Author Archives: Jeff

About Jeff

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

Day 4: Examen 1

My hope, through these two weeks that we are spending together is two-fold.  The first is that we might build up our sense of thanksgiving.  The second is that we might explore some spiritual practices which can be useful in all kind of circumstances, through the holiday season and beyond.
We began with breath-prayers.  Breath prayers occur in every religious tradition.  It’s a rather arbitrary designation on my part.  The thing these practices have in common is mostly a focus on the breath.
As we move in to day 4, we are switching gears.  Over these next few we will take a look at practices which give us reason to reflect over our day.  Inevitably, these practices result in remind us of the things it would be easy to take for granted.
For the most part, during this phase, we will be focused on a practice called The Examen.  This practice was popularized by Ignatius in the 1400s.  We will approach The Examen from a few different directions, building on complexity as we go.
The Examen asks us to see our day in terms of consolations and desolations.  Consalations, for him, places it is easy to see God at work.  Desolations are places where it is more difficult to.  I think this is a relevant exercise for people uncomfortable with the idea of God.  One way to sidestep the question of God, in the midst of all this, is to consider Consolations the things it is easy to be thankful for.  Desolations are the things it is difficult to feel thankful for.
In todays Examen, we will break the last 24 hours into 4 distinct ‘chunks.’

Today’s Exercise:
1.  Create your quiet and safe space.  You might wish to light a candle or eat a peace of chocolate.
2.  Place your feet flat on the floor.  Breathe slowly and calmly.
3.  Spend a moment thinking about the last 6 hours.  Do the mental subtraction to determine just when this chunk of time started.  In your mind, review the things that happened during this time.
4.  Sit with your feelings about this chunk of time for a moment.
5.  Consider your desolations during this time.  What was the most difficult part of these 6 hours.  Why?  Sit with your feelings of this time.
6.  Where were your consolations during this time?  Allow yourself to re-experience these good memories.
7.  Spend a moment in thanksgiving for this time.  It is probably obvious why you might be thankful for your consolations.  Is there anything you can find in your desolations to be thankful for?
8.  Take a deep, cleansing breath.
9.  Consider the 6 hours prior to this time.  This chunk of time ends 12 hours before now.  In your mind, go over the events of this chunk of time.
10.  Sit with your feelings about this chunk of time.
11.  Explore your desolations.  Don’t run away from the difficulties.  Feel it in your body and mind.
12.  Move on to your consolations from this time.
13.  Spend a moment in thanksgiving for this part of your day.
14.  Take a single, cleansing breath.
15.  Consider the chunk of time between 12 and 18 hours ago.  Review, in your mind what occurred then.  Do not rush through it.  Go back to that time.  Rediscover the tastes and the smells.  Even if you were sleeping for most of it, think back to that sleep.
16.  Name your desolations from this time.  Be firm but kind with yourself.  Work at not ignoring the difficult partys.
17.  Consider your consolations.  Relive these.
18.  Spend a moment in gratitude for this time.
19.  Breathe.
20.  Go back in your mind, and review the time 18-24 hours ago.  Try and relive as much as you can.  Think about the clothes you were wearing, the people you interacted with.
21.  Hold your desolations from this time in open hands.  Go over them carefully.
22.  Consider your consaltions from this time.  Be equally carefully to work through these.
23.  Spend a moment in thanksgiving for this chunk of time.
24.  Bring all the consolations to mind from these last 24 hours.
25.  Spend a moment offering up a final prayer or thought of thankfulness.
26.  Consider the last 24 hours.  Explore whether you still feel the way about it you did when you began.
27.  Return to the world when you are ready.

Day 3: Loving-Kindness

If you would like to recieve these spiritual exercises as a daily email, please email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com.

Todays exercise follows; please comment below on how this experience went for you.

This exercise is expressed in 2 different formats: The first is a traiditonal Budhist approach.  The second is an Irish (Gallic) Christian formulation.

Exercise 1: Buddhist Loving-Kindness Meditation
1.  Create a calm, and quiet space; turn off your phone and do your best to assure yourself of uninterupted time.
2. For the duration of this exercise, give yourself permission to be free of the duties and obligations that you normally submit yourself to.
3.  For a minute or two, simply breathe: in through the nose, and out through the mouth,
4.  Think of a person you feel gratitude for.  (Choose, more or less randomly, a single person to focus on.  Don’t worry, you will have an opportunity to focus on others shortly.)
5. Inhale and  bring their appearance to your mind.  Try and hear their voice, and even smell their unique smell.  Feel, as best you can, their presence.  Exhale.
6.  For the duration of a breath, allow yourself to experience whatever feelings this person stirs within you at this moment.
7. With your next inhale, think to this person ‘May you be free from suffering.’
8. Exhale.
9.  With your next inhale, think to this person ‘May you be healthy.’
10. Exhale.
11.  With your next inhale, think ‘May you be happy.’
12.  Exhale.
13.  With your next inhale, think ‘May you find peace and joy.’
14. Exhale.
15.  For the next breath, rejoice in the thought that your friend would be experiencing all these.
16.  If there is more time you had set aside for your spiritual practice, you might move on to another person you feel grateful for.  If you are having trouble choosing, consider these questions:
Who are you grateful for in your home?  Who are you grateful for in your school or workplace?  Who are you thankful for in your social circles?  Who are you thankful for from your past?  Who are you thankful for in your present?  Are there people who took on a role of parent, sibling, boss, coworker, lover, friend, coach, leader, follower that you are thankful for?  People who shaped you personally, professionally, or spiritually?
Whoever you choose, the phrases to focus on are these:
May you be free from suffering.
May you be healthy.
May you be happy.
May you find peace and joy.
17.  When you are ready to conclude today’s practice, take a single, cleansing breath.
18.  Now, with your inhale, think this for yourself: May I be free from suffering.
19.  Exhale.
20.  With your inhale: May I be healthy.
21.  Exhale.
22.  With your inhale: May I be happy.
23.  Exhale.
24.  Inhale, think: May I find peace and joy.

Exercise 2: A Gallic-Christian Practice.
1.  Create a calm, and quiet space; turn off your phone and do your best to assure yourself of uninterupted time.
2. For the duration of this exercise, give yourself permission to be free of the duties and obligations that you normally submit yourself to.
3.  For a minute or two, simply breathe: in through the nose, and out through the mouth,
4.  Think of a person you feel gratitude for.  (Choose, more or less randomly, a single person to focus on.  Don’t worry, you will have an opportunity to focus on others shortly.)
5. Inhale and  bring their appearance to your mind.  Try and hear their voice, and even smell their unique smell.  Feel, as best you can, their presence.  Exhale.
6.  For the duration of a breath, allow yourself to experience whatever feelings this person stirs within you at this moment.
7. With your next inhale, think to this person ‘May the road rise up to meat you.’
8. Exhale.
9.  With your next inhale, think to this person ‘May the wind be always at your back.’
10. Exhale.
11.  With your next inhale, think ‘May the sun shine warm on your face.’
12.  Exhale.
13.  With your next inhale, think ‘May the rains fall softly on your fields’
14. Exhale.
15.  With the next inhale, think ‘May God hold you in the palm of his hand.’
15.  For the next breath, rejoice in the thought that your friend would be experiencing all these.
16.  If there is more time you had set aside for your spiritual practice, you might move on to another person you feel grateful for.  If you are having trouble choosing, consider these questions:
Who are you grateful for in your home?  Who are you grateful for in your school or workplace?  Who are you thankful for in your social circles?  Who are you thankful for from your past?  Who are you thankful for in your present?  Are there people who took on a role of parent, sibling, boss, coworker, lover, friend, coach, leader, follower that you are thankful for?  People who shaped you personally, professionally, or spiritually?
Whoever you choose, the phrases to focus on are these:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

17.  When you are ready to conclude today’s practice, take a single, cleansing breath.
18.  Now, with your inhale, think this for yourself: May the roads rise up to meet me..
19.  Exhale.
20.  With your inhale: May the winds always be at my back.
21.  Exhale.
22.  With your inhale: May the sun shine warm upon my face.
23.  Exhale.
24.  Inhale, think: May the rains fall soft upon my fields.
25.  Exhale.
26 Inhale, think, ‘May God hold me in the palm of his hand.’

 

 

Thankfulness: Day 2

Below, please find the text from today’s email.

I hope that you will take this opportunity to share what your experience was like of this practice.

Hello.
Yesterday we laid the ground work.  Today we enter into practices of Thanksgiving.  Today’s practice is a very general one, proclaiming positivity and thankfulness.  It comes from Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh.  He originally shared this practice as a walking meditation.  It is described here as a sitting one but engaging this while taking a stroll comes highly recommended.
Today’s practice is a stark contrast to yesterday’s: it is deceptively simple.  Just a few steps.
I would like to encourage you to decide, in advance, just how long you are going to engage your practice.  I am learning that when I sit until I am ready to get up, inevitably I end my practice before any real growth happens.  When I have committed to myself a length of time (perhaps between 10 and 30 minutes) I work my way through  my discomfort.  This, I think, is where the real growth happens.
Tomorrow’s email will feature the last of our breath prayers.  After that, we will continue to explore grattitude and thankfulness through different contemplative lenses.
Wishing you peace & joy,
Jeff

Spiritual Exercise:
1.  Breathe calmly, in through the nose and out from the mouth.
2.  After a few cleansing breaths– and when you are ready– with the next inhale, think, “Yes!  Yes!   Yes!”
3.  With the next exhale, think, “Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!”
4.  Continue this pattern through the time you alotted for your spiritual practice today: “Yes, yes, yes” with the inhale and “Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!”
5.  As your time near is it’s end, release the words and enjoy a time of wordless relaxation.  You might experience this as union with God; you might use it as a time of reflections on the things you might be thankful for.

Periodically, through out your day, you might re-enter this practice for a breath or two.

Thankfulness: Day 1

Here is the audio file from Day 1 of the Thankfulness Email Campaign:

If you would like to receive a daily email, featuring exercises intended to build gratitude and thankfulness, email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com

If you prefer a written description to the audio file:

Hi.  And Welcome to the faith-ing project.  This is the first of our exercise of grattitude-building email campaign.  Most of of the exercises over the next couple weeks will be simply written down.  Today is special for a couple of reasons.

The first is that there is a lot of material to contend with.  It can feel a little clunky to handle this much information written down.

The second is that today is really intended to lay the ground work.  The idea is that today gets us to the doorway of grattitude. Tomorrow, we can go inside.

A little prep work is necessary because some times there are some things we have to work through.  If you are anything like me, it might be that you are tempted to wait, before you feel ready to be greatful  . The struggles and stresses of life can sometimes steal all of our attention. But the truth is, those stresses will always be there.  It is simply not realistic to expect that we are going to get past these things. I suspect that the best we can do is to recognize the world is a multi-faceted place, filled with lots of different experiences.  If there is a better recognition of the different kinds of things that life is full of than Eccliastes 3, I don’t know where that is.

Today’s exercises is, in short, an attempt to really grapple with a part of this chapter of the bible… So,

 

With no further ado, let’s begin.

Find a calm space.  Dim the lights, turn off your phone, and try and make sure you wont be disturbed for the duration of the time you have set aside for this spiritual practice.

 

Place your feet flat on the floor.

 

Release your stresses and obligations.

Breathe deeply.  In through the nose….

Out through your mouth.

 

And, again.  Filling up your lungs beginning at the bottom, filling them, all the way up.

Exhaling them, thoroughly, and with the next breath, on the inhale, focusing on the words:

 

There is a time for everything,

As you exhale, considering this:

   There is  a season for every activity under the heavens:

As you inhale, consider that there is a

2     a time to be born

As you exhale, realize that there is a time to die,

 

With your next inhale, hold the words There is

   a time to plant

With your exhale: there is a time to uproot,

 

Inhale: There is     a time to kill

Exhale: There is a time to heal,

 

Inhale: There is a time to tear down

Exhale: There is a time to build,

 

Inhale: There is a time to weep

Exhale: There is  a time to laugh,

 

Inhale: There is a time to mourn

Exhale: there is a time to dance,

 

Inhale: There is a time to scatter stones

Exhale: There is a time to gather them,

 

Inhale: There is a time to embrace

Exhale: There is a time to refrain from embracing

   

Inhale: There is    a time to search

Exhale: There is a time to give up,

 

Inhale: There is a time to keep

Exhale: There is a time to throw away

   

Inhale: There is a time to tear

Exhale: There is a time to mend

 

Inhale: There is a time to be silent

Exhale: There is a time to speak

 

Inhale: There is a time to love

Exhale: There is a time to hate

 

Inhale: There is a time for war

Exhale: There is a time for peace

Now, continue these slow, peaceful breaths.  And spend a moment consider that there is a time to be thankful, even as we continue to struggle with whatever we struggle with.

 

And as this audio file comes to an end, move into a time of thankfulness for all the rich and varied experiences available to us.  

This is Jeff from the Faith-ing Project.  Thanks for joining us today!

If you are participating in the campaign, via email or just by reading daily on the website, please leave a comment below!  I would love to hear about how the experience was for you.

You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

  • Access exclusive content and help The Faithing Project share spiritual practices with a world in desperate need.  Become a  Patron.
  • follow @faithingproject on twitter.

 

Exercise 33: Working Through a Verse, One Word at a Time.

Background:  Like many sacred reading practices, this one can be used with material from many different sources.  The most common, of course, would be from a sacred text.  But it would also work with a poem, prose, letter.  The value of this practice is in the way it deeply reinforces and repeats words that are important to internalize.  Choose, therefore, words that you need to remind yourself of.  In today’s exercise, I have chosen the opening to psalm 40.

The Exercise

  1.  Release your worries and responsibilities, for the duration of your spiritual practice today.
  2. Breathe.
  3. Read the following passage to yourself, just as it is written: I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  4. Inhale, and exhale again, as you consider what those words mean.
  5. Now, say the phrase again to yourself.  But this time, emphasize the first word: I waited patiently for the Lordhe turned to me and heard my cry.
  6. With your next breath, consider what this sentence now means.  What different shades of meaning are invoked by this emphasis?
  7. Repeat the phrase, but emphasizing the second word: I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  8. Again, during your cleansing breath, consider the new meanings.
  9. Now, focus on the third word:   I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  10. During the inhale and exhale, explore what this phrase means.
  11. Progress to the fourth word:  I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  12. With that next breath, lean into just who it is you are waiting for.
  13. The fifth word:   I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  14. Consider, perhaps the idea that their are many things which might want to be Lord of your life, but there is only one entity who actually is.
  15. Say to yourself the sentence emphasizing the sixth word:  I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard me cry.
  16. Consider the meaning of the sentence with that emphasis.
  17. Focus, now on that next word:   I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  18. With your breath, experience this reality.
  19. Shifting to the next word in the sentence, the emphasis becomes:  I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  20. As you inhale and exhale, consider the meaning of this sentence.
  21. Now, say to yourself : I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  22. With that next breath, consider this new sentence.
  23. The next sentence is:  I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  24.  Live this reality with your next breath.  Rejoice in the reality that he turned to you.
  25. Now: I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  26. Can you find anything new as you meditate, with your next breath, on this emphasis?
  27. Consider the sentence:   I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  28. Think about this with your next in-breath and out-breath.
  29. You will say this verse two more times in this exercise.  Emphasize it this way this time:   I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
  30. Consider this carefully.
  31. One final time, emphasizing that last word:   I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.

You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

  • Share your thoughts, feelings, and criticism below in the comments.
  • email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com to share something directly with the Project’s Director, to join our next email campaign, or to ask to be placed on the mailing list.
  • Access exclusive content and help The Faithing Project share spiritual practices with a world in desperate need.  Become a  Patron.
  • follow @faithingproject on twitter.

 

Exercise 32: 7-11 Breathing

Background: One of the values of mindfulness practice is that it simply brings a focus to the breath.   On one level, the specifics of the breathing count is not the most important thing.  The most important thing is to note the reaction that different lengths of inhales and exhales take.

However, there has been significant research done.  It seems that breathing in for a count of 7 and breathing out for a count of 11 is the best timing to maintain an alert awareness.  First responders, are in fact, taught 7-11 breathing as a way to be calm in the fact of panic.

The Exercise:

  1.  Find your center by placing your feet flat on the floor.
  2. As you breathe in, keep a steady internal count of 7.
  3. As you breathe out, keep a steep internal count of 11.
  4. As your mind wanders, return to the breath.

You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

  • Share your thoughts, feelings, and criticism below in the comments.
  • email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com to share something directly with the Project’s Director, to join our next email campaign, or to ask to be placed on the mailing list.
  • Access exclusive content and help The Faithing Project share spiritual practices with a world in desperate need.  Become a  Patron.
  • follow @faithingproject on twitter.

Exercise 31: Adoration

Background:  This exercise works best in an outside environment.  While it is good to simply explore, sometimes, don’t be unwise about this situation.  Pay attention to your surroundings enough to know where you are and how to safely get yourself back to where you began, please.

The Exercise:

  1. Explore your surroundings; meander, and hike around.  Do your best to see things with new eyes, even if you are familiar with the area.  
  2. Find your breath and do your best to stay there, breathing calmly for the duration of this exercise.
  3. As you continue your walk, be open for little nudgings from The Spirit of an object to give special attention to.  It might be a rock, a leaf, a tree, a plant; perhaps even an anthill or smudge of paint.
  4. When you find this object– what ever it is– approach it with loving reverence.  
  5. Carefully consider the setting of the object.  Where is it?  What is around it?
  6. Look at it from as many angles as possible.
  7. Touch and smell it, if you can.
  8. Sit with this object, whatever it is.  Love it, as best you can.
  9. This object is a manifestation of God.  The whole of God can be inferred from this one single thing.  Sit with this image for a long time.  Get to know it intimately.
  10. If thoughts, feelings, or memories seek to intrude on this time, release them by returning to this item, whatever it is.

Throughout your day, know that you can bring this object to mind as a way to find calm.

You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

  • Share your thoughts, feelings, and criticism below in the comments.
  • email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com to share something directly with the Project’s Director, to join our next email campaign, or to ask to be placed on the mailing list.
  • Access exclusive content and help The Faithing Project share spiritual practices with a world in desperate need.  Become a  Patron.
  • follow @faithingproject on twitter.