A friend emailed me a few weeks ago. She was in some distress, and felt that her faith was a little bit shaky. She wanted some practical tips for staying connected with G_d. In humility I responded with some version of what follows. I’d love to hear what you would add to my list.
1. We are always, already connected. There is nowhere to get to. All of our attempts to be connected to G_d whether through prayer, meditation, contemplation, or the way we take out the trash, are responses to the divine milieu in which we live and move and have our being—and which is always in the process of becoming, through us. We may feel disconnected but it’s a temporary (and painful) illusion of the discrete and separate self.
2. Develop the competency of stillness. There is so much noise distracting and en-trancing us, and a lot it is generated by our own brains, which are heroically doing overtime to keep us feeling safe and secure. Stillness is great for brain management. Just learn to watch all that activity and drama come and go, come and go, and eventually you realize that you are not your thoughts or emotions—but you can still love them. Stillness/silence helps us to listen, not only to the chatter, but also to the deep stirrings of the soul.
3. Develop the competency of movement. I first heard Thomas Hubl talk about these two competencies and they made a lot of sense to me. We’re born into an adventure of becoming. Learning to track your deepest allurements (what your soul loves) will help you to move with elegance in alignment with the call of Spirit. Thomas talks about the ground beneath our feet appearing in the act of taking our next step with awareness. As we step into our future in this manner, we consciously fulfill our destiny as servants of the evolutionary process of the universe.
3. Face everything. Avoid nothing. Practice radical self-acceptance. G_d shows up in, as, and through reality, just as it is, and the closer we live to what is real, the more immediate is our experience of the Ultimate. What’s true? Stop pretending and start accepting who you are right now. As an exercise, go through one whole day assuming that whatever is in front of you to do is a result of your choice. Don’t fight it. Enter into it with deep acceptance.
4. Breathe from the heart. Heart seems to be the nexus between the transcendent pull of the More, and the irresistible draw toward a deeper inhabiting of Earth in all her beauty. Especially in response to self-judgment and when you find yourself thinking dark thoughts, focus attention on your heart and breathe in and out from heart, remember times when you receive or offered tenderness. It’s a deceptively simple practice that drops us into compassion for self (#3.) and other very quickly.
5. Connect. There is no disconnection anywhere in the universe. Don’t stay isolated for too long—especially if you are feeling crappy. While we live in a individualistic society, when we tap into the field of the “we” the boundaries of this isolated self begin to dissolve and we move into what Thich Nhat Hahn called “interbeing”. This seems to be the fundamental nature of G_d. The doctrine of the Trinity, and quantum physics both metaphorically suggest Being in Mutual Relation as the Ground of all that is and is becoming.
6. Realize that you are an expression of That which you are seeking. You are an expression of G_d seeking to complete the unconditional love and wisdom that gave birth to a world, and is evolving in and toward the full realization of Its own nature. You are That. What else could you be? You have 50 trillion cells each pulling its weight so that you can be a radiant manifestation of Spirit. And the longing you feel for more love and joy and goodness, that’s G_d too.
7. Stop seeking. Start practicing. If you believe you are a seeker, you will always seek, and never find. You will become attached to the game of seeking/not finding, seeking/not finding. Practice simply being in G_d, and showing up as the divine heart and mind (see #4.) This doesn’t mean that you will always know what the hell is going on or what it’s all about. But be in the unknowing as part of the practice. Just don’t get addicted to the search for “It”. Been there. Done that.
8. Make something. The heart of the divine is ceaselessly creative. In science it’s called “emergence”, something novel appearing out of communion events. This new thing is not only greater than the sum of the parts, it can’t be reduced to either of the parts. It’s novel. You don’t have to be an artist to make something new, although it’s probably helpful to imagine yourself composing your life like an artist. All that is required is allowing yourself to deeply connect (see #5) with people, creatures, ideas, feelings. Really, you don’t have to try that hard. Just think and feel and connect like a universe, and you will see your life as a core expression of the creativity of the universe. Where creation happens, there is G_d. Let there be…you! 🙂
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