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Fasting to Stabilize Enjoyment.



We are moving into the second week of the Lenten season of which so many people throughout history have observed the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, repentance, and self-examination in service of conscious love. As mentioned last week, I invite us to engage prayer and fasting with the intention of stabilizing enjoyment. Enjoyment being the pleasant three-centered (thought, emotion, sensation) state that occurs when we are engaged in an experience, activity, relationship, etc. that satisfies something within. Simple enjoyment. Non-addictive, non-substantive, non-violent enjoyment. Good, wholesome, satisfaction.

 

This week let us consider how the practice of fasting can support us in stabilizing enjoyment. Fasting is about giving up or letting go of something typically in order to awaken to our spiritual hunger and enhance our spiritual body's senses (we might even call this our Queendom of Heaven, Imaginal, or Second Body senses). It heightens our spiritual eyes, ears, nose, mouth and skin allowing us to tune into the nutrient rich and satisfying landscape of the Queendom of Heaven or Imaginal Realm in our midst.

 

As we continue on in this season we can allow the space, that whatever we have chosen to fast from previously occupied (and its not too late to pick something), to draw us more deeply into the enjoyment of being human creatures and the enjoyment of being spiritual creatures following a wisdom way of being. Let us continue to practice these four steps adapted from Steve Hoskinson.

 

First, notice something pleasant. This could be a creaturely or/and spiritual experience, an activity, a relationship with anyone or anything even if only for a moment. Something you are taking in through your senses of sight, sound, touch, smell, taste. It could be noticing the tree that stands in your yard, a way you are folding your hands, a gesture your body makes, hearing a song you love, etc.


Second, be aware of the moment as it is without changing what you notice.


Third, begin to engage your creaturely and spiritual senses in your physical and second body. Notice wherever it is registering in your felt sense in your physical tissues, muscles, flow of energy and life force, etc. Sustain your attention in the place it is most palpable.


Finally, notice how this makes a difference in your whole state of being and thank inwardly or outwardly whatever or whomever you have taken pleasure in.

 

What if we let ourselves find enjoyment in our humanity? What if we allow ourselves the enjoyment of our wisdom path? Let's cultivate and stabilize enjoyment together in this way and see what happens.

  

With Lenten Enjoyment,

Heather


 

Daily Contemplative Pauses Readings

from last week

Monday, February 12th with Heather

I Am Conscious of the Currents of Life by Ernest Holmes

 

When we say that our body is spiritual we are not denying our physical body. The physical is included within the spiritual. If the Spirit, or Divine Intelligence, has seen fit to give us a physical body it would be absurd to think of our body as an illusion unworthy of our attention. Rather, we should think of our body as a spiritual instrument, and every statement we make about our body, or belief we hold about it, that accepts spiritual Perfection as the substance of the body, tends to heal.

 

My body is the temple of the living Spirit. It is spiritual substance now. Every part of my body is in harmony with the living Spirit within me. The Life of this Spirit flows through every atom of my being, vitalizing, invigor-ating, and renewing every part of my physical body. There is a pattern of perfection at the center of my being that is now operating through every or-gan, functiơn, action, and reaction. My body is forever renewed by the Spirit.

 

I am now made vigorous and whole. I possess the vitality of the Infinite. I am strong and well. The Life of the Spirit is my life. All of Its Strength is my strength. Its Power is my power. I feel that my whole being is renewed, invigorated, and made alive. There is complete stillness and perfect peace at the center of my being as I wait on that Presence that makes all things perfect. Every breath I draw is a breath of perfection, vitalizing, upbuilding, and renewing every cell of my body. I am born of the Spirit. I am in the Spirit. I am the Spirit made manifest.

 

Chant: every cell of this body, brings glory

 

Tuesday, February 13th with Heather

"Every concept grasped by the mind becomes an obstacle. Our aim is to attain beyond all words and concepts a contained presence.” — Gregory of Nyssa

 

“This non-iconic, non-discursive consciousness of God's presence - often referred to in Greek as Hesychia, ie. tranquility and inner stillness - is not an emptiness or a void but a Presence." — Kallistos Ware

 

 

Wednesday, February 14th with Heather

You may not believe in magic,

But don't you think it strange,

The amount of matter in our universe,

Has never slightly changed,

That all which makes your body,

Was once part of something more,

And every breath you ever breathe,

Has seen it all before,

There are countless scores of beauty,

In all the things that you despise,

It could once have been a shooting star,

That now makes up your thighs,

And atoms of forgotten life.

Who've long since ceased to roam,

May now have the great honour,

To call your crooked smile their home,

You may not believe in magic,

But I thought that you should know,

The makings of your heart were born,

Fourteen billion years ago,

So next time you feel lonely,

When this world makes you feel small,

Just remember that it's part of you,

And you're part of it all.

— Erin Haneon

 

Thursday, February 15th with Heather

"Ash Wednesday is the first of forty days the church calls Lent, a season of reflection, penitence, and preparation for Easter. There are forty days in Lent because, according to the Gospels, Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness, fasting, praying, preparing for his ministry, and being resourced to meet the Tempter. And the words that launched Jesus’s forty days were not, “Remember you are dust,” but “You are my beloved.” So I often slip in that word, “beloved,” when the minister whispers in my face, or when I remember those words myself. That extra word helps me feel and know that the piercing those words deliver is a piercing made of love, a dharma given for our personal and collective good, and a truth to set us free.

So that’s one sentence I’m living in today: “Beloved, remember you are dust, and to dust you will return.” — Russell Siler-Jones

 

 

Friday, February 16th with Heather

"Yes, there is that voice, the voice that speaks from ​​above and from within and that whispers softly or declares loudly: "You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests." It certainly is not easy to hear that voice in a world filled with voices that shout: "You are no good, you are ugly; you are worthless; you are despicable, you are nobody — unless you can demonstrate the opposite." 

 

These negative voices are so loud and so persistent that it is easy to believe them. That's the great trap. It is the trap of self-rejection. Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can, indeed, present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection.

 

When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. I am constantly surprised at how quickly I give in to this temptation. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking: "Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody." Instead of taking a critical look at the circumstances or trying to understand my own and others' limitations, I tend to blame myself — not just for what I did, but for who I am. My dark side says: "I am no good. ... I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned." 

 

Maybe you think that you are more tempted by arrogance than by self-rejection. But isn't arrogance, in fact, the other side of self-rejection? Isn't arrogance putting yourself on a pedestal to avoid being seen as you see yourself? Isn't arrogance, in the final analysis, just another way of dealing with the feelings of worthlessness? Both self-rejection and arrogance pull us out of the common reality of existence and make a gentle community of people extremely difficult, if not impossible, to attain.

 

I know too well that beneath my arrogance there lies much self-doubt, just as there is a great amount of pride hidden in my self-rejection. Whether I am inflated or deflated, I lose touch with my truth and distort my vision of reality.

 

I hope you can somehow identify in yourself the temptation to self-rejection, whether it manifests itself in arrogance or in low self-esteem. Not seldom, self-rejection is simply seen as the neurotic expression of an insecure person. But neurosis is often the psychic manifestation of a much deeper human darkness: the darkness of not feeling truly welcome in human existence. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the "Beloved." Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence."

— Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved

 

 

Saturday, February 17th with Chris

Inside It All by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer 

Beneath the masks, beneath the names,

beneath ideals, beneath the shoulds

is a thrumming, ecstatic atomic swirl,

unseen and omnipresent, inescapable

and holy—a divine blurring of being,

a realm of charge and energy—

most of it empty space. Sometimes,

I remember this. Perhaps walking

in the woods or standing in the midst

of a city’s whir, perhaps working in the kitchen

or singing in a choir, I remember

who we really are, remember

not with mind but with being,

and I’m lost in it, found in it,

alive in the cloud of it, astonished

with the sacred design of it,

elegant soup of it,

elemental swirl of it all.

How is it I sometimes

see only woman, man,

cottonwood, spider, self, other,

other, other, other?

We walk this journey

of separation together.

Oh being who is lonely,

remember?

 

 

Sunday, February 18th with Heather & Henry

Great Spirit Prayer translated by Lakota Sioux Chief Yellow Lark in 1887

Oh, Great Spirit,Whose voice I hear in the windsand whose breath gives life to all the world.Hear me! I need your strength and wisdom.Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyesever hold the red and purple sunset.Make my hands respect the things you have madeand my ears sharp to hear your voice.Make me wise so that I may understandthe things you have taught my people.Let me learn the lessons you have hiddenin every leaf and rock.Help me remain calm and strong in theface of all that comes towards me.Help me find compassion withoutempathy overwhelming me.I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,but to fight my greatest enemy: myself.Make me always ready to come to youwith clean hands and straight eyes.So when life fades, as the fading sunset,my spirit may come to you without shame. 


Chant: there is a wideness to God’s mercy, like the wideness of the sea

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