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Conscious Relating.

All of the Wisdom traditions teach in various ways that there is more going on spiritually in and around us than we notice in our ordinary awareness, rhythms, and ways of relating. This spiritual awareness and Wisdom rhythm recognizes that we exist, have our being, and participate in a complex relational field ultimately in service of Love made manifest. Existing within this relational universe means we exist in relation to everything else, we are connected in increasingly wider ways. When we awaken to the already present capacity for this awareness within, tuning into the impulses of the heart as spiritual organ as much as our ordinary awareness, this will inevitably call us toward conscious relationships and conscious ways of relating. There are many valuable ways to engage conscious relating through the personality, egoic operating system, or psychological lens of perception. For example, committing to taking responsibility for how you manifest in interactions, understanding your tender places and learning to respond rather than react, communicating personality desires, navigating expectations, valuing the other person’s desires and needs as much as your own, doing your shadow and nervous system work, managing your unhelpful behaviors and learning the rules of relating, allowing the person to grow and transform without demanding that they do so, etc. etc. etc. These are all good and necessary structures to support a more helpful way of relating. From a Wisdom perspective, conscious relating also operates beyond the personality or ego lens of perception. It requires a ruthless willingness to see ourselves and others’ actual capacity in any given moment, is not limited to the sentimental/emotional/romantic, includes tension (think laws of the universe — law of three and law of seven), is not attached to the outcome of the relationship, is (not wishes or tries to be) low maintenance with few expectations, is rooted in the Kingdom of Heaven drawing on unstinting resources from within it, and doesn’t necessitate whom you are relating with to also be consciously relating. Regular Wisdom practices allow us to tap into this capacity, to experience and directly hear the voice and impulses of Love/God/Origin within and to be in step with that voice in this relational universe. It is good for us to take a snapshot from time to time of how and from where we are relating in this vast relational universe. Not necessarily, to fix what we see, but to listen to and from the heart. With Love, Heather


From the Daily Contemplative Pauses

This will not include the full readings from last week but will offer a recap on the types of thoughts we encounter in Centering Prayer and how to work with them. Monday “Various kinds of thoughts may come down the stream of consciousness when one starts to quiet one's mind. The appropriate response is a little different for each. The most obvious are the superficial thoughts that the imagination grinds out because of its propensity for perpetual motion. These should be treated like the weather which you just have to accept. . . The only reasonable attitude is to put up with the noise and pay as little attention to it as possible.” — Thomas Keating, 'Cultivating the Centering Prayer' in Finding Grace at the Center, p. 27 Tuesday “The second kind of thought occurs when you get interested in something that is happening in the street. A brawl breaks out and attracts your curiosity. This is the kind of thought that calls for some reaction. Here is where returning gently to the sacred word is a means of getting back to the general loving attention you are offering to God. It is important not to be annoyed with yourself if you get involved with these interesting thoughts.” — Thomas Keating, 'Cultivating the Centering Prayer' in Finding Grace at the Center, p. 27 Wednesday “As we sink into deep peace and then silence, a third kind of thought may arise. Something in our nature. . . starts fishing. Brilliant intellectual or theological insights or what seem to be marvelous psychological breakthroughs, like tasty bait, are dangled in front of our minds and we think, “If only I can remember this fantastic insight!” But acquiescence to some beautiful or illuminating thought long enough to remember it afterwards will bring you out of the deep waters of silence. Any thought will bring you out. . . A very delicate but intimate kind of self-denial is necessary in this prayer. It is not just an experience of rest and refreshment—a sort of spiritual cocktail hour. It involves the denial of what we are most attracted to, namely, our own thoughts and feelings—our very selves. . . This kind of asceticism goes to the very roots of our attachment to our superficial egocentric selves and teaches us to let go. It is the most thorough kind of self-denial. but also a delightful kind. Self-denial does not have to be afflictive to be effective.” — Thomas Keating, 'Cultivating the Centering Prayer' in Finding Grace at the Center, p. 28 Thursday with Joy “As we sit in meditation, we can see how each thought, if simply observed, without being clung to or rejected, simply arises, endures, and passes away. Just as the day or night in which you are meditating is arising, enduring, and passing away; just as your whole life is arising, enduring, and passing away; just as the whole universe is arising, enduring, and passing away -so, too, the thought you are now experiencing is arising, enduring, and passing away. The flow of thoughts we experience in meditation is not an adversary to be conquered. It is rather the presence of God manifesting herself, giving herself wholly and completely in and as the arising, enduring, and passing-away nature of thought and of all manifested reality.” — James Finley, Christian Meditation Friday “As you quiet down and go deeper, you may come to a place that is outside time. Time is the measure of motion. With few or no successive thoughts, you may experience the time of prayer passing like the snap of your fingers. . . As you settle down to deep peace and inner freedom from all thoughts, a great desire to reflect on what is happening may arise. You may think, “At last I am getting some place.” Or, “This feeling of peace is just great.” Or, “If I could make a mental note of how I got here so that I can get back to it whenever I want!” These are good examples of the fourth kind of thought. The author of The Cloud has this advice: Firmly reject all clear ideas, however pious or delightful (Chap.9). In deep tranquility you are offered a choice between reflection on what is going on or letting go in faith.” — Thomas Keating, 'Cultivating the Centering Prayer' in Finding Grace at the Center, p. 29-30 Saturday “The presence of God is like the atmosphere we breathe. You can have all you want of it as long as you do not try to take possession of it and hang on to it. . . The presence of God does not respond to greed. It has a different dynamism. It is totally available, but on condition that we freely accept it and do not try to possess it. This prayer is communion with the Spirit of God who is charity, pure gift. The possessive instinct in us wants to hang on to what is good for dear life—and the tranquility is so good and brings such a deep sense of security that the temptation to hang on is very great. But let it go. Accept each period of centering prayer as it comes, without asking for anything, have no expectations.” — Thomas Keating, 'Cultivating the Centering Prayer' in Finding Grace at the Center, p. 30 Sunday “The tendency to reflect is one of the hardest things to handle in deep prayer. We want to savor the moment of pure joy, pure experience, pure awareness. But if you can gradually train yourself to let the temptation to reflect go by, just like any thought, you will pass to a new level of freedom, a more refined joy. . . This method of prayer is training in self-surrender. It teaches us by our own experience and mistakes not to be possessive, but to let go. If in this prayer you can get over the inveterate habit of reflecting on what is going on have peace and not think about having peace then you will have learned how to do it.” — Thomas Keating, 'Cultivating the Centering Prayer' in Finding Grace at the Center, p. 31


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