Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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Listening with full attention is an art and a skill. I believe one can listen to several layers of reality. I listen to music all day which I pipe into my environment on purpose. At the same time I read posts from all over the world making an effort to truly lend an ear to each point of view. I am sure I edit in favor of my own proclivities all the time. I hear what I want to hear, like all my fellow humans. The written word has less power over the brain to create action than the sound of the spoken voice. We can skim over either written or spoken words by drifting off with our attention. The question is, what do we hear when we distract ourselves from our own reality? Whose voice is creating our desires? Do we hear the voice of the universe, the voice of God?
Prayer and contemplation are designed to create an atmosphere in which we hear or know our purpose. Silent meditation is purposeful to teach the mind to shut up sometimes. Mystics and prophets have made contact with the Beloved by various means for all of history. Silence, and often seclusion, has been the path for many to attain mastery. Those who have not tried to be still and know might be very surprised how many internal voices have so much to say when one simply wants to quiet the mind to focus on the divine. These little chatterboxes are constantly yacking it up in our consciousness, a combo of memory, prejudice, and persona. They are the voices that make excuses for the ego. They are the smarty pants know-it-alls in our personas that are busy composing a response rather than paying full attention to a speaker. They think they are all that, but they are often confused. This does not indicate that we have split personalities, or are unusually fragmented. Everyone has to practice to be able to quiet the mind and keep it quiet. The phrase “a mind of its’ own” applies to your attention. Harnessing the full power of your own mind will be the greatest feat of patience you will ever achieve.
There is a long history of contemplative practice in Christianity. In the 1970’s three monks from Massachusetts created modern instructions for centering prayer. This form of meditation is close to Yoga Nidra. It teaches the mind to rise above the normal thoughts that inhabit our thinking. A jolly attitude is recommended toward the thought forms that casually intrude into one’s session. By gradually improving the ability to concentrate and fully focus on the selected subject or word, those pesky internal discussions cease and desist that constant chatter. All forms of meditation are aimed at this goal. If we have control over our thoughts we have control over our reality.
Lectio Divina is a way to use scriptures as the focus of the silent contemplation. Since journaling is a valuable way to amplify the lessons learned a company is producing lectio divina journals with recommended scriptures for each day with plenty of space to write down any impressions or ideas that spring from the session. These guys are monks, so they always use Christian texts, normally the Bible, for the inspiration. They refer to this as a centering prayer, which is a perfect way to describe the experience. Asking for divine inspiration at the outset is the way to invite holy blessings. Writing down journal impressions creates a bridge between the contemplation and everyday life. Insights gained are captured in the writing practice.
I think anyone can do this kind of meditation. You don’t need to use Christianity or any other specific religion to do it. Time spent quieting the mind and discovering the power of meditation and journaling is a wonderful way to simply deal with stress in the modern world. Simple Abundance, or gratitude journaling are secular ways to include contemplation and writing in our lives. There are many variations on this theme. I think now is the time to develop practices that increase our joy and comfort in the world. We are our own best medicine when we join forces with all that is. We will all drive ourselves mad without some well tended personal space and time dedicated to centering. I hope you will discover a method that soothes your soul and raises your happiness quotient. You don’t have to be a monk to like it.
“Even in a world that’s being shipwrecked, remain brave and strong.”
Hildegard von Bingen, mystic, visionary, polymath
Hildegard was born in 1098 in Bermersheim vor der Höhe, County Palatine of the Rhine, Holy Roman Empire. She died on17 September 1179 (aged 81) at Bingen am Rhein, County Palatine of the Rhine, Holy Roman Empire. She is venerated in Roman Catholic Church (Order of St. Benedict), Anglican Communion, and Lutheranism. She was canonized 10 May 2012 (equivalent canonization), Vatican City by Pope Benedict XVI. Her major shrine is Eibingen Abbey in Germany. Her parents gave her as an oblate to a Benedictine order when she was a child. She had visions before being enclosed in in order on All Saint’s Day, 1112.
She learned to read and write, wrote three books of visionary theology, and preached throughout the Rhineland during her lifetime. She was exceptional for her time, and her work still shines as poetry inspired by divine mysticism. She wrote music, created a written language, and was the author of what might have been the first morality play. Her place in history remains because of her prolific recorded work. She left us 70 poems and 9 books. She wrote music and was an accomplished artist. She recorded medical and pharmaceutical texts that are consulted and studied today. I know of pharmacies in Europe that offer her original formulas today. She wrote letters to popes, bishops and nuns that survive. We are lucky she learned to write, a rare privilege for a woman at that time. Her profound teachings apply to us now more than ever. The world needs mystics and visionaries to lift us out of this material rut in which we find ourselves. We all need to learn to be feathers on the breath of God. We are too dependent on the earth, and have forgotten to look up to the heavens for eternal blessings. What did she say about this?
“Listen: there was once a king sitting on his throne. Around Him stood great and wonderfully beautiful columns ornamented with ivory, bearing the banners of the king with great honor. Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground, and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself but because the air bore it along. Thus am I, a feather on the breath of God.”
Hildegard von Bingen