RHW Podcast Episode 14

Contemplative Practices

Hi Friends! Welcome to Episode 14 of the Reaching Hurting Women Podcast: A Contemplative Path of Recovery. Here we are learning new ways of coping with our daily struggles. My name is Tamara and I will be your host. Today we are talking about: Contemplative Practices

As I stated in the introduction here at Reaching Hurting Women we are taking a Contemplative Path to Recovery. By that I mean we are using contemplative spiritual practices to help us cope with the challenges of not only addiction recovery but also the challenges that come with every day life in general. 

What are contemplative spiritual practices? Well they are ways where we can be intentional and deliberate about matters of the soul. They are tools that help us become more aware of God’s presence in our normal life; they inject the sacred into activities that might otherwise be ordinary. By applying contemplative spirituality we can take anything we might be doing: like cleaning house or gardening for instance, and turn them into a sacred spiritual experience.

Contemplative prayer is at the heart of the spiritual practices where we open ourselves to the mystery of Jesus Christ. What we are talking about is taking the essence of contemplative prayer and applying it to other activities so that we are keeping God’s presence at the center of whatever we are doing.

Now let’s talk about the different categories of contemplative practices and the various activities included in them. I have Eight Categories of Contemplative Practices and the different activities in each of the categories. I’m not going to go into detail about most of them, because we will be learning more about many of them in the months to come. But this will give you a nice overview of contemplative practices. As I list them off, be thinking about how you can apply these activities and practices to help you cope with your daily struggles. Let’s get started…

  1. Stillness Practices: Connecting with God in quiet reflection.
  1. Movement Practices: Connecting with God through your body in motion.
  • Walking Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Dance
  • Sports
  • Labyrinth walking
  • Pilgrimage
  1. Creative Practices: Connecting with God through creative expression.
  • Painting
  • Writing
  • Gardening
  • Sewing/Knitting
  • Sculpting
  • Music/Singing/Chanting
  • Cooking
  • Calligraphy
  1. Relational Practices: Connecting with God by being present with others.
  • Worship
  • Visiting
  • Listening
  • Communion
  • Conversations
  • Telling Stories
  • Volunteering
  1. Learning Practices: Connecting with God through intellectual exploration and discovery.
  • Reading the Bible
  • Studying Christian Doctrine
  • Studying Christian Church History
  • Reading inspiring books
  • Having Theological Conversation
  1. Influencing Practices: Connecting with God as an agent for change.
  • Voting
  • Attending a protest
  • Coaching
  • Teaching
  • Leading a team
  • Writing a letter
  1. Serving Practices: Connecting with God by sharing your gifts and resources.
  • Feeding the hungry
  • Giving blood
  • Serving your neighbor
  • Giving / Pledging Money
  1. Ritual Practices: Connecting with God through ceremonial, cultural, religious traditions.
  • Sabbath
  • Sabbatical
  • Retreats
  • Liturgy of the Hours
  • Creating a Sacred space
  • Building an altar
  • Pilgrimage

This list is designed to help you get started with your own contemplative practices. Remember, our goals are to connect with God in the midst of our activities. That means anything we do can become a contemplative practice if we have God at the center.

Quickly, let’s talk about some of the benefits of contemplative practices.

  1. We will begin to experience inner peace.
  2. Our life will be better balanced.
  3. We will find more purpose and meaning in life.
  4. We will have a healthier perspective on life.
  5. Our recovery will take on deeper meaning.

When we are walking a healthier spiritual path not only will our life be better, those in our circle of influence will be better too.

Thanks so much for joining me today on the Reaching Hurting Women Podcast: A Contemplative Path of Recovery. Here we are learning new ways of coping with our daily struggles. I hope you have enjoyed our discussion on the Contemplative Practices. We will be diving more in these topics over the next few weeks and months. I look forward to hearing from you. You can leave comments or questions below the show notes. Please take a few minutes and check out the other columns and resources at ReachingHurtingWomen.com. Until next time may the grace and peace of God be yours.

 

Resources

Trinity Luthern

The Big Book of Christian Mysticism by Carl McColman

Living Life Lessons

YOU WANT ME TO BE HOLY???

IN THE LIVING LIFE LESSONS COLUMN I AM SHARING LESSONS GOD HAS TAUGHT ME THESE LAST SEVERAL YEARS.  TODAY LET’S TALK ABOUT THE CHALLENGE OF LIVING A HOLY LIFE.


So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” ~ 1 Peter 1:14-16 

It wasn’t too long after I turned my life back over to God in 2004 when I ran across the above Scripture. After living a wayward lifestyle for several years I was faced with the pressure that I was now expected to be holy. 

How in the world can I possibly be holy?

The problem was with my own thinking and interpretation, not with the verse. I thought this verse said it was my responsibility to become holy. When in fact that is not the case. 

Holiness isn’t anything that I have the ability to do or be in my own power. It isn’t about following a bunch of rules or regulations like many churches would have us believe. Instead holiness is about a relationship with God.


Because the Holy Spirit can only dwell in holy places, when I received Christ as my Savior and the Holy Spirit came to live in me,my spirit became a holy place. 


Now that doesn’t mean my body and mind automatically became holy, because they didn’t. Certainly I still struggle in those areas. But God doesn’t ask us to do anything He doesn’t equip us to do. So by the power of the Holy Spirit and my efforts of studying God’s Word my mind and behavior are improving. 


The most important thing to remember is that God wants us to strive for holiness. He doesn’t expect perfection. He only asks that we make efforts toward perfection. Arrival at holiness isn’t expected by God. He only asks that we pursue it.


For me a red flag that I’m not walking in holiness is when past desires or behaviors flair up. This is a sure sign that I haven’t been spending enough time with God.

When God brings this to my awareness I get back to work doing what I know He wants me to do… Strive toward holiness… one step at a time.

Image credit: ra2studio / 123RF Stock Photo

11.20.13

BOOK REVIEW

Deep-Rooted in Christ: The Way of Transformation by Joshua Choonmin Kang

 

Deep-Rooted in Christ: The Way of Transformation

by

Joshua Choonmin Kang

In January 2008, I was introduced to Joshua Choonmin Kang when Renavare` suggested their followers read Deep-Rooted in Christ together that year. Because I am such a fan of Richard Foster and the Renovare`organization, I was confident the book would be amazing. I was not disappointed. In the tradition of classic spiritual writers, Joshua uses the spiritual disciplines to show us the path to Christlikeness. Written with 52 short chapters it is perfect for a weekly devotional. There is so much life changing wisdom that once through barely skims the surface. I’ve read this sweet book several times since I first got it. If you are looking for a new devotional for the upcoming year or perhaps a Christmas gift, I would highly recommend Joshua Choonmin Kang’s beautifully written book Deep-Rooted in Christ: The Way of Transformation. I’m looking forward to reading it again myself.

11.27.13

RHW Podcast Episode 13

Free Will Sacrifice

Hi Friends! Welcome to Episode 13 of the Reaching Hurting Women Podcast: A Contemplative Path of Recovery. Here we are learning new ways of coping with our daily struggles. My name is Tamara and I will be your host. Today we are talking about: Freewill Sacrifice 

There are many places in scripture that talk about sacrifice. In the Old Testament when sacrifices were a part of the worship culture, Psalm 51:17 tells us that God wants a broken and contrite spirit rather than a burnt offering as a sacrifice. Later the Psalmist says:

With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name O LORD, for it is good. ~ Psalm 54:6

In our culture and busy life today how can we offer God a free-will sacrifice? What does our freewill have to do with sacrifice anyway? What is it that I can sacrifice to God?

For me it’s not just about giving up the negative dependencies: substances or addictions that I crave. What about our lifestyle, our creature comforts: social media, TV, magazines, activities, people, places… I’m asking myself lately: What am I benefiting spiritually from the things I am spending my time on?

I ran across a quote during one my devotions the other day that sparked this podcast. Jean-Pierre de Caussade writes in his classic book The Sacrament of the Present Moment:

Faith is strengthened, increased and enriched by those things that escape the senses; the less there is to see, the more there is to believe.

In other words, the five-sensory-over-load, that most of us live with on a regular basis, impairs our spiritual growth! The more we are using our physical senses: smelling, touching, hearing, tasting, seeing; the weaker our spiritual senses will be.

Do you ever find yourself looking at someone wishing you could have what they have? Not in a jealous way, but just wanting to be able to maybe have that kind of job? Who are the spiritual giants that you look up to? Teachers? Authors? We have ask ourselves if we are willing to do what they did to get what they got.

Friends, life is short and getting shorter by the day. I am getting serious about the input that I am allowing into my brain and body. There are things I want to accomplish before I die and they aren’t going to happen if I continue to waste precious minutes, hours and days.

In his letter to the Romans Saint Paul urges us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God as an act of worship. Again in his first letter to the Corinthian church Paul says:

All things are lawful but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up. ~ 1 Cor 10:23

At one time there were so many rules that the Jewish people had to follow, what to eat, things they could and couldn’t do on certain days and times. Saint Paul is telling us that yes, now those things that once were against the religious law are no longer against God’s law. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are good for us to do.

I have the freedom to watch television all day on Sunday if I choose. But is that beneficial? I have the freedom to eat or drink anything I want to. But is that good for my body?

Is what I am seeing, smelling, hearing, touching, tasting… beneficial in the long run, not only for my physical well being, but for my spiritual health as well?

Free will is serious business, and a huge responsibility. Our free will allows us the ability to own, even change our fate in some cases, though we have no possible way of knowing the potential outcome.

It’s not about whether something is good or bad, moral or immoral, a sin or not. It’s about getting God’s blessing. It’s about what’s best for my life in the eternal scheme of things.

Thanks so much for joining me today on the Reaching Hurting Women Podcast: A Contemplative Path of Recovery. Here we are learning new ways of coping with our daily struggles. I hope you will check out the other columns and resources at ReachingHurtingWomen.com. Until next time may the grace and peace of God be yours.

Take Your Life Back (Tyndale House Publishers, 2016)

Arterburn and Stoop have done it again! I’ve been reading their work for 11 years and I’m never disappointed. Besides the Life Recovery Bible this new book is my favorite of their many writing projects.

In Take Your Life Back: How to Stop Letting the Past and Other People Control You Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop take turns sharing life stories to help us learn about our own dependencies and struggles. Not being written in recovery vernacular makes this book a bit more friendly to those unfamiliar with the terminology. It’s primarily written for the co-dependent type (which most of us are) but it still touches on many issues specific to other addicts also. I highly recommend Take Your Life Back for everyone no matter your background or type of struggle. You will find yourself, your issues and answers somewhere in these pages.

 

BOOK REVIEW:

Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton

 

Thoughts in Solitude 
by
Thomas Merton

“There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality, for life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relation with realities outside and above us.”

 
I became an immediate Thomas Merton fan when I read this first sentence of Thoughts in Solitude.  After living most of my life numbed out in a mind filled with fantasy, I was amazed to find a book written by a Trappist monk that could touch the core of my being with one sentence. 
 
Merton’s writing flows like beautiful poetry. You will want to soak in his nourishing words for hours on end. There is incredible healing in this precious book. I’ve read it twice and will read it time and again for the rest of my life.
 
If you are unfamiliar with Thomas Merton, I highly recommend starting with Thoughts in Solitude. It was my first book of his but it hasn’t been the last. Until I’ve read them all I can’t name a favorite, though this one is at the top of the list so far.
 
7.23.14

RHW Podcast Episode 12

Sober Solitude

Hi Friends! Welcome to Episode Twelve of the Reaching Hurting Women Podcast: A Contemplative Path of Recovery. Here we are learning new ways of coping with our daily struggles. My name is Tamara and I will be your host. Today we are talking about: Sober Solitude. We all may not live alone, but we do all have times of solitude. The question is: How are we using our solitude?

I began contemplating this question last night as I was retiring. You see earlier yesterday I had a stressful conversation with a co-worker. After that conversation I had several hours of solitude before my husband returned home. During those hours I was dealing with some emotional pain that resulted from the stressful conversation. As it’s been my habit for most of my adult life, I ran from the emotional pain to a television program on Netflix.

A few hours later, when preparing for sleep, I thought about my behavior that evening. I had once again wasted some precious time of solitude.

Why did I fall into that old pattern? Why did I allow my mind to dwell on a past conversation that couldn’t be changed? Why did I insist on using my time to imagine future events, which encouraged even more anxious thoughts?

And if that wasn’t enough wasting of my time, I numbed out on social media and on an old television program.

There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality, for life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relation with realities outside and above us. ~ Thomas Merton

Until we spend time, sober time, (free from any mind and emotion numbing substance or activity) and get to the root of why we are running from our feelings, our addictive behaviors will just switch from one to another.

I recall a story about a grandmother who had her 4-year-old grandson with her in church. As with most young children, he was fidgeting, squirming and kept standing up when he was supposed to be sitting down during the sermon. The grandmother quietly disciplined the boy and he reluctantly sat down. After which he remarked to his grandmother, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside.”

Isn’t that how it is with most of us?

God has convicted me of a behavior that may have at its root an emotional wound from childhood. Rather than dealing with the root issue, I insist on ignoring the potential emotional growth time available to me in solitude, and instead avoid the feelings once more. Like the grandson, I may be sitting down (free from alcohol and drugs on the outside) but I’m standing up on the inside by continuing to use other behaviors to numb my emotional pain.

So I made a decision to remove Netflix from my Smartphone. This keeps the mind-numbing habit further than a click away. I will be far less likely to turn on the actual television to watch a program.

Before I close today I want to make mention of this week’s lesson at Celebrate Recovery which was on Relapse. One of the most important things I learned to help prevent relapse is the process of taking a Heart Check during my daily inventory. The acrostic for the word HEART asks: Am I…

Hurting

Exhausted

Angry

Resentful

Tense

If in my daily inventory I see that I’m turning to anything other than God to deal with or resolve any of those areas of struggle, especially in time of solitude, I’m not walking in sobriety or freedom.

Thanks so much for joining me today on the Reaching Hurting Women Podcast: A Contemplative Path of Recovery. Here we are learning new ways of coping with our daily struggles. I hope you will check out the other columns and resources at ReachingHurtingWomen.com. Until next time may the grace and peace of God be yours.