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You Are Welcome Here.

The goal of The Faith-ing Project is to enrich your spiritual life.   Our hope is that this  might be a gymnasium for the soul; a library for the spirit; and a toy store for the psyche.

I recently collaborated with the wonderful Auden Campbell to create a poem and video acccompanied by music.  You can find it here.   

To watch a delightful conversation I had the pleasure of participating in, click here.   

These last months have been both strange and fruitful for me.  I find myself exploring and considering the spiritual world from angles I’d never even considered.  And when I think about a rather cruel boy scout ritual called ‘Snipe Hunting’ I see that this is a unique lens to explore the journey as a whole and these latest changes in particular.  For now, Snipe Hunting is a podcast.  I suspect it will become my next book.

Snipe Hunting

You can listen to ‘Snipe Hunting’ here.  

You can access a growing catalog of new audio meditations that have been lushly produced and musically accompanied here.   

 

My latest book release is ‘Words Made Flesh.’ 

There is this disconnect.  We know that The Bible is important, but it sometimes can feel  so distant from us.  It does not need to be this way.

Four spiritual practices can help to bring these words to life.  Prayer and journaling rooted in the scriptures can begin this process.  The time honored practices of Lectio Divinia and Holy Imagining take it even deeper.  When we put these to work we find that eternal truths come to life in a whole new way, deeply embedded in the workings of our own lived realities.

Words Made Flesh uses the four Gospels as a case study.  The four practices are applied to the story of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection.  As practices and events are explored in a chronological and systematic manner, we come to appreciate Christ’s life in a whole new way, even as we learn these new practices.

‘Words Made Flesh’ is now available.  You can preview the introduction here.    You can order it here.

If you’re interested in books more focused on spiritual practice without the exploration of deconstruction, take a look at the faith-ing project guides.  Samples of some of the Faith-ing Project guides can be found here.  If you would like to go straight to ordering the books at amazon, click here.

You can find general information about building a spiritual practice here.

It’s such an honor to be involved with projects that I would listen to even if I wasn’t a participant.  The ‘Be Still App’ is a prime example.  They are an amazing resource and feature several meditations from this page and my books.  Find out more here.

 

Our  audiofiles have been supplemented with videos.  Click here to see our audio file page. 

 

Spiritual Exercises By Category

If you do not find what you are looking for here, click this link.  Many of our resources, including audio files, strategies for bringing the practices home, contemplations built around the work of famous authors, and contemporary traditions can be found there.

Spiritual Exercises Listed Individually

Exercise 1: God’s Name   (written and audio)

Exercise 2: Breathing With God (written and audio)

Exercise 3: A split-Breath Prayer

Exercise 4: A Time for Silence, A Time for Speaking (written and audio)

Exercise 5: Lectio Divina (written and audio)

Exercise 6: 3-phrase Cycles

Exercise 7: More Lectio (written and audio)

Exercise 8: Sacred Writing with an Unconscious Focus

Exercise 9: Sacred Writing With a Deliberative Focus

Exercise 10: Centering Prayer

Exercise 11: The Word We Need the Most

Exercise 12: Constant Repetition

Exercise 13: Apophatic Meditation  (written and audio)

Exercise 14: Candles, Clouds & Waves

Exercise 15: The Riverside Meditations

Exercise 16: Apophatic Meditation with Variable Phrasing

Exercise 17: Emphasizing a different word within a phrase

Exercise 18: Who am I, God?  Who are you, God?

Exercise 19: A Second Riverside Meditation (A related audio accompanies this practice)

Exercise 20: Tonglen

Exercise 21: Listening to God Listen to You

Exercise 22: Slowly Honing in Via Lectio

Exercise 23: The 5 Remembrances

Exercise 24: A Walk with Jesus

Exercise 25: Padres

Exercise 26: Nature Adoration

Exercise 27: The Examen

Exercise 28: The Jesus Prayer

Exercise 29: A Prayer for…

Exercise 30: The Five Senses

Exercise 31: Adoration

Exercise 32: 7-11 Breathing

Exercise 33: Through a Verse, One Word at a Time

Exercise 34: The Examen with Multiple Questions

Exercise 35: Loving-Kindness and Grattitude

Exercise 36: A Welcoming Prayer  (Written and audio)

Exercise 37: Apaphatic Prayer focused on Trinity

Exercise 38: The Countdown

Exercise 39: Emptiness, And Fullness (A related audio file accompanies this practice)

Exercise 40: Mirroring

Exercise 41: Mindful Walking

Exercise 42: Another approach to Lectio Divina

Exercise 43: Be Still.

Exercise 44: An alternative Examen

Exercise 45: The Eye Through which…

Exercise 46: Apophatic Meditation with an Emphasis on Breathing

Exercise 47: Oneness Within a Network of Living Things

Exercise 48: A Second Oneness Meditation

Exercise 49: Observing the Breath

Exercise 50: Mantra Meditation Revisited

Exercise 51: A Body Scan (Written and audio)

Exercise 52: Metta (Loving-Kindness) Meditation II

Exercise 53: You are Closer Than Our Breath

Exercise 54: Labeling Thoughts

Exercise 55: Advent Meditations

Exercise 56: Advent Visualizations

Exercise 57: In God’s Womb

Exercise 58: God’s Breath, God’s Name.

Exercise 59: Breathing This breath with God.

Exercise 60: Beginning the Journey

Exercise 61: All Shall Be Well

Exercise 62: Embraced by the Silence

Exercise 63: And Now!

Exercise 64: St. John of the Cross and God’s Breath

Exercise 65: Hand washing as a Spiritual Practice

Exercise 66: Mindful Eating

Exercise 67: Tonglen for Times of Strife and Discord

Exercise 68: Three approaches to Sati (mindfulness meditation)

Exercise 69: Box Breathing

Exercise 70: Greeting and naming (ideal for contemplative walks)

Exercise 71: Finding Hope

Exercise 72: Oneness on a Winter Night

Exercise 73: Whole Body Mystical Awakening

Evercise 74: Welcoming With a Bow

Exercise 75: The Possibility of Resurrection

Exercise 76: Resting in Peace

Exercise 77: Body Scan for Pain and Soreness

Exercise 78: Finding the still point in the New Year

If you are interested in taking a look at some brief meditation prompts like the one below, click here.

” we can actually change our reality by being grateful first; not as a response but as an innate way of being.” – –Cynthia Bourgeault (1)

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Mystic at the Movies #2: Everything Everywhere All at Once- The Journey of Integration

(Though this is a follow up to the first episode of Mystic at the Movies, I think it’ll be pretty easy to keep up with even if you didn’t read that. On the other hand, if you haven’t seen the film, not only is this unlikely to be very interesting, it’ll also hand over pretty major spoilers for what might be the best movie ever.)

Last time, Mystic at the Movies took began it’s exploration of the brilliant Everything, Everywhere All At once.  In that post, we looked at some ways that the film’s transcendence of boundaries was a handy lens for exploring the mystic’s journey.  We  took a beginning peek  at the concept of identity.   Today, we’ll dive a little deeper into this delicious topic, laying the groundwork for future installments of Mystic at the Movies, which will explore ideas like God, Good and Evil, and more.

Part of the brilliance at work in this film  is the manner in which it just gives a little twist to what could otherwise have been dry, academic discourses.  The film gives us a vocabulary, almost a symbolic system.  It might appear that we’re discussing some rather minute aspects of the film’s mythos, but in fact what is also happening is a profound discussion on the nature of reality. More specifically: it might feel abstract, stuffy, and irrelevant for us to discuss the nature of identity in the abstract.  Some people might be scared off of such a topic, fearing that they lack the proper background and training to “do” philosophy.  Others might think such a thing unworthy of their time, assuming it will never actually change anything about the day-to-day experience of living their lives.

EEAAO sidesteps this philoso-phobio  by hiding a heady topic in plain sight.  The main use of alternate versions of main characters in the film is really an opportunity to look at the competing aspects of our own self.  Alternative dimensions, in the movie, are ultimately short hand ways to explore the concept of identity.  

It’s worth noting at this point that  though it’s true that alternate universes have become quite a popular trope in recent pop culture, it has rarely been leveraged in just the manner it’s being used in the film.  More obvious and common symbology for alternate universes is to explore roads not  travelled.  Philip K Dick was interested in this question on a historical kind of level with his Man in the High Castle.  The central question at work here is “What if Hitler won World War I?.”  Other times, contemporary uses of alternate universes explore the personal aspects of what might have happened if things had ended differently.  In the Multiverse of Madness Dr. Strange meets and hears about versions of himself who made different choices at key moments.  Numerous versions of a popular Flash story explore the question of what would have happened if the titular character’s mother hadn’t died.  The recent animated Marvel series (which is in fact an homage to a comic series of the same name) went so far as to be clear about this common usage.  The title of both series, of course, was ‘What If?

The thing that is worth noticing is that the various versions of Doctor Strange are completely independent of each other.  In some way, they are mutually exclusive.  One Doctor Strange comes about from a certain set of circumstances.  An alternative Doctor Strange results from other circumstnaces.  This is a stark contrast to the experiences of Evelyn in EEAAO.  While she does explore the world where she made a different choice, somehow, she is able to access the memories and the abilities of that other Evelyn.  

In summary, the use of the multiverse in EEAAO is fundamentally different than how this conceit is normally handled.  While these other stories are explorations of what might have been, EEAAO is about the ways our different identities integrate themselves.  If traditional multiverse narratives center the question “What if I had done something different?” our film centers itself on the question “Who am I really?”

“Who am I?” is a question that has some importance in the history of mysticism.  It was famously asked all night by a tormented St. Francis.  As the story goes, he spent the whole night in a  monastery asking “Who am I, God?  And who are you?”

Meanwhile, across the world, the question formed the very basis of a Self-inquiry: a Vendantic practice which invites the contemplative to consider the likely “locations” of our trueest self.

This practice puts words and gives a level of specificity to how to go about the process.  Self inquiry brings a journey to a high degree of focus.  But it taps into something quite universal, and rather central to a mystic’s journey in general.

The journey of the mystic is an inward one.  And it is profoundly a journey of integration.  The question for a mystic becomes one of proper relations.  How are these tiny portions of me meant to connect.  It is a recreation of the macrocosm at a microcosmic level.  

Even as a mystic contemplates the possibility of an interpersonal union, as he longs, hopes, and believes that all the people, all the matter, all the energy, all the actualities and potential, as he considers that all these seemingly independent entities that began as larger than himself melding, melting, becoming one…

Just as that is going on there is a similar longing happening within.  There were these dis-integrated, independently functioning, sometimes competing pyschodynamics.  We speak of mind and soul and ask which is supreme.  We categorize id, ego, and super ego and consider which is best.  We contrast body and spirit…  A mystic heals these divides by rejecting these dualities.  

As above, so below.  

EEAAO portrays this selfsame journey inward, this path of descent and integration.  And in the film, we see it in the same external and internal venues.   Just as the mystic has a longing for external union, where all the things larger than the self become one, we see numerous examples of people wanting an external union in the film.  The Bagel with Everything is the most conspicuous example of something which threatens to make everything one.  

And just as the mystic is on an internal journey to bring together all of her internal experiences, thoughts, etc, in the film  we are confronted with at least two pictures of such internal  integration.  One is Jobu Topeki.  In a sense, Jobu’s journey is complete.  She is presented as someone who knows all the versions of herself.  (And strangely, she is the incarnation of evil.   Whether or not Jobu’s journey really  was complete, and why she is something of an antagonist are topics due a full assessment.  For now, we leave those questions aside though, in favor of sticking with the topic at hand: identity.)

Evelyn, meanwhile, represents the very beginning stages of this journey of integration.  There’s a sense in which this is quite literally woven into the plot.  Evelyn gains the strength of the alternate versions of herself when she comes to accept them.This concept is also thematic.  Evelyn– the main one–  grows by integration in other ways.

She comes to accept Joy’s bisexuality. She learns to come to grips with  her father’s lack  of affection; she ends up embracing her similarities with her daughter, and ultimately is willing to accept the inevitably of hurt in her relationship with Joy.  On her path to the climax of the movie, Evelyn must integrate the kung-fu prowess of an alternate version of herself with the gentleness of her husband as she declares that she will fight like him and suddenly, even as she does Kung-Fu, she is adjusting one person’s neck, slamming together  a pair destined for love, feeding the desires for kink of yet another person.  

There is, of course, a connection between this dynamic and some of the considerations we consider in the initial installment of Mystic at the Movies.  Recall that last time we explored the artificial binaries that EEAAO transcends.  That was a necessary first step, but in many ways, simply naming the existence of binaries falls short of the act of integrating these extremes.   The difference is around the important distinction between naming that such-and-such a thing is a reality and proclaiming that both are worthy and good.

This is no easy task.  It is not easy to look at all the parts of ourselves and declare them all worthy.  It is not easy to consider all the things which have happened to us and claim them as our own.  It can be even more difficult to integrate within ourselves the feelings, attitudes, and thoughts that we grow so accustomed to deflecting, projecting, and other-ing; this is shadow work, and involves embracing the part of ourselves that had once been denied.

For a mystic, this eventually leads to reconsidering the very nature of Good and Evil; it is an act of reclaiming the actions we had once ascribed to God or God’s nemesis, whatever our tradition names it.  This is the territory of Rumi, when he invited us to meet him in a field beyond good and evil.  This is the territory of carefully excavating the creation myth, where the root of the fall of humankind lies in our unfortunate decision to eat from a tree said to bestow the knowledge of good and evil.  

For the film that is our primary concern here, this bring us to consider Jobu Topeki and her mother Evelyn.  It brings us face-to-face with the whiplash changes the film has for who counts as the protagonist and who counts as the antagonist.  That topic is at least as big it sounds, and is deserving of a much deeper assessment than we have here.  I hope you’ll join us next time, as we begin to assess these important topics.  

Mystic at the Movies: Everything Everywhere All At Once: Part I: identity

Mystic at the Movies is my every-now-and-again deep dive into nondualism, contemplation, mysticism, and second-half-of-life spirituality as they appear in some of my favorite films.  

One of the movies that helped inspire me to begin writing Mystic at the Movies was the amazing, transcendent, profane, surprising, absurd, heart-breaking and hilarious Everything Everywhere All at Once.  EEAAO (as it will be called for the rest of this piece of writing) is the story of a family of Chinese Immigrants attempting to do the hard soul work of being the best people they can be.  It is also a multiversal martial arts epic.  And an existentialist comedy that is very, very nsfw.  The rest of this piece will contain numerous spoilers.  And to be honest, probably won’t be that interesting if you haven’t actually seen the film.  The movie is available at the normal venues for paid rent/sale (Amazon, You Tube, et. al.)  It is also streaming on showtime’s service.  (Hot tip: there’s not that many interesting offerings in Showtime other than EEAAO but they seem to be offering your first month for free.)

One of the first questions for me about EEAAO is just where the writers were coming from, spiritually and philosophically.  Interviews with the Writers-Directors who go by the name ‘Daniels’ are not hard to find.  They have appeared on numerous podcasts, print interviews, etc.  They even published a coffee table book available through their production company’s website with a variety of supplementary information.  

The weird thing is that though spirituality seems to be a HUGE subtext of the movie, it doesn’t seem like they are very interested in talking about that.  The book, podcasts, and interviews have tackled many interesting topics, but it doesn’t seem that the spiritual side of it all is high on their list of priorities to discuss.  I’m not sure if this lack of discussion implies a disinterest on the part of the interviewers, a reluctance to “go there” on the part of The Daniels, or something else entirely.  Regardless of the cause, we will have to approach this subject without much explicit commentary from the creators themselves.

There are many themes that are worth investigating here and I look forward to exploring questions around topics like the nature of God, good, and evil in future installments of Mystic at the Movies.  An issue foundational to all of these are the questions of identity and boundaries.    

It shouldn’t be terribly surprising that these concerns are fundamental to mysticism.  A reasonable definition of mysticism would want to center itself on questions of identity.  For me, the best way of defining  mysticism is as a fundamental skepticism that things are as independent, separate, and isolated from each other as they appear to be.  In other words, the boundaries between us are slippery resulting in a universe where we are fundamentally one.    

There are so many examples of confused, overlapping, and nontraditional boundaries in EEAAO  that it can be difficult to know where to begin.  We might start at the very widest level possible and observe that on the level of plot and theme, this film is a dizzying hodgepodge of genre, tropes, and mood.  Wikapedia seems to agree.  The  article discussing EEAAO describes it as “absurdist science fiction comedy drama.”  It’s hard to imagine many genre that this movie couldn’t be filed under.

We could continue in this vein and note that even the title promises us something with a universal, boundary-crossing significance.  We might make the more nuanced observation that the film can’t even completely stay within the boundaries of being a fictional story and in a few strange and powerful ways, it transcends the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction.

The most obvious examples of the fiction/non-fiction boundary crossing comes in the form of the universe where Evelyn is a movie star.  Some of the footage shown of the character’s famous existence is actually repurposed footage from the life of the actress playing Evelyn.   The nonfiction aspect of the movie is further toyed with in not one but two separate scenes which remind us that everything that we are watching is a film.  Not only do we find ourselves sitting with the famous Evelyn in a theatre, where the cinematography is arranged to give the illusion that we are in the same theatre with her, we also get a scene, right after intense action, where we find that this was nothing more than an action scene; suddenly we see the cameras and crew.  These scenes have a strange effect on the viewer.  There comes a sense of “we were in the made-up world of fiction, but now, the narrative has come to exist in our real world.”

(It is not insignificant to note that EEAAO was originally written for Jackie Chan to be the protagonist.  When Michelle Yeoh was cast, the protagonist’s name was initially also Michelle.  Thus, from the very beginning, a link between the character and the actress existed firmly in the writers’ minds.)

As we consider the plot, we can find dozens of further examples of boundary crossings.  Within the first few scenes of the film, we find that the Wangs struggles include: navigating the boundaries between personal time and business needs; navigating the boundaries of respecting elder generations and honoring the lived reality of younger generations, navigating the boundary between friends and family, navigating the line between being healthy assertive with a spouse with out over doing it.  Even one aspects of the Wang’s tax problem seems to be related to failing to navigate the boundaries between profession and hobbies.

It might be convincingly argued that transgression of boundaries on it’s own is not sufficient to demonstrate a thing has mystical roots.  Transgression of boundaries is also, for example, considered to be a component of both post modernity and queerness.  While I suspect fruitful explorations of both these elements within EEAAO might be conducted, there are several aspects of the film that mark the boundary crossings as uniquely mystical.

There are important distinctions between how mysticism, queerness, and post modernity view the crossing of boundaries.  This seems like a topic an entire book might explore.  But for our purposes here, let’s begin with the fact that queerness tends to view distinctions like male and female as social constructs that a person should feel free to ignore.  Post modernity is more descriptive than prescriptive, observing that a sign of the age we find ourselves in is that the traditional distinctions between things is breaking down.  Mysticism is unique among these three ways of being.  It is more radical, generally, than the other two.  Mysticism won’t be satisfied until everything is one.   Like queerness, the boundary-transcendence is prescriptive.  Unlike queerness, the boundary-transcendence goes beyond humanity.

Jobu Tupeki’s “bagel with everything.”  is of course, a pun.  A person could go to a deli and order such a thing, and they would expect that there are many different flavors and seasonings to it.  The “everything” in Jobu’s bagel is much more inclusive.   It is a mystic’s “everything.”

Moreover, when Evelyn finally comes to an understanding of the way the universe is, she takes one of Waymond’s googly eyes and places it on her forehead.  This motion is equal parts profoundity and silliness.  The profundity arises from the fact that a third eye, imagined to be right where Evelyn placed the decoration, is a common mystical symbol of awakening.  The silliness of the situation, arises, of course, from the fact that it’s a cheap bauble, a craft supply.  

To reiterate: this is a clear example of the boundary transgressions that are explicitly mystical.  But it runs deeper than the mere presence of a third eye.  It seems that the sorts of things Evelyn seems to suddenly awaken to is that all the aspects of her various selves, scattered across the universe, can reside within her. 

This is, of course, familiar mystical territory.

Sometimes the language is prescribed by the spiritual tradition.  But some of these traditions’ terms and phrases have migrated into the broader vocabulary of mysticism as a whole.  So we hear that the concern is between self and Self; or “I” and “Thou” or “small self” and “Large self” or “true self” and “false self.”

Looking at these various designations, we find ourselves in a space that is rather appropriate for a consideration on mysticism.  Because we began with a rather distinct and specific idea.  We considered the question of identity.  But now, we find ourselves in some intersection with so many other topics, themes, and ideas.  Rather appropriately, the individual differences have faded back and we find ourselves facing collapsing boundaries.

For example, especially as potrayed in the film, a single “person” who has managed to embrace all of their various identities has suddenly become something more like God than a human.  Rather fittingly, we began with a journey inward and find ourselves staring right at God.  Meister Eckhart would be pleased, I think to imagine this– that even as we stare at God, we find ourselves, being God, staring at us.  

Weirdly interrelated to the question of individual identity and attaining Godhood is the question of Good and Evil.  Doctrinal religion frequently offers up a clear and dualistic list of what is right and what is wrong.   Intertwined with this is a view of the world in terms of us vs them.  Finally, an individual who inhabits such a world finds himself having to choose between and among identities.  Within a Christian environment, for example, a person endorses the picture of themselves as chaste or temperate.  They focus and own and select the aspects of themselves which reinforce this picture.  

EEAAO flexes it’s mystic muscles by proclaiming the adoption of all the versions of ourselves.  Contemporary mystic Richard Rohr has made famous the phrase “everything belongs.”  This is a representation of a fundamental belief of mystics stretching all the way back.  When Joy and Evelyn are willing to take all the pieces of themselves in, they embody this principle.

There are so very many rich questions worth exploring here.  I hope you will share some of your thoughts here, and I will plan to come back and share some more of mine.  This is fitting, too, though; mystics do love their questions, their journeys and their processes.  Let’s continue on that journey together.

Installment #2 of Mystic at the Movies goes deeper into the nature of Identity in EEAAO; we explore the journey of integration. Click here to read it.

New Year Meditation: Finding a Still Point

Background: For many of us, there will be two sources of stress and pressure. There will be two drives that we here in the upcoming days.

One pressure will be to end the year on a bang. It’s your last oppurtunity to party like it’s 2022. Indulge yourself. Go wild. Cram all the experiences you can into this little tiny window of time.

A second pressure will be to be turn your attention backwards. Reflect. Assess. Set those goals for the new year– resolve to do better, to be better, stronger. More able.

There is nothing wrong with either of these urges. But we have lived out there almost contradictory demands every New Year’s Eve. Perhaps it is time for you to try something new. The good news is that you have been getting ready for this for your whole life. You have built up the requisite skills with your breath itself.

The Practice:

  1. Release your worries and concerns at this time. Sit as straight as you comfortably can.
  2. Breathe naturally.
  3. As best you can, without bringing any concious change to your breath, notice it: notice it with curiosity, interest and gentleness.
  4. You might first notice that there are two obvious parts of the breath- an inhale and an exhale. Notice each of these.
  5. Notice how it feels in the mouth, nose, throat, esophagus, and lungs. Feel the breath where it comes in around your nose or lips; feel it where it leaves the body. Note the temperature and volume.
  6. When you are ready, see that there are more than just those two parts to the breath. There is a pair of transition times too. A time of emptiness before the inhale, a time of emptiness before the exhale.
  7. Compassionately study these pause-times, these empty-times. If you wish, experiment with extending these out by briefly holding the breath. A count of 4 will do.
  8. Try to become a scholar of your breath, the world wide expert. Note how each of the breaths has so many things in common with the nearly endless progression of breaths that have come before and will come after.
  9. Note how this breath– this very one right now– is different from the breaths which come before, and after. There are some tiny ways that this very brief is unique in your entire life. Go looking for this precious differences.
  10. Continue to hold each breath up to your most careful examination for how they are connected and how they are wholly unique. Continue to notice the inhale, the pause, the exhale, the pause.
  11. Inhale the things you know that you need during this time of meditation. Exhale the expectations that others have on you for this time of transition. (These expectations might come in the form of parties, or resolutions and goals for the upcoming year.) Continue with this until you are ready for to do the work you hear from your own self it is time to do.
  12. When you are ready, identify that there are things which came into your life this year. Inhale, as a recognition to the good and the bad that entered your life this year.
  13. Recognize that there are things which left your life this year. When you exhale, breathe out in recognition of that which is no longer yours this year.
  14. Continue to breathe in that which you gained and that which you lost this year.
  15. Now, view the breath differently. Let the inhale be your past, and the exhale be your future. This precious moment right now is the pause in between.
  16. Let your hopes be the inhale, and your fears be the exhale. The reality you live is the pause between.
  17. Let the things you cannot change be your inhale; let the things you can change be your exhale. Let the wisdom to know the difference be the pause in between.
  18. Let this year be an inhalation. Let the coming year be your exhalation. Breathe as many breaths as you need to feel this transition in your body.
  19. Remind yourself of the pause between the inhale and exhale, even as you continue for the year which is ending and exhale for the year which is beginning, see that this place you are now is the quiet, liminal space between the two.
  20. Rest in that quiet space between.
  21. Release this practice when you are ready. Recognize that you can return to it for any time of transition.

Practice 77: A Body Scan for Physical Discomfort

Note: Physical pain is unavoidable. Please adress the causes of physical distress where and when you can. Managing pain while allowing the cause of the discomfort to go untreated is not a wise plan.

Background: Body Scan’s deserve the great acclaim they recieve. They are outstanding mindfulness practices. Today’s variation of a body scan handles the idea of what to do with places we find discomfort in a somewhat unusual manner. The idea in this practice is to clearly define the boundary of where the sorness begins in end. This careful analysis, this three dimensional mind-map of precisely where the pain begins and ends does a few different things.

First, this careful focus recognizes clearly and specifically the part of ourselves that is hurting. We have a tendency to want to shut down, close off, and even deny the existence of our hurting places. Carefully studying the parameters of our pain helps to welcome the injured body part back into the body, and helps us realize, often, that the pain is not quite as bad as we had made it out to be.

Secondly, it helps to focus our attention. One of the things that mindfulness practices do for us is build up a sort-of mental muscle, an ability to turn our attention to notice very precise details. This practice gives us some experience with just that.

Finally, mentally mapping the hurting areas of our body helps us to find the area around the injury that actually feels healthy and strong. The act of spreading this lack of painfulness is something I find incredibly powerful. Imagining the sensation of not-hurting spreading into the inpated area really does turn down the pain for me. I hope it does for you, too.

The Practice

  1. Release your worries for this time.
  2. Turn your attention to the tips of your toes. Become aware of them.
  3. Breathe deeply and very slowly and precisely, bring your attention across your feet.
  4. Be on the look out for areas that are tender, tense, or sore.
  5. Bring your attention up through your ankles and into the shins.
  6. Make a mental note of anywhere you notice that seems to be hurting. We’ll be returning to these points later.
  7. Draw your perceptions up through the knees and thighs.
  8. Make sure you’re aware of the whole depth and width of these body parts.
  9. Notice your lap, pelvis, hips and buttocks.
  10. Continue to be on the watch for soreness as you bring your awareness into the lower belly and back.
  11. Bring attention to the belly and mid-back, and the chest and shoulders.
  12. Apply your awareness to the finger tips.
  13. Continuing those deep breaths, bring your awareness up through the lengths of the fingers; across the palm, and around the back of the hand.
  14. Now become aware of your wrists, and forearms. Remind yourself here, to note those places which feel tight and sore. We’ll be returning to one or more of those spots shortly.
  15. Notice the elbow and upper arms, now bring up your attention through the chest and shoulders. Continue the long, calming breaths.
  16. Bring your attention to the neck, all the way around, bring the attention up to the jaw line, the place where the skull meets the spine.
  17. Become aware of the chin, lips, cheeks; look for those tense, warm, sore places as you become aware of the nose, eye sockets, and forhead. Finally, become aware of your scalp and hairline.
  18. Take three breaths. Remind yourself of the places you noted that were sore and tense. Choose one of these places.
  19. Now, study this area with gentle curiosity. Make note, first, of the quality of the sensations of the pain itself. Is there any movement or change? How would you describe it?
  20. Continuing to breathe calmly, now, study the parameters of the spot that feels different. Make yourself an expert in it’s size and topography. Note the shape and volume, the surface area and the realms within. Is the pain consistent all the way through?
  21. Take three more deep breaths.
  22. Now, bring your attention to the space that is around this soreness. Turn your attention to the area just outside of the pain. Find the boundary between hurting and not hurting. In your minds eye, see it as an envelope, or wrapping paper. Fulling engulfing the sort spot within you.
  23. Take three more deep breaths.
  24. Now, let the non envelope infilitrate the hurt place within you. Let the healthy spot which is not uncomfortable enfold and take over the pain; stretch it through and let it penetrate all the way to the core of the place that hurts within you.
  25. Many people find these places of soreness diminish or erase themselves entirely. Sit as long as you like, luxuriating in the reduction of pain. If you wish, begin this process again on some other part of your body.

This practice will accompany an upcoming episode of the Snipe hunting Podcast. Click here to see the youtube video featuring Snipe Hunting and mystical poetry with video and musical accompaniement.

Exercise 76: Resting in Peace

Background: In mourning the loss of the lovely Thich Nhat Hanh, I came across the following facebook post: “As Elizabeth rests in peace, I become a man of Peace. As Thay rests in Peace, I become a man of Peace. As Desmond Tutu rests in Peace, I become a man of Peace. As Jesus is the Prince of Peace, I become in Christ, a man of Peace. Let Peace walk before me. Let Peace come behind me, on the right and on the left, above and below, let there be Peace on Earth this night, and let it begin with me.”

The writer of those words is Bob Holmes. The Elizabeth mentioned at the beginning is the beloved wife who died one year ago. He also goes by the identifier “Contemplative Monk” on social media I was deeply moved by his way of expressing these ideas. It suggests to me that we might borrow some of the peace that our loved ones are resting in, that we might draw from it. I also connect with the idea that one of the ways are loved ones live on is through the ways their lives and deaths shape and challenge us.

In the process of asking Bob for his permission to use this as a template for a spiritual practice, I’ve got to know him a little better. I’ve always really enjoyed his content. It was exciting to know that there’s a good man behind the great thoughts. You ought to check it out here.

This practice will ask you to generate a mental (or physical) list of people who have died that impacted you. It might be someone you know. It might be someone famous. It could be ancestor, a historical or religious figure. Please show healthy discretion around engaging this practice. Faithing death is an important task that most of us recieve very little preperation for. I encourage you to challenge yourself, some, but beware of being too ambitious with trying to contend with deaths that are too new and raw in this way.

The Practice.

  1. Release your concenrns and worries for this time.
  2. Take three deep inhalations and exhalations.
  3. Spend some time bringing to mind the people close to you that have died. If you’re likely to forget names after thinking about them, it might be wise to right some down. Don’t rush this process.
  4. Inhale. Exhale.
  5. With your next inhale think, “As ____________ rests in peace….”
  6. exhale and think “I become a person of peace.”
  7. Repeat steps 4 through 7 either with the same person or the next person on your list.
  8. Sit with whatever feelings or sensations are with you right now. It might be feelings that considering the death of these people brings up. It might be feelings about death. It might be feelings of peace. It might be something else. It might be nothing at all. Consider releasing these feelings with your exhalations. Or discussing them with God. Or simply naming them and holding them close to your heart.

Sample #2 from ‘God-Breathed: How to Root a Meditative Practice in God’s Breath and Name.’

To order ‘God Breathed.’ Click here. For more information on the book and opportunities to engage the practices live, click here.

Chapter 5

I am a teacher.  One of my favorite things to teach is the respiration  process of animals and plants.  It is something beautiful, the efficiency and interdependence.  As we shall see, it’s possible to infer implications of startling complexity.  Yet, at its root, it is quite simple: we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Plants do the opposite.

  We each need the other.  The world would quickly run out of available oxygen without our green friends.  The world would soon run out of available carbon dioxide without us animals.  

It’s such a beautiful system.   We’ve got no use for CO2.  Plants have no use for O2.  We each depend on this thing that the other no longer needs.  On a theological level, there is something very interesting going on here.  Let’s begin with the mere observation that the whole system is so exquisitely coordinated.  Evolution has designed an object lesson in interdependence.  

But from there, move on to the idea that our breathing is a way of saying God’s name.  Is it possible that the plant’s breathing is, too?  If we assign to our breath-parts the sounds “Yah” as we inhale oxygen and “weh.” as we exhale carbon dioxide, then  plants are saying that name in reverse: “Weh” as they inhale carbon dioxide,  “Yah.” as they exhale oxygen.

In a profound and important manner, as I say one half of God’s name, and the plant says the other half of God’s name, the plant and I are saying God’s name together.  As I say “Yah” the plant says “Weh.”  As the plant says “Yah” I say “weh.”  This strange bond, this connection, has an element, or two, which remove it even further from the sorts of names that are normally said.  This strange name is said simultaneously, both syllables at once.

It ought to be acknowledged that  there are some ways in which these observations  oversimplify.  For one thing, unlike animals, plants don’t “breathe” constantly.  They “create” oxygen while photosynthesizing, and not at other times.  Secondly, though we will sometimes focus on a single plant, bush, shurb, etc. and  for simplicity and convenience, we’ll visualize the balance between ourselves and that single  plant.  It’s unlikely, in reality, that our oxygen needs will be exactly met by that plant; it’s similarly unlikely that the plant’s carbon dioxide needs will be exactly met by the carbon dioxide we produce.  It’s still a helpful image, though.  It’s a stand-in for the numerous plants we depend on, for the numerous animals the plant needs.  

it’s worth  simplifying in our minds.  The basic principle that we are in a reciprocal relationship with plants still holds up.  Visualizations follow the logic of dreams.  It’s a logic that is difficult to express in words, but a logic nonetheless.

Today’s practice is an opportunity to connect with our photosynthesizing siblings.  It would work by simply picturing plants in general, by objectively knowing that there are living creatures who breathe opposite us.  But a first, wise step is to imagine a specific plant.  Perhaps a favorite tree.  If you can do this meditation in the presence of a houseplant or sitting at the trunk of an actual tree, that is so much better.

Practice #5) Breathing with a Plant
  1.  Release your responsibilities for this time and find your center.
  2. Take three deep, cleansing breaths.
  3. Now, bring your plant friend to mind.  Study it either with your physical eyes or in your mind’s eye.  Love this plant if you can.
  4. As you inhale, breathe in the oxygen which was breathed out by your plant.
  5. As you exhale, realize that this exhalation, which would be poisonous to you, is exactly what this plant needs.
  6.  Repeat steps 4 and 5 for two more breaths.  
  7. Sit in relation to your plant, recognizing your interdependence as you breathe together.
  8. Seek to be fully present to each of your breaths in the moment, as you breathe with your plant for the next three breaths.
  9. Consider with this next inhalation that you and the plant are saying God’s name together, two almost-syllables said simultaneously.  The oxygen from the plant and to you, God’s two-part name said all at once.
  10. With that exhalation see that you and the plant are once again saying God’s name together, this time switching which part of God’s name each of you is responsible for.  
  11. For the remainder of the time you have left for this practice, breathe with the plant in whatever manner feels best: focusing on the interdependence, this breath, or saying God’s name together.
  12. When you are nearly done, release this practice and sit in a time of wordless union.
Fifth Reading Practice

Isaiah 55 says that the hills will break out into singing.  The tendency is to receive verses like this as being merely symbolic.  But notice how much power you are ceding to others, when you allow them to dictate the terms of what should be taken literally and what should be taken metaphorically.  There’s a way in which debates about the meaning of the bible are quite fascinating to watch.  It seems to me that there is a certain group of people who act as though their badge of honor is the ability to take every story in the bible in a literal, naive, face value sort of way.   When a closer look is taken, though, it becomes clear that this group, (who wanted to take the seven days of creation or the story of Noah quite literally) are quite willing to take other statements much more symbolically.  My experience is that those who are most ready to see the bible’s narratives as always literal will resist taking literally  phrases like ‘God is love.’

Of  course, most of us agree that the phrase ‘the mountains and hills will burst into  song’ does not mean that a set of lips will appear in the dirt and that these lips will suddenly begin to make musical noises.  However, there are many sorts of things this phrase can mean.  If the most literal are not easy to take seriously, this does not mean that we ought to instantly default to the most symbolic.  Many of these highly symbolically ways of receiving these words diminish the potency.

  It seems to me, the question is rarely, ‘Who is taking scripture literally and who is not?’  More often, the real question is, ‘What portions of the bible is this group taking literally?  What portions of the bible is that group taking literally?’

Today, we will focus on a holy imagining approach to this chapter.  Sometimes, this sort of practice is better for more narrative selections from the bible.  In this particular case, the practice works well, though.  This is because even though Isaiah 55 doesn’t tell a story, it is filled with sensory imagery.  Our procedures will be to read the entire passage through once.  Then, we will reread a handful of verses at a time, pausing at each step to engage our imagination and experience these descriptions through our senses.  

As you find your center for this practice, take a few deep breaths.  Read through the passage once in its entirety.  Now, after taking a few breaths, bring to mind times you have been thirsty.  Don’t just think about being thirsty.  Feel what it was like on your tongue and throat.  Consider how it took over your attention.  Think about the moments right before you got that refreshing ice water, popsicle, or blender drink.  Then, think about what it’s like to be hungry.  If it’s not too painful, think about a time you haven’t been able to get to food even though it was around.  Now, let your thirst and hunger be satisfied in your memory.  Bring to mind the feelings in your body when you get the things you were so desperately craving.  Don’t rush through this.  Let yourself dwell on it.  Live inside of it.  Recall multiple examples if you’d like.  

Now, read verses 1-7.  Take a few deep breaths.

Bring to mind the night sky.  See the swirling of the milky way, as if you are watching from somewhere far from city lights.  A crisp wind brings in clouds, and rain begins to fall.  Feel it dampen your clothes.  It is cold, bracing, and slowly, the dropping temperature turns the rain to snow.   Find yourself dressed appropriately for this weather; you are ready for it.   See it fall; feel it land on your cheek.  Take your time imagining this.  Sit with the image.  Relish it.  Enjoy it.  

Now, see the rain falling again and landing to nourish a field of grain.  In your mind’s eye, see the grain harvested and pounded into flour.  Now the flour is mixed with other ingredients to make bread; it’s being cooked.  See this being eaten, warm.  Imagine the feel of the texture of the bread on the tongue.  Let this be a true occurrence of holy imagining.  Don’t rush through this critical step of truly imagining.  Feel it in your body.

Read verses 8-11.

Read it again if you need to.  Let it connect to that last sequence of images.  Do it slowly.

See the mountains and hills.  See the trees and the bushes.  If you’ve been somewhere like this recently, imagine this specific place.  See the breeze gently moving the plant life.  Breathe a deep breath in the forest in your mind.  And listen.  Really listen.  Deeply listen.  There is a song.  Where does it come from?  What does it sound like?

Read the remainder of the chapter.

Replay some of these images in your mind.  Breathe deeply, and carefully progress through all of them: The thirst and the quenching of that thirst.  The rain, the snow, the fields, the bread.  The mountains and trees and most of all the song, the beautiful song.  Don’t let the brevity of this summary imply that your mental replay ought to be short.  Take the time that you ought to take.  

If you’d like, read through the chapter one more time.  Luxuriate in the sensory images in it.  

Some Reflections on How This Practice Went For Me

One of the things that came to me intensely was the importance of self care.  I spent many years of my life trying to get by on the bare minimum.  We didn’t have many resources, then, and scrimping and saving within limits is a good thing.  In my case, though, what began as a healthy attempt to be productive and reasonable ended with a constant desire in my own self to try and get by on less and less.  I operated in a world that was dominated by need and want, back then.  I saw the universe as a stingy place.

I found the opening lines to be an invitation to enjoy myself, to take my pleasure as something important.  The line about ‘labor.’ Also stuck with me quite a lot.  I know that some people in the world have to work soul-crushing jobs just to survive.  But others choose soul-crushing in order to make a few dollars more.  It doesn’t seem like God wants that.

As I look at these verses, I realize I tend to experience God as very… dour.  And faintly disapproving.  Especially when God starts in on the ways he has reached out to his people.  I tend to get this feeling of, ‘The grown up is talking now.  My enjoyment is not a very important thing.’ But I found it so refreshing in this verse.  The way I received God’s words were that God’s location in history, the ways he spoke to the ancient Israelites, this is not more or less important than my own experiences of joy.  God isn’t just calling out people like Moses (or me) to do things we don’t want to do.  God’s way isn’t just a list of fun things I am not allowed to do.  God, in fact, endowed me with splendor.  I don’t know exactly what those words mean but they sound like an invitation to more joy and fun than I would usually credit God for.  

There’s some pretty famous verses in the middle of this chapter.  They are about the ways that God’s thoughts are not my thoughts.  I continued to see them as partially meaning the sorts of things I always had.  One thing they are saying is that my little brain can’t comprehend the fullness of God.  And I’m good with that.  But reading it in context, and trying to experience this all deeply, I got more than just this out of those words.

Given the invitation early in the chapter to come, buy, and eat, and given the explanation that comes next, about how even the rain falling from the sky nourishes before the water returns to the clouds, I received a real message that the parts of God I don’t understand are not things to be afraid of.

Generally, when people quote those words about God’s ways not being my ways, I have a thought.  I think it’s generally intended.  That thought is ‘Watch out!  Be careful.  If God is beyond your understanding, there’s no telling what you might accidentally do that won’t end well!’

But it’s so clear, here, that God is trying to make the point that while the universe is more complex than we can imagine, this complexity is for us.  We benefit.  God figured out a way to make the water cycle nourish and care for us.  Random drops falling down the sky bring life to us.  If there can be such wonderful, luxuriant, efficiency that increases our pleasure even in something as simple as rain falling from the  sky, surely God has hard wired the universe in other ways for us.

Sample #1 from ‘God Breathed.’

To order ‘God Breathed’ Click here. To find out about order, preordering, and get an excluisve offer for participating in a zoom-based exploration of the practices from the book, click here.

Chapter 6

I was given a small, almost silly gift.  It was a small magenta and orange porcelain possum with an opening in his back for a tiny plant.  Though I love nature I had never been responsible for a plant before.

For those first couple days the plant felt like any other little trinket that might clutter my desk.  But then I  noticed that its little leaves were a little browner, a little more brittle than they had been when I received the plant.  For a moment, my ambivalence turned to annoyance.  I would have to water it.  I didn’t have to water my stapler, or the mug which held my pencils.  This wasn’t just any little dust collector; this was going to take some work.  

Then I got worried.  I  found myself wondering just how much water I was supposed to give it.  And how often.  And what would happen if I got it wrong.  I am usually a pretty relaxed human being.  Suddenly I was tense.  People who were supposed to know about these things were frustratingly vague.  I followed their vague instructions as precisely as I could.  Have you ever tried to be precise about vagueness?  It doesn’t really work.

But it seemed like things went ok.  I don’t think I was imagining it when it seemed so much greener the next day.  That was around the time I name my plant.  Frank, it turns out, is the plant’s name.  Yes, I know that is silly.  No, I am not kidding though.  My plant’s name is Frank.

People talk a lot about the idea that you should never name something you’d like to be rid of.  That’s worth noting here.  It’s part of the testament of the power of a name.  If God’s name is the inhale and the exhale then in the act of identifying this is so, we grow closer to God.  Just like you don’t want to name that stray if you wish to not be heart broken if he leaves, so too we grow bonded to God as we realize that we have been saying God’s name all along.  So too, did I grow bonded to Frank once I realized that was the plant’s name.

Previously, we explored the idea that God identified Godself to Noah with some words that are sometimes rendered as ‘I am.’   The strangeness of the answer implies an almost-rebuke; God, it seems, is not the sort of being who has a normal name.  Later in the bible one of the interesting dynamics to follow, as Jesus faces off with demons is the importance of names.  Jesus often asks demons their names.  They sometimes seem to think the fact that Jesus doesn’t know those names means he has no power over them.  They sometimes mock and taunt Jesus with the fact that they know Jesus’ name.  

Names are important things.  Perhaps there is something about particularity in all this.  A related Buddhist concept is sometimes translated as thisness and thusness.  If I think of it as ‘plant.’  It is just the same as thousands of other plants sitting in a tacky little planter.  When I give it the specific name ‘Frank.’ now I notice the ways that Frank is different from all those other plants; he has four leaves clumped together here; she has a tendril circling around a portion of the ceramic there.  There is a yellow-ish spot at that place.

It might seem like this doesn’t quite apply to God.  After all, most of us don’t believe that there is a whole bunch of Gods to choose from.  It doesn’t seem like giving God the name ‘Yahweh’ separates God from a bunch of others.

However, it’s a little more complicated than that.  

I have lots of ideas of Gods in my head.  I’m not like an ancient Greek, really.  It’s not the case that I think a bunch of Gods exist, and this one is in charge of this thing, and that God is in charge of that thing.  But…. there is still a pantheon in my mind.

There is the idea of an angry bearded fellow in my brain.  He has been smiting folks left and right.  There is the idea of a primal force at the start of the universe who watches impassively.  He is wearing a white robe.  There is nebulous shadow figure, beyond all my words and descriptions, transcendent of everything.

The one I name YWVH has some things in common with each of those.  But not everything.  This God is as close as my breath; moreover, this God’s name is my breath itself.  The very nature of the action tells me some things about this God; this God is necessary for my life.  This God is mysterious but intimate with me.  This God’s name is unsayable, and yet it is always said.

Have you ever breathed with somebody?  Really breathed with them?

Sometimes, when I am having trouble sleeping, I tune into the rhythm of my wife’s breath.  I will try and time it just so, matching her inhales and her exhales.  When I do this, sometimes I can drift right off to sleep.  

Have you ever had someone talk you through a meditation?  When someone says ‘inhale…. Exhale’ it is hard for  to resist.  And so frustrating when their guidance isn’t at a pace that we find natural.  There is something so soothing about coordinating the timing of our breaths with others.

This next practice invites the practitioner to first breathe with those around us.  We then find ourselves breathing in relation to plants.  Gradually, the practitioner widens the scope of their mind’s eye, picturing the self in a larger and larger web of interactions.

I find that something happens to me as I picture scenes like this.  There’s a sort of parallel with watching a certain type of shot in the film.  It’s almost a visual cliche; usually the last shot in the movie.  It might start as a close-up shot, but then it pulls back, further and further, and with distance  we lose the details on the things that were just a moment ago so clear.  We lose the specifics of the individuals and see the whole neighborhood, pull up through the clouds, see the outlines of the  continent, and eventually even pan back and away from the planet itself.  

Because we are finite and limited, as we see the full outlines of the big picture, we lose the particular details we were able to entertain.  When we see the curves of planet Earth, we no longer witness the particular details of the tableau where we began.  We can’t see the specific people or scene where the shot began.  

We can take a wider view of nearly anything.  It doesn’t even have to be visual.  I can start by focusing on the work day of a particular person.  While I’m focused on this, I might want to  know about this person’s schedule, job description, and performance.  But I could take a wider look.  I could focus on how this person’s job interfaces with the organization he works for.  I could wonder about how the organization fits into the wider community where it is head quartered.  I could wonder about how the community functions within the wider society, and how the various societies interact with each other.

It’s easy to see the individual as the most relevant level of organization.  I can understand why most of the shots in a movie or designed to follow along specific people.    I suspect that this is because where we naturally identify with our consciousness, and therefore our sense of control.  I am composed of cells, and the cells make up tissues, and the tissues make up organs, and the organs make up organ systems.  The organ systems make up my individual self.  And my self is a part of a family.  And my family is part of a community.  And my community is part of a nation.  And the nation is part of a planet, and the planet is part of a solar system.

This description could continue onward, in either direction.  But I suppose you are taking my point.  The individual is just one level of description.  Because my consciousness is more or less in control of my own individual self it’s easy to see this as the natural level of importance.

A camera, or a visualization which lands somewhere else is an important reminder that there are elements which make up the individual that I identify with.  They are important reminders that this individual is a constituent of wider systems.  This is an important thing to focus on, a reminder.  In our practice below, we reinforce our experience of our connections with all the living things.

In the description below, I have tried to take on particular scenario of where a person might be, in relation to others.  It so happens that I live on the second floor of a 3-floor apartment building.  If you live in a substantially different area, it might make sense to alter the ways in which you are widening your awareness.  The main thing is that we begin by picturing ourselves and gradually widen our perspective to include an increasing number of people.  

Before the prior practice, we explored the idea that even if the visualization is not literally specifically true, there is still value to it.  As we explored our interconnections with the plant, we overlooked the fact that plant’s don’t literally exhale constantly.

For today’s practice we’ll engage in a similar act of symbolic visualization.  Of course, at any given time a person might be inhaling or exhaling.  At this exact moment, probably half the people you know are doing one.  Perhaps half the people you know are doing the other.  As stated previously, sometimes a person might coordinate the timing of their breaths with someone they are with. 

In the practice today, we’ll imagine that we are exhaling and inhaling with other people.  Literally, of course, this is probably not true.  But on a symbolic level, it helps us to remember.

Practice 6) Breathing With Other People
  1.  Release your concerns and worries for this time.  
  2. Take three deep breaths.
  3. Take a moment to consider where the nearest person to you is.
  4. Imagine that single person, breathing.
  5. With your next inhale, imagine that the two of you are inhaling together.
  6. With your next exhale, imagine that the two of you are exhaling together.  
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for as long as you would like.  Try to experience this breath that you are breathing together; don’t settle for the abstraction of breathing together in general.  Dwell inside this breath, right now, with them.  It is a unique thing.  
  8. In your mind’s eye, widen your perspective.  Come to picture the entire floor that you are occupying  Consider first all the other people animals present.  Breathe at least three full breaths with them.
  9. Now, think about the plant life within this area.  Imagine the ways that the plants breathe opposite the animals, each supplying the other with what they need.  Breathe at least three full breaths.
  10. Widen the picture in your mind, again.  Perhaps now, you will consider the living things within the building you occupy.  Breathe three breaths with all the animals and plants.
  11. Imagine the block you are living on: All the people and animals and plants in the buildings, all the people and animals and plants in between the buildings.
  12. Widen the range of your imagination this one last time.  Take in as a wide a vantage as you can, holding in your mind all the living things in this part of your town or city.  Love this interconnected web of beings as best as you can.
  13. Now, quickly!  Bring your mind back to just your own self, your body sitting in meditation.  See yourself.  But still connected.  Still part of that web.

To read a second passage from this book, click here.

God Breathed: How to Root a Meditative Practice in God’s Breath

Purchase ‘God Breathed’ in print now here. It will be available as a Kindle ebook on June 27. There are 3 ways to preview this new book, in addition to the information here and at Amazon:

  • Participate in the Facebook Live kick off on Sunday June 27 at 10 AM, Eastern Time. (EDT.) That will happen at the Faith-ing Project Facebook Page.
  • Join either (or both!) of our zoom-based introductory meditation sessions. The content of both will be the same but it would be great to see you at both if you enjoy the first one. These are done at quite opposing times and days to accomodate multiple time zones and schedules. The first is Friday, June 2nd, at 7:00 PM EDT; the second is Sunday, July 11 7 AM EDT. For an invitation with a zoom link, free of charge, please fill out a contact form at the top of this page or email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com.

God reached down and breathed into the dirt and the first human was created. God gave a name that we sometimes translate as ‘Yahweh.’ but which might better be translated as the act of breathing itself. Jesus breathed over his disciples. These are not abstract theological principles. They are experiences you can live.
In this introductory guide, you’ll be invited on a journey to deepen your experience of God’s presence by breathing with God and naming God with each breath. You’ll be invited to breathe in harmony with people, other animals, and plants and build your connections with each group.
To order the book click here. To recieve a zoom link fill out the contact form at the top of the page. To preview some of the practices available in the book, click here.

Audio files from ‘Discovering the Essence: How to Build a Spirtual Practice When Your Religion is Cracking Apart’

Each of the audio files below features a spiritual practice and a related reading from ‘Discovering the Essence.’

Recording #1 From ‘Dsicovering the Essence’ Just Sitting

For free readings from ‘Discoring the Essence’ Click here.

Practice number 2: Following the breath
Practice number 3: A Breath Prayer
Practice number 4: Centering Prayer
Practice number 5: A Welcoming Prayer
Practice 5: Here I am, Here you are
Practice 6: Loving Kindness Meditation

For information on ordering the book, click here. When you do read the book, I’d love an honest Amazon review to help others determine if the book is right for them.

Summer 2021 will see our first cohort of ‘Discussing the Essence.’ If you’d like information about joining this pay-what-you-can, zoom-based exploration of deconstruction click the contact link or email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com. It is not necesarry to purchase or read the book to join us for this time. For more information, click ‘here.