Meditating is a sin?

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Meditating is a sin?

I was raised in a stream of Christianity that said it was a sin to meditate.

Some of you are saying, “Yup; because it is”.

Most of you are saying “What?” and “Why?” and “That’s frigging nuts”.

Others are taking the middle ground thinking, “It’s ok to meditate, as long as it involves reading the bible and or praying.”

I was raised in a stream of Christianity that said it was a sin to meditate and I did too, because I didn’t know what meditation was and my view of God involved shame, worry and a cultural / behavioral track that I thought I had to stay on in order for God to keep on loving me.

This morning the early autumn air was crisply and beautifully fresh.

When I got out of bed, I went to the bathroom and drank a giant tumbler of cool water.

Next, I sat on a cushion on the floor and lit a candle.

For a  bit, I focused on nothing but my breath, feeling the sensation, as air came in through my nose, filled my lungs and gently exited my mouth.

My eyes began to close.

There were sounds…

Cars outside, people walking by, birds waking up…

Those sounds, as I became aware of them, became part of the moment.  Not in a way that was dismissed or  attached to.  They were simply noticed.

Thinking about my body and starting at the top of my head, I worked my way down to the bottom of my feet, all the while noticing sensations and feelings.

My nose was a little blocked…

My lower back was tight…

My toe hurt a little…

Back to being aware of my breath…

The word “Pneuma” was brought up and with no particular rhythm, I gently started to repeat it silently.

My breath, body, feelings, sounds and a sacred word were peacefully and sweetly grounded and at the same time, flowing.

In this quiet posture thoughts began to arise.

As they came, they were noticed and allowed to float away as I lightly and sweetly returned to my breath and my sacred word.

My timer softly chimed after eleven minutes and I slowly opened my eyes.

Sin?

Really?

I know the arguments of the right leaning fundamentalists inside and out, because I was one.

Sure, guru worship exists, but this is not that.

Meditation is not an attempt to clear one’s mind nor is it held as a path to some kind of enlightenment.

Sure, some people have screwy motives and can take something beautiful and twist it, but this is not that.

I’m no longer limited by the fear mongering and lazy thinking of a misguided subculture and I wish the same for you.

This practice helps me to be less distracted by the negative self talk in my head.

It enables me to focus better throughout the day.

Meditation does not serve as a substitution for anything, but rather as a supportive enhancement to my other spiritual practices.

My longing for you, is that you walk in freedom, thoughtfully enjoying every practice that supports you becoming who you are called to be.

My longing for you is peace.

 

Don’t get over it, go through it.

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This post is the 3rd in a series based on the well-known poem “The invitation” from Oriah Mountain Dreamer

“It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow.
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed  from fear of further pain.”

My mother’s voice was shaking with sadness and shame when she told me about Herman.

Our beloved dog was elderly and very unwell.

When she found him unable to walk to his food bowl, she knew she had to make the brave and difficult choice to end his suffering.

I cried and cried when she told me and although I was only in the sixth grade, I knew she had done the right thing.

She is as strong as steel.  In many ways she filled the role of mother and father for me after my father  suffered a stroke.

I always knew there was nothing life could throw at her that she couldn’t navigate with grace, strength and wisdom. That’s why it seemed unnatural when she said that she would never have another dog.

Saying goodbye to Herman and making that decision was too painful.

Losing a pet is terrible, but as you read this your own moments of deep sadness, loss and betrayal may be coming to mind.

The friend that let you down…

The loved one who left too soon…

The lover who stopped loving you…

The tragedy so tragic that you are still haunted by it all these years later…

What contracts have you signed based on your pain?

What vows have you taken?

I will never:

trust

love

volunteer

perform

or _________________ ever again.

Perhaps you made your version of that agreement without even realizing that you were doing it.  As if the feelings and activities associated with your heartache got put into a box, stored in the back of the closet never to be opened.  Sometimes you may see it in there but you always quickly look away.

If this is you, I have good news.   The contract you made with your heartache is revocable.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not proposing that you can just “get over” whatever put you in this place, but I am saying that if you have made an agreement with the actions and behaviors attached to your heartache, you do actually have a choice.  Here are some tips for next moves.

– Work to  “touch the center of your sorrow.”

This may be best done in the presence of a professional, mentor or wise and committed friend.   Whatever support network you choose, connecting with and leaning into your pain is important.

Robert Frost was on the money when he said, “The only way out is through.”  (No Alanis Morissette did not come up with that line on her own.)

–  The practice of just sitting with what “is”, is powerful.

So is learning not to hold on too loosely or tightly, but rather observing the full range of thoughts and feelings that come up when you choose to be with things that are hard to be with. Go slow.

– Understand that no feeling is final

Your behaviors attached to the event don’t need to be either.  Sure, initially that thing you swore off might not have been right for you. In the same way that your feelings have evolved, your behaviors most likely could as well.

– If your heartache is associated with loss, consider how your new actions serve your lost loved one as a living tribute.

– Ask yourself what trying to protect yourself from further pain is costing you, and what you have to gain from taking small steps in a new direction.  

No one knows what its like to walk in your shoes, but in today’s post I hope you know that you are not walking alone.

The past is just that…

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You are living with the ramifications of your mistakes.
You are living with the result of your failures.
You are living with the rippling memories born from regret.
You are living.
Know that the last sentence trumps the first three.
I’m not waxing poetic…
You are living.
You are alive.
You are still here…
So how do I know about the mistakes, failures and regret?
I know because we are the same.
We are bound by flesh, oxygen, body and soul.
Tied by a blood oath that we have no memory of making and yet you know a fellow human when you see one.
I know your humanity and when I look in the mirror of my life that hangs behind my eyelids I know mine.
My reflection stares me down for better at times but often for worse.
It whispers nagging reminders of my past and writes fiction about the people around me.
It creates stories about how much better they have it.
At once convinced that I am walled off from the rich, juicy, connected lives “they” have.
They aren’t lonely.
They have satisfying relationships.
They have meaningful work.
They _____________________ but I ____________________.
For some of you this litany is constant and has spun into depression.
For others these thoughts represent an occasional slump.
Whichever camp you fall into it isn’t fun, and these feelings can really suck the joy out of life.

I’d like to invite you to shift.

– As it relates to others, you just can’t really know anyone’s inner world but your own.
What’s more is you would be shocked beyond words if you did. Seriously…

– Realize that this isn’t how God wants us to live and He’s able to reach into places we can’t.  Ask Him to.

– Write yourself a love letter.  As crazy as it may sound, being intentional about countering self deprecating thoughts is so helpful.  In your letter also highlight hopes and dreams for the future and revisit it from time to time.

– As Steven Pressfield says “Put your butt where  your heart wants to be”.
If in your heart you want to paint, sit at an easel and paint.
Until you actually put your butt where your heart wants to be it will beat in vain.

– Get sneaky.  Search the landscape for others who need a boost and find sneaky ways to encourage them or meet a need.  Fill the parking meter to max time before you drive off.  Go the local art school and tell them you want to pay for art lessons for someone who can’t afford them.  Visit a nursing home and listen to the wonderful stories that the elderly have to share. Its really time to stop obsessing about what you don’t have and to start learning about what you have to give.

You can’t erase your past but you can make peace with it.

You can’t erase your past but you can learn from it.

You can’t erase your past but you can find redemption.

You can’t erase your past but you can decide today to stop allowing your past to erase your future.

Curious about life coaching?  Call 978.994.0431 or email ThatLifeNow@gmail.com to set up a confidential, free, sample session with Jim Trick today!