Archive for August, 2009

Intention part Deux

Posted in Uncategorized on August 31, 2009 by velocityvortx

Definition – TRANSFORMATIVE PRACTICE – is any set of activities (internal or external) you engage in  with the intention of fostering long lasting shifts in the way you experience and relate to yourself, others and the rest of the world.

Essential #1 for Effective Practice – INTENTION

INTENTION IS THE CHOICE YOU MAKE ABOUT WHERE TO PLACE YOUR AWARENESS.

Many spiritual directors point out that practice is primarily something you do for it’s own sake.  But aren’t you practicing in order to get some where?  Like happier or healthier?  That of course is how many of us start into a practice, a prayer pattern, a devotional reading pattern.

This is one of the great paradox that many of world’s greatest practitioners site.

•    While you may begin a transformative practice with a goal in a seemingly contradictory way most spiritual directors will tell us that we have to stop striving to get some where or accomplish something for the practice to actually do something

Listen to what one spiritual director says…

•    We practice to practice.   A good deal of our practice is seeing that this is it. This is my life, just like this.  Once we actually realize that, then we begin to take care of this life more carefully.  We being to appreciate this life as it is and not look outside for something else, but actually give some attention to this life as it is.

So this is what we mean when we say we need to bring a strong pure intention to practice.  To mediation, centering prayer.  To letting go practice to focus practice.

We have to have the intention that practice is for practice and the benefits are right there in that phrase.

Do you see how this is very different than how we have often conceived of prayer in the many of our Christian traditions? 

•    Prayer isn’t a posture toward all of life…. Pray without ceasing give thanks in all things… That is not the crazy mantra it is a posture of the heart.  It is an outlook.

INTENTION IS THE CHOICE YOU MAKE ABOUT WHERE TO PLACE YOUR AWARENESS.

Australian Psychiatrist W. Beran Wolfe who lived only to the age of 35 wrote a book that went on to become a national bestseller in 1932…

•    if you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writin a symphony, education his son, growing double dahlias in his garden.  He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a gold button that has tolled under the cupboard.  He will have become aware that he is happy in the course of living 24 crowded hours of the day. (P.32)

So intention the first key to practice…

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Intention is One of the Great Co-Conspirators

Posted in Uncategorized on August 24, 2009 by velocityvortx

So as I am defining it here practice is for the purpose of vertical development.  Not HORIZONTAL BANDWIDTH ACQUISITION.

Let me review a metaphor we used in the human development series

the move from conventional to postconventional understanding

•    knower and known create the knowing event.
•    understanding of the world IS my world not THE world
•    my understanding of the world is ONE view of the world and by definition is therefore perspectival, incomplete and maybe even inaccurate.
•    Hence the need for multiple perspectives, that are genuinely valuable (I don’t simply act like they are valuable.)

Watching an accident on 4 different street corners// FOUR GOSPELS

Essential #1 for Effective Practice – INTENTION

Have to be intentional, want to change, growth, shift and have to have the motivation to act in a certain way. 

Do you hold the intention to be open to transformation in and through any circumstances at any time?

Opportunities to experience transformation present themselves daily, do we use them or shun them?  Remember deep pain is the first portal to transformation because it jars us out of autopilot.

Studies indicate real transformation, as we are talking about it here is something that last forever, it is integrated into your new, ever expanding matrix and mindset. 

This is vertical development

Holding the intention to be open to transformative moments at any time is part of the imago dei in us calling out for the next step in our evolution into the image of Jesus.

You have to be open to what is calling you on

Another way of saying it is…

INTENTION IS THE CHOICE YOU MAKE ABOUT WHERE TO PLACE YOUR AWARENESS.

Nugget Review

Posted in culture, personal development, theology on August 17, 2009 by velocityvortx

Let’s do a quick overview of where we have been for a number of posts.

Portals to Transformation

1 DEEP PERSONAL PAIN
Because we come to realize we have been on autopilot with some assumptions…and those assumptions always determine how we understand the self.  The WHO AM I question. 

2.  Noetic Experiences…

These would be moments we move beyond ordinary awareness to spiritual awareness which should be ordinary but isn’t.

3. The Right Resources, teacher, situations come on the scene that help us find our way

We then have choices that cultivate…

Choices that Cultivate Possible Transformative Moments

1. Gardeners accommodate new experiences and resist assimilating them.
 
•    Zebra assimilated to a horse.  Eventually the child will come realize
Looking at and thinking about our thinking.  Observing what we are observing and thinking about.
  
2. Gardeners also have the capacity for equanimity – an evenness of mind or a state of inner unshakability in the face of all the highs and lows of our various experiences. 
 
•    Why is this important?  This is what can make pain transformative instead of traumatic and debilitating
 

3.Gardeners have the capacity for CURIOSITY AND INQUIRY

I know some people, and most of them are Christians that are suspicious of anything new, new information, new ways of seeing the bible, new understandings of spiritual practice.

Practicing and Practices that Position Us Long Term for Transformation

DEFINITION- transformation means a change in how you see the world and a shift in how you see yourself. Not just a shift in your point of view but a whole different perception what of what is possible.

Noun or verb
Practice is a form of training.  Like going to ball practice or dance practice.  Practice is a routinized pattern that is engaged so that we can accomplish through the training was previously impossible through simply trying

Every religion has forms of practice or ritual ancient or more modern that are thought to bring a certain amount of transformation.

Praying the rosary every day for the catholic
Having a quiet time for the evangelical

Daily Chanting the psalms by the eastern orthodox
Daily chanting of a mantra by Tibeten Buddhists

Practices are varied do various things.

My goal in this series is not to lay out all the different practice possibilities.  There are scores of them, none of them sacred from the standpoint of magical.  All practice is dependent upon our readiness level and how they intersect our situation in life.

So what is the definition we are using here?  TRANSFORMATIVE PRACTICE – is any set of activities (internal or external) you engage in  with the intention of fostering long lasting shifts in the way you experience and relate to yourself, others and the rest of the world.

The Gaze of God

Posted in Blogroll, culture, leadership, personal development, theology on August 13, 2009 by velocityvortx

If we extract 1 Corinthians 6:18 from the Bible we read

So run away from sexual sin. Every other sin people do is outside their bodies, but those who sin sexually sin against their own bodies. 

Conceptual truth be told, sometimes it sounds like running is the best that living a “Christian’ life has to offer.  Really?

Is there a tendency to spend A LOT of  time describing the God story with cautions/warnings of morality/immorality?  How much time is spent identifying behavioral issues with surface solutions and/or anecdotes, leaving us unchanged and uninspired?   Are we running out of breath, constantly bombarded with the  do / don’t  list as we run from sin?  It begins to become difficult to grasp with amazement that every breath is a gift of grace from  God, that we are created imago dei , AND we are invited to live into His GREAT BIG story.  

I’m not implying that there isn’t a place for challenging our unhealthy relationships or behaviors but what a compelling  STORY we have been given and yet are seemingly comfortable with relegating it to a narrow framework of laws.  Our view of the Grand narrative reduced to a list…really?   We have this STORY of a loving God pursuing his children to bring restoration… God who invites us into this Story of adventure, justice, joy, weeping, mercy, and moment by moment embrace reduced to a story of moral certitude and survival.  No wonder we have a difficult time believing that Jesus came that we might have abundant life…a life of seeing, of oneness,  OMNIPRESENCE, a life where we can experience and live into the Gaze of God.  Last week at Spiritual Explorations Ron said

 

Jesus brings the biblical tradition to a climax when we defines truth itself as persona rather than conceptualI am the way, the truth , and the life…

John 14.6                Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Right after this statement Jesus goes on to talk of the onesness with the father…

A deep inner experience of oneness of word, thought and action… the very thing he invites us into.

If you can learn to receive the perfect Gaze of God, that is come to really believe what God says and thinks about you, then the voices of the human crowd, no matter how negative or nasty, will have no power to hurt or derail you. 

Standing before the Gaze of God as the mystics say it, unites the psyche…we are made whole. Second guessing, believing the old tapes, caring about the opinions of others becomes distant in importance.

Read the last two paragraphs again and let it sink in. 

At Spiritual Explorations Live we are exploring the (R)evolutionary Spirituality of Scripture, discussing the Story that God invites, rereading the text with it’s form, content and context and learning what living into this Story means. 

Hope you will consider joining us this month.  Email velocitylearning@gmail.com and request login information.  Here are additional details on the front page at velocity. 

Curiosity as Another Door to Open-ness

Posted in culture, personal development, theology on August 10, 2009 by velocityvortx

We ended last week saying…

The antidote to situations where we start to feel out or control and agitated is to cultivate a compassionate frame for the circumstances.

Instead of reacting to our reactions we looks at our reactions and decide to love instead. 

So we have
•    1.  assimilation versus accommodation
•    2  equanimity

these two components can bring a deep sense of transformation to all sorts of circumstances in life.

We also have

•    3. CURIOSITY AND INQUIRY

I know some people, and most of them are Christians that are suspicious of anything new; new information, new ways of seeing the bible, new understandings of spiritual practice.

I just had two back to back interviews for my latest book that illustrates this point.

Interview #1 in Atlanta was so blown away by the new ideas in the book that the seasoned veteran pastor of 68 years wished he had the book 30 years ago.  They asked on a commercial break if the 30 minute interview could be extended to 90 minutes.

Interview #2 in Detroit was with a guy who really didn’t ask many questions about the book but wanted to ask me about my relationship to some of the endorsers of the book in hopes of trying to label me and invalidate the message.  When our 30 minute interview ended and I hung up this guy went on a rampage for 15 more minutes labeling the new ideas heretical, dangerous and non biblical.  Interestingly he never talked to me about the ideas. 

Curiosity is a statement you are still learning, might not have it all figured out and are willing to try on new ideas.

This is sometimes referred to as the quality of openness.

Leonardo Da Vinci cultivated openness by always carrying around a notebook whereever he went and writing down questions, things that stuck him as odd, physical abnormalities or things he had never noticed before.

This was his ever present mental trigger to look for possibilities.

Every invention or discovery of Da Vinci first started in his notebook of curious inquiry.

Some call this the move to a second naiveté…the move back to where the world is re-enchanted again.

This is what we have called in the past the beginners mind .

In Zen they say “ In the beginners mind there are many possibilities in the expert’s mind there are few”

You can’t learn something new, you can’t have expereicnes of life be transformative if you already know everything.

Jesus says you must become as a little child

We need to pay attention and appreciate the multiple ways we can “know” in a situation.

For example.- raised in materialistic goal oriented context your ability to see beyond materialistic goals may have been shut down intentionally.  But by exercising curiosity you can understand better what lies beneath the surface, and can gain better insights about your own spiritual being.

You end up creating a dynamic between your inner and outer worlds. 

This sort of curiosity and inquiry requires a toleration of uncertainty instead of the immediate rushing to safe habitual beliefs and interpretations….this is one of the primary lubricants of transformative experience.

Equanamity and Transformation

Posted in Uncategorized on August 3, 2009 by velocityvortx

2. Gardeners also have the capacity for equanimity – an evenness of mind or a state of inner unshakability in the face of all the highs and lows of our various experiences. 

•    Why is this important?  This is what can make pain transformative instead of traumatic and debilitating

QUICK ILLUSTRATION.

PLEASE STAND UP IN FRONT OF THE COMPUTER AND STAND ON ONE LEG.  FIND THE BALANCE POINT. DO YOU NOTICE THAT THERE IS A LOT OF MOVEMENT IN YOUR FOOT MUSCELES AND BONES AS YOU ARE TRYING TO BALANCE?  DO YOU ALSO NOTICE THAT WHEN YOU FIND THE BALANCE POINT EVEN IF IT IS ONLY FOR A FEW SECONDS YOU WILL EXPERIENCE A CALM YOU CAN FEEL IN YOUR WHOLE BODY?  THAT CALM IS THE EQUANAMITY WE ARE TALKING ABOUT.

Equanimity means understanding how we perceive and how our perceptions are colored and swayed by hidden meanings.

Equanimity is a profound quality of mindfulness that cultivates the ability to let go.  Or another way of saying it is an unshakable balance of mind that is rooted in insight.

In the Christian tradition we might look at the fruit of the spirit like self control or gentleness. 

Looking at the world around us, and looking into our own heart, we see clearly how difficult it is to attain and maintain balance of mind.

We have a couple options as life events hit us.
•    Suppression – bottle it up, push it down, manage the exterior,
•    Identification – emotions hit and hijack and we are out of control.  We then justify to ourselves and others why we “can’t help it” or “you would respond just the same”  but identification is the problem.

In between suppression and identification is the balance point.

Looking into life we notice how it continually moves between contrasts: rise and fall, success and failure, loss and gain, honour and blame. We feel how our heart responds to all this happiness and sorrow, delight and despair, disappointment and satisfaction, hope and fear. These waves of emotion carry us up and fling us down; and no sooner do we find rest, than we are in the power of a new wave again.

Happiness and sadness are fleeting right?

We say all the time “sleep on it” “it will look different in the morning”  “this too will pass” 

These are all sayings about nonattachment.  Don’t get too attached because it will feel different and be different later.

I must lose my life to find it Jesus said.

But the kind of equanimity required has to be based on vigilant presence of mind, not on indifferent dullness. It has to be the result of hard, deliberate training, not the casual outcome of a passing mood.

True equanimity, however, should be able to meet all tests and to regenerate its strength from sources within. It will possess this power of resistance and self-renewal only if it is rooted in insight.

Exercise in equanimity.

Come into your body.  Follow your breath.

Identify a person, or situation that in the past has created emotional imbalance for you. Something that in the past would throw you into a reactive postures.

Now picture that situation/person.  Enter into the emotions of it.  Become curious about what is happening in your body.

Notice there are two things going on.  You are experiencing the situation AND you are observing what is happening to you in the situation.

Now fully embrace those feelings.  Terror, fear, anger, frustration.

Now realize you can experience those feeling but also not act on them in any significant way.  You can choose a non reactive path.

Now go and repeat the exact same scenario.  This time realizing that the movie you are currently playing is the same way you will respond this week to the situation.  You are PRACTICING!