Category Archives: Word-Based Prayer

Exercise 23: The Five Remembrances

Background: It is amazing how much time and energy we give to running away.

Our business, our obsession with smart phones, with constantly filling the air with talking and music.  These seem to be an attempt to free ourselves from the realities of life.

The funny thing is that the realities of life are not so bad.  They just are.  There is not an alternative to them.  If we could actually deny them, it might almost be worth it.  But we never truly escape the things we know.  We just pretend we have escaped knowing them.

The Five Buddhist Remembrances are great reminders for people from any orientation.  The version used in today’s exercise comes via Thich Nhat Hanh.

 

Exercise

  1.  Place your feet flat on the floor.  As best you can, relax.
  2. Think the first remembrance, with your next inhale: I am of the nature to grow old.  There is no way to escape growing old.
  3.  For the exhale, and the whole next breath, embrace this reality.
  4. With your next inhale, think the second remembrance:   I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.
  5. For the exhale and the whole next breath, embrace this reality.
  6. With your next inhale, think the third remembrance: I am of the nature to die.  There is no way to escape death.
  7. For the exhale and the whole next breath, recognize this true.
  8. With your next inhale, embrace the fourth remembrance:  All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
  9. Exhale, and breathe your next breathe.  And accept this reality.
  10. With your next inhale, acknowledge this, the final Buddhist Remembrance:  My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.
  11. Release these words, and sit in the truth that you are facing.  Hopefully you feel freed by this.

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Exercise 12: Constant Repetition

Background: Any word, repeated enough, begins to sound like nonsense.

It seems to me that when we use a word only once or twice, we have an easy time mistaking the letter-sounds for the thing those letters stand for.  But as we repeat the word, we come face-to-face with the fact that the sounds are arbitrary.  For example, when we say the word ‘cat’ once, we get a picture in our mind.  But when we say the word repeatedly, we are reminded there is nothing inherent to those letters that actually connects them to the animal.  It is merely an agreement that more-or-less randomly assigned these particularly sounds.

Saying a word over and over, creates a sort-of white noise, for me.  It begins with the meaning of the word.  But slowly even this fades into the background, leaving me in a state beyond words.

Exercise

  1. Place your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Choose your sacred word.
  3. Say the word.  Out loud, if possible.  Say it with out ceasing.  Say it a calm, measured rate; say it as many times as you can with each exhale.  Think it, or mouth it as many times as you can with each inhale.
  4. If you find yourself distracted by thoughts or feelings, return your attention to the saying of that single word.

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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:

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Exercise 11: The Word We Need the Most

Background: One of the most stunning images in the book of Revelation is the idea that we will be given a stone engraved with our true name.

I don’t know if we can find that true name in this life.  But I do know that sometimes, a single word can make a whole lot of difference.

As you engage this, or any practice which seeks to clear the mind, do your best to recognize that the goal is not to have a distraction-free mind.  Don’t grow frustrated as thoughts, feelings, and memories enter your awareness.  It is your mind’s job to furnish thoughts, feelings, and memories.  These will arise.  Growing frustrated with them chains us to a hamster wheel, a vicious circle.

Instead of growing frustrated with the “intrustions.”  Give yourself a bit of credit as you remember to gently dismiss these perceptions with your sacred word.

Exercise:

  1. Place your feet flat on the floor.  Breathe slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  2. Ask God– or yourself– where you are, right now.  Consider how you are doing.
  3. Move on to thinking about what it is you most need.  
  4. As best you can, boil this down to a single word.  Consider words like “Peace.”  “Loved.”  “Calm.”  “Safe.”  “Settled.”
  5. Say that word that you need the most.  Hear it being said to you.  Hear it being said by you.
  6. Continue your slow and careful breathing.  Release everything else.
  7. When thoughts, feelings, concerns threaten to intrude, introduce your sacred word.  Be assured: This word, applied gently to the intrusion, is enough.  It will dismiss your concerns.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

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

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Exercise 10: Centering Prayer

Father Thomas Keating has popularized a practice that is rooted in a centuries-old book called ‘The Cloud of Unknowing.’

It begins with the choice of a sacred word.  It should be noted that this sacred word might be an image, or even the breath itself.  The instructions below presume the practioner is going the word-route.

Some of the more popular words chosen include “Love”  “Loved”  “Spirit”  “God” and “Yahwew.”  Before you begin, it is wise to have chosen your sacred word.  You should stick with your sacred word at least through the duration of your practice.

Proponents of centered prayer advocate working up to 2-30 minute sessions each day.

Exercise

  1.  Place your feet flat on the floor and relax.
  2. Say your sacred word.  Recognize that this is your consent to the holy spirit to come and meet with you.
  3. As best you can, clear your mind.
  4. Know that thoughts and feelings are bound to arise.  Each time they do, dismiss them gently by saying your sacred word.
  5. Set a goal of continuing this practice for at least 20 minutes; half an hour is even better.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

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.
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You Are Welcome Here.

 

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

 

New!  We are proud to present a selection of spiritual exercises coordinated to each chapter of select books.  Deepen your experience of the best new books and broaden your spiritual practice with our new regimens here. 

 

The Faith-ing Project Guides are available electronically or in print editions!

 

At the bottom of this page you can find an individualized listing of the spiritual exercises described on this website.  If you would like to see the various subgroups that these exercises can be broken down into, you can click here.   Also, take a look at the menu to the right.

To sample audio files and preview other content exclusive to patrons, click here.

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

To explore some resources that have been influential in the formation of The Faith-ing Project, click here.

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

To see a sample of some of the email campaigns we have engaged in, 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: Centering 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

Exercise 34: The Examen with Multiple Questions

Exercise 35: Loving-Kindness and Grattitude

Exercise 36: A Welcoming Prayer

Exercise 37: Apaphatic Prayer focused on Trinity

Exercise 38: The Countdown

Exercise 39: Emptiness, And Fullness

Exercise 40: Mirroring

Exercise 41: Mindful Walking

Exercise 42: Another approach to Lectio Divina

Exercise 43: Be Still.

Exercise 44: An alternative Examen

Exercise 45: The Eye Through which…

Exercise 46: Apophatic Meditation with an Emphasis on Breathing

____________________________________________________________________________________________

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.