Learning Spiritual Practices
Exploring other spiritual disciplines
Each Tuesday from 7 – 8:15 PM in the Chapel, we learn other ways to enter into contemplative prayer. We believe that contemplative prayer is a gift or a grace from God and that there are many ways to enter into that gift. We focus not only on meditation but also on other contemplative spiritual practices, discussions and readings. Following this time of exploration, there is space and silence to process and share individual experiences.
Recent Explorations and Discussions
From time to time we walk a labyrinth. It is a path of prayer, a walking meditation, a crucible of change, a watering hole for the spirit and a mirror of the soul. The labyrinth is not a maze. It has a single circuitous path that winds its way into the center. The same path is used to enter and exit and is in full view allowing one to be quiet and focus internally.
Seasonal Sit Spot Meditations
Sometime during each of the four seasons, we travel to a nearby farm to spend a couple of hours simply sitting and noticing our surroundings, paying attention to how God may be speaking to each of us through the wonder of his creation.
Similar to St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Daily Examen, the Grand Examen uses discovery questions to help one look back over their past year and notice the movements of God in their life – where they sensed God’s presence, highlights, turning points, landmarks, and themes—all to help us look forward to the coming year.
Spiritual direction is about two people taking time out of busy schedules to discern the presence of God in our daily lives. It is learning to see Him in the mundane and in the magnificent moments of our lives.
Entrainment – tuning in to the rhythm of life
Entrainment – a synchronizing of two or more rhythms internally, externally and in nature, our bodies’ natural tendency to sync us with strong, external rhythms, pulses or beats.
No singing background is needed. We explore the Taizé, Benedictine and modern day meditative music and experience how chanting connects and deepens our times of silence and reflection.
Journaling and the Daily Examen
When we look back over our day, we can begin to notice God and his invitations to us. We use discovery questions and different forms of the daily examen to help guide our individual time of journaling.
Tangling Prayer Zentangle is an easy-to-learn, relaxing and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. Each evening will focus on a theme for creating your own tangle pattern and allowing the Holy Spirit to connect with your spirit. There are no mistakes in this prayer; consider imperfections a gift!
Play as Spiritual Practice
In these sessions, we practice play and then pause to notice what’s happening in our inner world. What are we feeling as we play? What sense of God do we have when we play? How does God meet us during play?
I have watched the idea and implementation of contemplative prayer and meditation grow at St James for several years, participating in the evening sessions for some time before actually adopting a daily practice of meditation in the WCCM mold. It has been a subtle but life changing experience and has led me to see other spiritual practices that many of us do perhaps without recognizing them as such (prayer, study, worship, silence, service, celebration, etc). Coming to a deeper understand of these as disciplines, I have become more intentional in my participation, and I find that they all interact with each other, urging the process of transformation along its way.Bob M.
Engaging in contemplative practices for the first time has strengthened me in my understanding of being and not just doing. I have incorporated it into work with my clients and have seen it reduce anxiety and stress by encouraging them to be in the moment with their worry. This has given them exercises in which to engage after they leave their treatment session and has helped me become a better, more relaxed therapist. A delightful byproduct has been my ability to go deeper in my understanding of being present with God and caused me to desire to listen more deeply for the voice of the Spirit. Debbi M.