Posted in Spiritual Practices

Sacred Sound – a book review

Twenty-some years ago, I embraced a daily spiritual practice.  Having an active and creative brain, I often found sitting in silence to be difficult, as such, I found myself gravitating toward practices, from the Christian tradition in which I was raised, which first engaged my mind while leading me to peace.  Lectio-Divina and Imagination/contemplation became the foundations of my daily meditation.  That was until I discovered Kirtan.  Kirtan is a chanting practice that comes out of the Bhakti branch of yoga.  Bhakti is also known as the yoga of devotion.  In the practice of Kirtan, one uses mantra and chant to facilitate inner peace and relaxation.  While I have retained the sacred reading of scripture as part of my daily practice, I have found nothing more effective than chant to bring me into the place where I am remembering my Oneness with God and experiencing the depths of Divine love.

sacredsound

In Sacred Sound – discovering the myth and meaning of mantra and kirtan, by Alanna Kaivalya, I have found a fabulous supplement to my kirtan practice.  In this book, Alanna fleshes out the transliterations, translations and spiritual meanings of many of the most honored sacred mantras.  Alanna then provides the Hindu and Buddhist myths that provide the sacred stories out of which the power of these mantras first emerged.  If you have found yourself drawn to chant or have already incorporated mantra into your daily spiritual practice, you will find Sacred Sound to be a great supplement to your practice and a fantastic resource for your spiritual library.

Buy it HERE.

Posted in church, Gifts of Contemplation, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Practices

It’s Official – Contemplative Worship is Coming

It is Official!

Well, it is officially official!  Authentic Freedom Ministries will be offering Sunday “worship” services starting January 8, 2012.  And, all I can do is sit in breathless awe and wonder.  And the awe and wonder is over the overwhelming support, positive feedback and interest in what we will be offering.  Apparently the thoughts and suspicions that have haunted me for these past 20 years are real.  People are hungry spiritually, starving actually, and have not or are not finding the fulfillment to this longing through their Sunday worship alone or in the absence of Sunday worship.  While this may not be true for some, it seems to be true for many.  So, in response to that hunger, we will be offering something as a complement to traditional Western worship or as an alternative.  Here’s what it will look like (at least initially):

Contemplative Worship

In my experience and observation, what is frequently missing from the traditional ways in which we have been worshipping is time to discover the Divine that resides within us.  Instead, we worship the God “out there” and hear someone else’s interpretation of what that God looks like, acts like, smells like, feels like, tastes like (ie: a dry and tasteless wafer that sticks to the roof of your mouth).  Then, we are told the laws and rules of our chosen Church and are expected to abide by these rules because that is what we are told to do…..but we are never given the tools to come to know God within our hearts and we are never empowered to allow that knowledge to guide our actions, our thoughts, our behaviors, etc.  At the end of the day, we are rarely given the tools through which we can REMEMBER the Love that we Are and heal the wounds within that prevent us from remembering this truth.  Then, there is the additional challenge that some religious doctrine tells us that we are NOT this love…but instead, that we are inherently evil and that love has to be earned and that it can be taken away if we do not follow the rules of the Church or the angry “god.”  SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…….our goal at Authentic Freedom Ministries is to give you the tools through which you can REMEMBER the Love that you are…..and heal the spiritual wounds and fears that might be standing in the way of you remembering that love so that you can live the life of joyful contentment that is your natural state.  In the context of worship, it might look like this:

An Opening Song that states our intention to be open to knowing the Divine that lives within our hearts

A Scripture Reading recognizing that Hebrew and Christian scripture does possess a wisdom beyond us when we allow God to speak to us directly through it, unfettered by doctrine or dogma or someone’s political agenda.

Mantra/Chant a tool that helps to engage and thereby calm our monkey minds so that we can be peaceful enough to hear the voice of God within us

Contemplation/Meditation a tool that helps us to be open to the voice of the Divine within us, a source for inspiration, insight, comfort, healing, discovery, challenge, invitation, empowerment.

Sharing we learn and grow through each other’s discoveries and insights

Ritual ritual empowers us to embody the insights, healings, comforts, discoveries, challenges we gain through contemplation.  And….the ritual objects, through our prayers and intentions, carry the energy of these insights, healings, etc.

Song of Mission we are invited to take our interior relationship with the Divine out into the world in service to God and for the benefit of all of humankind.   We are called to be God’s hands, ears, eyes, heart in the world.  We accept this call and say “yes” through our songs of mission.

Asking for your prayerful support

So, as we step into the call to bring forth contemplative worship, the ministry team of Authentic Freedom Ministries invites and welcomes your thoughts and prayers and any other means of support that you may be called to offer.  We offer this, not in competition or in conflict with what other houses of worship are providing, but to answer to the call of those that hunger and thirst for more.  We recognize that some are called to a contemplative path and offer this service for anyone called to that path.

In gratitude on behalf of the Authentic Freedom Ministries team,

Lauri Lumby, Spiritual Director

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Jesus, Lessons, Spiritual Practices

Finding the Fulfillment of Love

Today’s blog explores one spiritual practice that helps us to integrate the principles described in yesterday’s guest blog, and chapter six in my book, Authentic Freedom – Claiming Contentment and Joy

 

Seeking Love

As we were reminded in yesterday’s blog by guest blogger, Swami Nithyananda, if we are seeking love in our lives, the first thing we need to acknowledge is that love is NOT something we can get from another person.  Love is not a commodity to be bought, sold, earned or denied.  Love is our very nature and therefore can only be found within ourselves.  If we seek to have loving relationships with others, we have to start by knowing the love within ourselves…only then can we be unconditionally loving toward ourselves and toward another.  When we know the love that we are, we resonate with the energy of that love and reflect it out into the world.   In doing so, others are reminded of their own loving nature and may also decide to seek to know the love with themselves.

 

Coming to Know this Love

The journey to knowing the love that we are has many possible paths.  For me, I have found knowing God through scripture, meditation, prayer, ritual, worship, service, contemplation, writing, being in nature and working with amazing teachers (including my therapist, spiritual director, family, friends, etc. ) have all been helpful and supportive vehicles for coming to know this love.  There is one tool, however, that I have found to be most helpful (for me anyway) and that is the practice of Bhakti Yoga.

 

Devotion to the Beloved

Bhakti yoga is the spiritual practice of intense devotion to “The Beloved.”  While this practice has been officially named as such by the Hindu and Yogic traditions of India, the practice of devotion has also been a big part of the Hebrew and Christian traditions.  In this practice, meditation, prayer, chant, and worship are focused and directed toward the Divine imagined as our lover and beloved.  In the Yogic tradition, the Divine might be imagined as Krishna, Radha, Shiva, Shakti, etc.  In the Hebrew tradition, we may direct our attention toward Adonai, Elohim, the Shekinah, YHWH.  In the Christian tradition, devotion is directed toward Jesus.  The specific tool that I have found to be most helpful in this practice of devotion is sacred chant or Kirtan.

Hare Krishna/Hare Christos/Hare Adonai

In Bhakti yoga, one of the primary tools of devotion to the beloved is chant or Kirtan (chant done in a call and response format).  Chanting the names of the beloved is said to change our own vibration to more closely reflect the love of the Divine and to bring us into resonance with the love that is our truest nature.  In chanting the sacred names, we are healed, transformed, brought into harmony with the Divine in love, peace and joy.  The Hare Krishna chants, those to Rama, Radha, Sita, etc. all work toward this end.  The exciting thing is that in the Hindu and Yogic traditions, these names are universal…meaning that they all reflect aspects of THE ONE GOD and therefore transcend belief, dogma, doctrine or denomination.  I have embraced this practice, holding my personal guru (Jesus) in my mind while chanting these sacred names and have experienced great benefit from this practice.  I find that chanting the sacred names helps me to calm my monkey mind and to find the peaceful calm within that I had previously found to be elusive and nearly impossible to attain.  Additionally, I have found that I have come to know more deeply the love within that is more reflective of my truest nature.  I have found that life flows more freely and effortlessly.  I know more freedom and joy and my external relationships more closely reflect a deep and abiding love.

 

Getting Started

So, here is a little You Tube clip of George Harrison engaged in his own practice of Bhakti- devotion to the beloved….and a great way to get started on your own path to finding the fulfillment of love:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7eFQMakhDE

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in codependency, Lessons, Spiritual Practices

Into the Arms of the Beloved

Love, relationships, desire, passion….all things that drive the human experience.  How do we stay grounded in wholeness and not get thrown out into the ethers as we try to cultivate healthy, intimate, loving relationships?  I certainly don’t have the answers….but I do know of a spiritual practice that does help us in our quest for love.

 

 

Teaching what I need to Learn

I’m just saying this from the get-go……I know nothing about love.  I used to think I knew everything….then I got married, had joy, suffered loss, struggled, got divorced.  Apparently I didn’t know everything….and there are a billion lessons I have learned being in relationship with one individual for nearly 20 years.  Much of what I learned were all the things I did wrong and all the illusions I brought into the relationship that later proved to be false, along with all my unhealed childhood wounds that probably made an enduring relationship impossible from the start.  And while it is easy to be jaded or disillusioned about partnership, I find I still want healthy intimacy and still long for an enduring partnership.  HHHMMMM   Maybe I’m human.

Human Longing

While it would be really easy to say, “I will just be alone.  I know how to do that and I do it well,” I also recognize that as human beings, we are programmed to be in relationship.  We are a relational species and function best when in partnership and living in community.  So, while there is a profound temptation to escape into the woods into a hermitage all my own, I also recognize that we are all called to partnership and to seek out healthy intimacy.  The problem is that sometimes this longing comes out sideways and compels us into compulsive, co-dependent, addictive, unhealthy behaviors.  This is where spiritual practice becomes all the more necessary and beneficial toward our goal of healthy partnership.

Coming out Sideways

There is one primary fear and its resulting compulsion that drives the “coming out sideways” behaviors of our inborn drive for partnership.  In chapter six of my book, Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy, we explore the fear and its compulsion in detail.  In summary….the fear is, I am not loved and the compulsion is Envy.  When we have forgotten that love is our very nature, is who we are and who we are called to be, we seek for love outside ourselves, falsely believing that “that perfect someone” will make us feel whole, complete, loved.  WRONG!  There is nothing outside of us that can do any of these things.  Love, fulfillment, completion, wholeness are inner qualities and can only be found by seeking and journeying inward.  The good news, however, is that as we come to know the love that we are within ourselves, our external, intimate and personal relationships begin to reflect this love.  So in our search for healthy intimacy, the journey starts within!

Seeking and Finding the Beloved – the Practice of Bhakti Yoga

There is a beautiful spiritual practice that comes from the Hindu/Yogic tradition called Bhakti Yoga.  Bhakti yoga is the yoga of devotion, specifically, devotion to the “Beloved” within.  What is amazing to me is that this kind of practice is also present within both the Hebrew and Christian traditions, perhaps less obviously so, but it is there.  In Bhakti yoga, our spiritual practice is given over to rapt attention upon the Divine Beloved that resides within.  One might image the Divine Beloved as any of the Hindu expressions of the Divine – Krishna, Ganesh, Kali, Radha, etc.  In the Christian tradition, Jesus. Mary Magdalene or Mother Mary would be the image, in the Hebrew Tradition – YHWH or his forgotten feminine consort – Asherah.  And what is great about Bhakti practice is that it can take many forms, the focus being attention to the image of the Divine Beloved while engaging in whatever spiritual practice you might feel called to in the moment- Chant, Meditation, Yoga, Creative endeavors, etc.  The goal is to keep your mind fixed upon the image and the idea of the Beloved, allowing one’s self to connect more and more fully with the abundant outpouring of Love embodied by the Beloved and to sink more and more fully into remembering the Love that we are as reflected by the Beloved.  As Bhakti practice unfolds, we eventually find that there is no longer the illusion of separation between ourselves and the Divine Beloved, but that we have become one.  In this space, we remember fully the love that we are and freely and generously live that out in the world and our outward relationships begin to reflect the knowledge of this love.

Shameless Self-Promotion

If you live in the Fox Valley area and are interested in exploring this topic more deeply, I am offering a program, Conquering Co-Dependency and Opening to the Fulfillment of Love on Monday evenings starting on Monday, September 26th.  Just know….this is the teacher teaching what she needs to learn….and we will all be students in this process!

Where are you seeking outside yourself for “the person who will complete me?”

What kind of healthy intimacy do you long for?

How can you begin that search through connecting with the Divine Beloved that resides within?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Being Human, Lessons

Confessions of Un Enlightenment

I humbly acknowledge less-than enlightened behavior during a time of enormous change.  UGH!


Dangling in the void

I am learning that divorce has a way of making you feel as if not only the rug – but the entire universe has been pulled out from beneath you and you are left dangling in mid-void trying to find some place to put your feet.  At least that is how I have felt for the past several weeks (ok, maybe months).   A truly enlightened being would be able to face this dangling in the void from a place of contented observation and surrender.   Throughout this experience, I have been continually reminded of how un-enlightened I truly am.  So……here are my confessions of un-enlightenment!

Reaching for anything to hang on to

In this position of dangling in the void, I have found myself desperately reaching out for anything to hang on to.  It was this reaching that compelled me to seek out Christmas Eve mass.  As my friend Karen so lovingly reminded me, “What the hell were you thinking?”  At one time in my life, I had found spiritual refuge in the mass, most specifically in the very building in which I chose to attend mass this year.  In my un-enlightened state, I had approached this liturgy with the mind of an active member of this faith community rather than with the mind of the visitor that I really was.   When I discerned that the spiritual path I had come to embrace could no longer be contained within the orthodoxy of the Catholic institution and decided to rescind my membership, I gave up any rights to question, challenge, condemn.  Again, as Karen said, “What was I thinking?”

Unknowing and Allowing

I have also found for me that this dangling in the void puts everything into question.  (See paragraph above!).  What DO I believe?  What about my dreams, hopes, desires – are they real or simply the workings of an over-active imagination?  Am I supposed to continue in my chosen vocation as Spiritual Director, teacher, healer – or is this another one of my fantasies?  Do I even have a right to claim to teach things of a spiritual nature when I am obviously so un-enlightened?  What about my desire to write?  Am I really any good at it?  Can I actually be a single parent, write novels and support my family?  What about a house?  How will I provide for my family?  Is it time to get “a real job?”   Is there really such a thing as a soulmate/twin flame or is this just another one of those lies?  Do I even want to enter into another relationship….anytime, anywhere with anyone?  (I know, WAY too early to ask these last two questions).

All of these questions are hanging in the air around me like a swarm of Lakeflies (if you are from Oshkosh, you know how truly annoying this is!), buzzing in my ears and leaving their icky green slime all over me.  My spiritual teachers keep telling me, “Surrender into allowing.”  My unenlightened response?   “Allow this MF!”  I’m tired of allowing.  I want some action!  This is the second part of my confession:  on the road to enlightenment, I am impatient, controlling and I want the map in my hands with itinerary, timeframe, answers – AND I WANT IT NOW! 

Reactions and Brat-i-ness

The final part of my confession (for today anyway) – I am a big fat brat!  A truly enlightened being learns to refrain from responding to the ups and downs of life and simply surrenders to the ebb and flow from a place of peaceful contentment.  I have learned that most of the time, but most especially in the midst of this divorce thing…..peaceful contentment eludes me.  Instead, I react.  Hurt me?  I bite back.  Throw me a challenge?  I’ll throw a temper tantrum.  Ignore me?  I will stomp my feet and pound my fists.  Try to usurp my power?  I will draw my sword.  Stand in a place of non-integrity?  I will call you on it.  I find that at this place in my life, I cannot sit in the middle of the pond on my lotus leaf in lotus position meditating while the slings and arrows of life fly around me.  Instead, I feel more like a warrior, sword drawn and shield aloft ready to do battle.  So…..if you are as un-enlightened as me….watch out…..I’m just warning you!  🙂 

Embracing un-enlightenment

So, as I acknowledge my un-enlightenment, I humbly return to my meditation chair, my chant, my yoga mat, my laptop and remember that the path to enlightenment is in the journey….not the destination….because obviously, I’m not there yet!

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

Oshkosh, WI

http://yourspiritualtruth.com


Posted in Spiritual Practices, Surrender

Lady in Waiting

Can we find God in the waiting?



I’m not sure what happened, maybe I finally got my butt kicked enough or I’m just plain tired and worn out or maybe I had half a glass too much of wine last night…..but I think I finally got it (for today anyway).  There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING I can do to hasten along this house search, the progress of the divorce, the publication of my book, the growth of my business.  I QUIT.  Not really, but for today I feel the distinct call to DO NOTHING. I have searched house listings, gone on house tours, done all I can that needs to be done to make our divorce safe and legal, I have completed the editing of the first pass pages of my manuscript and shipped them off to the publisher, and I have networked, networked and networked to grow my business.  There is nothing more I can do but WAIT for all these seeds I have planted to germinate, take root, grow and produce fruit.  How un-Western of me, un-pragmatic, un-cola.

So, for today, I am making a commitment to DO NOTHING.  (Ok, I do have a client tonight and our Monday meditation group….but that stuff is just plain fun!) But what does it mean to DO NOTHING?   As I contemplate this question,  I think I hear God whispering, “Lauri, you have done all that you can do and the rest is out of your hands.  Now, will you just give yourself permission to spend a day to simply be with me?”  AHHHHHH   Now that sounds like a magnificent day….a day to simply be with God.  But, what does that look like?

For each of us, “being with God” has different meanings.  Determining what this means is part of the exploring part of the spiritual journey, the results of which are unique and deeply personal.  I cannot say what being with God means for you, but I’ll give you an idea of what it means to me:

  • Practicing my “morning pages” (a spiritual discipline of freehand, free form writing as popularized by Julia Cameron in her book, “The Artist’s Way”)
  • Tending to my daily meditation practice
  • Yoga
  • A walk outside in the MAGNIFICENT fall folliage
  • Practicing writing poetry
  • Playing the piano – JUST BECAUSE
  • slintegration (a spiritually intentional NAP)
  • chanting mantra – JUST BECAUSE
  • Playing with chant composition
  • More meditation
  • More writing
  • Maybe a little collage creation
  • Cooking something fun – JUST FOR FUN
  • Reading

In a nutshell….DOING NOTHING and BEING WITH GOD for me means PLAYTIME!  And…..as a recovering PERFECTIONIST – Play is something that has never been easy for me.  So for today, I will spend the day in PLAY with God.  HOW COOL IS THAT????

When do you take time to DO NOTHING

How can you find God in times of NOTHING but PLAY?

How easy or difficult is it for you to give yourself permission to DO NOTHING….or TO PLAY?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries/YourSpiritualTruth

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Lauri is a trained, professional Spiritual Director and is available for private consultation over the phone, via Skype and face to face. You can contact Lauri at laurilschmidt@ntd.net or (920) 230-1313