Don’t Bother to Open This – Just be Still

 

Are you inundated with email messages right now? From poems, prayers and meditative pieces, to concerts, exercise options and both hilarious and heart-warming videos, there is an unending stream of options flooding into our lives right now. Alone? I’m sure there are many who do feel alone but others say they’re feeling almost overwhelmed by zoom meetings, social media conversations, internet options and news updates.

I don’t want to write anything this week.

The days that we are currently in are holy days. Nothing like this has ever happened to the world before. We are being set apart. What will we learn?

What gives your life purpose?

What do you need to feel well, whole and happy?

Our Loving Creator is speaking. Let’s use this time to listen – to her, to one another, to our self. And remember, God’s voice is always a Voice of Love. Don’t listen to anyone else.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

Early Lessons from the Virus Time

 

Does it feel to you like we’ve been invaded by an alien being from outer space? Our world has been shaken upside down in the last few weeks as the coronavirus, it’s containment and fear has spread around the globe. I know there are always lessons to be learnt from life, so I’ve begun to consider the lessons from this invasion. It’s still early days so I’m sure lessons will evolve, but here are a few I’m considering.

Humility – I hope we, all the people on our planet, will be open to learning this lesson. We are not in control. We watch it strike the rich and the poor. We are a vulnerable species. Let’s live more simply, humbly.

Resilient and Resourceful – We are resourceful. We can be flexible and respond to a challenge. We can discover what is needed and will find a medical aid to help us. It is one of our wonders that we can be both humble and resilient. We can hold both at the same time. We need not be black and white thinkers, who strut in our problem-solving ability but can be embracive, healthy people who know our place within the cosmos.

Togetherness – This is a piece I really hope we learn. Yes, we can use borders for containment, but we can also work together as a global family. We can pull our best scientific minds together for a medical solution. We can let the medical community and the organizers of the world tell us how to contain the spread by managing our movement and lifestyle. We can learn that all of us have responsibility for all us. We’re in this thing called ‘life’, together.

Vulnerability – The clear recognition that so many of us live without financial margins. For those of us who live with margin, can we imagine what these days feel like when your job disappears, and you still need to feed your children?  Is it time we re-organize our financial structures and move to a guaranteed income?

Earth has a voice – As we hear of polluted skies and water beginning to clear, it’s as if the earth herself has gifted us with time so we might learn how our consumer-oriented, selfish ways have damaged earth. Will we listen to our planet? How will we live going forward?

A slower and simpler life is possible – We are being forced into a slower pace of life. So many of us resist slowness. I hope we will learn to accept it and use it well; more time for reflection, for self-awareness, more time for a small circle of people close to us, more time to be attentive to where we can wisely be helpful. When the restrictions lift, will we have wisdom about what we let back into our lives?

I’m struck about who we hear from each day. Daily we hear from political, scientific and medical leaders. More recently, there is a presence for mental health practitioners. Yet there is no strong and clear spiritual voice. Because of the mailing lists I’m on I have lots of meditative tools and perspectives offered to me but for the general public, when do they get a spiritual perspective on this crisis? How our world has changed and silenced the voice of the Spirit. When will we acknowledge that each person has not only a body and a mind, but also a spirit.  When will we listen to our spiritual teachers and their perspective on how to respond?

So those are a few of the things I’m wondering about. How about you? What are the lessons you’re wondering about?

Stay home, be kind to yourself and others, be well

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder

 

 

 

 

 

HELP! Finding Life within the Coronavirus Slow Down

 

Have you been required, or asked to self-isolate? Have your activities or work been curtailed? In some way all of us have been affected by the virus and its containment. We are all being required to live at least temporarily, a slower life.

For years I have helped people slow down, listen to the loving voice of God and then live out of what they hear. I have found that some people instinctively respond to the slowing down, but many, even most people, find it incredibly difficult. I am concerned for the mental health of our communities as the time of self-isolation deepens. I’m encouraged to see that mental health professionals are beginning to speak out about it. We are social creatures and need each other. It wonderful to see the concerts, exercise classes, talks etc. being offered on the internet.

I offer you today some aids to help you get through a slower and possibly anxious, period in your life. Give your slower days an intention and purpose. Some love a free-flowing day – let that happen. Others prefer to work within a schedule, so create one! I work with a combination. I have a schedule of activities I will probably do, but I allow them to flow. Perhaps you can schedule a time for meditation, a time for written reflection and a time for walking, even a walking meditation outdoors. I think it is a wonderful time to pray the Loving-Kindness meditation.  Here are four links to prayer practices:

Centering Prayer: https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/centering-prayer-1

Holy Reading – Lectio Divina : https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/lectio-divina

Loving Kindness Meditation: https://jackkornfield.com/meditation-on-lovingkindness/

Walking Meditation: https://www.tarabrach.com/walking-meditation-instructions-pdf-from-tara-2/

Please look after yourself during this time of necessary slowness. May it become a rich time of learning for all of us as a human community.  I treasure the quote from Gibran’s The Prophet, “Pillars of the temple stand together and apart”. 

How are you adjusting? What are you learning?

Love and Prayers continue…

Anne

If this is helpful, please pass it along to friends so we can broaden the contemplative pathway. 

Mystic in Motion

‘Companion on the Way’ with Contemplative Fire

Surrender

Today ‘surrender’ is my word. It’s my second day at Rivendell leading the group meditation. This time it was Richard Wagamese writing about surrendering the outcome of an event to the Creator. The word opened within me a gentle release. Ah yes, I don’t need to concern myself with outcome, or expectations, or productivity or success. I’m invited to be open to My Creator, to invite her to move within and through me, to unfold her ways in my life. The Way of Love.

“When my energy is low, meaning I don’t feel at my best in terms of creativity, inspiration, attunement or rest, I let Creator have my flow and ask only to be a channel. My deepest audience connection has always happened when I do this. So, on my way to a podium nowadays, I say to myself, “Okay, Creator, you and me, one more time.” When I surrender the delivery, along with the outcome, the anxiety and expectation, everything becomes miraculous. It’s a recipe for life, really.” Embers pg67

‘Surrender’ used to be a scary word to me. I have come to recognize that what I felt in those days was my controlling ego not wanting to let go of what it knew, what was its protection and projection. Today when I hear the word my heart warms. Oh yes. Remind me again and again to surrender to God. It is You and me together Precious One. You lead. I follow. I trust wherever You want to take me and whatever You want to give to me and to others through me. This life is Your show, Your pathway. We walk it together, but I want it to be about You, You and me, not about ME. My life is more embedded in you than it used to be, more entangled with the delight of You.

Thank you Richard for reminding me one more time to surrender, to live as Creator and me dancing together. I need to be reminded. Often. Do you?

Love and prayers

Anne

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Mystic in Motion

Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

End-of-Year Reflection

I have found that the moment  we move from the end of one year into the beginning of another is a wonderful time for reflection. In the darkness of our winter days, I can be slower and attentive to what has been through the sunny, growing months. Sometimes within Contemplative Fire we would gather on December 31st and have a few hours of reflection to toast the old year and welcome the new one.

Perhaps you would like to do this on your own, or with a few chosen companions. On your own, consider taking some time, over a few days to reflect on your spiritual journey. Here is an outline of what we’ve used in the past. Use and adjust as you like:

An Opening Prayer (something to help settle, so my heart can be open to listen)

God of our past, of every present moment that has brought us to this present momentBe with us now.

God of the seasons, of the year that is completing. Be with us now.

God of time, illuminate our reflections  and enlighten for us the way that lies ahead. Be with us now

Indeed God, be with us

Amen

 Contemplative Fire follows a rhythm of ‘Travelling Light – Dwelling Deep’. Look back on the past year and identify:

  • Some point/event/ or experience during which you felt you were travelling light
  • Some point/event or experience when you felt you were dwelling deep.
  • What was it that enabled you to experience this lightness and to experience this depth?
  • Express gratitude to God for your experience.

Looking ahead – Is there a longing that you carry? Is there something that you deeply hope for in the time ahead? Perhaps write or draw a picture of your longing. Offer your longing to God. Don’t hang on to it but release it with hope into the loving arms of the One who sustains you each day, the One who gives you breath.

May your reflection time be blessed.

Love and prayer

Anne

 

 

Mystic in Motion

‘Companion on the Way’ in Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)

 

How to Handle Distractions: The Squeaky Shoes!

The community had gathered. We had heard a sacred reading. The bell was struck. A gentle silence descended on us. Then, on the other side of the wall, in the parking lot a frustrated mother began yelling at her child, “I didn’t drive all this way for you to refuse to go to camp!’. The yelling continued, accompanied by a child’s mournful cry.  Beneath our feet the piano began, joined by happy voices of children singing camp songs. One after another their songs rolled along. The final straw were The Squeaky Shoes, rubber soles on linoleum, that sauntered down the hall outside the chapel. Really! So what was that sacred text???

That particular morning highlighted for me the delight of meditation. We (or is it just me!) have this image of sitting in stillness, all is serene. Maybe a few birds chirp or a gentle waterfall is a soothing white noise. Within a pristine setting perhaps I will settle into a place of inner peace.

But usually as soon as I settle on my cushion, I’m aware of the flopping of my mind, or emotions that get triggered. Again and again, as Fr Keating taught, I get hooked by some ‘boat’ that has entered the river of my thoughts and I’m engaged in sorting out all the stuff on the boat. Whether my physical space is serene or not, my internal space seldom is very orderly.

That morning, with all the yelling, singing and squeaking, gave me time to reflect again on how to deal with distractions when I meditate. They will happen! It might be internal thoughts that engage me or the squeaky shoes outside the room. I know they will come, so how can I let them not trigger an annoyance or sense of failure, but become one of the delights of meditation?

I know as my practice deepens the external sounds move more easily into something ‘out there’ and cease to trigger the cords of annoyance within me. They can still cause me to feel disruption. I look for the day when I’m oblivious to them. I’m not there yet. I’m not able to walk on hot coals! But I can breathe and let them pass. The internal roommate that chatters is more of a distraction to me. But the good part is that I can recognize when I’ve climbed on board and jump overboard one more time.

The real delight of distractions in meditation for me is the growing awareness that those distractions help me bring the quiet centre of my practice into everyday life. When I’m standing in line at the grocery store or caught in traffic I can pause and breathe and return to being open to God’s Spirit right then, right there because I’ve done it in my practice when The Squeaky Shoes walked down the hall. Or when someone gets annoyed at me or I feel irritated towards someone, or jealous of who they are, I can pause and breathe and return to being open to God’s Spirit right then because that’s what I’ve done in my meditation practice when The Squeaky Shoes were the last straw for me. Again, and again, pause, breathe and return my focus to God’s Spirit within me. I am a branch of God’s vine. I carry God’s Life-giving, Ever-Loving, Healing Sap within me. I belong to God. That is who I am.

Distractions! How do you deal with them in life and /or on the cushion???

Love and prayers for the journey

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Founder (Canada)

 

The Importance of Approaching Sleep Well

Day AND Night

What is your attitude to night time? Do you dismiss it? Do you think that the only things of significance take place during the day?

I have a new mediation teacher in my life right now.  I learnt today that I’d seen night as very different from day. I realize that unconsciously I thought that important things only took place during the day. The daytime hours were when it all happened! Sure as I went to sleep I’d give myself into God’s care for my slumber, but whatever… it was nighttime. I really didn’t prepare for the work or the experience of what my soul was up to during the hours of slumber.

Today I was taught to formally meditate twice a day – sure that’s normal. I was taught to begin my day with meditation, before my mind took off to plan the day or engage in the days work – sure that’s normal. But then he said to make my second meditation time just before bed, sometime between nine and midnight. He told me I was to prepare myself to sleep. As I read that I realized that my ‘day’ has two parts, one where the sun shines (or not!) and one where the moon shines (or not!). There is dawn, high noon, dusk and deep dark. Each phase of a day has it’s own energy.

I love the early morning hours, daybreak that shines pink on the mountains, that holds a stillness and anticipation in the air. Noon is bustling, activities happen, things are accomplished. Dusk is unwinding from the days work, settling down and sometimes gloriously beautiful. The deep dark of night is like a deep exhale, a time of rest. Each part of the cycle is significant, none more than the others. Each precious as part of our life.

So I’m changing my meditation routine. I don’t know how it will work or if I can do it, but I’ll try. Morning meditation continues. My afternoon meditation time will become a study/reflection period. I’ll try to meditate before bed with the intention of preparing myself for the soul work that takes place during the darkness and time of rest.

Practicalities trouble me. Where will I meditate at night? In my cabin? In a room in the house? In our bed? Hmm… I’m just not sure how all this will work.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Founder (Canada)

 

Why this World is the Way it is….

This week I heard it one more time and something inside me said ‘STOP’! “Silence makes me depressed”. “Silence and solitude….” and then she shuddered. I’ve heard it so many times. People pull away from contemplative practices. Why? Why do they sign up for yoga retreats but not for Contemplative Fire or for contemplative retreats within a Christian tradition? Why will they learn a new language of Sanskrit, chant in words they don’t know but not join a reflective service? Why?

When I was in a contemplative group the other day and a member said how her husband found silence depressing, I found myself stirred inside, some frustration stirred, some deeper anger, some hurt and some sadness. I observed a messy little stew pot of emotions emerge within me! I have found my twenty-five plus years within the contemplative world to be deeply healing. I’ve learnt how to face my negative emotions and move beyond them. Fundamentally I’ve experienced the LOVE of God, the deep, deep love of God that holds and sustains my life. Has it all been easy? No, much of it has been hard work, but it’s been wonderful. It is now my life passion to help other people find their own healing path. I offer the contemplative path and I grieve when it is dismissed as depressive. The door is slammed shut. ‘No thanks. Don’t want any.’ Slam.

As I pondered that perspective and my own response to it, I heard Silence/Solitude/Contemplative Practices being blamed for the person’s depression. I realized it that was a common response I’ve heard over the years. “It’s too difficult. It’s too scary. I don’t know what will come to my mind if I’m still. It makes me nervous.” I’ve heard so many responses like that, but suddenly, this morning I realized that those people are blaming the contemplative practices for their emotional response. It’s like me blaming my husband for my anger. I’m responsible for my angry response not him. if he behaves in a way that provokes my anger, well it’s my feelings and I’m responsible for learning from my reaction and caring for myself.

How come people can blame the contemplative practices for their feelings and get away with it? The practices of silence or solitude or meditation or imaginary prayer or (insert any contemplative practice)… are not the problem. The inability to accept responsibility for our own feelings and reactions is the problem. Too much of our church life is directed by people who aren’t willing to own their own feelings and do their work, do The Work of maturing spiritually, of following Jesus. Too much of our world is also led by people who won’t do their work.

I see the problem more clearly today, but I don’t see the solution. Right now, I hold it in the presence of our Loving, Omnipresent God.  I want to be able to put my foot in the door and not let them slam it shut.

How do you respond?

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder, Contemplative Fire Canada

If this is helpful or interesting to you, please pass it along.

 

Breathing Underwater

 

One night in my dreams I found myself swimming in beautiful clear water. It felt wonderful! I realized that I was breathing under water. I wasn’t snorkeling or scuba diving. I had no equipment, just Anne, swimming and breathing in sparkling clear water.

Now all of you who love dream work will have some fun with that dream! I dabble in those explorations too and have had some deeply rewarding insights from dreams, including that one. But today…. Today I want to share with you a special moment from my waking life that reminded me of that dream sensation.

My granddaughter asked me if I’d join her scuba diving. We were on a family holiday at a resort that was offering a free scuba session. She loves the water and wanted to give it a try, but wanted company. Fifteen years ago I took the Padi Open Water Dive Training program and became certified. I let it lapse because I had such awful experiences. I’m a strong swimmer and very comfortable in the water but found myself unable to relax with the scuba gear on. As I looked at the surface of the water far, far above me I felt claustrophobic. I thought I would go home in a mahogany box. One time I thought I was going to vomit! I decided no more diving. But then, a granddaughter asks and of course I’m in.

We dove that afternoon and then, both of us so excited from our experience, signed up to do a longer training the next day. I think two things made the difference; a very competent, enjoyable teacher and how my meditation practice has matured over the last fifteen years.

Our teacher was wonderful. He was warm, engaging, clear, and encouraging. He delighted in my granddaughter and me, so glad to be teaching us to dive. He was one of those people that draws out the best in me.  After we had the gear on and were breathing under water with the regulator he asked us to sit on the bottom of the pool, simply rest there. The last time I tried to do it I couldn’t rest. This time I could feel I was at ease.

The sensation of resting in the water, either sitting on the bottom, or simply floating while deeply submerged, felt just like those moments in meditation when I’m held. Those moments when thoughts cease and the still point that is the ground of my being is all that there is within me. it is a place of deep rest and ease. As I floated in the water, recalling the mediation experience I could breath in the LOVE that sustains me. The dive became an experience of being held in LOVE, in LIFE.

Do you meditate? I think everyone can benefit from learning how to meditate. There are so many different pathways. I follow a Christian path and have learnt a variety of Christian meditation practices. I’ve also learnt secular, Buddhist and yogi meditation practices. There is scientific research now regarding the physical and mental benefits of meditation. There is a meditative practice that would suit you! It is a practice. It calls for persistence when it’s difficult. but oh, it’s worth it.

There is nothing quite like breathing underwater.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Founder (Canada)

 

 

My Pace Bunny

 

During my retreat week, I felt it was time for an in-depth re-tuning of my Rhythm of Life, so  I made my way through Contemplative Fire’s ‘The Companion’s Journey’, a series designed to help us be in touch with our rhythm. As I read through the material, one phrase that resonated was the invitation to follow Jesus as he leads me in a contemplative pace……a contemplative pace.

 

A few days before that I’d hiked up the mountain behind our home with my daughter and her partner. They are avid hikers. I’d done this trail before and I knew how steep it was and how much exertion I’d experienced. I warned them I’d need to stop and catch my breath! My daughter responded with ‘Not a problem Mom. We walk ‘slowly-slowly’.’ She actually had a Hindi word for it that sounds like ‘pulley-pulley’. She described how they walk so slowly uphill they don’t ever need to stop to catch their breath. Others may initially run past them, but eventually they usually pass all those who exert themselves.

We started up the mountain and my daughter walked ahead of me. About a half hour into our hike I realized that I hadn’t stopped once to catch my breath. Yes, my heart was pounding, but I was okay. I could keep this pace up. I’m not a runner, but my daughter is, and I’ve cheered her along in a few of her marathons. In those races there are people who wear rabbit ears with a number on them. They are called ‘Pace Bunnies’ and are volunteers who will run at a set pace, some faster, some slower. Racers find a Pace Bunny with their expected time and let the bunny set their pace for the race. My daughter became my Pace Bunny as we climbed the mountain that day. It was wonderful. I let her lead the pace. We’d stop and look at some marvelous trees and then we’d move on. It was all natural and organic.

 

So… I hear the invitation to let Jesus be My Contemplative Pace Bunny. As I follow him, he’ll set the pace for me, sometimes with some pep, sometimes lingering even stopping to gaze, but always moving forward. I can identify him too. Not by rabbit ears with numbers, but I know his aroma, his taste. I can recognize the deep peace of Christ, the sweet ease, the inner spaciousness, and always the practical compassion. His ways are known, not hidden. If I lose sight of him and sometimes I do, I can ask those around me for help to find him again. He won’t go far. He keeps his eye on those walking with him.

My time on retreat has been a slow time, time to linger and gaze, time to re-tune myself, and say ‘yes’ to following my Contemplative Pace Bunny.

Who sets the pace for your life?

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada