This week guest writer and CAC teacher James Finley shared insights on meditation (another word for contemplative prayer).
In passing from ego consciousness to meditative states of awareness, we are awakened to our inner longings for eternal oneness with God in whom is hidden the very reality and fulfillment of ourselves and of everyone and everything around us. (Sunday)
We meditate that we might learn, with God’s grace, to see God in all that we see. (Monday)
There are not two minds of Christ, one human and the other divine. Rather, the mind of Christ is the realized oneness of the divine and all that we are as human beings. (Tuesday)
In the parable of the prodigal son, in his miracles of healing, in his love for everyone he encountered, Jesus’ message rang out to one and all: a divine benevolence gives itself to you whole and complete in and as your very life. (Wednesday)
Compassion is the love that recognizes and goes forth to identify with the preciousness of all that is lost and broken within ourselves and others. (Thursday)
Meditation embodies compassion that forms the essential bond between seeking God in meditation and all forms of social justice. The more we are transformed in compassion, the more we are impelled to act with compassion toward others. (Friday)
Practice: I Love You, I Love You
James Finley offers a simple guided meditation to awaken us to our oneness with Love.
When you sit in meditation, your breathing naturally slows. Quietly focusing your attention on your breathing is a way of slowing down and settling into a deep meditative awareness of oneness with God. Breathing out, be quietly aware of breathing out. Breathing in, be quietly aware of breathing in. Each time you realize you have drifted off into thoughts, memories, sensations, and other ego-based modes of being, simply return to your breathing as your anchoring place in present-moment attentiveness.
Your efforts in following the path of breath awareness might be enhanced by repeating a word or phrase with each breath. A practice I have found particularly helpful is to pair breath awareness with the phrase “I love you.”
As you inhale, listen to the incoming breath so intently that you can hear in it God’s silent “I love you.” In this moment, God is flowing into you as the source and reality of your very being. As you exhale, breathe out a silent “I love you” back to God. As you inhale, be aware of the air as being God flowing into you, as the divine gift of your very being. As you exhale, allow your silent “I love you” to be your very being, flowing back into the depths of God.
Simply sit, open to God breathing divine love into the depths of your being, as you breathe your whole being, as a gift of love, back into God.
This one practice alone, engaged in with heartfelt sincerity and devotion, can awaken you to God’s total and complete oneness with you as the giver, the sustainer, and the reality of the sheer miracle of your very being. As this realization of God’s oneness with you grows, you will begin to realize how foolish it is to imagine that God is, in any way, distant from you. You discover how foolish it is to imagine that you could in any way hide from God, who is wholly one with all that is within your mind and heart, your very being.
Gateway to Silence:
Rest in God resting in me.
Adapted from James Finley, Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God (HarperSanFrancisco: 2004), 30, 242-244.
For Further Study:
James Finley, Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God (HarperSanFrancisco: 2004)
Cynthia Bourgeault, James Finley, and Richard Rohr, Following the Mystics through the Narrow Gate (CAC: 2010), CD, DVD, MP3 download
James Finley and Richard Rohr, Jesus and Buddha: Paths to Awakening (CAC: 2008), CD, DVD, MP3 download
James Finley, Merton’s Palace of Nowhere: A Search for God through Awareness of the True Self (Ave Maria Press: 1978)
James Finley, The Contemplative Heart (Sorin Books: 1999)