This email exploration is focused on three interconnected ideas: Transitions, Deconstruction, and Liminal Space. These three ideas grow increasingly specific and increasingly complex. Over these next three emails we will consider each of them.
Transitions happen every day, of course. Compared to deconstruction or liminal space, they are fairly straight foreward. Nonetheless, they are not easy. The transitions that we are hoping for in life are not the ones we notice much. Generally speaking, the transitions which cause us stress bring with them a host of unwanted emotions.
This is why we are beginning with 2 different forms of The Welcoming Prayer. There are many forces which conspire to “teach” us to live in denial of the feelings we carry. We hope that ignoring these feelings makes them go away. The reality is that the opposite is true: Naming and owning them can go a long way toward evaporating many of our most intense and unwanted feelings.
Thanks for joining The Faith-ing Project’s September Email Exploration. You probably know that this time around, the focus is on building a spiritual practice through times of transition, deconstruction and liminal spaces. These emails will launch every other day at 5 PM US Eastern Standard Time.
They will consist of 3 parts. This introductory section will introduce ideas relevant to building a spiritual practice of related to the topics of transition, deconstruction and liminal space.
The middle section will consist of the day’s suggested spiritual practice.
The bottom section will feature announcement and updates about other exciting events, generally those related to The Faith-ing Project.
Many of the positive outcomes connected to a spiritual practice will come up when they are practiced at least once a day. On the “off days” when no email arrives, it is highly recommended that you give a second try to the most recent spiritual practice.
It’s exciting to have you on this journey! Thanks for taking it with us. There are lots of ways to connect with me and I love hearing from participants. If you would like to share observations, please reply to this email, click the links at the bottom of this page, or send a message to email@example.com
Background: This prayer become popular in the centering prayer movement. It was originally written by Mary Mrozowski. It is a method of recognizing, then releasing difficult emotions.
This is an important place to begin during times of transition. It is inevitable that lots of feelings, many difficult to manage, pop up in the midst of change. For this reason, our next exercise will be a similiar practice, designed to identify and welcome the feelings that pop up for us.
It is always advisable to read through the practice before beginning them. Notice that on step 5 today you will have a choice to make about the specific words that you use. Choosing which one you are going to use in advance will be helpful.
The exercise to be introduced Wednesday is an alternative Welcoming Prayer. It is exercise 36-B. If you would like to try it in advance of that email you can find it here.
Did you know that the Faith-ing Project is more than just a web page describing spiritual practices? In addition to four books, a facebook page, and regular email explorations, on the webstie, you can find tips for building your spiritual practice, audio files of many spiritual practices, links to influential and thought provoking sites, and more!
Background: My wonderful spiritual community is praying through the psalms, one a day. The Pastor recommended ‘Psalms for Praying’ by Nan C. Merrill. I had planned on ignoring her. I felt like I could navigate through the difficult language that pops up in many of the psalms as they are traditionally translated. Then she gave me the book, and it felt ungrateful not to read them there. And I was glad I did.
As we read psalm 45, I approached it in a lectio-kind of mind set, looking for some words that spoke to me. A few stanzas in, I came to this: “You, who are closer than our breath/ speak to us from the silence.” As you can see below, I took a few minor liberties with the phrasing.
It felt right to build in increasing empty spaces in this exercise. A precise count is not particularly important. Therefore, one approach to “five deep breaths” Is to simply accept that 4 or 6 will also do. The alternative is to use the thumb and finger tips to help keep track: On the first breath, touch thumb of both hands to pointer finger of both hands. On the second breath, thumb to middle finger. On the third thumb to ring finger. On the fourth thumb to pinky.
Know that you can return to these phrases through out your day.
This is not the first description of a Loving-Kindness meditation here at The Faith-ing Project. It was observed that the previous description though omitted a traditional and important element of the practice.
An important aspect of the traditional loving-kindness meditation is challenge to love people who we might have difficulties with. The description below includes this element.
The English translations of the precise sentences to be used vary somewhat. There is also some variance on the precise order and groups that those key sentences are applied to. In particular, different practices will focus on the act of receiving love in different ways and at different times. One aspect of this is where to wish ourselves those several statements.
It seems that one important element of this timing is precisely how we feel about ourselves. Since the practice begins with the easy and works up toward the difficult, loving the self ought to be the very first thing some people do, and the final step for others.
Before you begin this practice, it is wise to have given a little bit of thought to who you will bring to mind for each of the following categories:
After you attempt this practice as written you might wish to change the order, or even research other ways to try this practice.
Background: The body scan is a well-loved mindfulness exercise. This is a practice which invites us to carefully survey the body and to explore how it is feeling. One of the objectives is to compare how the different body parts feel. Those parts of us that feel relaxed are contrasted with the places we feel tense.
It’s a powerful thing, to note what feels comfortable. Just as watching the example of someone performing well is often more helpful than analyzing what is wrong, finding parts of the body which are comfortable allows us to use them as a sort of example in how to bring that comfort elsewhere.
On this approach, the soreness is simply noted. Noticing has a strange kind of power in contemplation. Sometimes, just the act of noticing is enough to make the situation feel better. It is a bit like putting a band aid on the “owie” of a small child.
The exercise that is on the next page is written with this simple approach of merely noticing. After you feel comfortable with this, you might try the following variations and see how they work for you. These variations bring a more active focus to the places which do not feel comfortable.
The first variation is to “breathe into” the hurt. As we inhale, we imagine the breath going straight to the place that is sore. Envisioning the breath coming to work on the painful place can be very effective.
The second variation is to turn the attention to relaxing the area. Here, we will the muscles themselves to relax. Sometimes it is helpful to begin with the surrounding area and work our way inward, toward the center of the discomfort.
After a particularly good body scan, I become delightfully aware of the ways my body parts are all connected. I notice the joints, ligaments, and places that connect one part of me to another. I get this sense of being a single, unified body rather than just a collection of parts.