Posted in Spiritual Practices, Superheroes, Uncategorized

Superhero Report Part II – Spiritual Practices

Here is part two of yesterday’s Superhero Report.  A selection of spiritual practices you can try.  Keep trying until you find one that resonates with you….and if none of these do, then you might already be doing your spiritual practice, you just might not be calling it that:  knitting, running, dancing, singing, listening to music, cooking, gardening, being in nature, drawing, painting, etc. etc. etc.   Remember….anything that helps you connect with love, peace, joy, and leads you to your truth. 🙂

selfrevealed

 

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina is Latin for “divine reading,” “spiritual reading,” or “holy reading” and represents a method of prayer and scriptural reading intended to promote communion with God and to provide special spiritual insights.  Traditionally, Lectio-Divina is practiced with sacred scripture, but can be applied to any inspirational or meaningful written text.  Lectio Divina is accomplished in four steps, with the fourth step – contemplation – continuing beyond our practice time and flowing out into our day.

Lectio – Choose a scripture passage or inspirational written text.  Read the passage gently and slowly several times, savoring each portion of the reading.  As you are reading, look for a word or phrase that seems to jump out at you.  Receive this word or phrase as God’s nourishment for you.

 

Meditatio – Reflect on the text of the passage and think about how it applies to one’s own life. Specifically, ruminate, ponder, meditate on the word or phrase that jumped out at you.  Ask the question, “How is God speaking to me personally through this passage?”

 

Oratio – Respond to the passage by opening your heart to God. Allow yourself to have a conversation with God.  Offer a silent or spoken prayer in response to God, or write your thoughts in a notebook or journal.

 

Contemplatio – Listening to God. This is a freeing of yourself from your own thoughts, both mundane and holy, and hearing God speak to you. Opening the mind, heart, and soul to the influence of God. Contemplatio is often done in silence or carried with you as you go about your day.  Observe how your meditation period continues to influence your thoughts, behaviors, attitudes and feelings.

 

Centering Prayer/Silent Contemplation

Silent Contemplation is allowing yourself to simply rest in God.  The goal of contemplation is “no goal.”  Your job is to simply be.  Repeated practice opens you to the fruits of contemplation – deepening peace, insight, creativity, guidance, consolation and compassion.

1)Find a comfortable place where you can sit in silence.

2)Choose a focal point – the breath, a sacred word or phrase (love, peace, Jesus, Om, etc.)

3)Now, sit in silence.  When you find your mind wandering (which it will), simply return your attention to your chosen focal point.

4)Continue in this manner until your meditation period is finished.

 

Free-Form Journaling/Automatic Writing

Through this approach, you bring a question or a thought to your meditation session.   Offer the question/thought to God.  Then allow God to speak to you through your pen as you write in their journal.

1)Write your question in your journal.

2)Sit quietly to allow your own mind to step aside and invited God to step in.

3)If you find silence to be a struggle, listen to music first – preferably something that helps to relax your mind – chant, classical music, even some heavy metal music can be helpful. (I recommend Hildegard of Bingen, Bach and Disturbed or Tool as music for relaxing the mind.)

4)Then just write.  Let your pen respond to your question.  Or, begin a dialogue between yourself and God through your pen.

Mantra Meditation

1)Choose a favorite sacred phrase/mantra.  (Om Mani Padme Om; Hail Mary Full of Grace; Om Shanti; Give us this day our daily bread; Abwoon d’bwashmaya; etc.)

2)Repeat the mantra silently or aloud, over and over, allowing the mantra to draw you into a place of peaceful calm.

3)Continue repeating the mantra until you find it no longer necessary as you have entered into silence.

4)Return to the mantra if you find your mind becoming active.

 

Prayer Beads

Prayer beads and rosaries provide a tactile sensation to mantra meditation, and have been shown to help facilitate relaxation.  Simply use the beads to count your mantra repetitions. This is especially helpful if you have a creative or restless mind.

Imagination-Contemplation/Daydreaming Meditation

1)Choose a narrative story from scripture, a favorite myth or fairytale.

2)Read through the story slowly and meditatively.

3)Choose a character from the story (named, or unnamed).

4)Re-read the story from the vantage point of your chosen character.

5)Enter into your creative imagination, placing yourself in the story as your chosen character. Allow the story to unfold in your imagination in great detail, being mindful of thoughts, reflections, emotions that may surface through the process.

6)After your story has come to a natural conclusion, write what your witnessed through your imagination, allowing additional details to surface as you write. Do not censor or second-guess what shows up for you.  Write it all down.

7)Go back and read your written story.

8)As you are reading, reflect on the following two questions:

– How is God speaking to me through what was revealed in this daydreaming?

– How is the revealed story reflective of something going on in my current life journey?

 

Music Meditation

Music is used as a vehicle through which you can find that place of peaceful calm within.

1)Choose a musical selection (chant, classical music, instrumental music work well here.)

2)Listens to musical selection with rapt attention, allowing the movement of the music to draw you into peaceful calm or to stir other emotions that may need to be released (anger, sorrow, frustration, grief, etc.)

3)Rest in silent contemplation once music is finished.

 

Mindful Meditation/Theological Reflection

1)Choose an ordinary activity or object as the focal point of your meditation – it can be anything – a paper cup, a paperclip, a candle, a pen, a stick, eating an orange, chopping onions, etc.

2)Observe the object or engage in the activity with rapt attention.

3)Become aware of the object or the activity in a way that transcends your typical experience of this object/activity.

4)Reflect on how God is present or revealed through the object or activity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Inspiration, Spiritual Practices

When the Heart Speaks

Today’s blog explores journaling as a spiritual practice and what can happen when we let our body speak.

Journaling as a Spiritual Practice

When people ask me when I knew I was a writer, I have to scratch my head in confusion.  When was I never NOT a writer would perhaps be a better question.  I don’t think I have never NOT been a writer, and my writing passion and gift began to emerge more and more fully the more I gave myself over to the spiritual practice of journaling.  I was first invited to practice journaling in a high school Theology class ( I attended Catholic schools) and when in the Pastoral Ministry training program, journaling was one of the requirments of supervision.  I came to discover that God spoke to me most loudly and most plainly through my pen….and so I wrote, I wrote and I wrote:  scripture reflections, ponderings, etc.  I did the majority of my personal, inner processing through my pen and when things were really bad, poetry bled forth onto my page in shades of deep indigo (I ONLY write in blue ink….specifically Papermate medium point).  I have discovered guidance, comfort, healing and insight through my pen.  As such, journaling is an important part of my daily spiritual practice.   (For more on journaling as a spiritual practice, check out Spiritual Journaling by Julie Tallard Johnson.)

Writing Prompts

Yesterday, in search of some spiritual and creative inspiration, I turned to The I-Ching for Writers by Sarah Jane Sloane.  I flipped through the pages to find my “reading” for the day and received this writing prompt:  Write a one-page monologue as spoken to you by the part of your body that hurts. I asked my body, “Ok, who wants to speak today?”  My heart quickly stepped forward, “I am hurting and I would like to speak.”  “Darn it!” I thought.  “I am sick to death of hearing from my mangled and beaten heart.”  I sighed in resignation and handed over my pen….and boy am I glad I did.  Yesterday, this is what my heart had to say:

When the Heart Speaks:

Yes Lauri, I am hurting and bruised; but I am not broken.  I’m really more resilient than you give me credit for.  Do you think I’m really going to be shattered beyond repair for the reasons you think I might be?  Not hardly!  In truth, it is your ego that is hurting, not your heart.  I am strong beyond imagining…..which means you are strong beyond imagining.  Keep in mind that “heart” is the root of your word, “courage” and you my dear, are courageous beyond compare BECAUSE you are strong of heart.  This is how God made you because God foresaw the life that would unfold before you and the courage you would need to persevere.  It requires great courage to move through the challenges that have been placed before you and to lead the charge toward mental, emotional and spiritual freedom.  It takes enormous courage to leave behind what one knows, to turn the finger of blame into self-awareness and accountability and to name and claim not only woundedness and fear but to identify ones gifts and boldly share them in the world.  But more than all of this, it takes enourmous courage to love – and this you have done well.  You have loved generously, freely, without condition while still maintaining appropriate boundaries and remaining true to yourself.    I am not broken, weakened or blocked.  I will not fail you or betray you for in you I am strong and with every courageous act, I become stronger.  Too strong to be brought down by disappointment.  Too strong to be destroyed by misplaced blame.  Too strong to be intimidated by another’s unclaimed and projected fears.  I am strong in you because you are strong and in this there is nothing to fear.

How might journaling be a helpful practice in your own spiritual journey?

What part of you is hurting and might like to speak through your pen?

What would your heart have to say to you today?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Spiritual Practices

Writing as a Spiritual Practice

Today’s blog explores writing as a spiritual practice.  And, offers resources in support of this practice. 

My Journey with Writing

Writing has been part of my personal spiritual practice for nearly 20 years, if not longer.  I remember first being encouraged to write as part of my prayer in a high school theology class (I attended parochial schools).  My writing practice at that time consisted of writing my prayer requests to God and writing what might be construed as psalms – poems of praise and worship.  My writing practice took a back seat during my fun-filled college years and my early foray into corporate America.  Writing re-surfaced as a spiritual practice through one of the required classes of the Ministerial Formation program I attended through the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin.  The class, Integrative Spirituality, was taught by Sr. Marie Schwan and focused on Ignatian spirituality.  We learned various Christian spiritual practices including Imagination/Contemplation, Mantra Prayer, Lectio-Divina, and Centering Prayer.  We were encouraged to make writing part of our daily spiritual practice, and to keep a spiritual journal.  Keeping a journal later became a requirement of the program itself and a pre-requisite to graduation.  Not yet realizing I was born to be a writer, I was surprised to find that the writing part of the spiritual practice eventually became one of my most helpful and supportive tools.

The Gifts of a Writing Practice

What I discovered through spiritual writing and journalling, was that it was often through my pen that God would speak.  Somehow, writing allowed me to get out of my own head and simply allow a higher wisdom and source of creative expression to speak through me (I call that higher wisdom “God”).  Through writing I found answers to difficult questions, insights into higher laws, creative inspiration, spiritual comfort and healing, direction along life’s path, release of pain and woundedness and a place to write my deepest, darkest, most vulnerable feelings and thoughts….things I would be reluctant to share with anyone.  Today, I rarely enter into my spiritual practice without my journal by my side and pen ready.  Writing has become an integral part of my spiritual practice and has become the roadmap of my life.  As a professional Spiritual Director, I often invite my clients to add writing to their existing spiritual practice and for those that have said yes, they have experienced amazing results.

Starting a Spiritual Writing Practice

If you have not yet integrated writing into your spiritual practice, I highly recommend it.  And, there are several great resources out there for beginning that practice.  One of my favorite is Spiritual Journaling – Writing Your Way to Independence by writer and teacher, Julie Tallard Johnson.  In this book Julie provides tools for beginning a spiritual practice centered in writing, writing prompts and exercises and all the support you need along the way.  It is a terrific book for beginners as well as well-seasoned writers and I highly recommend it.  And……just so you know, the book has just been released in Kindle format and from January 22 – February 4, will be available for just 99 cents!!!!!   So, check out the book, get your copy today and START WRITING!

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Discernment, Spiritual Practices

Writing as a Tool for Discernment

Today’s blog explores writing as a viable tool in the process of discernment – opening us up to our truth and showing us the way.

 

 

Defining Discernment

Discernment, in the context of the spiritual journey, is a formal process through which we allow ourselves to be open to determining the Divine call in our life.  In other words, it is through discernment that we test if something is “of God” (life-giving, freeing, leading us toward peace, contentment and joy) or of the “false-self” or “ego” (constricting, rooted in fear, leading us toward struggle, futility, sorrow, etc.).  Discernment is a tricky process because the ego likes to give us ideas, opportunities, etc. that seem shiny, glittering and appealing to our vanity.  God, however, only gives us that which is in our highest good, that which will help us to identify and make use of our spiritual gifts and that which will lead us toward a sense of fulfillment and peace.  My preference is the God-path, which is why I try to enter into careful discernment before making any major life decisions.

Tools for the Journey

When entering into a process of discernment, I have found several tools to be helpful:

  • The company and help of my Spiritual Director and other close spiritual friends who I know can be objective and honest with me
  • My spiritual practices:  meditation (which often includes scripture), prayer, contemplation, yoga
  • Writing

These are the tools I employ on a regular basis anyway, but most importantly when discerning major life decisions.  Today I want to speak specifically about writing as a tool for discernment.

Divine Revealing Truth

As I discuss in chapter eight of Authentic Freedom, the Divine knows what is in our highest good and desires for us to know this as well…AND….there are an infinite number of ways in which the Divine reveals our truth and our path to us:  intuition, dreams, knowledge, learning, life circumstances, nature, relationships, coincidences, creative imagination, physical and spiritual sight, etc. etc. etc.  Spiritual Writing/Journaling is one of the ways that the Divine can reveal truth to us and one of the tools that I have found helpful and supportive in my own journey.  (I’m sure it helps that I am a writer by nature).  There are many ways to approach writing as a tool that can be used in the process of discernment.  (Spiritual Journaling by Julie Tallard Johnson is a great resource to get you started on the path of utilizing writing as a spiritual tool.)   Below are a few examples of how you might use writing as a tool for discernment in your own journey:

  • Imagination Contemplation:  Read a scripture narrative, a work of mythology or a fairytale, looking for a character that jumps out at you.  Re-read the story from the perspective of that character, then spend 15-20 minutes imagining the story as it unfolds from the perspective of your chosen character.  Let your imagination run wild, allowing all the details to flow into the story.  Now write what surfaced in your imagination.  Read what you wrote, asking yourself how that showed up might be reflective of things going on in your own journey.  What might God be revealing to you in the story that showed up in your imagination.
  • Automatic writing:  At the top of your page, write a question or direction you are pondering.  Take a few moments in silence to allow yourself to come to a place of peaceful calm, then putting pen to paper, allow the Divine to reveal the answer to your question through your writing.  Just let your pen go, not censoring, second-guessing, etc.  Then go back and read the answer.
  • Choose a Word: Choose a word that is part of your life at the moment:  loss, pain, love, joy, green, landscape, stones, sand, water, sunshine, broken glass, then write TO that word.  (not about it….TO it).  See what shows up.  You might be surprised.

You Never Know What Might Show Up

Writing as a tool for discernment has become part of my everyday life….but sometimes it shows up in amazing, strange and enlightening ways.  I have recently been working with creative writing teacher, Prudence Tippins, to help me move through some blocks that have surfaced related to the current book I am writing (more about that later!).  The assignments she has been giving me have been mostly related to things going on in my life that have been part of our weekly consultations…relationships, work, new life, etc.  But last week she threw me a prompt that seemingly  came out of nowhere: “Write about the Duties of the High Priestess.”  WHAT?  Where did that come from?  But here’s what showed up:

The High Priestess

Hearing truth beyond words

Seeing truth beyond illusion

Speaking truth beyond falsehood

Being truth beyond fear

Reaching beyond the veil

Grasping what seeks to be born

Bringing it forth into the world

Midwife to new life

Channel of the Divine

Showing others the way

And now I have to wonder, what might God be trying to tell me?

How might writing be a tool that you can begin to explore in your own spiritual journey?

How has God revealed truth to you through your writing?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com