Ways of Knowing: Weekly Summary

Ways of Knowing

Summary: Sunday, October 13—Friday, October 18, 2019

Contemplation is meeting as much reality as we can handle in its most simple and immediate form—without filters, judgments, or commentaries. (Sunday)

Head and heart, rational and spiritual, need not stifle or silence one another. —Maria S. Guarino (Monday)

This means engaging in dialogue with the Bible—bringing our questions to it, hearing its questions to us, examining our answers in its light, and taking its answers very seriously, particularly when they conflict with our own, which will be most of the time. —Robert McAfee Brown (Tuesday)

What does it mean to “know God”? Who are the ones who know God? —Robert McAfee Brown (Wednesday)

You cannot believe in or practice unitive consciousness as long as you exclude and marginalize others—whether it is women or people of different sexual orientations or people of religious or ethnic minorities or, in my experience, people with intellectual disabilities. —Tim Shriver (Thursday)

It came to me through senses unfamiliar, claiming me with a knowledge I did not know. That it was not within my rational understanding did not make it any less real. —Kent Nerburn (Friday)

 

Practice: Eating One Raisin: Mindful Eating

Because the rubber of transformation meets the road in practice, in actual encounters with real life, I continue to encourage you to try something new: change sides, move outside your comfort zone, make some new contacts, let go of your usual role and attractive self-image, walk or take a bus instead of drive, make a friend from another race or class, visit new neighborhoods, go to the jail or to the border, attend another church service, etc. Without new experiences, new thinking is difficult and rare. After a new experience, new thinking and behavior comes naturally and even becomes necessary. [1]

Today’s practice, Eating One Raisin, encourages us to do something we have probably done hundreds of times but in a new way. It comes from The Mindful Way Through Depression:

Mindfulness is not paying more attention but paying attention differently and more wisely—with the whole mind and heart, using the full resources of the body and its senses.

Holding
First, take a [single] raisin and hold it in the palm of your hand or between your finger and thumb. Focusing on it, imagine that you’ve . . . never seen an object like this before in your life.

Seeing
Take time to really see it; gaze at the raisin with care and full attention. Let your eyes explore every part of it, examining the highlights where the light shines, the darker hollows, the folds and ridges, and any asymmetries or unique features.

Touching
Turn the raisin over between your fingers, exploring its texture, maybe with your eyes closed if that enhances your sense of touch.

Smelling
Holding the raisin beneath your nose, with each inhalation drink in any smell, aroma, or fragrance that may arise, noticing as you do this anything interesting that may be happening in your mouth or stomach.

Placing
Now slowly bring the raisin up to your lips, noticing how your hand and arm know exactly how and where to position it. Gently place the object in the mouth, without chewing, noticing how it gets into the mouth in the first place. Spend a few moments exploring the sensations of having it in your mouth, exploring it with your tongue.

Tasting
When you are ready, prepare to chew the raisin, noticing how and where it needs to be for chewing. Then, very consciously, take one or two bites into it and notice what happens in the aftermath, experiencing any waves of taste that emanate from it as you continue chewing. Without swallowing yet, notice the bare sensations of taste and texture in the mouth and how these may change over time, moment by moment, as well as any changes in the object itself.

Swallowing
When you feel ready to swallow the raisin, see if you can first detect the intention to swallow as it comes up, so that even this is experienced consciously before you actually swallow the raisin.

Following
Finally, see if you can feel what is left of the raisin moving down into your stomach, and sense how the body as a whole is feeling after completing this exercise in mindful eating. [2]

References:
[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, “The Eight Core Principles,” Radical Grace, vol. 25, no. 4 (Center for Action and Contemplation: Fall 2012), 44-45. No longer in print. See cac.org/about-cac/missionvision.

[2] Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn, The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness (Guilford Press: 2007), 55-56.

 

For Further Study:
Robert McAfee Brown, Unexpected News: Reading the Bible with Third World Eyes (The Westminster Press: 1984)

Maria S. Guarino, Listen with the Ear of the Heart: Music and Monastery Life at Weston Priory (University of Rochester Press: 2018)

Kent Nerburn, Voices in the Stones: Life Lessons from the Native Way (New World Library: 2016)

Richard Rohr, Yes, And . . . : Daily Meditations (Franciscan Media: 2013)

Image credit: Tableau No. 2/Composition No. VII (detail), Piet Mondrian, 1913, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Perhaps it was the strangeness of the setting, perhaps it was the power of the moment, but, as I stood there, those stones began to speak. It was a clacking sound, a clattering sound, like the fluttering of wings, the descent of birds, the pounding of a hundred thousand hooves across the frozen tundra. —Kent Nerburn
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