Archives for posts with tag: centering prayer

hand held heart

Image courtesy of  Somchai Som/

Today, during a guided imagery session, my Higher Power made me aware of a  couple of insights.  One is my Higher Power’s love is always there, has always been there, and will always be there—-even if I have been hurtful to myself or others in the past. But the newest insight for me, the one that really got my attention, was I am able to feel and express that same type of love for those I love in spite of any hurts, real or imagined, that I  believe I have suffered at their hand. Thus, the important lesson I came away from today’s session with is this: Our love for someone is strong enough to withstand the hurt we attribute to that person, just as God’s love is strong enough to withstand the things I have done that I am sure have hurt him.

I’m not talking trivial, little transgressions here. The person I love and chose to bring into today’s imagery session had, when I was a child, tied our family dog to the back of our school bus and had the bus driver drive away so the dog would be dragged behind the bus; the rationale for doing this was to teach the dog not to chase the school bus so he would avoid getting run over in the future. That same person slapped me at the dinner table in front of company and at another time picked me up by one arm while  swatting my “behind” with his other hand—- I literally became a human pendulum swinging back and forth between blows. Remembering those instances of hurt I experienced as a child brought unbidden tears to my eyes—even after all this time. And then I knew that some of the things I have done in the past like driving while intoxicated, practicing addictive behaviors, and engaging in what at the time was  called “free love” must have hurt my Higher Power just as deeply as those childhood memories that are embedded in my soul.  Then I felt the blessed relief of knowing  my Higher Power loves me anyway—-just as I love the person who psychologically and physically hurt me as a child. Those embedded hurts no longer have the power to block the love I have for the person who hurt me. Love is stronger than the hurt.

My writing today is relatively short. Conversely, however, the message “love is stronger than the hurt” is a momentous one for me. Now when I think of perceived hurtful events in my life I can stop investing energy in resenting those instances.  I can, instead,  focus on the love God shares with me and all of us that overlooks and overcomes the hurt. Resentment will never again have the power over me that it has had in the past. To be honest, I don’t yet trust that the resentments I have “nurtured” during my life time to entirely go away, but I know that now I can overcome  the hurt and resentment by focusing on the love I have been given as a gift by my Higher Power. And for this I am grateful.


snowy chapel

Photo courtesy of Joshua Burgard


The sun is out; at least it was. It is getting close to dusk, so it will soon be history for today. My feet are finally warm. I gave up and got my heating pad out. My asthma won’t let me have a fire place or wood stove in the house. My father and I talked today; we could not remember it being this cold over such a large area this far south before. He is 92 and I am 64, so, to me, this “cold spell” is truly remarkable, cold and dangerous. Of course,  our combined memories are not guaranteed to be accurate.  I have never  even heard the term “polar express” until now. Had I heard it this time last month I would have thought it was referring to some new and fancy express delivery system set up by Santa Claus.

Days like today force me to encounter myself. Sometimes, the encounter is not so bad, and other times it is not quite so easy. Today I was lucky to find a poem that touched my soul. I found it  on another person’s WordPress site ( It reminded me of the power our faith has to give us hope, and that having such hope is instrumental in our survival. I think I still have “hope” on my mind from last Saturday’s centering prayer group experience, but I don’t mind.

Several of the things I’ve read today led me in a hope-related direction of thought. I have been reminded how important it is not to be overly self-critical of myself for not doing something, anything, or everything perfectly…..that what I have become and what I am becoming is a work in progress. I have been directed to compare myself only with myself, to look at where I’ve been, and at how far I’ve come. In doing that, at least for me, my hope is strengthened. After all, I have survived talking people out of guns and knives, my own alcoholism, having uncontrolled type 2 diabetes (I no longer have to take medication), and multiple partial bowel obstructions.  I have survived earning three nursing degrees and working in multiple nursing jobs in positions ranging from nurses’ aid to Director of Nursing in private, state, and federal psychiatric hospitals. I have survived teaching in three universities, and I have survived two divorces. In looking at my past I cannot help but realize my God has brought me this far, and that our relationship is real, tangible, and reliable.

And that is the thought I want to leave my readers with on this cold, dreary, and darkening day in January. This moment may not seem special, but when it is compared to what has been or what it could be, one cannot help but be grateful for what one has been given.  The reality of surviving one’s past gives us hope that we will continue to receive God’s grace and love. However, I always have to remind myself of what I hear around recovery tables:  “I can’t keep it if I don’t give it away.” To me, that means I have to do what I can to share God’s grace and love. Doing so has already given me some of the best moments of my life. May God bless and keep you.


Sun Breaking Through2

Image courtesy of Joshua Burgard

Today has given me the magical gift of a wonderful centering prayer experience that occurred within the context of a community of well loved and trusted friends. My first thought from that experience that I want to write about is the beginning thought I had as I entered the sacred prayer space by focusing on my breathing. I realized I was breathing God’s spirit and love in, feeling it spread throughout my body, and then breathing God’s spirit and love back out into “community.” Then I realized my soul floats on every breath,  and when I take my last breath it will float out on the last breath I release into a new “community of existence” contained within the embrace of God’s love.  With that image of death I was able to release some of the fear I have surrounding my father’s aging process as well as my own. My father’s  soul will be released into the spiritual realm of “breath” in the embrace of God’s love when he releases his last breath—-and, in eternity, my soul will reunited with his .

The second major “insight” that came from today’s centering prayer experience happened because I was somewhat successful in quieting my “committee meeting” of random thoughts that always compete for my attention when I am involved in centering prayer. As a result, and quite unexpectedly, during my prayer time the visual image of a word came out of the darkness and moved towards me in my mind’s eye. That word was hope. I am certain it was God’s way of telling me to not forget to “hope.” I am not one who is used to experiencing free-floating hope. I generally attach my thoughts of hope onto a particular outcome, like ” I hope we don’t get the ice and snow our winter warning is telling us is on the way” or “I hope this upcoming semester will be a pleasant one for me and my students.

The skill of open-ended hoping is something I seemed to have lost somewhere between my childhood and now. I am going to make a conscientious effort to take a deep breath and remind myself to “hope” several times during today and the next few days. I am going to try practicing the skill of open-ended hoping. Yes, I still hope and pray for peace, and I still hope love will overcome evil. In other words, I still have specific hopes. However, I think God was reminding me this morning that I need to strengthen my soul’s well-being by making a paradigm shift from a intermittently hopeful outlook or attitude to one that is consistently hopeful.

For me, my life outcomes are strongly associated with my expectations. My mind is a powerful thing, and whatever I feed my “mind energy” into is often likely to happen. For instance, when I was in the second grade our county health nurse would visit our small rural school room periodically in order to keep us all up to date on our immunizations. I quickly learned that if you had a temperature she would not give you any shots. I usually managed to “think” my way into having a slight temperature elevation by the time she got around to me. Looking back on that, I realize what I took for granted was actually a pretty impressive accomplishment because my normal temperature is always considerably lower than what is considered “normal.”

So, I am entering this new year with an expectation or attitude of open-ended hope. Developing or renewing this skill will be an expression of the level of trust I have in God’s love. I hope that this open-ended hope based on trusting God is a concept my readers will find helpful. May God bless and keep you.

Neon Looking Cross

Photograph compliments of Joshua  Burgard

Today a small personal miracle occurred. I found my “sacred word”—–one that is very powerful for me and one I will only use within the context of centering prayer (CP). Just thinking this word brings me almost instant relaxation and a sense of well being—-of being safe in oneness with Creator. I am not saying this word will always do that, but today it did. I am grateful.

This morning when I used this word in our 11th Step Centering Prayer group it felt like I had found my way home and God was there greeting me with a big bear hug full of unspeakable love. It wasn’t an “aha” moment  or even an epiphany. It was, however, a wonderful gift to have finally found  my own personal shortcut to feeling intimately loved in the present presence of God.

To speak about my experience in too much detail detracts from its magic and the depth of its meaning, so I will stop trying to explain. Instead of wondering how and why, I choose to accept this gift with the faith of a child. This gift of relationship with Creator in the present moment just is.


Image courtesy of vectorolie/

It is like waiting up on Christmas Eve hoping to finally catch a glimpse of Santa Claus and  finally encountering him for real 61 years later. I have had previous “moments of encounter” before, but they were not initiated by my  intentional voluntarily consent,  surrender, and acceptance. One was drug initiated back in the 60s, and the others have been crisis initiated.   Those encounters were just as real, and they were also awe-inspiring.  But knowing that I now have a way to let myself be caught up in the magic whenever I want without having to experience a crisis or swallow a hallucinogen is a very exciting discovery.

Enough blathering. I tend to do that when I am excited about something. I hope this Saturday is being good to you. May God bless and keep you.


Image courtesy of foto76/

Meditation is a way to go within myself to a place that is both sacred and safe.  I would like to be able to easily access that sacred, safe space. I know it is there; I have been there—-but I can’t get there quickly. I still get tied up in the “how to” and sometimes miss my destination as a consequence. I know there is supposedly no wrong way, so why do I get bogged down in wanting to do it right?

I must, of course, not let “why” prevent me from “doing.”  One of my problems has been knowing what word to use as a sacred word to anchor my consciousness so that my mind doesn’t runaway with itself. I’ve tried bible phrases, names for God, and silly “password” type words. I think, in the terms of meditation rather than centering prayer, I am looking for a personal mantra that is custom made for my soul. Am I once again letting false pride and a self-centered need for perfection get in the way of me “letting go and letting God” accompany me in my attempts to quiet my mind so I can be in closer relationship with Creator?

I think the answer to that last question is probably, “Yes.” At times I have rebelled and tried to think of a “password” I can use to shock me out of my need for obsessing about attaining perfect prayerful centeredness. I have even jokingly told others a safe word can be as ordinary as the word “cheesecake.” This comment trivialized a sacred concept to the point that it was meaningless and no longer sacred. Sadly, my attempt at humor may have instead impeded a friend’s finding what supports her finding her own safe, sacred space.

I need to get off this perfection or nothing distraction. I don’t need it. I release it. I found something today that at least puts into words what I think I am searching for in my own “sacred word.”

I realize what  I want  is the kind of mantra described by Ram Dass (accessed 12/12/13 at: :

” Inside of me there’s a mantra going on that reminds me of who I am. It’s that place inside – that niche in the wall where the candle flame never flickers. Always bringing me right to my heart where we dwell eternally…… In Buddhism, the word mantra means “mind protecting”. A mantra protects the mind by preventing it from going into its’ usual mechanics, which often are not our desired or optimal conscious perspective. Mantra is a powerful spiritual practice for centering, and for letting go of strong emotions such as fear, anxiety and anger. The more you practice mantra the more it becomes a part of you. When you need it on the psychological level – for example when you feel afraid, using your witness, you notice the fear and replace the fear with your mantra. This will occur naturally once mantra becomes an established practice. Mantra is a daily reminder of the presence of the Divine within ourselves and all beings.”

Perhaps I’ve found a stepping stone that will lead me inward. Thank you for letting me ramble this morning. Please comment and share any thoughts my rambling may have triggered in your mind. I hope today will be a beautiful, blessed day for you. May God bless and keep you.

Potter Earth

Image courtesy of  dan/

Mud on the Floor

Today’s quote:

“The early Native Americans did not believe in an afterlife, at least not in the Christian sense of souls living eternally in heaven or hell. However, they did believe strongly in immortality. When we die, they believed, our souls leave our bodies and enter a spirit world where they freely communicate with the spirits of other living things that have died throughout the history of the universe, plants and animals included. The only way souls could enter this spirit world was to become part of the earth, the ultimate place of origin. In Listen to the Drum, Robert Blackwolf Jones writes: “We are all born from Mother Earth and return to Mother Earth. The next time you get mud on your carpet, therefore, don’t panic. You’re just looking at yourself in the mirror before your time.”

Shimer, Porter (2004-09-01). Healing Secrets of the Native Americans: Herbs, Remedies, and Practices That Restore the Body, Refresh the Mind, and Rebuild the Spirit (pp. 28-29). Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Yes, that is mud on the potter’s hands in the photo. Perhaps it is all the mess my dogs have  tracked in  today every time they come back in from being out in all this snow, but today’s quote about mud being a reflection of ourselves really caught my eye.

Native American spiritual beliefs have always resonated with my soul. The above quote, however,  would have triggered a bit of anxiety in me were I to have read it in the past when I was younger and clinging desperately to the fundamental Christian beliefs I heard preached from the pulpit every Sunday.

During my spiritual journey of the past thirty years, I have come to believe in a “spiritual reality” which co-exists simultaneously as a parallel reality with physical reality. When I free my mind from the confines of physical reality by meditating, participating in centering prayer, or participating in a Native American sweat lodge, my mind directly connects with spiritual reality. I have learned that reality is always there;  I just need to be still, turn my “busy mind” off, and open up to an awareness of it. I am learning in centering prayer that the spirit of God is within me as well as surrounding me, and when I am able to focus my mind on consenting to that loving presence, I willingly enter God’s spiritual reality.

I believe all religions have their own way of knowing and seeking God—and of experiencing spiritual reality.  Somehow I find comfort in the humor of Blackwolf Jones; it is amusing to realize when I look at mud I am looking at a mirror-like reflection of myself from a different point on the continuum of time. The study of contemplative prayer is teaching me that God has no concept of time. God is “I am”…now, not yesterday, and not tomorrow, but eternally. I doubt God would have any trouble at all recognizing me in any form, be it mud or flesh and blood,  because I know it is my spirit that shares God’s eternity with him and not the package that houses my spirit.

Enough. You probably think by now being snowed in by the “winter storm of 2013” has gotten to my mind and caused all coherent thought to flee. Maybe it has. Leaving the confines of reality as I’ve known it so I can more consciously connect with God’s spiritual reality doesn’t scare me anymore. I have an eternal place in God’s spiritual reality—-one that is independent of the boundaries of time, space, and shape.

Please comment and share your thoughts about your experience of spiritual reality. Stay safe and warm. May God bless and keep you.