Posted in Authentic Freedom, church, Spiritual Practices, temptation, Virtual Church

VIrtual Church – Spiritual Practices Supplement

Below is a copy of the content of the Agape Meditation Practices Newsletter which is a supplement to the weekly virtual church online services.  This newsletter is available to email subscribers through Constant Contact (see subscribe icon in the right sidebar menu).  If you find these practices meaningful, helpful and perhaps inspiring, please consider subscribing.   

Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service

Sunday, March 9, 2014

First Sunday of Lent 

Scripture Reading:

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry.The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”

Jesus tempted

Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you,  if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”

Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.    (Matthew 4: 1-11)

 

Additional Readings:

Gn 2: 7-9, 3: 1-7

Ps 51: 3-17

Rom 5: 12, 17-19

Imagination as Revelation

For centuries, spiritual teachers across cultures have demonstrated the power of imagination as a source of guidance, insight, knowledge, comfort and healing.  St. Ignatius of Loyola discovered this in his own journey while convalescing after a serious war injury.  Through his imagination, he was turned from a desire for fame, wealth and power to one of service to God.  Ignatius learned that God could speak to him directly through his daydreaming and came to know God and in coming to know God, came to know himself through his daydreaming.  This week, you will have an opportunity to practice this powerful form of meditation, known for centuries by spiritual teachers and formalized within the Christian tradition by Ignatius of Loyola in the practice he came to call Imagination/Contemplation.

 

Spiritual Practices:

 With this week’s scripture, you are invited to use the spiritual practice of Imagination/contemplation. Follow the steps below:

1)       Slowly and meditatively read the gospel account of Jesus’ temptation in the desert.

2)      Put yourself in Jesus’ place. Imagine that you are Jesus in the story.

3)      Placing yourself in the place of Jesus, imagine in detail the setting.  What are you wearing?  What is the environment like in the desert?  What is the weather?  How are you feeling.  When the devil shows up, what does he/she look like?  Is there anyone else there?

4)      Without censoring, allow the story to unfold in your imagination.  Allow yourself to daydream the story in your mind, letting it flow without censoring, questioning, critique, simply allow the story to unfold in your mind.  Be attentive to all the details.  Be especially mindful of any thoughts, feelings or emotions that might surface.

5)      After the story has come to a natural conclusion in your mind, write it down in a notebook or journal, being attentive to any additional details which might reveal themselves.

6)      After you have written the story, go back and read what you wrote.

7)      Reflect on the following questions:  a) How is the story that was revealed to you reflective of something going on in your own life?  b) What might God be trying to reveal to you through the story that came forth through your imagination?

Authentic Freedom

In this week’s reading, we have an opportunity to confront the role of temptation in our lives.  Authentic Freedom speaks directly to temptation in awareness of the seven core fears:

  • There is not enough
  • I am insignificant and have nothing to contribute
  • I can’t (be the person God made me to be)
  • I am not loved
  • I am not free to express my truth
  • I do not know my truth and my path
  • I am alone

Reflect this week on how you are tempted to entertain or give in to these fears.

If you find these materials meaningful and supportive, please consider making a donation to Authentic Freedom Ministries.  One-time and recurring donations are both available.  Do donate, click here:  paypaldonate

Posted in guilt, shame

Shame and Guilt – What’s it? Who’s it?

Guilt and shame are two words that when uttered,  just might make your skin crawl.  What is the difference between guilt and shame and how do they act as sources of growth in our spiritual journey?


Divorce is never an easy thing and the journey is everything but easy and smooth.  For me, the last two months, especially have been difficult emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  In particular,  I find myself short of temper, hyper-sensitive, impatient, angry, resentful, needy and even a little bit paranoid.   The perfectionist in me is not ok with all these chaotic negative emotions and I feel bad for my husband and children who have had to bear the brunt of the pain within my own being that is finding its way out sideways through projection, impatience, etc.  It is in these moments that I am grateful for the supportive experts that I have welcome as sources of support as I move through this process.  Yesterday I met with one of those sources of support http://www.rhiannon-consciousvisions.com/ and as I shared with her (vented actually) all the things I have been feeling, she posed the following question to me: “Are you feeling guilty?”

Guilty?  Now, that came out of nowhere.  Why in the world would I feel guilty about any of this?  While my first inclination was to say, “No, of course I’m not feeling guilty….this is exactly what we are supposed to be doing and I know that in the end it will be for the highest good of all of us.”  But then, a tiny place within me whispered, “LIAR!”   So while I could not immediately own guilt in the context of this divorce, I knew it was something I needed to explore more fully…..so, explore I did and here is what I discovered:

GUILTI have to say off the bat that I have a problem with the word guilt.   I have come to embrace the idea of guilt as being nothing but a source of temptation – guilt (in my understanding) is something that comes from outside of us out of the mouth of perceived or self-appointed authorities simply for the sake of keeping us under control.  Guilt is the voice inside me that says, “You had better go to church on Sunday or God will punish you.”  It is also the voice that says, “It is your job to make sure everybody else’s needs are met – you must sacrifice your truth, your gifts, your needs for the sake of others – afterall, that is what a good wife and a good Christian would do.”  As I have grown spiritually, I have found these voices to be a source of sabatoge – keeping me from hearing, embracing and living the truth that the Divine would have me know and ignoring my own needs for support, boundaries, creative space, etc.   I have been heard to say to my students and clients, “Guilt is the Devil.”  And in the role of adversary, I have found this to be true.  Guilt does not help us, it harms us.

So, when Rhiannon invited me to explore the question of guilt, I had a hard time coming up with a response.  But then, as I sat with the question, I had a vision of another word, a word more powerful and devastating and it stepped out in-front of guilt and pushed it aside.  This word is SHAME.

SHAME – ouch! Shame, as I have come to understand it is the natural feeling that arises to tell us that we have done something to hurt another human being.  Shame is what alerts us to our boundaries being infringed upon, or tells us that we are being tempted to give away our power.  Shame has icky, sticky sensations all around it and as much as we like to push it aside, ignore it, deny that we ever feel shame, I firmly believe that the feeling of shame has been given to us as a profoundly helpful tool.

As human beings, we were created to be in community and to be in relationship.  While some of our species are authentically called to be alone, it is challenging to live or exist as a species in complete solitude.  In the call to be in community, we are most healthy when we work toward cultivating harmony, understanding, healthy communication, deep and authentic listening, and work toward looking upon and honoring each and every human being as the magnificent expression of the Divine that they/we are.  The problem is that most of the time we are operating out of our own fears and compulsions and these stand in the way of our ability to cultivate a healthy humanity.  But how do we know when we are sabatoging these goals?  The answer, I believe is SHAME.

Shame, I believe is an interior alarm system given to us by the Divine to alert us to the places where we are not succeeding in the call to live in community –  harmoniously.  When we intentionally or unintentionally hurt another being, we feel shame.  When we are hurt by another, we feel shame.  When we give our power away, we feel shame.  When someone tries to infringe on our own needs and boundaries, we feel shame.  When we ignore the voice of truth within or suppress our own unique magnificence, on some level we feel shame.  Shame is the feeling that guards our needs, our gifts, our magnificence, our safety, our truth.  When looked upon in this light, shame can serve as a remarkable tool for healing when we allow the feeling of shame to be a wakeup call to our own inability to honor our own magnificence or the magnificence of another.

So, when I invite the question of shame to enter into my consciousness, I am forced to humbly admit all those places within that are filled with shame in regards to my childhood, adult years, marriage, pending divorce, parenting, etc. etc. etc.   OUCH!  OUCH OUCH!  The good news is that while I may be tempted to indulge a little self-flagellation, I am more inclined to remember that it is only in naming the demon (this one being shame) that it can be healed and I find comfort in knowing that once the demon has been named 95% of the healing has already taken place. YEA!


What roles do guilt and shame play in your own life?

Is there shame that you are carrying within that is in need of healing and release?

How can you invite a new perspective on guilt and shame that invites your own healing?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries/YourSpiritualTruth

http://yourspiritualtruth.com