Monday Meditation – Just That

I find at times that deep meditation is difficult for me.  There are others as well who are revved up by life or just their metabolism who find it a struggle to quiet the mind.  It begins just fine.  I breathe in and out slowly and set a mantra or focus point for return when distracted.  Then the thoughts begin.  Ideas and things to do begin dancing around as I struggle to maintain quietness of mind.  Some days it’s just a no go and I let go.  Meditation is just that.  Letting go of my grip on trying and just being.  So what if all these images and words fly into my time of supposed peace.  Like dreaming I think these things say something to me, so in the moment I resist pondering and just observe.

I return to the breath and the image of sitting on the shoreline watching.  It is here, when I release  judgement on the thoughts jumping in, truth presents itself as  guide.  Minutes dissolve as awareness becomes.  Birds chirping outside the window, the clock ticking, the cool air brushing past my arm are all in this present moment of bliss.  My awareness tunes in to God and the presence within me of Holy Spirit is filled to the top with peace, love, joy.  Perhaps it is just a moment but that is all that is needed.  Just that, a moment of being, silence, presence.

Have a blessed week of presence,

Sue

Monday Meditation – Comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  [2Co 1:3 RSV]

 

Some days what I see right in front of me are challenges and when I attempt to see beyond them anxiety empties me and I am filled with lethargy.   I can choose to go with this feeling, to sit in self-absorbing distress in front of the TV with a bag of chips.  And believe me, I have done this.  Or, I can turn to what I know is true.   Love.

Another word for Comfort is Contentment –   Santosha is the Sanskrit word for contentment and is one of the Niyamas (rules of behavior) in the eight limbs of yoga.  It means finding peace within you when outer experience causes distress.  The big things, like losing a loved one or loss of a job or home can be overwhelming and comparably small things like financial difficulty, conflict at home or work or just having way too much on our plate create emotional and physical pain.   Even the anticipation of these creates dis-contentment. What it is within me that can bring relief?   “To be or not to be” content is really the question.

It is interesting that in New Testament Scripture (NIV) Jesus never used the word “comfort”.   He does use the word “Love” 217 times.  “Love God , Love your neighbor, Love your enemy” are foremost in his direction.  He goes on with stories of what that looks like.  It is the decision to Love God and not money, it is the generosity of sharing loaves and fish, and it is the help toward healing of the Samaritan.    It is in His example to go into the garden or up on the mountain alone to pray that I find my direction.

In the quiet space and time of meditation I focus on Love.  I use it as a mantra along with “peace be still” (Mark 4:39 ) to slow my breath and busy mind.  Here I come to the truth of Love.  Love is not always comfortable but it always comforts and God’s love fills my empty spaces with light so that I can see there is nothing in the present or future that can’t be healed.  I remember with gratitude those who have and will help me and I am inspired to be a help of Love to others.  Peace and contentment fill me now, for this day.

May you find peace and contentment this week.

Sue

Ask, Seek and Knock…

Our recent discovery of the door buried in the wall reminded me of a journal entry a few months ago.  It seems worth sharing.

What exactly is Jesus  speaking about when he tells his disciples to “Ask and you shall receive, Seek and you shall find, Knock and the door will be opened to you”   The big question is how do we find meaningful relationship with God?  And I believe the answer is different for each of us.

Jesus description of himself as “The Way, the Truth and the Life” never seemed to have much depth of meaning for me.  There are many brilliant theological minds  who surely have addressed this saying of his and it’s meaning.  Literal thinkers may translate this to an understanding of Jesus as the only way to eternal life and exhort what I now believe is a narrow view of his words.  During meditation on both of these teachings a door seemed to open to a new realization.

ASK –   The Way.  When lost on the highway before GPS systems, one had to swallow their pride pull over and ask someone.  In doing that it not only creates a humble attitude that we don’t know how to get where we are going but also puts us in relationship with another person.  How many people ( sorry men but there is an old joke about you asking for directions) just keep driving around not wanting look silly or ignorant and go in circles.  Either they get lucky, turn around and give up going back where they came from or they admit they need the help of another.  So I shall ask God and others the Way – putting my ego/pride away and then seeking out the one or One who knows.

SEEK – The Truth.  What is real and what is important.  Our culture and my life experiences have created many lies about myself and others that become hard to identify as a false reality.  We believe things about ourselves and others based on false information.   In seeking I ask; who am I to be in the world?  Is what I wear and who I support politically important in the eternal Kingdom?  And who are others that I am in relationship with?  Do they, like me keep certain things undercover for protection of Self? I was told so many times that I didn’t have the degree or the knowledge to do more with my life that I believed it and settled for the lie.  But in seeking the Truth  I can look beyond the surface of things to experience the world with love and compassion for myself and others.

KNOCK – On the door to authentic life to eternal life.  For though we look forward to the heavenly chorus of angels and being with God when our physical life is complete aren’t we supposed to experience and share Love, Joy, Peace, Patience….here on earth?  Yes!   We come to the door to knock after we Ask and Seek.  Prepared with the way to go, humble hearts and the truth of who and whose we are  ready to open the door and experience abundant and yes, eternal life.

Matthew 7:1-12

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.
 For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.  Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
 “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.   “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.  For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.  Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone?  Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake?
 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!  “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

Post script –  As a follower of Jesus I am saddened by those who see his words as literal mandates and do not look deeper into the love he taught.  Maybe they are still wandering the road and won’t ask for directions.  Caty's Birthday Upstate 052

Buried Treasure

My husband and I are remodeling our house.  It is a very old building full of character and the energy of those who have called this place home.   As we tear open walls to create our own spaces here we often joke about finding treasure…..or bones.  Many past residents have added their own changes but there are still many uncovered and undiscovered places that are original to this 1867 Victorian.   There are beams in the walls that still have bark on them from the hand hewn logs that were crafted by the builder.

The original layout of the house is a bit mysterious in places.  Large dark Chestnut floor moldings curve gracefully to a dead stop where a wall has been added to create a bathroom.  Our latest project is a living room space in what was originally the cook kitchen and adjoining wood shed. An earlier resident had already transformed the space into a den and a bedroom.  In the corner of the room is a wall that backs up to the aforementioned bathroom.  We thought it a great idea to add a door between them.

Demolition is always messy and with occasional surprises.  We pulled down the paneling added by the previous owner then underlying sheet rock added by perhaps another and there it was.  A door.  Buried within the walls right where we wanted to put one.

Ironically the presence of the door opened up for me realizations of my life as a seeker.  In meditation I seek to find that way in to contemplative presence with God. When sharing this door story with my yoga class a student  Ann pointed out that the door is the treasure!  It is indeed!

How much are we like this home!  We are old enough for senior discounts, friends and family members have come in and out of our lives.  We are full of character and energy built by those relationships.  Throughout our lives growing and changing  yet still the same cells and structure formed by our creator.  There are still things to discover about ourselves and our relationship with God.   And here we are,  knocking.

Penned by Idols

Girl on Beach“Tell us you idols, what is going to happen. Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come, tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods. Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear…..I look but there is no one-no one among the gods to give us counsel, no one to give answer when I ask them. See, they are all false! Their deeds amount to nothing; their images are but wind and confusion? Isaiah 41:22-23, 28-29.

Wealth, Vanity, Material Possessions and SELF have all appeared as characters in my book. They thankfully are not the main characters but make occasional appearances thinking they might make the story more appealing. They can be beautiful and exciting in different ways.  They are also false idols that can cage me.

Wealth creates a life of ease for Vanity who sits on the beach with a margarita reading great novels, her toes in the warm sand. Vanity is slender and tan in a sleek black bathing suit, skin smooth and young. She heads up to the house where Material Possessions lives in a quaint summer cottage on the shoreline. Right off the pages of House Beautiful each room decorated with crisp blues and greens, bright white gauze curtains wave in the breeze around a small porch facing the sea. Vanity pads barefoot into the house, as Self whispers, “no worry about the sand, the housekeeper will sweep that up”. SELF turns on the news and disgusted with the stories of others suffering, shuts it off and gets a sandwich prepared by her chef with fresh arugula salad. Ahhhh and Lust for a life like this! I forgot about her. She is a control freak and tends to be the ringleader. Fiction, nice to read but eventually I reach “The End”.  Time to get up and clean the house, put some dinner on and throw a load of laundry in before I sit down to some TV.

In reality, wealth puts food on my table, clothing on my body, a roof over my head and material possessions that I can’t even keep track of under that roof (and in the shed, the barn and the garage). Too much stuff! Vanity creates stress with worry about weight and ability in my yoga practice, she revels in the idea that she doesn’t look her age and often devotes her time to an unrealistic goal for her body. SELF is constantly poking her head up and saying “what about what I want?” and “why can’t others live the way I think they should.?” SELF can tend to be lazy and does not use her time well.

These are the idols (false gods) that I turn away from  daily as I pray, practice yoga and meditate on God’s word. They have proven as scripture says to amount to nothing but wind and confusion.  In Yogic scripture Patanjali identifies five causes of pain one of which is raga which is attachment or passion and another abhinivesa –love of or thirst for life, fearing death.   Yoga helps me to still my mind and listen .  I hear that to live life to its fullness is to find my self as God created me, not as the world sees me (or I in turn identify with the world).  I seek to follow, learn, serve others and live in peace with all.  So I Pray, Practice and in doing so hear the still small voice of Love encouraging me to Worship God, creator and redeemer who provides for all that we need.  Gratitude is fostered for all blessings of home, family and friends.  My heart opens to love others and release the grip on earthly things.  There is where true freedom lies.

 

“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”  2 Corinthians 3:16-18