Archive for the ‘Christian spirituality’ Category

Meditation (my personal practice)   1 comment

I value meditation highly, and have been practising it, on and off, for about 20 years.  However I am very poor at integrating it as a regular practice in my daily life.  I mostly associate it with when I am Monastic Retreat.  Place and that sense of being set aside seems important to me.  I have led meditations in small groups and even whole church congregations and have been using the basic approaches to still myself before undertaking the readings for the Advent meditations this blog was originally created for.  I have learnt my meditation practice in a Christian tradition but I see huge similarity with practices that I have read about from Buddhist, Hindu, and secular approaches.  It seems to me a practice available to all of whatever religion or none.

In outline my practice consists of finding a place of quiet, a relaxed and for some reason symmetrical posture. I like to have a visual focus available and my preference is for a simple candle.  I may systematically relax my muscles by working from foot to head through the main muscle groups, tensing them, releasing them, then releasing them again.  That’s the preparation done then begins the process of stilling myself and becoming mindful.  I listen to my breathing and note it.  I might simple say in my head “in” with the in breath and “out” with the out breath.  However I commonly use the Jesus Prayer from the Eastern Orthodox Church as a mantra; saying each line with each phase of my breathing:

  • Lord Jesus Christ, … (while breathing in)
  • Son of God, … (while breathing out)
  • have mercy on me, … (while breathing in)
  • a sinner.  … (while breathing out)

Once stillness and mindfulness has been achieved, (and it may often be lost and have to be regained during a meditation), it depends on my intent what I do with it.  I might use an imaginative spiritual exercise (e.g. one of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises); slowly, contemplatively, read a passage from the Bible; or probably my favourite “just sit in the presence of God”. In all of these, but particularly the last the emphasis is on “being” rather than “doing”.

There then is a reverse process of coming back to normal awareness of your surroundings and on with the day. Like the preparation this too is best done slowly, however I do not have a method as such, I just allow it to happen when the meditation is ended, sometimes noting what catches my attention from my surroundings.


Posted December 5, 2011 by Martyn Cooper in Christian spirituality, Random notes

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Hello again Anthony de Mello   1 comment

When writing my Reflection on Advent Sunday I had cause to look for a web link to Anthony de Mello.  His book Sadhana, and commentaries on it, were a key resource in my early explorations in contemplative prayer.  So I discovered for the first time the online resources of the DeMello Spirituality Center.  I didn’t explore extensively but this quote in their scrolling banner stood out for me:

The master made it his task to systematically destroy every doctrine, every belief, every concept of the divine, for these things, which were originally intended as pointers, were now taken as descriptions.

He loved to quote the Eastern saying: “When the sage points at the moon, all that the idiot sees is the finger.” access 28 November 2011]

I characterise my own spiritual journey over the last 25 years or so – possibly longer – as going through, past, beyond, even around doctrine and dogma to the sublime truth behind.  I am not claiming to have travelled very far but that is the nature of the journey.

I take heart in the fact that it seems to be a journey made by many before me.  I find it too in Fowler’s Faith Development Theory.  This is an academic study of the stages of faith observed in people of different religions/denominations and none.