A 10000 Year History Of Marijuana And Spirituality – The Fresh Toast

This is an excerpt from Cannabis and Spirituality edited by Stephen Gray:

Cannabis has been a character in the human drama for at least the past ten thousand years, and very likely much longer. She, the genus Cannabis, has been seen and felt as a being, or a deity, in multiple cultures.

I say she because both historically and right now in Western culture, that is the gender that so many of us experience when we engage with cannabis.

Eight thousand years ago, cannabis seeds were used as food in China. Six thousand years ago, the Chinese were cultivating an ancestor of Cannabis sativa for its stem fibers, as hemp for making cordage and weaving into textiles. We know the Chinese were employing parts of the cannabis plant as medicines for various ailments five thousand years ago.

At least three thousand years ago, across Central Asia and perhaps farther, the seeds were widely used in rituals as offerings in invocations and also left with flowers in graves. Cannabis was widely used as incense that could affect anyone who breathed its ambient smoke.

Meanwhile, Cannabis indica had become well established in the Indian subcontinent, where both ritual and medicinal uses took root. Twenty-five hundred years ago, cannabis species and seeds were introduced to northern Europe from Asia.

Travelers on Asias Silk Road must have traded and transported everything from the plants myths to its medicine. From the 1500s up until a mere eighty years ago, cannabis was much appreciated here in North America as an exceptional herbal medicine and totally useful fiber source.

Then the tables were turned. The governments medical and legal establishment officially demonized the plant, and we are only now emerging from this absurd century of prohibition of the gifts of nature.

We know that the medicine, nourishment, and pungent incense of cannabis were valued during the past several millennia, but we dont know so much about her history of personification in the many ethnic regions across Asia and Africa. There were smoky group rituals, soothing oils, and effective medicinal teas. There were stories and songs about her, surely. There are some ancient literary references to how she was perceived.

In ancient China, Ma was the name of the deity resident in hemp, the extremely useful fiber that comes from the cannabis stem. Both the male and female plants are depicted in the pictogram for hemp (at left), sitting inside a built shelter or home. (Cannabis species are dioecious, meaning they produce male and female flowers on separate plants. Wind is the pollinator that allows male pollen to fertilize the females.)

Hemp has been a plant of fundamental utility to hundreds of generations of humans. Ma was therefore the spirit of she who grows, she who clothes us, she who binds, she who ties it all together. Textile and cordage species are essential to human cultures, and hemp has been appreciated as that most utilitarian of species since the days when everything grew wild and we were all nomadic.

Hemp was still crucial to our materials when the great European sailing ships set out to seek the worlds riches, but by then, sixteenth-century Europeans, mostly Christian, were not so interested in the natural deities resident in the plants that grew the fibers for their ropes, sails, and flags.

A name in folk etymology often signifies long-term respect and the gender that a culture recognizes in a plant. Cannabis was the name given by the seventeenth-century taxonomist Linnaeus, because canvaswas what common people called the fabric that hemp made.

The origins of the name marijuana are controversial. There are so many powerful plants in Latin America, some with folk names that are versions of Mary, Maria, or the Virgin, some with the title Santo or Santa, which means holy or sainted. Hispanic cultures were of course originally indigenous peoples of the Americas, layered with a syncretic blend of European Catholicism and some African animist influence.

Cannabis was an Old World species that was introduced to the Americas in the early days of colonization by the Spanish and Portuguese, and/or by the African slaves on their ships.

Native peoples of the Americas had a long-standing relationship to smoking, as they had domesticated various tobacco species, and early on invented the folk technology of the pipe or cigar. Tobacco is traditionally a highly spiritual plant that absolutely manifests as various types of resident entities, both male and female, who may be called upon in prayer. It would be natural for those who smoked tobacco as prayer medicine to recognize the spiritual potential of cannabis when smoked, and to feel the presence of someone in there whom we can speak to. Someone who shows up and helps us understand the vicissitudes of life, and who perhaps helps us to find joy in the moment.

Forty years ago, on the west coast of Mexico, I hung out with indigenous coastal people, some of whom smoked cannabis. At the end of a long day, the young fishermen would take a few sips of smoke, sigh, and lay back to rest on the sand, saying Ay, gracias, estoy hasta la Madre. This translates as I have reached the Mother, I am high, I am in her embrace. That was when I began to think of the female entity in marijuana, of who cannabis is, and what she provides.

Kathleen Harrison is the cofounder and director of Botanical Dimensions, a nonprofit whose mission is to collect, protect, propagate and understand plants of ethno-medical significance and their lore. This is an excerpt from Who is She? The Personification of Cannabis in Cultural and Individual Experience in Cannabis and Spirituality: An Explorers Guide to an Ancient Plant Spirit Ally edited by Stephen Gray 2016 Park Street Press. Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International.

This story first appeared on Project CBD.

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A 10000 Year History Of Marijuana And Spirituality – The Fresh Toast

War of the Worldviews – Wikipedia

War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality is a book written by Deepak Chopra and Leonard Mlodinow, which was published in 2011, and is a debate between views on science and spirituality.[1][2] The book is written as a series of essays by each author on a mutually-agreed-upon list of 18 questions. The science worldview is represented by Mlodinow and the spirituality worldview is represented by Chopra. Each presents his side which is followed by the other person’s rebuttal.[2][3][4]

Overall, Mlodinow suggests that “the universe operates according to laws of physics while acknowledging that science does not address why the laws exist or how they arise”. Chopra says that “the laws of nature as well as mathematics share the same source as human consciousness”.[2]

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War of the Worldviews – Wikipedia

Spirituality and Crime in Ramadan – Morocco World News

Rabat The majority of religious instructions insist on spirituality as a guideline to a perfect way of life. Although the idea of spirituality is often considered an abstract concept, it tends to be concrete if it is linked to time and space.

Ramadan, which is a holy month for Muslims, is cited as a time in Muslim countries and Muslim-majority-countries where spirituality can be felt concretely through various activities: mostly religious and economic. The time and place of Ramadan are two components with strong influence on the spirituality of this holy time.

There is an enormous turnout for prayers to the Tarawih, a payer that takes place after Al-Isha and before the break of dawn. The Imams, reciters of the Quran, recite the Quran in strong melodies, and attract large audiences.. In some areas, mosques are overcrowded where the Imams recite the Quran in dulcet tones. Some prayers recite the Tarawih in parks or football stadiums, because of large crowds or hot weather. Such a spiritual environment should be an impetus for implementing the Islamic values, improving the level of ethics in society, and freeing the soul and mind for forgiveness.

Ramadan is a time when spirituality is supposed to overcome materialism, but, in reality, it is the opposite: there is a massive increase of food consumption during Ramadan. Vegetables and fruit prices rise in Morocco at rates ranging between 50 and 100% in the days preceding the month of Ramadan. The price of a tomato is usually about 3 Dhs, but is rocketed to 7 Dhs in the first days of Ramadan. Bouazza Kherati, the president of the Moroccan League for the Rights of the Consumer, stated that the issue of high prices has become taken for granted, especially during Ramadan, confirming the significant increase of prices in some foods such as tomatoes and various vegetables and legumes. There are several factors behind the increased price, most of which are frequent and increase demand irrationalized consumption, and the large number of brokers, who monopolize specific markets.

This religious activity and economic situation may seem standard, or typical, in Ramadan as they become part of the Islamic culture. These religious and economic combinations contribute to the social cohesion and cooperation inside the Islamic neighborhood. The ethics and spiritual rites need to bring peace into the Islamic life. However, whats observable during Ramadan is the

increased crime. The cases of violence and theft crimes reportedly recorded as a result of what has become known by Moroccans as Tramdina, which indicates a psychological state of fasting. The reasons for the high crime rates during Ramadan are psychological and social; some people find it difficult to change daily habits. As Abdul-Jabbar Shukri, research professor in sociology and psychology, states, in Ramadan, some people are forced to give up a lot of habits and behaviors of daily time, such as drinking alcohol, having sex, attending clubbing night discos; some people come back to those rituals after breakfast. This is due to a variety of reasons, namely:

Those who cannot afford to abandon these daily activities in Ramadan are addicted and cannot resist them psychologically.

The system of religious values is lenient with many forbidden things in which this system justified the existence and practice of these forbidden things.

The widespread of popular religion is separated from the orthodox religion for those who find it difficult to adjust to Ramadan. The popular religion provides a set of justifications and the explanation to some religious texts that go in line with the logic of these forbidden things, and allow them to be practiced in the month of Ramadan after breakfast.

All in all, the addiction is a psychological factor that affects the index of crime in Ramadan. For Moroccans, Tramdina is the most common behavioral and psychological phenomenon during Ramadan. The spirituality of Ramadan is supposed to educate Muslims in the value of tolerance and cooperation, and prevent them from doing prohibited things. However, we find that the addicting system, which is the psychological state, is a scourge that haunts the Muslim.

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Spirituality and Crime in Ramadan – Morocco World News

The Daily News | Imani Milele youth choir offers singing, smiles and … – The Daily News Online

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ALBION With these upcoming performances in Orleans County, you have an opportunity to be entertained while supporting a good cause.

The Imani Milele Children is a youth choir organization that travels around the U.S. offering traditional Christian Ugandan performances.

The children, ranging from ages 9-20, come to America from Kampala, the capital of Uganda, to sing, dance, drum and pray for nine months at a time.

Imani Milele which means eternal faith in Ugandan also serves to better the lives of the children once they return home.

Imani began back in 1989 when Rev. Moses Ssemanda Mbuga was determined to tackle issues Ugandan children face. Back in Uganda, these children have obstacles in their life that people in America dont have. For instance, its not uncommon for these kids to have to walk 2-3 miles each day just for water.

So Mbuga came up with Imani Milele, a compassionate response, according to the choirs website, to what troubles Ugandan Children experience.

And what a response its become.

Imani Milele now has multiple tours going on each coast which means more children are being help through sponsorships.

Sponsorships entail a $35 a monthly gift that will go toward helping a Ugandan child have access to food, water, education and healthcare.

If each child has five people that sponsors them each month, that is enough money for education, to have a roof over their head, healthcare, Imani Touring Director Justin Spencer said, adding the lives these kids live is very eye opening,

In seeing these children perform, however, you might never know that they have struggles to go through back in their home country.

The performances are fast-paced, upbeat, passionate and spiritual, to list a few adjectives Spencer used to describe Imani.

Obviously there is the singing, but the audience will be able to experience Ugandan dancing and drumming among other things.

Its a very high energy performance, he said.

Not only that, the children are excited and happy to be performing all over the country, he added.

As for whats happening locally, there are multiple opportunities to experience Imani.

A tour of 30 kids will be making its way to Orleans County this weekend where they will be staying with host families in the community. The First Baptist Church of Albion will be supplying all of the transportation.

The schedule is as follows:

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 24 at the Canal Village Farmers Market in Medina.

10 a.m. and 3 p.m. (two performances) on June 25 at the Albion First Baptist Church.

6 p.m. on June 26 at the Hoag Library in Albion.

All shows are free of charge but donations are accepted. There also will be the opportunity to sponsor a child.

People are in for a really big surprise, Spencer said. These kids are really something.

He added: Its amazing that, not only are we blessing these children but they are blessing us 10-fold.

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The Daily News | Imani Milele youth choir offers singing, smiles and … – The Daily News Online

Spirituality, ecology and science weave together to form Web of Life … – National Catholic Reporter

In the tiny country where a slice through the Earth connects its two greatest oceans, Maryknoll Sr. Melinda Roper and her fellow sisters have staked a claim to protect a bit of Panama’s lush biodiversity and are working to rekindle a spiritual connection to the planetary ties that bind us all.

The new eco-spiritual retreat and study program they have launched, the Web of Life, begins today, June 22, and Global Sisters Report invites readers to follow along in a series of blogs, videos and photo galleries. This union of spirituality and science will be articulated in a series of reflections by theologians and scientists in settings as diverse as bustling Panama City, an organic farm and a tropical forest.

“It’s a whole historical moment that we’re living in, when not only human rights are on the table but the rights of the Earth,” Roper said. “What happens when the rights of the Earth come into conflict with human rights, and those rights, at least in the West, come from a very capitalistic, very individualistic, very big business philosophy and way of living?

“Many of us think we’ve come to a moment in history where that paradigm has got to shift, so that we in the human community can situate ourselves within the whole community of life.”

Shifting that paradigm is the aim of the Web of Life program. Beginning in Panama City and then moving to the Maryknoll Pastoral Center in Santa Fe, Darin, the sisters will lead a 10-day series of explorations of the interconnections of all life. Each day will begin and end with reflection, prayer and ritual to help integrate the “experiential scientific study” along the way.

For more than two decades, the sisters have worked to set an example for a different way of life, one in harmony with their surroundings. The 100-acre forest they have preserved is a model of sustainable living, with an organic farm, solar power, rainwater catchment, a holistic health care team and a creative arts-based curriculum aimed at helping people to fall in love with sustainable ways of living on the Earth. At the same time, they’ve accompanied their neighbors and friends over the years in the fight to defend the natural world around them.

Those two decades of changing lives at the local level is now going global with the Web of Life.

“What we’re trying to do with these 10 days is to make a real contribution to the future of the quality of life on Planet Earth,” Roper said. “I think religion has a big role to play in that. The scientific world is challenging us to new lifestyles, to new ways of living our faith, and that’s very important to understand as we make political decisions and try to discover new lifestyles that don’t harm the planet.”

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Spirituality, ecology and science weave together to form Web of Life … – National Catholic Reporter

Spirituality, ecology and science weave together to form Web of Life … – Global Sisters Report (blog)

In the tiny country where a slice through the Earth connects its two greatest oceans, Maryknoll Sr. Melinda Roper and her fellow sisters have staked a claim to protect a bit of Panama’s lush biodiversity and are working to rekindle a spiritual connection to the planetary ties that bind us all.

The new eco-spiritual retreat and study program they have launched, the Web of Life, begins today, June 22, and Global Sisters Report invites readers to follow along in a series of blogs, videos and photo galleries. This union of spirituality and science will be articulated in a series of reflections by theologians and scientists in settings as diverse as bustling Panama City, an organic farm and a tropical forest.

“It’s a whole historical moment that we’re living in, when not only human rights are on the table but the rights of the Earth,” Roper said. “What happens when the rights of the Earth come into conflict with human rights, and those rights, at least in the West, come from a very capitalistic, very individualistic, very big business philosophy and way of living?

“Many of us think we’ve come to a moment in history where that paradigm has got to shift, so that we in the human community can situate ourselves within the whole community of life.”

Shifting that paradigm is the aim of the Web of Life program. Beginning in Panama City and then moving to the Maryknoll Pastoral Center in Santa Fe, Darin, the sisters will lead a 10-day series of explorations of the interconnections of all life. Each day will begin and end with reflection, prayer and ritual to help integrate the “experiential scientific study” along the way.

The Santa Fe Pastoral Center is energy independent; solar panels are the principal energy source. (Provided by Maryknoll Sisters)

For more than two decades, the sisters have worked to set an example for a different way of life, one in harmony with their surroundings. The 100-acre forest they have preserved is a model of sustainable living, with an organic farm, solar power, rainwater catchment, a holistic health care team and a creative arts-based curriculum aimed at helping people to fall in love with sustainable ways of living on the Earth. At the same time, they’ve accompanied their neighbors and friends over the years in the fight to defend the natural world around them.

Those two decades of changing lives at the local level is now going global with the Web of Life.

“What we’re trying to do with these 10 days is to make a real contribution to the future of the quality of life on Planet Earth,” Roper said. “I think religion has a big role to play in that. The scientific world is challenging us to new lifestyles, to new ways of living our faith, and that’s very important to understand as we make political decisions and try to discover new lifestyles that don’t harm the planet.”

Sr. Jocelyn “Joji” Fenix shares a plant with Pastoral Center member Marcelina, a member of ECODIC, a Christian organization founded by the pastoral center to promote community development and ecologically sustainable sources of income. (Provided by Maryknoll Sisters)

They couldn’t have found a better setting to explore the theme. The Isthmus of Panama has long served as the biological bridge of the world, a critical piece in the evolutionary puzzle that is explored abundantly in the tour of the Biomuseo, Panama’s much-heralded Biodiversity Museum, on June 23. Brothers Patrick and Mark Dillon, an architect and a builder who worked alongside Frank Gehry to help create it, will begin our first day by introducing us to Panama’s place in the world.

Then it will be time to head southeast to the province of Darin, which despite the rapid rate of deforestation remains a hotspot of biodiversity.

Not far from the Maryknoll Pastoral Center in Santa Fe lies Matusagarat, Panama’s largest wetlands and one of the three largest in Central America. The wetlands are important breeding grounds for aquatic species of all kinds and essential feeding and watering grounds for animals that come down from the highlands: jaguars, anteaters, agoutis and coatimundis, to name a few.

The sisters developed a holistic education program that incorporates art and theater with environmental education. (Clara Meza)

This ricefield is one of many thousands of hectares of commercial agribusinesses threatening the biological integrity of Matusagarat. (Ligia Arreaga)

However, this vast ecosystem, which La Prensa of Panama City called an “ecological jewel,” is under siege on all sides by cattle ranchers and industrial agriculture businesses.

“When big companies come in, the first thing they do is drain the wetlands, eliminating biodiversity, which has many, many repercussions throughout the whole ecosystem,” Roper said. “Then industrial agriculture makes intensive use of chemicals. Then what happens when big money comes in, if the government does not have clear policies and people strong enough to implement them, the lands begin to be negotiated, and there’s all kinds of corruption.”

Thousands of acres have already been drained to make way for vast expanses of rice and African oil palm, and toxic pesticides and herbicides have been sprayed on the fragile ecosystem. The government designated a portion of the wetlands a biosphere reserve in January, but the illegal canals that are draining the wetlands are still in place, said journalist Ligia Arreaga in a Skype interview with GSR. Arreaga, a vocal defender of Matusagarat, covered the issue before being forced into exile last year after she received death threats.

The wetland areas of Matusagarat form an essential breeding ground for aquatic and terrestrial species alike. (Ligia Arreaga)

Web of Life topics to be explored and shared with readers include:

“Religions and some spiritualities very prevalent today reinforce the idea the human community is the best thing that ever happened on Planet Earth and that we have the right to impose ourselves on other species and control everything for our own well-being,” Roper said.

“We have to find ways of living without damaging the Earth, but we have to go way beyond that to a much more creative way of relating to the whole community of life on this planet and toward a more harmonious future,” she said. “It has to go way beyond changing lifestyles. We have to create a new spirit and new values with which to relate to one another.”

The Pastoral Center works with local artists to incorporate their work in a variety of ways, including murals like this one. (Provided by Maryknoll Sisters)

[Tracy L. Barnett is an independent writer, editor and photographer specializing in environmental issues, indigenous rights and sustainable travel.]

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Spirituality, ecology and science weave together to form Web of Life … – Global Sisters Report (blog)

Video: Weed Nuns talking about spirituality is the coolest thing you will watch today – The Indian Express

By: Trends Desk | New Delhi | Published:June 22, 2017 9:55 pm How cool is this? (WatchCut video/Youtube)

The word nun evokes a rather a sombre image of someone stern wearing a habit. The one who has shunned all the materialistic pleasures of life, and has dedicated her life to God. This image may well be true but can you imagine nuns smoking weed, and saying that Jesus lived he probably smoked weed?


Well, youre permitted to be shocked but that does not mean they dont exist. Yes, you read that right. There are nuns known as weed nuns who grow marijuana and talk about spirituality, while taking long drags from a joint. Recently, actress Aubrey Plaza sat down with Sisters of the Valley, also known as weed nuns and spoke about spirituality, marijuana and, you guessed it, Jesus Christ. Plaza was promoting her convent-set film comedy The Little Hours.

Watch the video here.

One of them, Sister Kate, revealed that they founded the convent in 2011 after being aware of Michelle Obamas efforts to revamp the nutrition of school lunches.Michelle Obama tried to talk to Congress about how unhealthy our childrens meals are. Congress declared pizza a vegetable because it made our childrens meals look healthier than they are. So I declared myself a nun. I said, If pizza is a vegetable, Im a nun.’ she said. The video ends with Plaza expressing her desire to be a weed nun as well.

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Video: Weed Nuns talking about spirituality is the coolest thing you will watch today – The Indian Express

Discover the culture, history and spirituality at the heart of Tibet | The … – The National

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Discover the culture, history and spirituality at the heart of Tibet | The …
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This vast, high-altitude desert at the heart of Asia has inspired adventurers, mystics, traders and invaders for centuries and has spawned myths and legends for …

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Discover the culture, history and spirituality at the heart of Tibet | The … – The National

Mike Tighe: Common ground for golf, spirituality: Keep head down – La Crosse Tribune

Nobody is forcing me to tee it up again, if youre thinking that the FSC levied a penalty stroke for being irreverently out of bounds with quips. Or that retreat leader Steve Spilde thought I needed a dunking in a water hazard for insinuating that he uses rough language when his ball lands in the rough or worse even though I didnt mention him by name (except for hints) and had no proof (other than his own confession in advance).

However, I yapped on too long with self-congratulatory cleverness for much of the column. That is the rabbit hole of column writing, when he invests so much of his ego that he cant think of a single word to cut.

So, by the time I was ready to shift from the all-about-me-and-aint-I-witty secondary theme, the column was too long to do some additional reflecting on the topic, as we had done during the overnight retreat and game of golf.

Spilde built much of the retreat around the book Golf and the Spirit: Lessons for the Journey, which M. Scott Peck wrote as a reflection that combined his lifes work in psychiatry and counseling and his affection for the so-called game of kings.

Golf and the Spirit, Pecks penultimate book, published in 1999, was not nearly as popular or as big of a seller as his first book in 1978, the wildly popular, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth. But perhaps that underscores the theme not many golfers achieve grand slams on the course, either.

Golf and the Spirit recycles some points from The Road Less Traveled, such as the observation in Golf that Golf mimics life. Golf is difficult. That echoes the thought in The Road that Life is difficult.

Not that they mean the same thing: Peck notes that understanding the fact that life is difficult makes it less so, while understanding the fact that golf is hard does little to turn an 18-handicapper into a scratch golfer.

Ive never tried a sign of the cross on the golf course, because it doesnt seem to work most of the time in baseball and basketball. On the other hand, it might be worth a try in a bunker because, even though Satan himself designed bunkers, God knows how many grains of sand are in each and how many grains you have to move to escape the trap.

Spildes inspirations for leading the retreat were his love of both spirituality and golf. He is the first to acknowledge successes and failures in each, as most of us should and do. (The possible exception to that is our Golfer-in-Chief, but thats a whole other column about his claiming others successes as his own and never acknowledging failure and/or apologizing not to mention his creative scoring.)

As much as anything, Spilde connected an appreciation of nature with elements of spirituality and the fact that golfs venues offer abundant chances to connect with God, whatever that means to you, or at least relax and enjoy creation between shots. (Oftentimes, in spite of shots.)

Similarly, Peck borrowed an observation of William James for his definition of spirituality as the attempt to be in harmony with an unseen order of things.

The same might be applied to the basics of golf, in a warped way that can turn an easy birdie into a triple bogey if one misses the unseen undulations of a green.

Pecks wisdom often mixes the sacred with the more sacred, with a bit of bawdy judgment, such as: The terrain of a beautiful womans body will eventually stale. Not so with a great golf course; its topography can continue to intrigue and delight the golfer for a lifetime.

To be fair to the fairer sex, I might suggest that the terrain of a young golfers body eventually will develop different terrain, with rolling mounds where there had been tight, rippling hills and valleys, doglegs where there had been straight, open fairways and obstructed views in which seeing the ball can be a challenge.

Oddly enough, Peck was a late-comer to the game of golf, writing, It wasnt until I was well over 50 that I began to envision golf as a spiritual discipline meaning an opportunity to learn all the things involved in doing it well. Mostly the things I had to learn were things about myself: about my temperament, my personality, and the hundreds of roadblocks I put in my own way as I lived life as well as golf.

OMG, there could be hope for me. Im well over 50, and the retreat gave me a few more tools for my bag.

Im trying to take time to admire the glory of nature during schedule delays or changes for one reason or another when I previously might have just chafed at the bit.

Im attempting to set aside some time for reflection after completing an assignment or a chore instead of just leaping to the next one.

I suspect that Ill be better at keeping my head down for reflection than during a shot.

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Mike Tighe: Common ground for golf, spirituality: Keep head down – La Crosse Tribune

Ramadan in Morocco: Time for Spirituality, Self-Control and Reflection – Morocco World News

By Jenna Kleinwort

Rabat The fasting in Ramadan has manifold aims and goals. One of the holy months main ideas is that fasting for a period of time allows one to step into the shoes of the poor and hungry. Moreover, it is a month of spirituality and reflection.

Additional prayers are incorporated into the Ramadan routine and believers try to embrace and intensify their connection to God. Ramadan is about far more than simply abstaining from eating and drinking from sunset until dawn, and there are many different traditions and rituals followed by Muslim countries across the world.

The rhythm changes

In Morocco during the time of Ramadan, life is simply different, and its pace and rhythm changes. People follow their normal daily routines, but those that have the possibility to sleep in a few hours later than normal. The streets are less busy in the morning hours. Most businesses do not open until 10 a.m.

Cafs and restaurants, except for a few places which hope to attract tourists, remain closed during the day. The streets and markets, especially the souks, get busy in the early afternoon. And from two hours before breaking the fast many rush to the beaches and parks in order to do their daily exercise or sports practice.

The first days of Ramadan

The beginning of a new month in the Islamic calendar is marked by the new moon. The exact time of when the fasting begins can thus either be determined by the physical sighting of the new moon or follow calculations of the new moon.

Morocco follows the Saudi Arabian declaration of the beginning of the month. This year the new moon was sighted in the evening of May 26 and thus the first day of fasting was Saturday, May 27.

The day begins in the middle of the night

Suhur is the pre-dawn meal, which is consumed early in the morning and is thus the last meal before the beginning of the daily fast. The exact time until it can be taken depends on the location. This year Suhur can be eaten in Rabat until approximately 3:30 am.

The Suhur meal consists of light dishes, which preferably have a long-time energy release. Dates, yoghurt, some fruit as well as Moroccan Sellou which is a Moroccan sweet made from toasted sesame seeds, fried almonds and flour and rich in calories and nutrients and therefore helps to restore energy.

Suhur is followed by the fajr prayer, which is one of the five prayers offered. Fajr prayer is practised between the beginning of dawn and sunrise. It has been interpreted in accordance with the Islamic prophet Muhammad to be Gods most favoured prayer, since others are still asleep at the time of the prayer. The call to the fajr prayer marks the beginning of the fasting.

After the fajr prayer it is time to go (back) to bed and get some sleep. Then in the morning the normal daily routine begins, which means that Moroccans go to school or work, until it is time for the next prayer: the Dhuhur prayer, or the noon prayer after midday. The Asr prayer takes place in the afternoon. The preparations for the ftour (breakfast), the first meal of the day, also begin in the early afternoon with shopping in the souk or market, which get very crowded, and then the cooking and preparation of all dishes begin.

The cannons sound and the meal begins

Traditionally cannon sounds mark the call to the maghrib prayer, which means that it is sunset and the fast can be broken. In Rabat the cannons are shot in the central district of Hassan and this years Ramadan time of the call to maghrib was between 7:30 and 7:45 p.m. The time of the call changes, as days get longer. Following the tradition of the prophet Muhammad, many Muslims break the fast by eating three ripe dates and drinking some water or milk and after that perform the maghrib prayer.

After the prayer, the real ftour meal can be eaten. In Morocco the ftour meal consists of the Ramadan soup harira, alongside with eggs, dates, chebakia, as well as different kinds of breads such as harcha and rghayif served with cheese and honey, as well as milk, different juices and of course water. The ftour meal is completed with a cup of the traditional Moroccan mint tea or coffee. Then it is time to go to the mosque, the asha prayer begins around 21:15.

Time for socializing

After the prayer it is time for many to socialize with their friends, and they rush to their favourite coffee shops or restaurants. In Rabat, popular areas such as the Avenue Feranza in Agdal or the Petri square in Hassan get crowded, and those trying to secure their spot in one of the cafs try to arrive as early as possible after they finish the prayer.

Ramadan is not only a month of abstinence and spirituality, but also one of bonding and getting closer to each other and the shared beliefs and traditions contribute their share to strengthening the compassion and society in general.

In many Moroccan families a dinner meal is eaten after the prayer around midnight. Many serve the national Moroccan dish tagine, with either chicken or beef and many different vegetables, sided by bread. Others may prefer fish or seafood dishes or a lighter meal. Since this years Ramadan luckily coincides with the season of melon, Moroccans enjoy honeydew melon or watermelon for a dessert.

During Ramadan, there are additional prayers the taraweeh prayers- for more spirituality and reflection. The Arabic word taraweeh means something like relax and rest and in these prayers long sections of the Quran are recited. The taraweeh prayers are usually prayed in congregation at the mosque.

Conscience, control and compassion

Without any doubt the month of Ramadan is a very special time in Morocco. It gives the opportunity to slow down the hectic pace of everyday life, step back, and reflect and reconsider the things we are doing and why. Some also use this month to get rid of one bad habit or another, even if it is just small changes.

Prophet Muhammad stressed the importance of small improvements, which might be more successful than radical changes that cannot be maintained. And of course fasting teaches endurance, patience, and gratitude for what we easily tend to take for granted.

Ramadan is a month that strengthens the social relationships and creates deep connection in the community. Describing the feeling and experience of the month Ramadan is difficult, but it can be found in a blend of conscience, consideration, control and compassion.

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Ramadan in Morocco: Time for Spirituality, Self-Control and Reflection – Morocco World News

Summer Spirituality: MEOR Helps 36 Rutgers, NYU Undergrads Discover Their Jewish Souls in Israel – Jewish Link of New Jersey

MEOR students pose for a group photo after an inspirational day in the Old City of Jerusalem. (Credit: MEOR)

MEOR students beam with Jewish pride as they celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. (Credit: MEOR)

MEOR students receive their own siddurim after a workshop about prayer. (Credit: MEOR)

MEOR students learn about Jewish connectivity on a porch overlooking the Western Wall Plaza. (Credit: MEOR)

MEOR students participate in leadership training exercises in the Carmel Forest. (Credit: MEOR)

MEOR students saddle up to learn about ancient Israel. (Credit: MEOR)

As their school year drew to a close, nearly 200 undergraduate student leaders from Americas top colleges and universitiesincluding 36 from Rutgers and NYUclosed the book on their academic studies and readied themselves for a spiritual adventure. With their sights set on exploration and introspection, the group of elite students boarded flights for Israel to jumpstart the summer with an identity-building experience unlike any other.

Run by MEOR (www.MEOR.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring, educating and empowering Jewish students at top universities across the country, the 18-day MEOR Israel program affords students the opportunity to delve deep into their heritage through classes with dynamic teachers on topics such as Jewish leadership, relationships and philosophy while exploring Israels rich and varied historic, geographic, recreational and cultural landscape. These unique Israel experiences allow students to build powerful connections to Israel as part of their burgeoning Jewish identities.

Our students consistently mention that the combination of engaging classes taught by engaging educators and exciting, atypical touring experiences makes MEOR Israel the ultimate platform for self-discovery and exploration of Jewish heritage and identity. Year after year, they return home inspired to seek out additional Jewish engagement opportunities and ways to connect to Israel, said Debra Kodish, MEORs executive vice president.

By design, MEOR Israel provides participants with the opportunity to discover facets of Israel that are not usually on the itinerary. This makes for a richer and even more impactful experience.

Between May 14 and June 9, four different groups participated in the MEOR Israel program, including students from Boston University, Emory, George Washington, Brandeis, Cornell, NYU, Temple, Rutgers, Tufts, Binghamton, University of Maryland and University of Pennsylvania. At the farewell banquets held for each group, the students expressed their deepest gratitude to the MEOR educators for their guidance throughout the extraordinary journey and made it clear that MEOR Israel was among the most meaningful and enjoyable excursions of their college careers.

MEOR Israel cemented my relationship with Israel and connected me to Judaism. As Soviet Jews, my family suffered severe persecution and then faced discrimination as Jewish immigrants when they arrived in the United States. It has been a long road, but after this trip, I am finally inspired to take pride in my Jewish identity, said Andrew Tetyevsky, a senior at NYU.

Yosepha Morrison, a student at Rutgers, added that she greatly appreciated MEORs unique approach to leadership training, which encourages participants to really think. The learning and touring on MEOR Israel helped me realize just how connected I feel to the Jewish people and to Israel. I will take what I have learned here and show others what Israel and Judaism truly represent.

While some of the students had never been to Israel before, quite a few had participated in one or more organized trips to the Holy Land. Still, they explained that the structure of the program, attentiveness of the staff and warmth of the group helped them appreciate Israel on an entirely different level.

I had been to Israel a few times before, but MEOR Israel was totally different, explained Peter Danis, a senior at the University of Maryland. The trip incorporated deep conversations about ethics, morality and spirituality, and the educators were so insightful and approachable. They helped us consider the big picture and reflect on whats truly important in life.

Anna Goodman, a student from the George Washington University, added that the experience was the spiritual wake-up call she so desperately needed. MEOR Israel has inspired me to do everything I can to incorporate Jewish values and lessons into my everyday life. I have learned that Judaism means living a life of meaning and purpose to better the world around me, and I need to get started.

By Elie Klein

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Summer Spirituality: MEOR Helps 36 Rutgers, NYU Undergrads Discover Their Jewish Souls in Israel – Jewish Link of New Jersey

Watch Aubrey Plaza Get High, Talk Spirituality With Weed Nuns … – RollingStone.com

Aubrey Plaza blazed up with Sisters of the Valley, otherwise known as “the Weed Nuns,” in a hilarious video hyping her new, convent-set film comedy The Little Hours.

The clip, part of Cut’s “Strange Buds” series, alternates between conversations both spiritual and stoner. First, though, Sister Kate explained the mission of her mind-blowing group, which sells marijauna-based products in a self-sustained convent to “create honorable, spiritual jobs for women.”

Kate said she founded the convent in 2011 after learning of Michelle Obama’s efforts to revamp the nutrition of school lunches. “Michelle Obama tried to talk to Congress about how unhealthy our children’s meals are,” she said. “Congress declared pizza a vegetable because it made our children’s meals look healthier than they are. So I declared myself a nun. I said, ‘If pizza is a vegetable, I’m a nun.'”

Plaza mostly maintains her trademark spaced-out daze, failing in an effort to trim some bud and sharing a brief, pot-related story from her youth. “One time, I hid a bunch of weed in my saxophone,” she recalled. “And I think my mom found it.”

As a timer clocks counts down their smoking session, the group discusses Catholic guilt, lapses in prayer, belief in a high power, holistic medicine and whether or not Jesus smoked weed. (The Sisters maintain that, “if Jesus lived, he probably [did].”)

After learning of the convent’s marijuana ways, Plaza sheepishly admits, “I want to be a weed nun.”

The Little Hours, out June 30th, also stars Alison Brie, Dave Franco, Kate Micucci, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Fred Armisen and Nick Offerman.

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Watch Aubrey Plaza Get High, Talk Spirituality With Weed Nuns … – RollingStone.com

Author offers guidance for those on journeys of spiritual renewal – Pittsburgh Catholic

Saturday, October 22, 2016 – Updated: 5:00 am By Beth Griffin Catholic News Service

CNS photo/courtesy of Fordham UniversityJeannie Gaffifgan, comedy writer and producer of The Jim Gaffigan Show, speaks after accepting the inaugural Eloquentia Perfecta Award from Paulist Press and Fordham Universitys Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education Oct. 14 in New York. She is the wife of comedian Jim Gaffigan.

NEW YORK Laughing at ourselves and being open to sharing our failures and flaws within and beyond the community of faith is a powerful means to dispel the myth that Catholics are ignorant or judgmental or exclusive in any way, actress Jeannie Gaffigan told an audience in New York Oct 14.

The comedy writer and producer of The Jim Gaffigan Show accepted the inaugural Eloquentia Perfecta Award from Paulist Press and the Fordham University Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education.

The actress, who is the wife of comedian Jim Gaffigan and mother of their five pre-teenage children, said her Catholic faith and Jesuit education inform and inspire the scripts she co-writes for her husbands comedy specials and his series on the TV Land cable network.

She said the couple tries, in our own imperfect way, to present a household of faith in one of the most culturally diverse places in our country. The television show is loosely based on their experiences working in the comedy field and raising children in a two-bedroom apartment in New York.

The show invites its audience on a journey through familiar conflicts in faith, family and career and attempts to bring the entire community together in showing ourselves as flawed characters that must rebound with resilience from the hardships we all face in life, Gaffigan said.

When we laugh at ourselves, we can grow and change for the better, she said. It is a way to share what people have in common and is vital to the growth of the culture.

Gaffigan said working on a small cable network allows them to depict a family whose faith is central to its respect for, and interactions with, people they care about despite enormous disagreements and differences. Were trying to do what is good and keep a sense of humor and humility along the way, she said.

Nobody likes a preachy story, Gaffigan said. The process of resolving the dichotomy between words and deeds can become a gentle teaching opportunity where they can share their faith and shed light on the silliness of the culture wars, she said.

If we are called to evangelize, it must be done creatively and subtly, Gaffigan said.

The two groups that established the Eloquentia Perfecta Award are celebrating anniversaries in 2016. Fordham University was founded by the Jesuits 175 years ago and Paulist Press is marking 150 years in the publishing business.

Eloquentia Perfecta refers to a Jesuit educational tradition that values excellence in writing and speaking with logical clarity.

Paulist Father Mark-David Janus, president and publisher of Paulist Press, told Catholic News Service the award is intended to celebrate people in communications who take their vocation seriously, live their faith life and can serve as an inspiration to others.

Fordham Universitys president, Jesuit Father Joseph McShane, said the Gaffigans are proudly and publicly Catholic. Their faith is a part of their identity and shapes their creative work.

He said Jeannies humor is sly, gentle, illuminating of the human condition, optimistic and very funny. She renders family life with wit, intelligence, and self-awareness. Her work allows people to reconnect with themselves in a way that is at once entertaining and compassionate, Father McShane said.

C. Colt Anderson, dean of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education, said Gaffigans humor is funny without being mean, and is never sappy, preachy or moralistic, which is why its perfect for our time.

The Eloquentia Perfecta Award also was given to an undergraduate to encourage pursuit of excellence by a student who shows extraordinary promise, Father Janus said.

Anderson presented the inaugural award to Caitlin Sakdalan, a Fordham University junior in the communication and media studies program. He said she hopes to be a respected food connoisseur and have a television show on food, travel and philanthropy.

The evening award presentation was followed the next day by a conference on Communication as Vocation: At the Intersection of Media, Faith and Culture. Father Janus said the event was intended to give students access to Catholic professionals in the fields of broadcast, music, theater, film, video and publishing.

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Author offers guidance for those on journeys of spiritual renewal – Pittsburgh Catholic

Faith as silent spirituality – Qantara.de

All his life, the German philosopher and poet Johann Gottfried Herder grappled with issues of the Orient and Islam, preaching his vision of a society shaped by humanity, tolerance and the individual, spiritual practice of faith. By Melanie Christina Mohr

In “Gedanken einer Orientalistin zu Johann Gottfired Herder” (An Orientalists Thoughts on Johann Gottfried Herder, 1994), the German Islamic studies scholar Annemarie Schimmel wrote: “Neither in Yemen nor Iran, neither in Bengal nor in Pakistan could the listeners understand how a poet who had never come face-to-face with an Arab, a Persian or an Indian could empathise with foreign peoples to such a degree in spirit and form […].” Her remark gives us some idea of Herders special significance, even today.

When Johann Gottfried Herder was born on 25 August 1744, the philosophy of the Enlightenment had already catapulted the century into the modern age. Voltaire was approaching his 50th birthday, while Kant who would later teach Herder was studying philosophy, physics and mathematics among other subjects at the Albertus University in Konigsberg. Prussia was heading for the Seven Year War, America for independence and France for a revolution. In the Islamic calendar, the year was 1157. The Ottoman Empire had reached the geographical extent of its power and would continue to exist into the first quarter of the twentieth century, while the Persians were living under the short-lived rule of the Afsharids, who were replaced just a few years later by the Zand dynasty.

The European image of Islam in the eighteenth century was ambivalent. The first two translations of the Koran had appeared in 1694 and 1698, but the negative picture established prior to this, largely due to the Islamic faith having been consistently slandered, seemed to be deeply anchored in the Christian consciousness and relativising that image using these flawed translations was a slow process.

Arab fame: a “miracle of nature”

In 1710, Leibniz had pointed out the clear crossovers between the tenets of Christianity and Islam, but Voltaire made no secret of his religious aversion and manifested his dislike of the Prophet in his tragedy Mahomet, which portrays the founder of the faith as a liar and a charlatan. But this was also the century in which European Orientalism first began to flourish and slowly moved away from theology with a lot of travel writing contributing to a better understanding of that “other”, the Orient.

In the fourth and fifth chapters of his classic work Ideas on the Philosophy of the History of Mankind, Herder discussed what he believed there was to say about the Arabs and their Prophet at that time. The fame of the Arabs was to be understood as a “miracle of nature” not as something initiated or consciously created something that had merely waited for “the man to appear” who could make the Arab people “blossom”.

The Koran a mirror held up to Muhammads soul

Herder deliberately describes the Prophet a “curious being and a mixture of all that nation, tribe, time and place could bestow” as an individual, without any explicit divine connotation. “His Koran, this curious mix of poetic art, eloquence, ignorance, cleverness and hubris,” was to be understood as a mirror held up to Muhammads soul.

But Herder personalised both the Korans content and its linguistic character and much like Goethe wanted the Prophet to be regarded as a poet. Faithful to his own beliefs with all due respect to tolerance he declared Protestantism to be the true faith and underlined this with an attestation that Muhammad and his faith community were “deceiving themselves”.

Even so, this didnt mean that Herder regarded Islam and its founder with displeasure on the contrary, he believed that there was room for criticism in every well-founded study , as long as the necessary respect was maintained. The language, which he said had blossomed “long before Muhammad” and on which the pride of the whole people and the prophet was built, was the only thing Herder was willing to let himself be dazzled by.

Alongside the Koran, he also commends the fairy-tale and was keen to make it available to his readers, since it had made its mark “beneath the Eastern sky [as] the most marvellous element of the literary art”.

Tolerance and reflection as features of faith

What makes Herder stand out, particularly in those times of vicious right-wing populism, is his pronounced sensitivity and the way he valued other cultures and ways of life. He was not only a committed anti-missionary, who understood faith as an “inner conscientiousness” something that could under no circumstances be forced or accelerated he also made no secret of the fact that he viewed the Church with scepticism, or even rejected it.

For him, it was a “political structure”, an institution that should be regarded as separate from the essence of religion. It was no surprise, then, that Herder viewed the absence of a Muslim pope as an admirable thing. For him, faith embodied a kind of silent spirituality, not distinguished by a definite dualism, but manifested in tolerance and reflection. In his essay “The Oldest Document of the Human Race” (1774), he interpreted the Holy Scripture freely, recording at the end that it was “the oldest piece from the dawn of time” and in defiance of his own faith despite this, one of many.

Humanity and human kindness

According to Herder, humanity to which he devoted a great deal of thought was a latent, “undeveloped” quality in the individual. It was the character of the human race, he said and over the course of time was adopted and developed, ultimately distinguishing man from the animals. Gerhardt Schmidt gives a trenchant description of Herders imperative in an essay on the idea of humanity, calling it a “moral tautology” representing a smiling positivism, to be understood as a kind of bliss, which one should be in a position to celebrate without shame.

In his letters on the advancement of humanity, Herder regrets the fatal error of some of his contemporaries, who set the concept of humanity on a par with “lowliness, weakness and false pity”. The term, he said, was even used with a look of disdain and “a shrug of the shoulders”. With the utmost incomprehension and regret, Herder continues: “The lovely words human kindness have become so trivial […] and yet this should be the goal of our striving.”

This debasement of humanity should, by rights, be halted. Humanity and human kindness are as Herder rightly stated “the fine features of our existence” and as such they should be preserved and protected.

Melanie Christina Mohr

Qantara.de 2017

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Faith as silent spirituality – Qantara.de

Asanas, Mudras, Spirituality: A Life Where Bharatanatyam And Yoga … – Swarajya

In an e-interaction, she tells Pratyasha Nithin about her life as a yogi, about Bharatanatyam and the healing powers of yoga.

Tell us about your childhood.

I was born in London. As children, my brothers and I had a very international upbringing. My father worked in finance for a bank that had offices worldwide. So, every three to five years, we would transfer to a new place London, New York, Japan, Hong Kong, and India. My parents true passion, antiques, has manifested in me a respect for craftsmanship and a reverence for the old. They often took us on off-the-grid adventures, teaching us to respect different ways to live in this world. My parents came to the West by working hard in academia (my father was a graduate of LSE and Wharton; my mother of SOAS), so our studies were always greatly valued in our household. We were given the freedom to explore any endeavour as long as we maintained high grades, developing in us a diligent work ethic.

No matter where we were in the world, we would always spend our summers with our grandmothers in India. It became home. For several years now, I have been living in New York. I have also been spending more time at my parents ancestral property in Morjim, Goa, where I will be teaching soon.

You come from a lineage of renowned dancers. Tell us more about them.

My grandmother, my mothers mother, was Hima Devi. She was a classical Indian dancer, a drama teacher, an arts writer for Mumbais newspapers, as well as a devotee of Sri Aurobindo. Her aunt was Madame Menaka, a pioneer artist, dancer and choreographer. Her philosophy was that art should not only embody an aesthetic quality, but also spiritually uplift us and be relevant to our everyday lives. She was one of the first women to travel internationally on behalf of India, representing Kathak as a dance form. She also collaborated with Anna Pavlova. In her later years, she resided in Tagores Shantiniketan, where she shared her art and knowledge among like-minded intellectuals, like poetess Sarojini Naidu and Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay, an active supporter of Indias traditional arts and crafts. Damayanti Joshi wrote a beautiful book documenting her life. The book is in the Sangeet Natak Akademi library, New Delhi.

What inspired you to take up yoga?

When I lived with my grandmother in Mumbai, she would get up around 3 am and begin her prayers. I would drift in and out of sleep, smelling the sweet aroma of burning incense and hearing her melodic chanting of mantras. I also witnessed her practising simple yoga asanas as part of her daily ritual. Yoga, as a part of life and as an offering, became a part of how I understood the world.

Our mother would also take us to a yoga therapist, whenever we were not feeling well, to receive asanas that would strengthen our internal system. I grew up with the understanding that yoga was a healing science as well. As life and its complexities began to unfold, I sought that feeling of inner fortitude and shanti as a prism to experience the world.

How is ashtanga more than a mere set of physical exercises?

Ashta means eight and Anga means limbs. The eight limbs are based on the knowledge given by Maharishi Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras and refer to the various dimensions or stages the sadhaka must cultivate in classical yoga practice (sadhana) to attain awakening. If one likens the limbs to the eight petals of a lotus flower, the petals bloom in harmony. All limbs external and internal in ashtanga yoga must be integrated with one another and be given due attention. When practising yoga in its wholeness, the impurities of the mind and body are removed, clearing the path for us to realise the true nature of the soul.

The very name ashtanga implies a way to bring together the human body, mind and consciousness. Asana and pranayama transform us at the core of our being so we can access the other limbs of our inner and outer observances to lead a meaningful life. It is essential not to get attached to the fruits of the practice, but to keep focused on the eternal path of our sadhana.

I think, in simpler terms, what that translates into is that with the practice of yoga we should live a life of greater compassion and love, become better human beings in our day to day interaction with people and the world around us.

On the age criteria for practising yoga:

I have been welcoming my children Asha, 9 years and Arjuna, 7 years, to join me when I practise, since they were toddlers, but I never push them. They are around it enough and the lessons are permeating naturally into them. They enjoy reading Indian epics like the Gita and the Mahabharata. Exposing children to yoga is a healthy experience for them so that they can create a positive relationship with their own body, mind and spirit. As their muscles and limbs are still growing and their intellect is developing, it is important to expose them to the discipline of yoga, but not push them in any way. The experience should be welcoming and healing.

Yoga in general is a helpful tool in life, no matter the age. There is nothing to consider before taking up yoga except to find a knowledgeable teacher. The rest automatically happens. A good teacher will individualise the practice, considering age, lifestyle and any ailments, so that the yoga process is therapeutic, joyful and brings oneness. Quite a few of my students are between the ages of 60 and 75; several are cancer survivors and others practice safely through their pregnancies and postpartum recovery. It is wonderful to witness that the practice continues to bring happiness and freedom, no matter what stage in life you are in.

How did you meet Shri K Pattabhi Jois? What were your first thoughts after meeting one of the most renowned yoga gurus?

In 1997, I was in India on a community service grant from Columbia University, when I heard about Guruji and ashtanga yoga. I took a train from Rishikesh to Mysore to meet him. I was not sure if he would accept me as a student, but I wanted to meet him and see if studying from the source was a possibility. One thing I learned from Bharatanatyam is that it is better to learn the correct method from the beginning. Otherwise, one spends a lot of time with a real guru just correcting all the mistakes before learning the actual form and being able to receive real knowledge. Guruji very kindly welcomed me into the afternoon class for Indian students and I started learning the practice from him as a total beginner. He and Sharathji taught me steadily through the advanced series, showing me the importance of teaching students with concentration and equilibrium from the very beginning.

Guruji had the real ability to dispel darkness with the light of his knowledge and for us practitioners of the form to experience deep reality under his watch is incredible. Being in his presence was equivalent to being in the grace of the divine. At the same time, Guruji was incredibly warm and down to earth. He always made time to ask after my family. He did that not only with me, but with everyone, which I believe added to how truly evolved he was as a human being. In transmitting the lineage of ashtanga yoga, today, Sharathji and Saraswatiji also pass on this unique quality of possessing great knowledge on the subject of yoga with a worldwide following, while also being relatable and inclusive to all students who come to study with them.

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Asanas, Mudras, Spirituality: A Life Where Bharatanatyam And Yoga … – Swarajya

Brian L. Weiss, MD

As a traditional psychotherapist, Dr. Brian Weiss was astonished and skeptical when one of his patients began recalling past-life traumas that seemed to hold the key to her recurring nightmares and anxiety attacks. His skepticism was eroded, however, when she began to channel messages from the space between lives, which contained remarkable revelations about Dr. Weisss family and his dead son. Using past-life therapy, he was able to cure the patient and embark on a new, more meaningful phase of his own career.

A graduate of Columbia University and Yale Medical School, Brian L. Weiss M.D. is Chairman Emeritus of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami.

Dr. Weiss conducts national and international seminars and experiential workshops as well as training programs for professionals.

photo credit: Harpo, Inc. George Burns

The Emmy Award-winning series Super Soul Sunday airedJune 2featuring Oprah & Dr. Brian Weiss: Reincarnation, Past Lives and Miracles on OWN. Groundbreaking psychiatrist and best-selling author of Many Lives, Many Masters Dr. Brian Weiss tells Oprah of how he came to practice past life regression therapy.

Click here to watch clips from the episode.

In their revolutionary book, Miracles Happen, Brian L. Weiss, MD, and his daughter, Amy, examine the physical, emotional, and spiritual healing that is possible when you freely accept and embrace the reality of reincarnation. A leader in the field of past-life therapy, Dr. Weiss has helped thousands connect with their past lives and experience tremendous healing. In Miracles Happen, he and Amy share these remarkable real-life stories to reveal how past-life regression holds the keys to our spiritual purpose. Read More

You are not here by accident or by some coincidence of nature. You are a spiritual being learning lessons of love in this earth school.

Click here to watch the video

Dr. Weiss interviewed by Bob Olson on AfterLifeTV.

Click here to watch the interview.

New York Times article about Dr. Weiss and Past Life Therapy.

Click here to read the article.

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Brian L. Weiss, MD

Panicking with Grace: A Spirituality for Whatever’s Next – America Magazine

I want this period of my life to be over because in this period I dont know what Im doing. Having graduated college a year ago without an inkling of a career path, I am often visited by fun new friends like crippling anxiety and existential dread. The media push articles about the growing trend ofextendedadolescence and the waning likelihood of millennials achieving the AmericanDream. Naturally, I am seeking a resolution to my ordinary, yet nerve-wracking search for purpose.

Millennials are living at home longer, getting married later and generally taking more time than our predecessors to become independent adults. Psychologist Jeffrey Jensen Arnett of Clark University argues for the recognition of a new stage of psychological development, which he calls emerging adulthood.

It would be easy to assume young people in this stage are failing in some way; that millennials procrastinating from making life decisions are lazy, coddled and selfish. But rather than allowing this period of emerging adulthood or extended adolescence to be a source of insecurity, I am beginning to embrace it as an opportunity to practice careful discernment and to develop a mature prayer life.

It is difficult to bring oneself to prayer when one feels lost. Inevitably, I have begun comparing myself to my (seemingly thousands of) friends with their acts together. While studying at Georgetown University, I was fortunate to meet many great Catholics who are now following clear vocations. Their alluring certitude made me wonder: What are they doing that I could try? I reached out to a few of them to ask about their prayer and discernment.

Eileen and Pat got married last October in Boston, and Christian is in his second year at the Jesuit novitiate in the Northeast Province. They are all a year older than I am, and they have worked hard to develop their prayer lives. They are particularly knowledgeable about discernment, the key to Ignatian spirituality.

I met Eileen during the spring of my freshman year. I had joined the pro-life group on campus and signed up to staff a table for the group a couple days each week. Eileen stopped by the table with a messy bun and a big purse full of books and Tupperware. She had a unique ability to appear frazzled and calm at the same time. Even though she had a lot going on, she took the time to stop by and welcome me into the club.

While at the pro-life table, I was often joined by a kid on crutches. Christian had torn his ACL while playing football with his friends. His persistently ridiculous would you rather questions won me over. (E.g., Would you rather have to wear a banana costume for the rest of your life or have Cheetos dust stuck to your fingers for the rest of your life?)

I met Pat the next year when we shared a shift together at a commons desk in one of the dorms. Our early interactions were just half-joking insults about each other, spurred by a joke about introverts bonding better over insults than small talk. I guess it worked.

Struggling in prayer is a personal, even embarrassing, topic, but I have seen Eileen do some awkward interpretive dance to Avril Lavignes Sk8tr Boi and Pat and Christian each shave only half of their beards before going to a party. And they have seen me dye my hair blue because I lost a bet. So, lucky for me, we are past the point of feeling silly in front of each other. I feel comfortable talking to them about anything. Why not prayer?

It is no surprise that young people need to spend time in prayer to discern their true vocation. Christian pointed out that even Jesus did not begin his active ministry until about the age of 30 (and even then it was upon the insistence of his mother.)

Like many young people in the church today, Jesus needed to discern how to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom most effectively, explained Christian, the Jesuit novice. He turns to prayer in order to know the Fathers will and find strength to complete it.

Young people in extended adolescence can likewise discern their vocations in prayer. Eileen suggested that a period of uncertainty may be a great time to begin developing your relationship with God: Its actually been really helpful to me to look at prayer through the lens of discernment, because when I feel like I need to come to a decision or understand something or shake something up, it puts pressure on me to be more intentional about prayer.

The primary way to go about Ignatian discernment is with the examen. Eileen, Pat and Christian each recommended it.

The examen is a conversational prayer that usually takes about 15 minutes. You sit with God, going through the events of your day, considering your feelings and reactions, answering questions like: Where did you feel most alive today? What was difficult for you to handle? What do you hope for tomorrow?

A big part of Ignatian prayer considers how God acts in us through our desires, emotions and spirit, said Christian. One of the biggest ways in which this style of prayer affects my life is in seeking affirmation of my vocation in the novitiate. In this discernment, I bring to the Lord deep questions, like Am I where you need me to be? Is this Jesuit vocation the best way for me to be at the service of the Gospel?

Regularly praying the examen can be a challenge. If you have trouble getting into a routine, Eileen suggests a sort of check-in version of the prayer: After one event, sit with just that thing.Think about the parts of it that were good and bad, how it made you feel and whether or not it brought you closer to God or provided a sense of peace and fulfillment.

Ultimately, the examen can help you live more intentionally. This prayer has been particularly helpful in making decisions, Pat explained, because it forces me to really think about what I experience, what I am doing each day, who I am as a person and what role God is playing in all of this.

If you are like me, a member of the hopelessly analytical faithful, and you want to learn more about the examen, I suggest reading Jim Manneys book, A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer: Discovering the Power of St. Ignatius Loyolas Examen.

When asked if they could offer advice to millennials like me, my friends gave simple advice: Give it a try, and be patient.

My biggest piece of advice would be to try it simply because its so life-changing, said Eileen.

Pat added: Whether it is chatting about my day, pleading for help, yelling about something that hurt me or just sitting, I pray when I intentionally make God a part of my day. Even if I can’t think of anything else to say, which is often, I can always just sit and say: Wow. This is amazing. Thank you!

Eileen had an interesting insight: Nurturing a prayer life is often put off because young people(myself included) want to focus on more transient thingsspending time with people, focusing on homework or jobs or working out. And those are great things.You have to do them to build a foundation for the life you want.But I will also say that more important is understanding what the life you want is like, so you can do all of those other things!

Take a risk, suggested Christian. Go on a retreat. Go on an immersion trip which has interested you in the past. Learn about yourself, your desires, and then you will know more fully where the joy of your true vocation meets the worlds deepest needs.

Its okay for this to be difficult, so remind yourself of that when things arent easy, Eileen advised. (I would add that if youre struggling with prayer, Karl Rahners book Encounters with Silence may be a worthwhile read.)

Pat recalled something that proved to be a great insight for him. The most frustrating thing that my spiritual director at school ever told me was to be patient, he said. I would get so upset each time that he said it, but it was true. It was only when I calmed down and was patient that I was finally able to hear God calling me to spend more time with this friend, Eileen.

It worked. Almost three years later, she is now my wife, and I could not be happier that I finally let myself trust in God.

Extended adolescence does not have to be an embarrassing in-between timea jumble of things happening to you before your real adulthood begins. It can be an opportunity to live intentionally and to spend time listening for and exploring your vocation through prayer.

This period of my life is far from over, and the task of shaping my adult life is still daunting. But I am optimistic that with the grace of God I will be able to recognize what God intends for me. I will do my best to remember Pierre Teilhard de Chardins instructionin his poem Patient Trust:

Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.

Editor’s Note: After writing this article, Teresa accepted a position as an editorial assistantat SmartBrief, Inc. in Washington, D.C.

Go here to see the original:

Panicking with Grace: A Spirituality for Whatever’s Next – America Magazine

Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D.

I’m also blogging these days. I prefer you to email me as I tend to answer emails faster than I respond to my blog page. Just go to my blog page at Blog with Fred

You can buy my New dimensions Interviews from iAmplify.com! If you like my style you will love these. Here are some descriptions to read and then just click away below to listen or to buy.

Step into the world of physics-but bring your spirituality along. Fred Alan Wolf is a theoretical physicist and firewalker who sees the sacred in everything-and can give you a theorem to prove it. From every angle he blasts the boundary between science and spirit, and can make universal consciousness sound like a logical idea. He may be the first physicist ever to break into pop culture celebrity. In his featured appearance in the movie, What the Bleep Do We Know?, he brought cutting edge quantum theory down to earth, and stirred a cult following by heralding proof of ancient spiritual principles for a mainstream audience. “Mind is not limited or contained within the boundaries of the material world,” says Dr. Wolf. “Mind is not in you and in me separately. Mind is universal, escaping time and space. So when ideas pop into existence, it’s not just in your mind that they’re happening.” Heavy stuff? Yes. But “Dr. Quantum” has a disarming way of delivering profound statements with gusto and a generous dose of mischief, so that even if you yawn at the mere mention of an electron, this time you’ll want to wake up and come along for the ride.

Have a listen. Just click on my mug shot below.

Want more?

One of the most compelling questions of all time is, do we have a soul? And if we do, what exactly is it? Fred Alan Wolf, well-known resident physicist on Discovery Channel’s “No-Zone” program, gives us an answer and a unique definition. He also discusses spirit, space, time, consciousness and the possible origins of the universe. From a physicist who knows scientifically what a miracle our universe really is, we hear reasons to celebrate our very existence, and he reminds us that, “We, who are living in this incredible miracle we call the universe, have to begin to recognize that we are not just in it, we are it.”

Again, have a listen. Just click on my mug shot below.

But what about leaping into the future, hurtling back into the past, or peering into parallel realities? Fred Alan Wolf teaches you how to access these advanced powers of time travel through mastery of “the Five Fluctuations.” Once you become a time-traveling “tachyonaut,” you not only learn the skill of slipping the timestream, you also take profound spiritual steps toward achieving liberation from the ego, connecting to the universal consciousness, and overcoming the fear of death.

Using a supercharged solution of cutting-edge science and mystical wisdom, Dr. Quantum provides everything you need to sail the river of time at will instead of being carried along in its current. Team up with the champion of spacetime on Dr. Quantum Presents: Do-It-Yourself Time Travel to unlock the time-warping “superpowers” of your own consciousness.

Check List for Saving the Universe:

(1) Find a way to stop the NGC4414 galaxy from falling apart and swallowing the entire universe into one big black hole.

(2) For the first time in galactic history, construct a gigantic timecylinder based on unproven calculations so you can travel back in time to fix problem (1) listed above.

(3) Find the exact entry point on the timecylinder into the past, avoiding all Time Travel Forbidden and Null Zones, or risk the possibility of getting lost in time. Forever!

(4) Pinpoint the reason why your holoform species is still stuck in a two dimensional form when all your research points to the fact that holoforms should actually be three dimensional creatures like everybody else.

(5) If you survive, try to convince the scientific community of your findings, despite the fact you and your twin brother look exactly twelve years old.

Okay, I admit it, the list looks a little ambitious, especially since the whole mission is based entirely on theory. But the one thing we do have in our favor is the fact that Dr. Quantum, the brilliant physicist from United Earth, is leading this mission and if anyone can make this happen he can. Which brings me to one sort of scary thought: If you’re reading this right now that means Dr. Quantum must have gotten us through the mission and the universe continued. Either that, or we’re still stuck somewhere in the time continuum and you’ve unearthed this record of our mission. And if that’s the case, we may just need your help.

Want to help?

I really had fun shooting this earlier in 2007 and meeting the great cast of Cirque.

In this little book Dr. Quantum has gathered together some precious gems of insight. I must admit I was surprised that I even wrote them. I hadn’t realized when I wrote them that they could well stand alone as they do. Read them and I hope laugh and enjoy them. They aren’t there to teach you anything (although you might learn a little about you and the universe) but to help you let go of any tight bonds you have created to what you believe is the only reality there is. I hope you begin to see that the universe including you is far greater than any of us can imagine and that you are a remarkable being simply because in the last one million or so years of evolution nature or God has chosen you to appear on the scene. You may feel that you are not worth very much or you may feel you are far better than any of your associates. I caution you that both of these are illusions. I hope that by reading this little book you may gain a better prospective on who you really are. Care to guess?

It’s “out there” so now its time to put it “in here” in your minds. Look for the 12 sessions 6-CD album set at wherever you can get audio CDs. It really captures the best of what I can put “out there” because now you can listen and take off into the wild yonder world of quantum reality and have fun doing it too. It’s called: Dr Quantum Presents: A User’s Guide to Your Universe. Think of it as How Quantum Physics can Change your Life. For more information go to Sounds True webpage: Sounds True.

My book The Yoga of Time Travel: How the Mind Can Defeat Time is now out there and doing well. I just found out that my publisher has now gone into its fourth printing and the demand is growing! Look for it in your favorite bookstore or order it on line. I have heard from the U.S. publisher that The Yoga of Time Travel will be published in the following countries, Holland (Dutch Edition), India, Brazil (Portuguese edition), and Spain and Latin America, (Spanish edition). Look for these editions in 2007.

I also have learned that it received the 2004 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award in Body, Mind & Spirit. See: ForeWord Magazine Award

Formore information about my new book please see the short synopsisbelow or click on the red title above.

I am also appearing in the newly released What the Bleep movie called What the Bleep: Down the Rabbit Hole So please look for it in your city when it opens. For more information about the film please click on the red title above.

I can also be seen in the recently released DVD The Secret.

I also appear in the recently released (2003) Special Collectors Edition of the Paramount Studio DVD movie Star Trek IV on Disc 2 “Time Travel: The art of the possible.” So please look for it in your favorite store selling DVDs or to get it from Amazon click on the red title above.

For more information email me at theaddress below.


Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D.

Fighting addiction through spirituality – The Laconia Daily Sun

Stand Up Laconia begins weekly prayer days to help fight drug misuse


Stand Up Laconia recognizes that the path to recovery from drug addiction is different for everyone, and for some rehabilitation comes through spirituality. Acting upon this possible avenue for recovery, a group of people from the coalition have come together to create a weekly Laconia Day of Prayer, which begins today. During the Laconia Day of Prayer, all members of the community from any religious background are invited to pray for those who are currently being impacted by the drug epidemic. Those praying are asked to share a positive prayer or intention that focuses on helping the addicted and their families find strength during the challenges they face. This day is not about religion and, in no way, is Stand Up Laconia religiously affiliated with any house of worship, said Clare Persson, Chair of Stand Up Laconia. The day is simply about good intentions and creative positive energy and healing within the community. Stand Up Laconia is comprised of community members from 12 different sectors of the community, which includes but is not limited to police enforcement, local educators, public health officials, and religious leaders, according to Persson. Due to a branch being from the religious community, the steering committee wanted to give these individuals an opportunity to bring the mission of Stand Up Laconia to their own lives and houses of worship in a meaningful way. Shaun Dutile, spiritual leader of Dutile Christian Counseling, is a member of the Stand Up Laconia steering committee. For the past two years, Dutile has been integrating prayer for those struggling with substance misuse into his ministry, and has wanted to extend this mission to others in the community. From this idea, he began collaborating with other members of Stand Up Laconia who have different spiritual backgrounds, such as Pat Kiefer from the Catholic church and Paula Gile from the Congregational Church of Laconia. Since the start of this initiative, Dutile has reached out to nine different houses of worship, including the Unitarian Church and the Jewish Temple, and said everyone he has talked to has been in support of the day. No specific deity is recognized. It is not a religious affiliated day, Dutile reaffirmed. The goal of the day is to simply take some time, whether its your commute time or a 15-minute break during your work day, to pray specifically for those impacted by addiction. The day does not require community members to come together at a specific place or time, however, Persson said that if people wish to come together they are welcome to do so. Further, Kiefer noted that at Saint Andre Bessette Parish in Laconia, Wednesdays are the churchs day of Eucharistic Adoration. For those within the Catholic community who wish to take part in the day, prayers have been printed and left at the doors of the church that specifically cater to those who face addition. The best part of this is seeing the churches set aside their differences and come together with the common goal of addressing the substance misuse issue in the city, said Kiefer. Those with questions about the weekly Laconia Day of Prayer or for information on how to get involved in Stand Up Laconia, can contact Clare Persson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 603-387-4270. For more information within the Catholic church email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or to reach Dutile email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..”>This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Fighting addiction through spirituality – The Laconia Daily Sun

Zombie Apocalypse: Spirituality, Sex, and the Lay Vocation – Patheos (blog)

At the upcomingUSCCB Convocation of Catholic Leaders in Orlando, my wife and co-author, Lisa Popcak, will be leading a panel titled, The Family and Sexuality: Challenges and Opportunities. One of the first questions the panel will address is, What is often overlooked when attempting to evangelize people about the Catholic vision of sex and love especially in marriage and family life?

Our response? The single most overlooked point in communicating the importance of the Churchs view on sex in marriage is that sex stands at the center of the lay vocation. Attempting to practice a lay spirituality while ignoring sex is like living a zombie spirituality that divorces the body from the soul. If the Church is serious about the universal call to holiness, she has to get serious about proclaiming and helping people live the Catholic vision of sex and love. What am I talking about? Im glad you asked.

Lay People: Spiritual Also-Rans?

Historically speaking, until Vatican II, lay people were all-but officially considered to be spiritual also-rans who, if they wanted to be serious about their faith, were welcome to borrow whatever spiritual equipment (e.g., Liturgy of the Hours, Lectio Divina, contemplative prayer, etc.) they could from the spiritual A-Teamclergy and religious.

But it isnt always easy for lay people to use these tools. Lisa and I regularly hear from listeners to More2Life who complain, Since I had kids, I just dont have time to pray like I used to. The problem isnt that lay people are spiritually lax. Its that many of the tools Catholics consider to be our spiritual stock-in-trade were primarily developed for clergy and religious and dont easily translate to life in the domestic church.

Until Vatican IIs earth-shattering proclamation of the universal call to holiness declaring that priests, religious, and lay people alike are capable of real sanctity, no one really considered what an authentically home-grown, lay approach to spirituality would even consist of.

Lay Spirituality: A New Approach

Enter St John Paul the Great. As (effectively) the first post-Vatican II pope, he dedicated his life to laying the foundations of a lay spirituality that fit the demands of the domestic church. Because lay peoples lives are consumed the minutiae of paying bills and raising families, he made St. Therese of Lisieux a Doctor of the Church. Her Little Way of holiness offers a path to sainthood that consists of doing even these little things with great love. Acknowledging how few examples of sanctity the Church offered to lay people, he canonized more lay and married saints than any pope before him. Considering the challenges lay people face trying to live a holy life in the midst of a troubled world, he promoted devotion to Divine Mercy. Viewing the rosary as the laypersons easiest entre into contemplative prayer, he wrote an apostolic letter on how to pray it properly and added an entire set of mysteries highlighting events every family could relate to; a baptism, a wedding, teaching children life lessons through stories, a father raising up his beloved son, a family meal.

And the crown jewel in this effort? St John Pauls Theology of the Body, through which, week-after-week, over the course of 129 Wednesday audiences, he promoted a marriage-centric, nuptial view of the pursuit of holiness, the sacraments, salvation history, the Church, and the gospel itself.

Sex: The Heart of the Lay Vocation

And what was at the center of the Theology of the Body, this massive reflection on lay spirituality? Sex. Why? Not, as some critics alleged, because St John Paul had a weird obsession with pelvic issues, but because virtually every waking moment of the lay persons life is spent seeking a mate, maintaining their relationship with their mate, conceiving children, dealing with struggles related to conceiving children, and raising those children to find good and godly spouses. It all comes down to tasks related, in one way or another to sex and sexuality.

Christianity is an incarnational faith. It begins with conception; with God emptying himself and becoming embodied. As such, an authentically Christian spiritual life must also be embodied. If celibacy allows priests and religious to dedicate their bodies to work for the good of Gods Kingdom, how could a lay person share in this work? The Theology of the Body answers this question by encouraging lay people to resist the secular worlds reconception of fertility as a disease, and to refuse to engage in sexual practices that treat people as sexual objects, create barriers to the two becoming one flesh, and think of children merely as a burden.

Thats why any lay spirituality that seeks to divorce itself from the sexual character of the lay vocation is little more than a zombie spirituality; a body stumbling around desperately seeking redemption for its basic hungers. Christians, especially lay Christians, can do better. Its time for Church to give lay people their rightful spiritual inheritance by boldly proclaiming and supporting lay people in living an authentic, embodied, home-grown, nuptial, spiritual life. And it is time for lay people to claim their sacred right to live the universal call to holiness in the unique ways only lay people can.

When we talk about the Churchs teaching on sexual love, and NFP in particular, we as a Church need to do a better job to help people see that we arent just talking about a way to regulate fertility. Were really talking about the foundations of a lay spirituality where couples join priests and religious in bringing their sexuality to God for the greater glory of his Kingdom and the building of an authentic Civilization of Love.

To learn more about how you can begin to celebrate the Catholic vision of in a way that can invigorate every part of your lifeespecially your spiritual lifecheck out Holy Sex! The Catholic Guide to Mind-Blowing, Toe-Curling, Infallible Loving

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Zombie Apocalypse: Spirituality, Sex, and the Lay Vocation – Patheos (blog)