What are the spiritual practices that enhance peace and joy and reduce the prevalence of the destructive management of fear? The foremost practice is forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the willingness to give up making other people and circumstances responsible for your unhappiness. Playing the victim in a way that blames others and makes them responsible is irresponsible. No one else can take responsibility for your unhappiness. Ultimately, the only person responsible for your happiness is you. Jesus demonstrated this practice when He said, on the cross as they were executing HIm, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” And they didn’t. And two thousand years later we still are telling this powerful story.

Gary Renard, the teacher of A Course In Miracles, describes what he calls “forgiveness opportunities”. We have tens of them every day. Every time we are annoyed, hurt, angry, resentful, defensive, spiteful, scared, we can catch our rising emotion and ask ourselves how we can best manage it to dissipate it, to defuse it, to diminish it, and return to a state of peace and joy.

We can take a deeper breath and stand back, stand down, go silent, and as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, “turn it over.”

A little prayer of letting go, turning it over, and asking God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Life, whatever you conceive of your Higher power to be, to help you, to be there with you, to take part of the burden off your shoulders.

In AA they say, “Let go and let God,” or simply “Let go.”

Christians say to “Give it to God,” or “offer it up.”

In Buddhism we are advised to detach with love.

The type of forgiveness being recommended here has nothing to do with the perceived offender. It has everything to do with becoming aware of the harm but choosing not to play the victim.

This spiritual practice of forgiveness takes a lot of practice. We get better at it as we persist and implement the practice in our daily lives sometimes minute to minute and hour to hour. It is a rising above the nonsense of the ego world. Jesus said to be in the world but not of the world. Choosing to not be of the world but to dwell in the realm of the Spirit in peace and joy through forgiveness is a fundamental practice to improve our spiritual health.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Spiritual practice of the day #24 - Meditation for 5 minutes

"Meditation is a state of no-mind; it is neither at the center of the mind, nor at the circumference. It is simply not of the mind, it is watching the mind from the outside. That is exactly the meaning of the English word, ecstasy – to stand outside. To stand outside of the mind is ecstasy.

That’s what meditation is. Just be a watcher from the outside, no longer a participant, no longer identified with the mind – just as one watches the traffic on the road, sitting silently by the side under a tree: who passes is not the concern. One simply watches whatsoever is happening, with no like, no dislike, no justification, no condemnation, with no prejudice at all. When one can watch the mind without condemning it, without appreciating it, without saying “This is good” and “That is bad,” when one can watch it in deep silence, that is meditation.

A miracle happens with meditation – and it happens only with meditation: the mind disappears. Slowly, slowly, it goes farther and farther away. Slowly, slowly, you hear only the sounds coming from a distance. And suddenly a moment comes when there is no mind. It has faded out, it has withered away.

When the mind is not there and you are left alone without it, a fragrance is released. You have come home, you are fulfilled. The one-thousand-petaled lotus of your being has opened. You have offered your fragrance to existence; that is prayer. That is the only gift we can give to existence, and that is the only gift which can be accepted by existence."

Osho. First in the Morning: 365 Uplifting Moments to Start the Day Consciously, Osho Media International, p 30

Editor's note - Meditation is the most important spiritual practice and perhaps the most difficult because there is nothing to distract the mind. The part of us that watches the mind is called "the witness." Can you just observe your own functioning nonjudgmentally?

Start with 5 minutes a day of just sitting quietly and watch the "monkey mind" spin without judgment. Gradually increase the time until the "monkey mind" diminishes in intensity and you experience peace. Osho says that this is when authentic prayer occurs. Meditation comes first so the individual becomes centered and then genuine prayer arises.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Spiritual practice of the day #23 Master your fears.

Examine your life for your fears. What do you fear? When you have identified one or two things figure out a couple of ways to master it. If you cannot find any ways ask someone you trust for help.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Spiritual practice of the day #22 - Remember your Higher Power 5 times a day for 10 seconds

We mistake business for worthiness. Nothing could be further from the truth. God says in Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God." Five times a day, stop for 10 seconds, pause, breath deeply, and remember your Higher Power.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Spiritual practice of the day #21, Let God

You do your best, let God do the rest. Turn your worries over to the Holy Spirit of God and let it go.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Spiritual practice of the day #20 - How can I help?

Remember there is no such thing as sin only mistakes. When you see something make a mistake or you make a mistake yourself, ask "How can I help?"

Friday, January 19, 2018

Spiritual practice of the day #19 - Express gratitude to the undeserving

Express gratitude and thanks to at least one person today even if you don't think they fully deserve it.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Spiritual practice of the day #18 Emulation

Look for the goodness in another person and try to emulate it in your own life.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Spiritual practice of the day #17- Examine your conscience at least once per day.

As a Catholic child I was taught to examine my conscience before going to confession. The tenth step of Alcoholics Anonymous the first of twelve step programs is to continually take a personal moral inventory and when we are wrong to promptly admit it. It is a good spiritual practice to examine our conscience at least once a day. Keep track of what you are doing right as well as what you are doing wrong. What you are doing right is far more important.
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