Workplace missing spirituality – Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

In Latin, there are two words for education, but they have very different meanings and different worldviews. One word is “educare,” which means to bring up. The other word is “educere,” which means to bring forth.

Most of American society sees the purpose of education as “bringing up” our children and young people. The educare worldview is that young people are blank slates (tabula rasa) and that the teacher’s job is to write knowledge on that slate. This leads to a “memorize and regurgitate” form of education, which has its purpose, but it doesn’t lead to “spiritually and developmentally mature leaders” my friend and mentor, Andre Delbecq, described as needed in today’s complex and challenging environment. Rather, it leads to an “expert” model of teaching, in which the teacher is the expert and the role is to assure this knowledge is transferred to the student.

Spirituality in the Workplace

What: Leadership, Spirituality and Education conference

Who: International Association of Management, Spirituality and Religion

When: May 18-20

Where: University of Arkansas

Host: Tyson Center of Faith and Spirituality in the Workplace

Information: eventmobi.com/iamsr2017info

I find myself more drawn to the educere form of education, that of “bringing forth” the wisdom that already exists in the person. This worldview assumes the teacher is on a journey of discovery with the student and his role is to serve as a guide rather than an expert. The teacher gets to know the student’s dreams and talents, and they co-create a curriculum that “brings forth” the essence or soul of the student. An important part of this learning journey is getting clearer about one’s faith and spirituality — both for the student and the teacher. When we can bring our complete selves — body, mind, heart, and spirit — to the learning process, we have the potential to transform into what we are meant to be.

We are each put on Earth with unique gifts and with special callings that only we can answer. Life is richer, and we have a more positive impact on others when we develop our gifts and respond to our calling. This is a very important aspect of living in alignment with our faith and spirituality.

Half my career has been in university settings and the other half in the corporate world, but all my work was — and still is — about education. When I worked for Honeywell, I once had a boss who told me I needed to run a training session for employees, to teach them not to speed on the military base where our ammunition plant was operating. I asked him, “If you put a gun to their heads, would they know how to stop speeding?” Shocked at my question, he nodded his head, “Yes.” I responded, “Well, then it is not a training issue, it is a motivational issue. They already know how to do what you want them to do, they are just choosing not to.” All too often, we train or teach people to do what they already know how to do.

In organizational life, it is completely appropriate to train people in various skills required by their jobs. This is educare, “bringing up” — that is, bringing them up to the level of performance required by the organization to serve customers. I ran training sessions on statistical process control to improve productivity and quality, and I taught sessions on team building and conflict resolution, but we never did any kind of development work that tapped into something deeper and more transformational.

What is missing is educere, “bringing forth” the dreams, passions, visions and spirit that energize and enliven a person to make his contribution to the workplace. Somehow, those kinds of things have become undiscussable at work. They also are undiscussable in the classroom and often undiscussable in our places of worship — which are also places that have the potential to “bring forth” our wisdom and our gifts.

John Tyson, chairman of the board of Tyson Foods, and benefactor of the Tyson Center for Faith and Spirituality in the Workplace at the University of Arkansas, likes to say, “When you come to work on Monday, why is it OK to talk about the football game on Sunday, but not what you heard at church?” Tyson is attempting to “bring forth” the expression of our whole selves in the classroom and workplaces, where it ought to be OK to talk about our faith and our spirituality without worrying about someone judging us or trying to convert us.

What would schools and workplaces be like if we were free to express our beliefs, our spiritual practices, our doubts and our questions about our faith journey? What would they be like if people felt free to be kinder, more compassionate, more forgiving? How can we bring this forth? That is the role of the spiritually and developmentally mature leader described by Delbeq. What are we doing to support the development of these kinds of leaders?

The educere approach to education is Socractic in its method. The Greek philosopher Socrates was the child of a midwife and a sculptor, and he compared his teaching to midwifery rather than sculpting. He helped his students give birth to their true selves, as all spiritual teachers do. There is a new movement in academia called “transformative teaching” that is finding educators developing methods and curriculum that support learners in a deeper journey of self-exploration and truth. This gives me hope.

I’m very excited these kinds of questions will be explored in Fayetteville at an international gathering I’m helping to coordinate, taking place May 18-20. Participants will include scholars, change agents, chaplains, faith leaders and business leaders. Dan Harris, director of the Tyson Center of Faith and Spirituality in the Workplace, is hosting the International Association of Management, Spirituality and Religion conference on “Leadership, Spirituality and Education.” You can find details at eventmobi.com/iamsr2017info. We hope you will, and you will join us on this spiritual journey of bringing forth what wants to emerge through us and our Higher Power.

NAN Religion on 04/08/2017

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Workplace missing spirituality – Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Creative Family Spirituality Workshop, a Big Success in Latvia – Adventist Review

Posted April 6, 2017

By: Karen Holford, Trans-European Division

The basement of the Central Riga Seventh-day Adventist Church was recently transformed into a colorful hub of activity, during a series of workshops on Creative Family Spirituality on March 18-19.

The workshop became a follow-up program led by Karen Holford, Trans-European Division Family Ministries director. A year ago, she had left a set of her 100 Ideas books[*] at a regional advisory for Womens, Childrens, and Family Ministries directors. The book is packed with creative activities for Sabbath and family worship times. It also includes tips on how to teach and learn memory verses, and pray together.

After the 2016 workshop, Marite Lipska, Childrens Ministry director for Latvia, felt inspired. She asked for permission to translate the books into Latvian, and planned a special weekend to introduce the materials to families and church members from all over Latvia.

Lipskas dream finally came true. All five books have been translated into text documents that we shared with every family by email, said Lipska. The creative activity instruction cardswhich Holford uses to introduce people to some of the ideas in her bookswere also translated for churches to use.

Lipska prepared and organized the materials for dozens of activities, so they were ready for the participants to use and explore.

These seminars were Gods answer to my prayers.

About 50 people attended the workshops over the weekend. They learned how to integrate creativity into their everyday family spirituality and church communities. A handful of children came with their parents. They became totally absorbed in different activities, as they wonderfully showed the difference and delight that creativity can make in a childs relationship with God.

I have been searching online for ways to make family worships more interesting and special for my 3-year-old daughter, said one participant in her feedback form. These seminars were Gods answer to my prayers. The young mother said her goal is to find ways to introduce her daughter to God and His big love through family worships. Now I found wonderful ideas, answers to questions, practical examples, and an opportunity to explore some of the activities for myself, she said.

Another lady said that the activities significantly developed my creative thinking, so that I can now look at spirituality through the eyes of a child. She added that she discovered fresh ways to tell children about God through our everyday lives together, so that they can get to know Him even better.

Now I can suggest new ideas in church, for teaching children and teenagers, said another participant. This seminar has inspired me.

[*] The titles of Karen Holfords collection are 100 Creative Activities for Sabbath; 100 Creative Prayer Ideas for Kids; 100 Creative Worship Ideas for Busy Families; 100 Quick and Easy Worship Ideas for Kids; and 100 Creative Ways to Learn Memory Verses.

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Creative Family Spirituality Workshop, a Big Success in Latvia – Adventist Review

How can Ignatian spirituality help you with your teen? – Aleteia EN

Aleteia posed six questions to authors, educators, and parents-of-teens Tim and Sue Muldoon about their newly-released book, The Discerning Parent: An Ignatian Guide to Raising Your Teen.

1) What inspired the book?

Two things: our professional lives and our parenting teens. Tim is a theologian who has taught Ignatian spirituality for years at Boston College, and Sue is a therapist and religious educator who has counseled many young adults over the years. We saw a need as parents to reflect intelligently on how we parent our teens, and drew inspiration from the same Ignatian tradition that gave rise to our first book, Six Sacred Rules for Families.

2) What story or anecdote (or piece of advice) in this book most personally resonated with you?

We wanted to write this because we thought that thinking about this topic would spill over into prayer and practical considerations for our parenting style. One key fruit of that time has been a greater sense of intention in really parenting our teens, not just assuming that since they are older they dont need us anymore. Taking the long view of our oldest daughters well-being in the midst of a college search, for example, has yielded greater patience and compassion for what is a stressful time of life.

3) Did writing this book teach you anything?

Absolutelyand its related to the above point. Teens need careful love and attention just as much as toddlers do, though of course in very different ways. We have to make time for them, be thoughtful and positive. We made the comparison with marriage research, which suggests (to use one example) that a successful relationship involves five positive interactions for every negative one. We carry that same logic into our interactions with our teens now.

4) If there is one person you want to reach with this book, who would that be?

The mom or dad who is becoming frustrated at how poorly they and their teens communicate. Weve experienced that.

5) What is the ideal beverage to have in hand while reading your book?

Sweet tea, with caffeine. You lose a lot of sleep when you have teens.

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How can Ignatian spirituality help you with your teen? – Aleteia EN

Christian Spirituality in a Rapidly Changing World – Crux: Covering all things Catholic

The Jesuit scholar Philip Endean asks a profound and beautiful question that highlights the relevance of Christian spirituality for contemporary men and women: What does it mean for the human person to be confronted by an unknown, lovely power that transforms us into its own loveliness?

Endeans question points to the heart of Christian spirituality: the progressive transformation of the human person in God. All the great Christian mystics, including Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich, Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila, Thomas Merton, and Henri Nouwen, have witnessed to this possibility of human transformation in God in both their lives and their writings.

The insights and practices of these Christian mystics and spiritual virtuosi are needed now more than ever. Twenty-first-century society is undergoing massive and accelerated change and dislocation at all levels social, economic, political, cultural, and religious. In this rapidly changing world, the pace and pressures of everyday life can lead to feelings of anxiety, futility, and social isolation.

In response, many of us hunger for a deeper intimacy with God and a more meaningful connection with fellow seekers on the spiritual path and with the natural world. It is this hunger that led Oblate School of Theology to launch a new ATS (Association of Theological Schools) accredited Master of Arts in Spirituality in 2006. In Summer 2012, Oblate secured full ATS accreditation to offer the entire Master of Arts in Spirituality online as well. Now students from all over the world can study with Oblates world-class faculty led by Fr. Ron Rolheiser, Dr. Philip Sheldrake, Dr. Steven Chase, and Dr. Wendy Wright.

Oblates Master of Arts in Spirituality is a graduate level academic program designed to help students from a variety of Christian religious traditions deepen their understanding of Christian spirituality. As Oblates current President, Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, notes: The purpose of our Master of Arts in Spirituality is to immerse the student in the deep wells of the Christian mystical tradition as well as have him or her conversant with contemporary developments within Spirituality.

Students at Oblate School of Theology can take courses on Desert Spirituality, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Ignatian Spirituality, Spiritual Direction, Julian of Norwich, the Integration of Psychology and Spirituality, Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, and others. All Oblate spirituality courses seek to help students integrate their own spirituality with fundamental principles and insights from the Christian spiritual tradition.

Oblates student body is a diverse group of men and women from all over the world. Some of Oblates students are training for professional ministry or further academic study; some are seeking to prepare for various lay ministries including faith formation, retreat work, or spiritual direction. All our students are seeking to deepen their own spiritual life and practice.

Our graduates will be equipped to better understand their own spiritual journey and the mystery of human transformation in God. They will also be prepared to be valuable resources for spirituality and renewal centers, parish and retreat work, as well as other spirituality-related faith formation and educational programs in a culturally diverse and globalized world.

Oblate School of Theology (OST) was founded in San Antonio, Texas in 1903 by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Since then OST has served South Texas, the United States, and the world by preparing persons for pastoral ministry. Over the last quarter of a century, OSTs mission has expanded to include the education and formation of pastoral and lay students within an ecumenical milieu.

The Institute for the Study of Contemporary Spirituality (ISCS)at Oblate School of Theology was founded in Fall 2013 in response to the growing awareness of the need for spirituality scholarship in both the academy as well as theological and religious institutions. Today the ISCS is the only concentrated, integrative program of its kind in the United States offering ATS accredited PhD, DMin, and MA degrees in Contemporary Spirituality. The mission of the ISCS is to serve as an international center of study to connect the contemporary quest for spirituality with the deep wells of the Christian spiritual and mystical traditions.

Cliff Knightenis Director of the MA in Spirituality at Oblate School of Theology

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Christian Spirituality in a Rapidly Changing World – Crux: Covering all things Catholic

‘The Psalms’ Reveals Jessi Colter’s Spirituality- PG Music Podcast – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


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‘The Psalms’ Reveals Jessi Colter’s Spirituality- PG Music Podcast – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Sisters in Ireland foster practical way of living out spirituality in an evolving universe – National Catholic Reporter (blog)

An Tairseach is the Dominican Sisters Farm and Ecology Center in Wicklow, an area known as the garden of Ireland. The small town lies on the east coast, south of the Irish capital, Dublin. Perched on a hill overlooking the main street of the town of 10,000 inhabitants, the convent has a splendid view of Wicklow harbor and its expansive bay.

The sizeable red-brick Dominican convent evokes times past when the building served as a boarding school established in 1870 and had a thriving community of 50 sisters. Today, the boarders are long gone, and the community of sisters has shrunk to seven, but education is still very much at the heart of the mission. A busy day school serves the local community, while some of the convent buildings are now used by An Tairseach, an ecology and spirituality center with an organic farm that was established in 1998 on the 70-acre property.

An Tairseach is the Gaelic word for threshold. The sisters who founded the project wanted a name that would suggest a new beginning linked to a more sustainable way of working with the land and a renewed relationship with the whole community of life, human and non-human.

At the Dominican Sisters general chapter in 1992, the order chose care of the Earth as a priority for their life and mission. Arising from this, the Irish region decided to establish an initiative that would be a practical expression of this commitment.

Dominican Sr. Miriam Therese MacGillis, who founded Genesis Farm in New Jersey in 1980 as a center where people could learn about more authentic ways of living in harmony with the natural world, was invited to visit Ireland. A devotee of eco-theologian Passionist Fr. Thomas Berry, she was pivotal in the Dominican Sisters decision to use land they inherited in New Jersey to establish a farm promoting sustainable living, rather than selling it for real estate development.

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Sisters in Ireland foster practical way of living out spirituality in an evolving universe – National Catholic Reporter (blog)

Spirituality center marks Good Friday with walk – La Crosse Tribune

The Franciscan Spirituality Center invites the public to join in its 8th annual Justice and Peace Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, April 14.

This form of the Way of the Cross is a two-mile silent prayer walk from the heart of the city to the Mississippi River, stopping at 10 stations along the route to sing, pray and reflect on injustices and suffering in our community and the world. Prayer leaders at each station will include people who work at or are otherwise affiliated with those stops.

The walk, which recalls the journey of Jesus as he carried his cross to Calvary, will take about two hours. People of all ages and faith backgrounds are invited to participate.

Participants will meet at 10 a.m. in front of the St. Rose Convent sign at the corner of Market Street and Franciscan Way (near Ninth Street). This first station recognizes a community dedicated to peace and welcoming of immigrants.

St. Clare Health Mission, 916 Ferry St.affordable, accessible health care for all people

Lincoln Middle School, 510 Ninth St. S.racial harmony and justice in accessing a good education

Our Saviors Lutheran Church, 612 Division St.a Reconciling in Christ congregation offering free weekly community meals

Cameron Park, King and Fifth streetshuman trafficking and respect for life

Franciscan Hospitality House, 114 Sixth St. N.hospitality to the homeless

Salvation Army, State and Eighth streetsshelter and services to end homelessness

La Crosse County Jail, Vine and Fourth streetsrestorative justice, mental health and addiction care for offenders

Riverside Park (near cannon on north side)full employment and supportive care for our returning veterans

Mississippi River (Riverside Park, near roundabout at south end)water protection and care of the earth, our common home

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Spirituality center marks Good Friday with walk – La Crosse Tribune

Guru holds key to spirituality – The New Indian Express

Surrender wholly to the Guruit is the easiest way for the disciple to accelerate his spiritual progress. Obey every word of the Guru without harbouring the least doubt. Cultivate a mind that enables this. After that, everything will be much easier.

No matter what the Guru advises, the first thing that arises in the disciples mind is his personal desire, and he is likely to act accordingly.

As a result, he makes mistakes, which cause sorrow and suffering. That is when he realises that he had acted according to his own desires and not according to the Gurus will. This understanding enables him in due course to act in accordance with the Gurus will.

The peace and bliss that the disciple stands to gain through surrender further inspires him to strengthen his surrender to the Guru. Eventually, the disciple becomes ready to defer all his wishes to the Gurus will. Thus, through sincere effort, the disciples inner Guru awakens. But before this can happen, the disciple must cultivate shraddha, patience, the attitude of surrender and optimism.

It is natural for seekers to make mistakes on the spiritual path. However, one must never waver, because it is from error that one moves to rightness.

The lotus blossoms in mire. If one is innocent, one can correct oneself and move ahead. The biggest mistake is not trying to correct oneself. When toddlers try to walk, they fall. They get us and try to walk again. They fall again.

The faith that is she falls, her mother will be there to help inspires the toddler to keep trying. Similarly, the faith that the Almighty will save us from all dangers is the seekers inspiration and strength. Owing to his egoism, the disciple might not experience this inspiration or strength initially. However, if he is innocent and bent on reaching the goal, all these will manifest in due course.

Our bodies have grown, but our minds havent. If the mind is to grow, it must become child-like. In order to be child-like, we must learn to remain a beginner. If we think we know everything, we will never learn anything. If a vessel is full, what can you possibly pour into it? Only when the bucket is lowered into the well does it get filled with water.

Even a Nobel Prize-winning scientist must humbly submit to a teacher if he wants to learn how to play the flute. If he continues dwelling on his status as a Nobel laureate, he will never learn how to play the flute. One might be very knowledgeable in many fields of the material world but an utter novice in spirituality. To gain spiritual knowledge, one must bow down; theres no other way.

One cannot open all the locks with one key. For as long as we cannot bow down, we will not be able to advance an inch.

If we approach a Guru with innocence and show eagerness to learn, we will not face any difficulty in understanding the true import of his words. The key to open the treasure-chest of spirituality is made of innocence and surrender to the Guru.

What a disciple needs are the sincere desire to realise the God, and humility before others. Awaken these. We will then become capable of receiving everything, and thus become fulfilled. Self-knowledge is ever filling us, though we are unaware of it. The writer is a world-renowned spiritual leader

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Guru holds key to spirituality – The New Indian Express

UAH Women’s and Gender Studies presents Interfaith Conversations on Women’s Spirituality – UAH News (press release)

Eminent Scholars Dr. Judith Plaskow and Dr. Carol Christ will lead the four part series, “Interfaith Conversations on Women’s Spirituality,” March 28 April 4, on the UAH campus. The event is sponsored by the UAH Womens and Gender Studies Program.

The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s (UAH) Womens and Gender Studies Program is sponsoring a new series this spring, Interfaith Conversations on Womens Spirituality.”

Eminent Scholars Dr. Judith Plaskow and Dr. Carol Christ will lead the four-part spirituality event March 28 through April 4.

The series showcases womens voices, honor the role spirituality plays in womens lives, contemplate the complexity of womens experiences of spirituality, and celebrate the religious diversity of Huntsville and North Alabama. All events are free and open to the public, but reservations are required for the Interfaith Panel and Community Conversation. The event is co-sponsored by the UAH Humanities Center and the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.

While on campus, Dr. Judith Plaskow and Dr. Carol Christ will visit several classes. The two scholars will give a keynote lecture, Goddess and God in the World: Conversations on Womens Spirituality, on Tuesday, March 28, at 7:30 p.m., in Chan Auditorium located in the College of Business Administration.

On Wednesday, March 29, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., in the Wilson Hall Art Gallery, Plaskow and Christ will also hold a Coffeehouse event, Conversations about the Divine in the Modern World. This event will provide an opportunity for informal interaction and conversation with the UAH community.

Plaskow and Christ are leading theologians in feminist spirituality and particularly examine the continuities between their own very different faith traditions: Plaskows Judaism and Christs goddess-centered spiritual practice. They have recently co-written their third book together, Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology (2016), from which their UAH lectures will be drawn. Plaskow is Professor Emerita of Religious Studies, Manhattan College, and Christ was a tenured full professor at San Jose State University, before moving to Greece to direct the Ariadne Institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual. Plaskow and Christ met and began their scholarly collaborations as Ph.D. students at Yale University in the 1970s.

The Huntsville Feminist Chorus annual spring concert also explores womens spirituality. The concert, titled All of Us, will be on Saturday, April 1, at 7:30 p.m. in Roberts Recital Hall.

The womens spirituality series concludes with an Interfaith Panel and Community Conversation. This event, which will focus on Experience, Identity, and Action in womens spirituality, will be on Tuesday, April 4, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., in the UAH Conference Training Center Exhibit Hall (formerly the University Center).

The panel will feature local women of diverse faith traditions sharing their experiences of how their spirituality shapes their lives. The event includes heavy hors doeuvres (vegetarian). This event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required by Tuesday, March 28. RSVP at http://www.uah.edu/wgs.

For more information, please contact the WGS office at 256.824.6190.

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UAH Women’s and Gender Studies presents Interfaith Conversations on Women’s Spirituality – UAH News (press release)

SPIRITUALITY: During Lent, build your relationship with God – Norwich Bulletin

The Rev. Cal Lord For The Bulletin

Last weekend, a group of us from church went to see The Shack, the new movie based on W. Paul Youngs best selling book. I knew the movie would elicit some questions so I invited everyone back to the house afterwards.

It was Sunday night. The show finished up just after 6 p.m., so Lori and I decided to order pizza for everyone. Everyone started arriving and we put out some chips, crackers, fruits and veggies. Fifteen minutes later the food arrived.

Lori met the driver at the door and said, Just bring it into the kitchen. Without missing a beat, the driver walked in and headed around the corner with the pizzas. One friend said, He seems to know his way around here.

Another friend recognized the driver as the owner of the pizza restaurant. He said to me, Wow! How do you rate having the boss deliver your order? I smiled and said, Its all in who you know.

The truth is that if you live anywhere for any length of time you get to know people. Over time you build up relationships. Those relationships become friendships. Sometimes you get to know the boss, and that has perks.

It is like what happens with our faith. Once you start spending time with God, in Bible study, in prayer and worship, your relationship deepens. Before you know it, God shows up wherever you go. He is no longer a stranger at your house.

As you walk through Lent, make it a point to spend a little more time with Jesus. Get to know him up close and personal. When it comes to the important stuff in life, you can count on him to show up. Take it from me: he always delivers.

God bless. See you in church.

The Rev. Cal Lord, of Norwich, is the pastor of Central Baptist Church of Westerly. Reach him at calstigers@gmail.com.

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SPIRITUALITY: During Lent, build your relationship with God – Norwich Bulletin

Lancaster parish yoga classes mix spirituality with Vinyasa – The … – Buffalo News

Patricia Hudson and her daughter, Alexis, spent part of Valentine’s Day evening together in a Christian meditation and yoga class.

Hudson, 42, amped up her workouts last year after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She added yoga classes when her church parish, St. Mary of the Assumption in Lancaster, began offering them last fall in the St. Mary’s Elementary School gym.

“I look forward to this,” she said after a class last month. “It centers me.”

That’s the whole idea, said Jane Schmitt, the certified yoga instructor and fellow parishioner who leads the bimonthly classes.

“I feel like this is my ministry for the church,” said Schmitt, 62, who also teaches yoga at community education sites in Lancaster and East Aurora, as well as Joy Wheel yoga studio in East Aurora.

The hourlong Meditation & Yoga as Christian Spiritual Practice classes differ. Two dozen people who took her Valentine’s Vinyasa class moved through their poses to songs that included “Come Thou Font of Every Blessing,” “Prayer for Peace,” and “When My Mind Becomes Still.”

The classes start at 7 p.m. two Tuesdays each month, including next week. All are welcome free, though most who attend give a small donation to the parish.

For more information, call parish communications coordinator Diane Zwirecki 683-6445, Ext. 24 or email dianez@stmarysonthehill.org.

Alexis Hudson, 9, has attended several hourlong Meditation & Yoga as Christian Spiritual Practice classes at St. Mary’s Elementary School with her mother, Patricia. “It’s really fun,” she says, especially the balancing poses.

Hudson began to bring her daughter to classes a few weeks ago because Alexis, 9, takes dance and was interested.

“It’s really fun,” Alexis said.

Her favorite poses? Those that test balance.

“Mom always tries to hold on to me,” she said.

Schmitt first thought about teaching yoga on the parish campus when church members were asked to consider what gifts they could offer to the church. The idea solidified after she attended a religious retreat for Christian yoga teachers last summer at the Graymoor Spiritual Life Center in the Hudson River Valley. The Rev. Thomas Ryan author of “Heart and Body” and a leader of an ecumenical group called Christians Practicing Yoga led the gathering.

“He is a Catholic priest and certified Kripalu yoga instructor,” Schmitt said. “I thought, ‘This has to happen now because he’s doing both of my worlds.'”

Schmitt and her husband, Jerry, owner of Schmitt’s Audi, have three children and five grandchildren.

She leads her Tuesday evening classes from a pair of mats laid out in a cross shape.

Q. How did you come to yoga?

As a student. It really called to me. I loved it so much and really felt it. I had to go into teaching (eight years ago) and learn more about it.

Q. Can you talk about the benefits of combining yoga and spirituality?

The reflection and the meditation drew me toward a deeper connection to my faith. It felt more authentic and meaningful than it ever had before. It was great. When you’re a kid and you get trained in whatever religion you’re in, it’s very real to you. Then you become more skeptical. You go because you have to go. Yoga gets you into a place where you can feel a bit more open and receptive. You also learn to slow it all down and you can take it in. You go to church and all of a sudden you’re listening better, you’re hearing different things. I love to see in church when people have their heads bowed in prayer. There are good feelings that you get.

Q. What are the classes like?

We start with some breath work. We do slow movement to music we do postures; the asanas and we end with traditional relaxation, or the savasana pose, and a short meditation. We sometimes include scripture, prayers or inspiration from the weekly readings and sermon at Mass.

Q. What are the movement and meditation like?

It’s gentle. So many people are brand new to yoga that sometimes I’ll demonstrate and then we’ll do it to music together. There’s a lot more teaching involved. Sometimes the music is a prayer or a hymn. It’s kind of neat. It’s almost like the prayer and the music are a moving meditation.

Q. Can the movement be modified?

Yes. If someone has difficulty doing things on the floor, they can go into a chair. Diane, who is helping me, often goes into a chair and demonstrates.

Q. What music do you use?

It’s inspirational music with some hymns. It’s not strictly Christian music.

Q. Should you bring your own mat? but we have extras.

Yes, but we do have a couple of extras if they’re needed.

Q. Would all feel welcome and comfortable?

Yoga is not a religion but it can draw you closer to your already established belief system. All yoga aims to produce tranquility, calm the body, still the mind. All spiritual seekers are welcome.

Q. Can you talk about the folks who have been attending classes?

They’re great. They’ve really embraced it. There are always new people showing up. It’s mostly women but some men. It’s all age groups. We might have a 13-year-old and a gentleman who might be in his 70s. We’ve been getting 20 to 40 people for each class. I feel like I’m starting to get to know people a little bit better, including those from church.

Q. How has your faith, married with your yoga, instructed your living?

When people start to get into yoga, it kind of becomes a way of life. You become a little bit more peaceful, a little bit more joyous. Maybe it starts to reflect to the people around you and maybe they want to see what it’s all about. It’s definitely made me happier in my faith life.

Q. What do you envision for the future?

I want to start taking it more into the meditation. I always run out of time. I always try to squeeze all this stuff in and want to leave a bit more time for meditation.

email: refresh@buffnews.com

Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon

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Lancaster parish yoga classes mix spirituality with Vinyasa – The … – Buffalo News

Guest speaker focuses on spirituality in the Black Lives Matter movement – The Bucknellian

Nyle Fort presented a lecture on the black body and religion onMarch 8. The talkfocused on the importance of spirituality in activism, including the Black Lives Matter movement. The lecture was hosted by the Griot Institute for Africana studies and co-hosted by the Department of Religious Studies as part of the Black Body (Re)Considered series.

Fort focused on the moral and spiritual sides of the Black Lives Matter movement, emphasizing questions concerning the role of the Black Church, the politics of Black spirituality, and the sacredness of Black life, as stated on the Black Body (Re)Considered webpage.

We are not simply the sum of our oppression, we are more than that, Fort said.

Fort, a minister, organizer, and scholar, is currently working toward a Ph.D. in religion and African-American studies at Princeton University. As an activist, Fort is known for advocating the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Miss.as well as creating programs to serve his community.

I think theres an idea that some of us younger activists have sort of rejected the church or rejected religion altogether, so I want to complicate some of that and sort of give a different understanding of whats actually happening on the ground with some of us, Fort said.

Fort described how his lectures on religion have been a learning experience for both his audience and for himself.

Im coming to have a good conversationabout what we can do in this moment and how religion can play into both how people are being oppressed and how people are resisting that oppression, Fort said.

Forts studies focuson topics including black liberation theology, a tradition centered on understanding how faith and justice work in conjunction, as well as to evaluate how Christianity and other religions can fit into current activism. His goal is to not only determine how young activists critique Christianity, but also how they can benefit from it.

What we want to do is push back against this narrative, against this story that these young activists are somehow anti-religious, Fort said. I also want to talk about how young people are not just articulating different versions of religious experience but theyre critiquing the institution of the church and many of them are doing so from a place of faith, so theyre trying to call the church to be what they think it can become.

Fort feels that religion can be a vital part of activism, providing an explanation to the stories he wants to address.

A lot of the stories, which are really stereotypes, that we tell about these oppressed people are flat narratives, theyre narrow narratives. I want to talk about the complexity and the vitality, the dynamism of black life, Fort said.

Fort also hopes to demonstrate the commonalities between different subsections of the African American community.

Black people are not just Christian. Black people are Muslim, black people are atheist, black people are five-percenters, so we have a very complex religious expression. I try to talk about the gospel and the Christian faith in a way that shows that its actually central to our liberation struggle. Its not something thats antagonistic, Fort said.

Fort echoed Dr.Martin Luther King Jr., encouraging people to take action rather than spectate.

Wherever you find yourself, I encourage people to organize. You dont have to go to Ferguson, but you can, but you dont have to. You can right in your community, right in your context, do organizing work with your talents and your gifts, Fort said.

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Guest speaker focuses on spirituality in the Black Lives Matter movement – The Bucknellian

Faith and Spirituality Centre brings What I Be Project to campus – Gauntlet

By Rachel Woodward, March 9 2017

From March 1317, the Faith & Spirituality Centre (FSC) will celebrate Pluralism & Diversity Week. One of these events the What I Be Project intends to capture what University of Calgary students are insecure about and turn it into art.

The What I Be Project has a worldwide presence and has included celebrities like Jackie Cruz from Orange is the New Black. The project will take place over the course of the week at the U of C. Photographer Steve Rosenfield will spend 45 minutes with individual students to get to know them and discuss their insecurities. At the end of each session, the subject will write their insecurity on their body for a picture.

The process is cathartic and universally empowering, FSC program coordinator Jessica Burke says. Each portrait is immortalized for the entire world to see. Subjects are putting their insecurities out in the open and exposing a side of themselves that nobody has seen before. By stating I am not my ___, you are claiming that you do struggle with this issue but it does not define who you are as a person. They are not denying their insecurity, they are owning it.

The photos will show on screens in the Taylor Family Digital Library and the FSC. Burke says it was important for the FSC to provide students with something they can take away from the project after it ends.

We will be the pluralism hub during the week. People can stop by all week long for food, snacks, [and] information, she says.

Burke says the event highlights the FSCs mandate.

We work under the vice provost specifically the student life portfolio, she says. So [its about] creating an interculturally competent campus, destigmatizing the idea of religion and spirituality on campus most people dont feel comfortable being a person of faith or religion on campus as well as the Campus Mental Health Strategy in general.

Burke acknowledges that opening up to a large audience about insecurities is not easy. She says that the FSC will provide access to student advisors throughout the week to support those involved. She says that they are hoping for a positive outcome for the subjects.

If even one person leaves feeling empowered, if they feel more supported by the university in general, if they have networked, if they have made a connection, if they feel a sense of support and community and intercultural competency, I will consider that a huge success, Burke says. Students can apply online to have their photo taken up and there will be a waiting list if spots fill up. Burke says the event is filling up quickly.

For more information, visit http://www.ucalgary.ca/fsc

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Faith and Spirituality Centre brings What I Be Project to campus – Gauntlet

Baritone Jubilant Sykes On Spirituality, Teddy Abrams And ‘1776’ – 89.3 WFPL

Many will remember Jubilant Sykes booming voice from his role as Celebrant in the 2015 Louisville Orchestra production of Bernsteins Mass. Now, the Grammy award-winning baritone is back to sing with the orchestra again for Sacred and Profane, a classics concert that compares and contrasts the music of composers in sacred traditions, as well as those of a decidedly secular focus.

In this case, Sykes represents the sacred, with his renditions of American spirituals like Ride on King Jesus, Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child, and Were You There?

I talked with Sykes about how he personally identifies with the spirituality of both Mass and Sacred and Profane, his relationship with Teddy Abrams, and his unexpected turn as an actor in the historical musical 1776. Listen to our conversation in the player above.

On how he identified with the music from last years Mass:

I think with all of us there is the sacred and the profane, which is the title of the (upcoming) concert. But I think that even atheists would say to some degree that we are spiritual beings, however they would relate that to there being a God or no God.

But I think, things like music, things like art, things like beauty, things like love those are things that we can sort of, to some degree, analyze, but when it really stabs you in the heart, that transcends intellect. It transcends even emotion. It hit a core that is profoundly deep, that words and even music alone cannot articulate.

On identifying with the American spirituals from Sacred and Profane:

Foremost they are from slavery. They are, of course, African-American. But I think they transcend culture and race. They are messages of love. They are messages of suffering. I think mans calling out to God to hear him, to see him, and Gods answer in that, I am here, in spite of what it may look like. So yes, they are very personal to me.

On his relationship with Louisville Orchestra conductor Teddy Abrams:

First of all, he is what is it they say? The cats meow. Teddy is amazing. I dont know him personally-personally, but when you collaborate and work with someone musically, unlike other businesses, in music and the arts there is a personal revealing, an inner thing that happens. But he is just an incredible conductor. He is just an gem. That is rare. Ive had wonderful opportunities to work with really world-class, fabulous conductors and I say that humbly, but truthfully Teddy is right up there.

On how he became involved in a production of 1776 and his thoughts on acting:

A lot of my life its the phone call. The phone rings. I love acting, and I think that if I am very candid my wife is probably the only one who really knows this I consider myself more of an actor than a singer. But the singing door is what has opened up for me. I got a phone call, they were looking for me to do it. I live in California, this was in New York and my agent said, Listen, theres this show 1776, they want you to play this part in it.

I had a fabulous cast. These were actors personified, so for someone who has been a closeted actor, to see these men step into this role, I was humbled, I learned a lot. I learned that acting is not just passion and talent, there is of course craft. But when all those things come together, man it is it sounds cliche but it is magical.


Baritone Jubilant Sykes On Spirituality, Teddy Abrams And ‘1776’ – 89.3 WFPL

Rolling Stone Australia – Yoko Ono on John, Bowie and Spirituality – Rolling Stone Australia

83-year old artist and musician, Yoko Ono, shares with us her Words of Wisdom, including childhood fables, ephemeral success and why it’s important to get outside.

Who are your heroes? That’s easy my husband, John Lennon. He was the only person who put up with me. It’s difficult for a guy to understand what women are thinking. Most guys don’t even listen. He was very forward-thinking in that sense. He really jumped into feminism, no argument. He would ask me, “Could you find feminist groups for me?” Even now, I don’t think men get together and say, “Let’s be feminists.”

Do you have a favourite city? I love every city I’ve been to, but Liverpool is great. John and I would pass through and say hello to relatives. People there are really strong in spirit, especially the women. I wouldn’t say they’re working-class I don’t think they’d like for me to label them that way but they have a working-class mentality, a strength and wisdom.

What music still moves you? Indian music is incredible. Gypsy music is fantastic. All the Middle Eastern music is very strong. John and I loved folk songs from different countries the rhythm and the harmonies are very, very different. I can’t say, you know, “Be-Bop-a-Lula”.

What do you think John would have made of social media? John felt that something like social media would come out. He was doing that anyway. When somebody said something he didn’t like, he would send a letter: “It’s not true!” He would never ignore those communications.

Do you have a fitness regimen? I walk around. Walking is such a great way to relax. I know it might be dangerous, but that’s only in the corner of my mind. Maybe I’m the only one now. Very few famous people are walking around now. They disappeared. It’s that kind of world. It’s sad, isn’t it?

What’s the best advice you’ve gotten? I don’t take advice. My background is very different, so it’s very difficult for a person to advise me. My parents were very liberal and cherished that I had my own opinions. Other people’s thinking is theirs, and my thinking is mine. There’s no point in listening. And, so far, it’s gone well.

Did you get advice about how to make records a certain way? I make records my certain way.

What was your favourite book growing up? There were two, and both are Chinese. One, Sangokushi, tells you how to battle very carefully and logically. The other, Saiyuki, has more to do with spiritual travelling. One monk decides how to solve a situation, not in a battle. One guy is very cocky. He says, “I know everything, and I can fly to the end of the world in 10 seconds.” The monk says, “Show me how you do it.” The guy goes zoom, zoom to the end of the world, and at the end are five huge poles. He says, “I’ll put my name on that.” He writes his name and goes back to the monk and says, “I just went to the end of the world.” And he says, “Oh, really?” The monk opens up his hand and says, “Are these the poles?” Meaning the guy never went anywhere. He never went outside of the monk’s five fingers.

What’s your favourite memory of your friend David Bowie? He was one of the very few people who liked my work. I think he said something about my music in [the 1992 compilation] Onobox that was very nice. At the time, nobody cared about it, and he was courageous to say something.

What books are you reading right now? I usually read three books at once. One right now is The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success [by Deepak Chopra]. It pretends to be about success so people will say, “I want to read that!” But actually, he’s making a very good statement about how you can be spiritually successful. I love actual printed books. I can’t get out of that yet.

Have you thought about writing a memoir? No. That would be a very tricky thing to do. I care about writing something that would make some people feel bad, even though they maybe were bad. I think about their children and wives, and I don’t want to hurt anybody. So the book would be rather…boring [laughs].

What’s the best part of success? Well, I don’t know, because I’m not successful yet. We’re not getting world peace.

Is that your gauge for success? Well, I wouldn’t say, “Until then”, but it’s one of the big things for me.

What do you do to relax? Relax? I don’t relax too much. I’m always thinking about the next project.

Last November marked the 50th anniversary of you meeting John for the first time, when he attended your gallery show in London. You had a spyglass he looked into that said, “Yes”. What does that work mean to you now? At the time I had a very difficult life. I said, “Well, I want to change it”, and this was a sign that said “yes” instead of “no”. It saved me.

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Rolling Stone Australia – Yoko Ono on John, Bowie and Spirituality – Rolling Stone Australia

Unfortunate to link spirituality with religion: PM Modi – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Hailing spirituality as India’s strength, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday lamented that some people tend to link it to religion and asserted that the two are very different.

Addressing a function here to commemorate the centenary celebrations of the Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (YSS), he said Yoga is the first step towards the journey of spirituality.

Modi said the world compares India on the basis of its population, GDP or employment rate, but it has neither known nor recognised India for its spirituality.

“India’s spirituality is its strength. But, it is unfortunate that some people link spirituality to religion. But both spirituality and religion are very different,” he said.

The prime minister also hailed Yogi Paramahansa who left the shores of India to spread his message but remained connected to the country all the time.

Even for a second the Yogi was not away from his motherland, which he kept remembering even in his last words, the PM said.

Back from campaign trail in his Varanasi constituency, Modi recalled how the Yogi is still remembered in Kashi and his teachings, “which are as pure as Maa Ganga”, continue to flow within many in the holy city where he spent his childhood.

Modi’s remarks come in the backdrop of a raging debate over attempts by political parties to polarise society on the lines of religion, especially during elections.

The Yogoda Satsanga Society was founded by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1917.

A special postage stamp on Yogoda Satsanga Society was also released by Modi to commemorate the occasion.

Recalling the words of former President APJ Abdul Kalam who felt that India’s spiritualness is its strength and this process should continue, he said that the spirituality of the country has been strengthened by India’s sages and saints.

Talking about Yoga, he said it is simple an entry gate to the spiritual world.

“Yoga is the entry point to spirituality. Yoga is the entrance point to one’s spiritual journey. One should not consider it as the last point, as it is simply the entry gate to the spiritual world,” he said.

“Once an individual develops an interest in Yoga and starts diligently practicing it, it will always remain a part of his or her life,” he added.

The prime minister also recalled that the path shown by the Yogi was not about “mukti” (salvation) but “antaryatra” (quest within).

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Unfortunate to link spirituality with religion: PM Modi – Times of India

Kane explores Lynch’s timely Ignatian spirituality – National Catholic Reporter

BUILDING THE HUMAN CITY: WILLIAM F. LYNCH’S IGNATIAN SPIRITUALITY FOR PUBLIC LIFE By John F. Kane Published by Pickwick Publications, 292 pages, $35

Fr. William Lynch has to be one of the most unjustly neglected of 20th-century American Jesuit scholars, but John Kane has spent a goodly portion of his life preparing to change that. The result is a remarkable book that should have the eminently desirable effect of bringing renewed attention to Lynch’s work.

Lynch, longtime editor of Fordham University’s flagship journal, Thought, is known for several fairly short books, especially Christ and Apollo: The Dimensions of the Literary Imagination, Images of Hope: Imagination as Healer of the Hopeless and Christ and Prometheus: A New Image of the Secular. Ranging across philosophy, psychology, theology and classical studies, Lynch was widely recognized in his day but never widely read. His books are not easy and few scholars have the same range Lynch had. Of course, by the same token, few readers could finish any one of the books without having learned something new.

Since his death in 1987, Lynch has been pretty much in eclipse. What is so immediately striking about Kane’s presentation inBuilding The Human City is the extraordinary timeliness of Lynch’s insights for public life today.

For example, Kane’s introductory chapter stresses Lynch’s concern to overcome polarizations, to combat the “totalizing sensibility” that he thought affected church and world in his own times. This determination to address the problem of demonizing the adversary runs through all Lynch’s work and, as Kane points out, “has recently been seconded by a now more famous Jesuit,” Pope Francis himself. If you re-read Francis’ address to the U.S. Congress with some knowledge of Lynch’s convictions, you may wonder if the current pope is one of those few who have read Lynch’s work.

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One of Lynch’s less well-known works, the 1962 collection of essays The Integrating Mind, explores in depth the dangers of totalizing and, without using the word much if at all, the importance of employing an analogical approach. This extends beyond mere disagreements to more fundamental but illusory separations between art and life or transcendence and immanence or, in some ways, what Lynch considers to be the most serious of separations, between society’s intellectual and cultural elites and the great mass of ordinary people.

All such dichotomizing misses the vital importance of connection to real life, to virtues and even hopes and fears that are first and last embodied. Even God is encountered in the secular, as Lynch makes clear in Christ and Prometheus, and Kane is extraordinarily good on exploring the incarnational roots of Ignatian spirituality and sensibility that lie within Lynch’s thought. “Finding God in all things” is, of course, finding God in the world.

Lynch’s other great theme is the role of imagination, but here again it is a grounded and embodied, not a purely romantic imagination, that he values. The imagination at work in the arts, especially the dramatic arts, is vital to restoring “confidence in the fundamental power of the finite.”

The separation Lynch laments between elites and “ordinary people” is not so much a critique of the masses as it is of the failure of the arts to connect to real life. The arts need to conspire with faith and theology, summarizes Kane, in “a new movement towards the definite.”

All of this in the end is an argument for the ubiquity of divine grace. God and grace are not absent from the secular or to be injected in it, but to be found there. Finding God in all things implies for Lynch that in exploring and encountering the meaning of all things, their intrinsic and indeed secular meaning, we find God and grace in them. The grace of God is revealed in the beauty of the secular, in all its secular integrity.

Kane’s synthetic presentation of Lynch’s work makes it clear how important a thinker he was and remains. Of course, Kane’s success in this book in a way impedes his objective in writing it. It is so clear and compelling that I wonder how many of his readers will do what Kane hopes they will do, go back to Lynch himself to explore the ideas in greater detail.

In fact, though there is much rich discussion of classical literature that cannot be summarized in Kane’s treatment, I am quite positive that the overall intent of Lynch’s corpus of writings had to wait for Kane to come along and explain it. Even those of us who have read Lynch at any length will benefit enormously from Kane’s explanation of why he remains so important.

[Paul Lakeland is the director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University. His latest book, The Wounded Angel: Fiction and the Religious Imagination, will be published by Liturgical Press in the spring of 2017.]

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Kane explores Lynch’s timely Ignatian spirituality – National Catholic Reporter

Zen Lessons for All of Us: Everyday Spirituality – Patheos (blog)

Sit down.

The Buddha said there are four ways to meditate. Sitting, standing, lying down, and walking. So, by sitting down, what Im saying is marking out a time and a place and give your body as well as your mind that space and that period of time dedicated to exploring the wisdom of your body, heart, and mind.

Shut up.

Meditation is one of those words that has too many definitions, basically it only means doing something with your mind. That doing something may be useful, and it may not. Among those kinds of meditation that can be called useful as far as finding our hearts goal is concerned, the range of possibilities remains large. However, they share some commonalities. Learning to be quiet is the most important thing. Although theres a critical point in understanding what quiet means. There are those who say being quiet is stopping the mind. And, yes, there is a sense in which this is true. That phrase, at is truest, is a pointing to something about our consciousness, how we can meet our thoughts and feelings. But its an invitation into something, not an assertion to step away from something. Too many people hear these words, sometimes even say them to others meaning physically stopping the movement of the mind. That is a mistake. The invitation is to see the thoughts arise, and not follow them.

Pay attention.

Bringing ones whole body consciousness to the matter is the heart of the practice. This is a difficult thing. The mind wanders. We are filled with regrets and longings. We plan. We fret. We scheme. So, heres the secret ingredient. Our invitation is into the heart of curiosity. The practice is to notice whats going on, whether it is regret or longing while adding nothing to the fire. Just notice. And. Be curious without entanglements in the content of the thought. Thoughts rise. You dont have to follow them. But, notice. Be curious. That curiosity can be a burning coal in our gut. It can be diluted and simply hanging a hint in the air in an open minded, mind like the sky, sort of way. Just notice/be curious. Is that one? Is that two? Pay attention.

Notice the connections.

Doing this you will learn much about yourself. Sometimes our thoughts are filled with desire. Sometimes our thoughts are overtaken by resentment, anger, hatred. Sometimes we obsess with an idea, seeing how it has put everything into place. And then as we watch we see how these thoughts are themselves insubstantial, they rise, they try to take us with them, but if we let them go as they rise, we open doors. The invitation is to not stop here or there. Bring your curiosity to the rising and falling of your mind. And then the next iteration of your mind. And the next. Hold on to nothing. Just notice. Just be curious. Perhaps you will at some point notice how vague and permeable the boundaries of your mind and life are. Keep looking. Where is the solid line? Keep looking. When do you and another in fact separate? Notice how cause and effect relate. Be curious. How are these two things different? How are these two things one? Be curious. Is there another way, as well?

Get up and do something.

Ive noticed how often this step is missed by spiritual practitioners. One of my favorite stories about the Buddha is how after achieving his great insights into the nature of things, resolving his pain, and finding the wise heart, Mara the incarnation of chaos whispered in his ear, you have won liberation. Go, now, and retire to a cave and enjoy the bliss of the cosmos for the rest of your natural days and then with your last breath pass into the great empty. You can call this the Buddhas last temptation. Now, this can be missed because he had been a renunciant, and he continued as a monk after his awakening. But at the heart of the matter, what he did was return to the world with his saving message. He spent the next forty years of that natural life guiding, giving counsel, pointing to the deeper matters, and the larger possibilities.

We sit for half an hour, an hour, whatever. Perhaps we engage in intensive periods of training. A week. Three months. A decade. We walk with a guide and we explore the fundamental matters of mind and heart. If we are just a little lucky we discover our hearts longing. The great way becomes no different than our own.

And, and this is critical at some point the fullness of our opened heart and mind contains within it an invitation to return to the world in one felicitous phrasing, with bliss bestowing hands.How we do this is going to be different at different times in our lives and within different lives. There is no judgment here. The simple call is to open our hearts and minds and to respond as is appropriate. Life a box and its lid.

As natural as natural can be.

Everyday spirituality

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Zen Lessons for All of Us: Everyday Spirituality – Patheos (blog)

Art show taps Eastern spirituality – Prince George Citizen

The pathway between conscious life and the subconscious world leads over a bridge. Its name is Nicky Kumar.

She is a Prince George artist harnessing the shades of darkness and light that propel our minds into meditative states, if we look upon the lines and curves of consciousness. There are many paths to enlightenment, but she has focused on seven: the primary chakras of ancient eastern spirituality.

These chakras are energy centres within the body. They each have their own realm of influence on the physical and mental state we are in, and they each have their own symbol like a letter or numeral. Kumar is treated to meditation as she works through the elaborate detail of each chakra symbol, and she is treated to meditation as she looks upon each completed symbol. It is a circle of health and wellness.

These seven exquisite works of art will go on public display this week at the Community Arts Council feature gallery where the general public can share in these portals to the mind, body and soul.

“The Community Arts Council has been excited for a long time about Nicky’s work,” said Lisa Redpath, manager of events and projects. “I know I’m a huge fan. It’s so beautiful, exacting, and really holds your attention. It has a unique power. She’s a really gifted artist and we are lucky to have her in Prince George.”

The chakra symbols are a departure of sorts from Kumar’s usual work. She is a seasoned professional at a related form of drawing: mandalas. These patterns are also ancient spiritual symbols that are often breathtakingly detailed but also rooted in free-form expression.

“Mandalas are circular drawings with origins in Buddhism and Hinduism,” Kumar said. “Creating them is spiritual. There is a belief that in the creation of a mandala is the expression of what is going on inside you. It is a pure representation of the universe through you, so it’s a way of communicating between your own personal self’s power and the higher power of the infinite universe. Monks will often do mandalas, sometimes drawn in sand and when they are finished they will sweep it away and start again, to symbolize the constant motion of existence. Even just looking at mandalas brings a sense of calm. There is something about the circular shapes and repetitive patterns that can centre the mind and help clear the mental clutter.”

After years of internationally acclaimed mandala art, she felt moved to try other forms of drawing that were related but down new paths of creative thought.

The chakra symbols emerged from that newfound confidence and exploration.

“My agent knew me well, knew I’d be open to the chakra symbols, so when we were discussing my art, that was suggested,” said Kumar who works as a contract creator for American company Art Licensing International.

“When my agent asked me to make Zen art I was ecstatic. Because it gave me an excuse to take a break from commissions and work on something that I was very passionate about and wanting to learn more about.”

She has fallen somewhat behind in her busy schedule of filling commissioned artwork orders.

The seven chakras were consuming endeavours, but she can now return to that stream of creative consciousness.

The exhibition opens on Thursday with a 7 p.m. reception open to all at 2880 15th Avenue. The exhibition will be on display until April 3 and also incorporates the smells of incense, sounds of soft eastern spiritual music, Himalayan salt rock lamps courtesy of Three Sisters Rock’n Gem Store.

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Art show taps Eastern spirituality – Prince George Citizen

This Hospital Bridges Traditional Medicine With Hmong SpiritualityAnd Gets Results – Co.Exist

In the 1980s, Lia Lee, a child born to Hmong parents in the Northern California city of Merced, had her first seizure at three months old. She was brought to a community medical center, but there were no Hmong translators to communicate with her parents and explain how to administer her medication properly. And the hospital staff didnt understand the Hmong spiritual remedies the Lees wanted for their daughter; Hmong shamans were not allowed to perform their rituals in the hospital. Meanwhile, Lias condition persisted: By the time she was four-and-a-half years old, shed been admitted to the hospital 17 times.

The story of cross-cultural communication breakdown in the Merced medical system is the subject of Anne Fadimans widely acclaimed 1997 book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. The hospital where Lia was treated is now called the Mercy Medical Center, and since the publication of Fadimans work, much has changed. Bob McLaughlin, a spokesperson for the hospital, tells Co.Exist that Mercy Medical Center recently invited Fadiman back for a visit. “She told us, I wrote this book because I knew it was an important story; I had no idea that 20 years later, people here would be using it as a textbook.”

Fadimans work was the basis for a novel policy that Mercy Medical Center has introduced to allow Hmong shamans to come into the hospital and perform traditional ceremonies for patients that request them. The shamans, over the course of a six-week training, learn hospital protocols; Mercy Medical doctors and staff are also educated in the Hmong ceremonies.

Hmong families fleeing the Vietnam War first settled in Merced in 1976. With a population of over 7,000, Merceds Hmong community is the third largest in California, after Sacramento and Fresno.

The Hmong Shaman Visitation Policyto McLaughlins knowledge, the only one of its kind in play at a hospitaloutlines nine ceremonies that Hmong shamans are allowed to perform at the patients bedside, ranging from a 10-minute chant that’s designed promote healing after loss of blood to a ritual involving tying a red string around the patients neck, which is supposed to encourage the body to mend. Sometimes, a shaman will recommend a longer or more involved ceremony, perhaps involving animals or fire; for those rituals, the shaman can negotiate on a case-by-case basis with hospital staff for approval. Janice Wilkerson, who directs the Mission Integration team for Mercy Medical Center, tells Co.Exist that she recalls some more elaborate ceremonies taking place in the hospitals parking lot.

Integrating the Hmong rituals with the mainstream hospital care at Mercy Medical began, almost by chance, in 1998. A Hmong patient in the hospital was slowly dying; his body was shutting down, and the physicians had done everything they could, Wilkerson says. Marilyn Mochel, a registered nurse at the hospital, and Palee Moua, the wife of a Hmong clan leader, approached the hospital administration to ask, on behalf of the family, if a shaman could be brought on the premises to perform a ceremony for the patient. It would be a fairly protracted ritual, involving long knives, but there was a wing of the hospital that was under construction at the time and mostly empty; the Mercy Medical staff agreed to move the patient there for the ceremony, and bring the shaman in. After the ceremony, the patients health turned around. He made a full recovery, and is still active in the Merced Hmong community.

“Physicians experience these miracles from time to time,” McLaughlin says, “but this case really illustrated to them the power of these ceremonies. Healing isnt just about medicine, its about people.”

Mochel and Moua worked with a nonprofit to develop and formalize a training program to facilitate more Hmong shaman hospital visits; the nonprofit began educating shamans in 2000. When funding for the nonprofit began to slip in 2012, McLaughlin and Wilkerson stepped up to fund the program directly through Mercy Medical. To date, almost 140 shamans have gone through the six-week course, and “graduates” of the program reconvene once a month to stay in touch and share learnings.

“Shamans used to be very secretive about their ceremonies; they felt that their culture was not understood,” Wilkerson says. “Now, they come into the hospital with an official badge; they feel they are very much respected and know that we understand that their work is important.”

In turn, the program has strengthened the Hmong communitys trust in mainstream medicine: Shamans are able to communicate with patients who may otherwise be skeptical of hospital procedures. “We see this all the time,” McLaughlin says. “A doctor might want to do a CT scan, but the patient will say, Im not doing that until the shaman says its okay. But because the shamans are informed about the equipment and procedures through the course, theyre able to tell the patient that its okaythe doctors are trying to help them,” McLaughlin says. Since the policy and program were introduced, Mercy Medical has seen members of the Hmong community coming to the hospital for help right away, as opposed to only when an illness reached crisis point.

Though McLaughlin and Wilkerson say theyve heard from other medical institutions looking to implement the program, or similar policies with other spiritual practices, they havent seen any other initiative really take hold in the same way as the Hmong shaman program. McLaughlin credits the programs success to the hospitals mission of treating people with dignity and prioritizing humanity. Every time a new employee starts at Mercy Medical, McLaughlin walks them through the policy, and always says the same thing. “What we do here is take care of people: If its the right thing for the patient its the right thing for us to do.”

[All Images: via Upworthy]

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This Hospital Bridges Traditional Medicine With Hmong SpiritualityAnd Gets Results – Co.Exist