Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Adventures in Meditating...!

I'm reading the "Art of Meditation" by Joel Goldsmith ... (finished "Practicing the Presence" a couple of days ago)... and I launched into my first-ever intentional meditation practice this morning ...

I opened my Bible, and it was bookmarked at Psalm 91 ... don't know why - it just was. I've heard that this psalm is written to/about Jesus, but since the end of it speaks of being given salvation, methinks it's not a Messianic psalm, but a psalm for any of us.

Here's the psalm - I'll highlight the parts that stood out to me (this is the version I read - NASB):

1He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

2I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!"
3For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
4He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

[I notice that it's HIS faithfulness, and not mine!]

5You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
6Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.

[I see this, not as a command, but as a promise -- for those who discover how to dwell in the inner-place of connection-with-God.]

7A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.

[LOL, this is my own response to the "swine flu" -- rather than trusting in an untested vaccination...!]

8You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
9For you have made the LORD, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
10No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.

11For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
12They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
13You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.
14"Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.

[I don't see this as "those who correctly say the English translation of the Greek transliteration we have made up, i.e., "Jesus" ... but those who know the nature and character of God, because of having experienced Him within them.]

15"He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16"With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation."

Now, that "tent" line stood out to me ... previously, I was told that "tent" meant my body ... that my body would be protected. And while that may be the case, I'm not thinking the focus here is on my physical body (physicality fades away -- this psalm speaks to me of my inner SELF, my spirit, that which is immortal and imperishable).

The word also means "dwelling" ... and I'm already told here that I will dwell in the shelter/shadow of God ... in HIM is my real dwelling, my real self.

So, when my consciousness, my awareness, is IN Him, nothing from outside of me can touch me ...

Things came to me that seem like "plagues" trying to "get at" me:

- A relative who is using manipulation, control and threats to attempt to coerce me into doing what she wants me to do -- or else, I am "betraying" her (can we all say, "junior high"? I allow myself one snide judgment per day -- that was it -- I'm done).

- Posters on SimpleChurch and Wisefire(!) who think it their place to "correct" me, with faux-love.

- Misunderstandings with loved-ones ... a temporary sense of "separation" between us ...

- My memories/frustrations with our friends/neighbors, who have left, but are still (argh!) affecting me through my own mind!

- People in my life who feel they must separate from me, 'til I come to my senses and repent.

- My children, who leave messes strewn throughout the house, as if to say, "you clean it Mom, we don't care."

- The general aches and pains that come with living in a human body (I've been experiencing hair-loss ... sigh....!)

- The deadlines and demands of others who want various things done in a particular way and timing.

- The deadlines and demands that come from within my own mind..!

- Dozens (if not hundreds) of emails that "require" a response.

- The ever-looming projects in and around the property that nag me to do/finish them.

- The multitude of books/articles/websites that I want to read and assimilate.

- The things I want to accomplish: painting more furniture, learning the guitar, writing a book, ballroom dancing lessons, organizing a yard sale, setting up a website, and a myriad of other things I won't bore you with.

- (& the biggest and most pervasive "plague" of them all): the THOUGHTS of my OWN MIND!

Then, deeper thoughts, or awarenesses, began emerging within me ... as I observed:

- Nothing from without enters in.

- I will dwell in God - I *do* dwell in God ... there is no evil in this dwelling.

- I noticed loud birds squawking outside the window ... just a cacophony of demanding noise. I let myself observe it, but noticed that it did not come in - either to where I was sitting, either in the natural (in the chair), nor in the spiritual (in the dwelling). It just was. They clamored for attention, incessantly yammering in their insistency, trying to drown each other out, but I could just smile (LOL, and they so reminded me of the debating folks on message forums!) ... they were "out there" and I was "in here." The message was not lost on me ... so, too, are all the "plagues" listed above "out there" ... I do not have to let them come "in here." Wow. (I then noticed that the birds quite suddenly ceased squawking, and silent peace ensued...)

- I heard, "enter your closet, and close the door..." Previously, I had wondered why Jesus would want us to only pray privately ... but it dawned on me that this was about meditating in intimacy with God ... it's a state of awareness, and not the proximity or positioning of my body. It's being aware of His Presence, in and through and around me, permeating all that *is*. Of course, at this stage of my journey, I do find it helpful to intentionally block out as many distractions as possible, but when the inevitable distractions occur, as demonstrated with the birds, even that can be an illumination for me, if I look for God *in* it. In my "closet", in that place of connection with God, nothing and no one can touch me there.

- "Evil" may show up all around me, but the essence of evil is only in their minds -- and is only real to me if I allow it to be so in my *own* mind. Powerful lesson there. Way-powerful ... will have to percolate on that one a while...!

- I love that angels will guard me in all my ways -- and angels (direct translation: messengers) can take many forms. I can bank on that one.

- I also notice that God *will* answer me ... my job is to look for Him, to expect to SEE Him, to HEAR Him, in all things. For God is all in all.

- All the "plagues" that come at me, threatening me, are *without* me ... they do not, and cannot, enter into my dwelling-place-in-God...!

As way of confirmation (and I do so love confirmations!), I received this snippet written by Henri Nouwen, from a dear friend:

Focusing Our Minds and Hearts

How can we stay in solitude when we feel that deep urge to
be distracted by people and events? The most simple way is
to focus our minds and hearts on a word or picture that
reminds us of God. By repeating quietly: "The Lord is my
shepherd, there is nothing I shall want," or by gazing
lovingly at an icon of Jesus, we can bring our restless
minds to some rest and experience a gentle divine presence.

This doesn't happen overnight. It asks a faithful practice.
But when we spend a few moments every day just being with
God, our endless distractions will gradually disappear

I think I'll continue in this meditation-adventure, and see what else dawns ...

Shalom, Dena


Sue said...

Lovely post :)

I try and meditate each day for at least 20 minutes. The other day I did "weed pulling meditation" instead of sitting with eyes closed meditation. The more I do it the more I see the connection between the stilness (the chocolate river) that flows through everything both outside and inside. It's so lovely, and I so need to do it, seeing like you I have one of those pesky minds that has a million mind monkeys attached to it :)

I do like to have a set time of meditating each morning, it seems to help focus the day but I have run out of time this morning to do so, and have read this post instead :)

Dena said...

Oh yeah, I figure this is part of "praying without ceasing"... having a continual awareness of God's Presence, whether I'm sitting and relaxing, or pulling weeds, or grocery shopping, or talking with someone.

How honored I am that you meditated via my blog today...!

Your fellow monkey-minded friend!

dave said...

Lovely post dena,
I was listening to A course in Miracles on my mp3 player as I walked to work. Suddenly I sensed someone walking beside me so strongly that I chuckled out loud!

Dena said...

I *love* how He sneaks up on folks...!

I laugh too!

Shalom, Dena

marianne said...

Glad you have begun this part of the adventure...just do it. It pays off in a myriad of ways!