The Gifts of Spiritual Practice

The Gifts of Spiritual Practice.

I’ve been meditating for 3 decades and teaching meditation for about 3 years. I thought I’d like to share with those of you who haven’t made it to my classes what are the benefits of sustained practice. Before I get into listing those, I want to say a little bit about the process of meditation practice itself.

Once you’ve really gotten engaged with a meditation practice and you’re doing it 6-7 times a week, it becomes a very important part of your weekly rhythm. I’ve seen it take two or three years for a person who is fairly serious about wanting to develop a practice to get to the point where they’re doing it this consistently. For one thing, you have to carve the time out of your week to do it. If your schedule isn’t pretty consistent M – F, then this can be fairly difficult. Some mornings you might get up at 6:30 to get kids ready for school or get yourself ready for work, but other mornings you might get to sleep in to 7:30. If you try to alternate between mornings and evenings, then it’s harder to miss a few days and not lose track of your fledgling practice. If you’re going to stick with it and gradually incorporate it into your daily schedule, then it’s because you’re starting to see benefits from your practice. Either that or someone you trust is telling you about those benefits and you’ve seen it in their life and you want it too. Certain benefits will come in after a couple weeks of sitting 4-7 times a week, and other benefits will come in after a year, and still others will come in after five years.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on March 9th, 2018 No Comments

Older and Wiser?

When we start talking about men in the 47-65 set, we’re talking about the maintenance of the lives we’ve created, and then the declining of strengths. But it’s not just how you can mitigate the difficult effects of aging, but also, how you can take advantage of the experience you’ve had in order to augment and transform the way you relate to life! This is so that you can continue to be a viable resource for your family and friends, but also so that you can become a more viable resource for the culture at large.

 

Men in this age bracket are generally at the height of their mental, emotional and financial resources and their spiritual resources are emerging. The questions that are coming in are “What’s it all mean?” or “What is my place in all of this?” Since we live in such a materialistic society, it can feel like there is not a lot of support when these questions of the soul start emerging and a man can feel confused and at odds with himself. In the face of a lack of clear direction for the movement into this next phase of life, a man’s options often seem to double down on the strategies that helped him build the life he is now living, or to retreat into depression, drugs and alcohol or an existential nihilism.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on February 18th, 2018 No Comments

Finding Meaning Again

By the time they reach their 40’s, many men have gotten themselves fairly oriented to the world, and have developed some competence in it, or perhaps a lot of competence. They’ve had a marriage or two, they’ve hatched some kids if they’re going to have them, they’ve gotten addictions that they picked up in their teens and 20’s under control, and now they’re wanting to take a deeper look at what this all means. Though this work might include fine-tuning in the partnering and parenting arenas, much of it will be more in the area of examining “what do I want? What am I feeling and thinking about my life and the world I’m living in? What’s important to me?”

 

Because, for all the discussion these days about what scoundrels men are, the truth is that most men spend their lives in service. They spend them in service to their wives, their children, their jobs,- and many in service to their community or the larger society. At the same time, the way they’re showing up in relationship may have become reflexive over the years, and they’re not necessarily awake in their actions the way they were when they started. After years of grinding it out, many men will feel tired, irritable or resentful and like they’re really not getting much return on their energy investments. This can, of course, lead to the classic “mid-life crisis” and a man might feel like he needs to make some drastic changes in order to get back on track. He may feel confused about what course of action to take and go through his days with a vague or pronounced dissatisfaction and wondering if “that’s all there is?”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on January 19th, 2018 No Comments

Winter Reflection

How to make sense out of these times….?
All the difficult News.
The Paradox of doing spiritual Work:
You get more sensitive – so it hurts more.
How do you have your heart open to the world
But not get swept down the river of despair?

 

Spiritual practice is sooo important!
Learning to sit in the center point-
The Eye of the Hurricane.
Because the World is going to swirl.
Taking your seat there, your heart can reach out and touch
One person, or one issue, or radiate to All of It at once!

 

Take the time.
To breathe, to sit.
Breathe in the pain
And breathe it out and connect it to the Web of Life.

 

The Earth is fine.
Breathe your trembling soul into her precious body
And feel the Strength coming from there.
Wait on the Clarity that is also there.
Then, speak and move from that place.

Posted by on December 13th, 2017 No Comments

Seeing Through White Privilege

So what happens to this “White Privilege” work after you’ve been exposed to it and working it for 6 months?
I find that it has changed me-fundamentally.
After the initial slap in the face that was a wake up
I made a concerted effort to reach out to more diverse groups of people and find out what was real for them.
This has done nothing but expand my world and help me feel more connected
to the lives of Black, Brown, Native folks, and transgender people. My relationships with women in general have also opened up significantly and I think that is due to some other long-term work I’ve been doing, but it’s certainly been enhanced by the privilege work.

 

In getting on the internet, I’ve been exposed to some of the “you stupid white male privileged so-and-so” energy but most of my experience has been very welcoming.
It’s been like taking a deeper breath of air or a good drink of water. Enlivening. Hydrating. And as for the first thing – I told my wife yesterday: “It’s good to be growing a thicker skin, anyway!”
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on August 30th, 2017 No Comments

How do we deal with Hate?

This is a longer blog than I usually write, and includes a fair amount of research I did into slavery, the civil war and the Jim Crow era. You’ll need more time to get through it, but I hope you find it useful!

After I took a class on White Privilege in the Spring, I started doing some research: first reading a lot of James Baldwin and some other Black authors, and then reading about the origins of slavery in this country and then the Civil War.

I find that I am interested in what makes the White Supremacists tick – I just couldn’t understand why certain White people would carry so much hatred towards people of color, and Blacks in particular. I found that the research has helped me to understand it much better. I now understand that the killings of so many young Black men by police is simply the latest expression of that hateful consciousness that didn’t end when the North “won the war”.   This may seem like a “duh” but I hadn’t consciously put those pieces together before. Michelle Alexander in “The New Jim Crow” articulates this historical progression beautifully.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on August 21st, 2017 No Comments

Taking advantage of the time between relationships.

It’s common knowledge in many circles that after breaking up from a significant relationship, it’s good to take some time before jumping into another one.

Even though this is true, it’s not always the easiest thing to do. After having lived with someone for a period of time — even if there was lots of conflict, it can be hard to be alone. Some people, when they’re involved in an intimate relationship, don’t nurture their other friendships, so they don’t have a lot of people to talk to and support them once their partner is gone. If you’re the type of person who’s habit is to quickly find a new partner or do a lot of dating after a break up, it will seem natural to want to do that once your partner is gone. Feeling someone being attracted to you can be very alluring — especially if your self-esteem has been battered through the latter stages of a terminal relationship!
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on March 2nd, 2017 No Comments

Meeting the Divine Feminine

A man over 50 asked me recently:
“How do I be strong in my relationship? How do I move from a place of ‘helping’ or enabling (based in a long-standing pattern of fear of abandonment) to more of a position of strength, equality and differentiation?”

I shared with him some of the elements of the old European Myth “The Firebird” as elucidated by Michael Meade. Parts of this story pertain to the encounter with the Divine Feminine and I told him that I think that is important work for men to do as they sort out how to approach their woman in a more mature way. How do men do the work of encountering their Inner Feminine?
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on October 21st, 2016 No Comments

Training the Mind for Shadow Work

I have spoken many times over the years about the importance of doing basic concentration work with the mind. Meditation on the breath, which is taught on Vipassana (Insight) retreats, is great for honing the attention and turning it into a tool that can be used for doing consciousness work.

When I was first doing Vipassana retreats, the primary instruction was simply to continually bring the attention back to the breath when it would wander. Out of this focus and the quieting of the mind that would come out of it, sometimes big insights would emerge about the nature of the Self, about impermanence and the interconnectedness of all things. What I am finding now, in my counseling work with clients, is that the ability to bring this focus is extremely valuable as an adjunct when we’re doing Shadow work./ Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on May 13th, 2014 No Comments

Slow Down!

Slow Down!

Why are you in such a hurry?

Where are you going that’s so important???

Don’t you know that most of that frenetic, anxious movement is just habit,

Conditioned by this ragged, wobbling world?

No, I’m serious, slow down!!!

This is some serious shit.

If you don’t slow down, you might miss something really important-

Like your God-given Soul, hurrying to catch up with you. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on September 4th, 2013 No Comments