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.
If you wanted to divide up all the spiritual exercises, all the contemplations, all the ways of approaching of mindfulness that have ever been, you could find one convenient dividing line around what they do with the breath.
Many practices begin by asking us to take charge of the breath. Generally speaking, these practices encourage us to slow down our breathing. There are lots of reasons that this is a good idea.
As discussed above, it may not be the most accurate picture of the way things work though.
The other category of practices asks us to simply observe the breath.
The act of simply tuning into the breath can be so much more difficult than it sounds. It is easy to overthink the direction, “Tune into your breath without changing it.” Generally speaking, holding this instruction to tightly will lead to struggles. In trying to be too literal we tend to unleash a series of questions and doubts.
As with so many things, entering these exercises in a light-hearted manner is wise. If we accept that we will not be perfect at it, we will be able to observe our breath much more effectively.