Practice: Sit silently for a period of time, generally 20 minutes. Begin by finding a comfortable and upright position that you can remain relatively still in for the duration of the prayer period. Choose a sacred word such as love, heart, presence, release. During the prayer time you simply allow the thoughts, emotions, sensations, and images that occupy your attention to come into your awareness and rather than engage them with your attention, return to your sacred word. This is not a mantra because you are not repeating, pondering, or meditating on the word. It is simply the vehicle which allows you to let go of that which tries to occupy your attention.
Purpose: This practice builds the internal muscle of letting go, kenosis (or self-emptying), and we learn to over time begin to develop an object-less awareness.
Practice: There are many forms of Christian meditation, here is one form to try. Sit silently for a period of time, generally 20 minutes. Begin by finding a comfortable and upright position that you can remain relatively still in for the duration of the meditation period. During the prayer time you simply stay present, open, and awake, neither holding on to or pushing away anything. Maintaining a non-judgmental compassion toward yourself when you find yourself engaged in thought, as James Finley teaches, begin to silently breath in and surrender to God's life giving ‘I love you’ and breath out ‘I love you,’ allowing it to be an expression of your whole being as an act of love in return.
Purpose: This practice cultivates a deep rest in the infinite love of God that is always loving us in every moment of our existence and which we are a part of manifesting in the world.
Practice: We take a simple chant and begin to sing the words. As the sound emerges from within us, we allow the vibration to move through our body bringing our awareness to the aliveness that exists in sensation and moves through us by the voice. We allow the chant to touch and open our hearts as well as quiet the mind.
Purpose: This practice is also a prayer and supports an engagement of our three centers of intelligence - the intellectual center, the emotional center, and the movement center.
Practice: This can be done with any practical work that you do; laundry, preparing and cooking meals, dishes, cleaning, chopping wood, house projects, etc. We engage in conscious work by bringing presence and attention to the task we are engaged in.
Purpose: To bring presence to the elements of our every day lives and to observe our habitual ways of being and identifications that may no longer be useful.
Practice: This practice generally follows four movements as one engages a sacred reading, text, or poetry. It can also be done with an image (Visio Divina), a song (Audio Divina), or your life.
The four movements are as follows:
First reading - Pay attention to what word or phrase stands out to you and allow yourself to repeat it briefly.
Second reading - Notice how the text lands in your body in sensation, what emotions and feelings are stirred, what thoughts, associations, and images emerge. Allow yourself to reflect on what comes up and whether there is a specific meaning arising for you.
Third reading - Notice whether a prayer or mantra emerges that can be offered on behalf of you, others, the world, or God.
Fourth reading - Simply sit in the mystery allowing it to draw you deeper into silence.
Purpose: This practice takes us deeper into sacred texts under the premise that they are living and breathing, offering nourishment to us at any point in our lives.
(also called ‘orienting’ in Organic Intelligence)
Practice: Come into the present moment by connecting to your environment through your senses. Engage what is around you with neutrality. You are simply being present to what is without judging it or evaluating whether you enjoy it or don’t, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant.
What do I see around me? (a painting on the wall, a plant, a cloud outside, a piece of furniture, a person, an animal, etc.)
What do I hear? (the sound of cars in the background, the hum of the refrigerator, birds chirping, etc.)
What do I feel with my skin, on the outside of my body? (the temperature of the air, a piece of clothing, the texture of a chair or pillow, etc.)
What do I smell? (the scent of a candle, food in the kitchen, the ocean, etc.)
What do I taste? (the taste of my coffee, fresh rain in the air, etc.)
Purpose: When our physiology gets stuck in reviewing what has happened, planning for the future, or scanning our environment for what’s wrong, we often become activated. We feel a sense of unease and it is difficult to be present right here, right now. When we are present we are more able to respond to the circumstance with what is needed rather than reactively. This practice helps our physiology register the safety or calm of the present moment and has a deactivating quality to it, bringing a momentary sense of ease which has a regulating effect on our nervous system.
(also called ‘orienting to pleasure’ in Organic Intelligence)
Practice: Our brain and nervous system are wired to pay attention to what is wrong in our environment in order to fix it. This is not a problem necessarily but ‘what’s wrong’ can take up too much of our attention, contributing to a sense of overwhelm and dis-ease. As you go about your day, notice when you are experiencing enjoyment, pause and see if you can identify what is enjoyable about the moment, begin to identify where that enjoyable experience is landing in your body (stomach, face, shoulders, etc.) and what the sensation is (tingling, loosening, calming, etc.). Take 30-60 seconds to enjoy that sensation.
Purpose: This practice is about breaking our addiction to the ‘what’s wrong’ habit. It has a deactivating effect that supports the nervous system in returning to an oscillatory rhythm rather than stuck on activation. Fully deactivating the nervous system can take 30-60 seconds or longer. Therefore growing our capacity to keep our attention in or on pleasant sensation will increase our nervous system resiliency and ability to stay out of the conditioned focus on 'what's wrong.'
Finding Your Rootedness
Practice: Sense your feet on the ground imagining roots going into the ground. Picture your legs like the trunk of a tree and sense the substantialness and strength here. See if you can sense into this even when life feels unmanageable and the winds seem to be blowing hard. Allow the top of the tree to bend in the wind without losing contact with the base of the tree.
Purpose: This practice helps us get in touch with our connection to the earth and the essential reality that we are a part of it. It brings a sense of equilibrium especially when times are challenging and reminds us that we are more than the branches and leaves being toppled around.
Practice: We listen with and through our body and pray through gestures, postures, and movements. The prayer can express something that you know deep within from your own inner wisdom, something you want to know and trust with more of yourself, an offering for or listening to the Divine Mystery.
Purpose: Our bodies carry wisdom and knowing that often surpasses thought and feelings. The body has a particular aptitude and intelligence for understanding the complex spiritual life. This three-centered way of praying can allow us to show up more wholly. As we listen through our bodies we can also support that which we recognize as truth to imprint in our being on a cellular level.