Category Archives: Aphatic Exercises

Exercise 16: Apaphatic Prayer with Variable Attributes

Background: The apaphatic tradition is rooted in the idea that there are ways that God is simply not knowable.  All the things that God is, these go beyond the words we use and the thoughts we can think.

More specifically, apaphatic meditation is a 3-step process: we begin with a statement, then we negate, then we negate the negation.  For example, we might think/ say “God is love.”  (statement)  Then “God is not Love.”  (negation)  then “God is not not-love.”

In a past meditation, we applied these steps to a series of pre-designed statement.  In today’s exercise, you will furnish your own sentences to apply this 3-step process to.

As with all of these spiritual exercises, it might be that there is a name for God that resonates more deeply with you than “God.”  Please feel free to substitute the word that makes you feel closest to the divine.

The Exercise

  1. Find something to write with.  (A phone, tablet, or laptop computer is just as useful as old fashioned paper-and-pencil.)
  2. Release, as best you can, your stresses and responsibilities.
  3. Complete the following phrase and write it down.  “God is ______.”
  4.  Continue that 4-6 more times.
  5. Read your list.
  6. Begin the apaphatic meditation by saying the top sentence on your list with your next exhale. (God is….)
  7.  Negate that sentence .  (God is not….)
  8.  Negate the negation (God is not not-…)
  9. Release, as best you can, all your thoughts for the next breath.
  10. With your next exhale, consider sentence number 2 on your list.  Then negate sentence number 2.  Then negate the negation.
  11. Work your way through the whole of your list.
  12. If you have time and inclination, go back through the list again, or at least the phrases which struck you the most deeply.
  13. When you are ready to be done, take three breaths to release this activity.
  14. Enjoy a time of wordless union with God.
  15. Think about the phrases and portions of this activity which struck you the most deeply.  Consider what new understandings of God you have.

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Exercise 13: Aphatic Prayer with Pre-assigned Attributes

Background: Apaphatic Prayer can be a challenging– and transcendent– technique.

It is rooted in a tradition which focuses on defining God by stating that which he is not.  Proponents of this tradition say that when we say “God is infinite.”  We don’t actually have a way of truly imagining what this means.  The most we can say is “God is not finite.”

Apaphatic Prayer is rooted in a 3 step process:

  1. We begin with a statement, for example, “God is love.”
  2. We negate that statement, for example, “God is not Love.”  This negation is our admission that our limited, human concepts of “love” do not apply to God.
  3. We negate the negation.  “God is not not-love.”

The 3rd step is where the challenge is for most people.  This is an act of humility.  It is a recognition that we still can not fully know the ultimate, even by claiming God is both X and not X.

Exercise

  1. Place your feet flat on the floor.  As best you can, release your concerns and responsibilities.
  2. Breathe a few breaths.  Relax.
  3. With your next inhale, think (or say) God is love.
  4. With your next exhale, think (or say) God is not love.
  5. With your next inhale, think (or say) God is not not-love.
  6. For the next exhale and inhale, as best you can, clear your mind.
  7. With your next exhale, think (or say) God is father.
  8.  With your next inhale, think (or say) God is not father.
  9. With your next exhale, think (or say) God is not not-father.
  10. For the next inhale and exhale, as best you can, clear your mind.
  11. With your next inhale, think (or say) God is mother.
  12. With your next exhale, think (or say) God is not mother.
  13. With your next inhale, think (or say) God is not not-mother.
  14. For the next inhale and exhale, as best you can, clear your mind.
  15.  Consider continuing this pattern for any of the following: God is peace, God is wisdom, God is power, God is here, God is creator.
  16. Give a few minutes thought to which statements, negations, and negations of the negations were the most difficult for you.   Have a conversation with God about these feelings.
  17. When you are ready, release your words and thoughts.  Spend some time with God, enjoying wordless communion and new understandings of the divine.

 

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, or to ask to be placed on the mailing list.
  • Become a Patron.
  • follow @faithingproject on twitter.

You Are Welcome Here.

Build your sense of gratitude!  Our email campaign, featuring a different spiritual exercise intended to focus our sense of thanksgiving has begun.  Click here to participate in the campaign at the website.  Email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com to be added to the list and receive the emails each day.

 

The goal of The Faith-ing Project is to enrich your spiritual life.   The goal for this website is that it might be a gymnasium for the soul; a library for the spirit; and a toy store for the psyche.

At this time, most of our content is in the spiritual practices.  If you would like to get background on the various spiritual practices, click here.

For some information on how to integrate your spiritual practice into your life, click here.

To explore some practices which are less neglected by contemporary American Christianity, click here.

If you would rather go straight to the exercises without background and context, click the links below:

Exercise 1: God’s Name

Exercise 2: Breathing With God

Exercise 3: A split-Breath Prayer

Exercise 4: A Time for Silence, A Time for Speaking

Exercise 5: Lectio Divina

Exercise 6: 3-phrase Cycles

Exercise 7: More Lectio

Exercise 8: Sacred Writing with an Unconscious Focus

Exercise 9: Sacred Writing With a Deliberative Focus

Exercise 10: Centered Prayer

Exercise 11: The Word We Need the Most

Exercise 12: Constant Repetition

Exercise 13: Apaphatic Meditation

Exercise 14: Candles, Clouds & Waves

Exercise 15: The Riverside Meditations

Exercise 16: Apaphatic Meditation with Variable Phrasing

Exercise 17: Emphasizing a different word within a phrase

Exercise 18: Who am I, God?  Who are you, God?

Exercise 19: A Second Riverside Meditation

Exercise 20: Tonglen

Exercise 21: Listening to God Listen to You

Exercise 22: Slowly Honing in Via Lectio

Exercise 23: The 5 Remembrances

Exercise 24: A Walk with Jesus

Exercise 25: Padres

Exercise 26: Nature Adoration

Exercise 27: The Examen

Exercise 28: The Jesus Prayer

Exercise 29: A Prayer for…

Exercise 30: The Five Senses

Exercise 31: Adoration

Exercise 32: 7-11 Breathing

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

Check back soon.  You will find background on the history of The Faithing Project. information on integrating these practices into your every day life, and a list of our favorite podcasts, books, websites, and other resources here!

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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.