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Center for Action and Contemplation

Devotion: Weekly Summary

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Week Fifty Summary and Practice

Sunday, December 12—Friday, December 17, 2021

Put it into your heart, my youngest and dearest son, that the thing that frightened you, the thing that afflicted you is nothing: Do not let it disturb you. . . . Am I not here, I, who am your mother?Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego, 1513

To see it with my mind and give assent to the thought of being loving—this is crystal clear. But I want to be more loving in my heart!Howard Thurman

I want to encourage the uncovering of what we mean by the word devotion. We have to somehow live a life that’s connected to the heart. —Richard Rohr

As devotional practices turned into repetitive obligations, they degenerated; and most people came to understand them magically as divinely required transactions. Instead of inviting people into new consciousness, they often froze people in their first infantile understanding of those rituals, and transactions ended up substituting for transformations. —Richard Rohr

“Prayer of the heart” occurs when the Prayer moves from merely mental repetition, forced along by your own effort, to an effortless and spontaneous self-repetition of the Prayer that emanates from the core of your being, your heart. —Frederica Mathewes-Green

An opened heart is boundless; that is, unconditional in its scope. Once we are awakened to love as the lifelong purpose of our hearts, then feeling love for all the world becomes the meaning—and greatest joy—of living. —David Richo


Mindfulness to Heartfulness

Devotional practices have opened believers’ hearts for millennia, and we now understand the mind-body-heart connection within us in a deeper way. Researcher and therapist Dr. Alane Daugherty suggests a body-based practice to create a sense of heartfelt awareness:

The force of deep love, compassion and other heartfelt emotions can literally unite our brain, our heart, and all of the cells in our body. By experiencing what these heartfelt states are like inside of us we can then activate the dormant impulses, cultivate them, and embody them in an integrated way of being. This union feels harmonious and expansive; like we are all at once in touch with the depths of our being, and connected to a much larger way of living. Done intentionally and routinely they form an even greater union, become our primary way of operating, and profoundly change our world and us. . . .

[Heartful awareness] is the momentary choice, moment after moment, to let our truest sense emerge into our lived reality and intersect with the outside world. It allows us to be the best that we can be, in whatever we do. . . .

We invite you to try these practices from Daugherty:

The following are suggestions for specific tangible ways you might implement heartful awareness into your everyday life. . . .

  • Pay attention to attention. Stop and pause several moments during the day and just notice where your attention is. Make an overt intention, when you are authentically capable, to become heartfully engaged with yourself, your surroundings, or others. . . .
  • Savor what you already have. The ‘spiral of becoming’ shows us that we physiologically change to any state we are routinely in. When we are already in states of heartful engagement, focused attention and awareness to ‘cement’ these states further imprints them in our cellular memory.
  • Micro-moments add up! Momentary choices of engagement make profound shifts. They re-wire our neural nets and habitual ways of being, create oxytocin-rich changes in our blood chemistry, as well as dopamine and serotonin the hopeful outlook neurotransmitters, and foundationally change our perception to one of expansiveness and possibility. . . .
  • Continually tap into the deepest sense of who you are and let that lead. The more moments we spend resting in our deepest potential or connected to our Inner Being, the more they become our primary ‘operating system.’ Pay attention, and shift when you can. When you cannot, hold yourself in a place of loving-kindness and awareness, and promise those ‘parts’ healing attention when you are able. Offer the love and support to yourself, as you would a best friend.

Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.

Alane Daugherty, From Mindfulness to Heartfulness: A Journey of Transformation through the Science of Embodiment (Balboa Press: 2014), 111, 112, 149, 150.

Learn more about the Daily Meditations editorial team.

Image credit: Nicholas Kramer, Untitled (detail), 2021, photograph, Seattle. Used with permission.
Image inspiration: The pattern of the leaves and colors of this succulent invite us inward to its center. We yield to the call of its presence—so also with God.
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