Love is a shadow, when you’re too scared to fight…If you want her to love you, turn into the light. – from “Guilty”-CMurray
TRUTH– We are living in a world of lies and shadows. While we have seen these times before, the shepherds’ staff that has guided us to the light in the past now leads us further astray because the clergy are now among the indoctrinated…or worse!
One year ago, I bathed in the Jordan, swam in the Sea of Galilee and walked on the same stones under the same bright orange moon that Jesus himself gazed upon…and I wondered to myself what must it have been like to be so close to God? Because I know, as most of us do, the pain of being so far removed.
I am not taking this initiative as some enlightened shaman looking to inflate himself. Rather, as someone who sees a world of spiritual deflation exacting its toll. As a singer/songwriter, I am drawn to great lyrics. Jerry Garcia’s long time songwriting partner and lyricist Robert Hunter penned these words, every man gathers what another man spills. Spiritually, we are all part of the same lost flock…It is clearly time for us to become our own shepherds!
Ever since I can remember, I have deeply felt and been drawn to the intuitive-mystic side of my being. I confessed to a friend recently that my wife is the perfect match for me because she keeps me grounded…as if, without the tether of her being, I might float away. My life has been richly blessed with wonderful teachers (Sangha as the Buddhist’s like to say) to nurture my mystical side. With their help, I was able to draw from the wells of Sufism, Buddhism and Kabbalah to add a whole new dimension and spectrum of vibrant colors to the canvas of my Christian foundation.
I believe that we all were more spiritually “in tune” once upon a time. Back when Jesus gazed up at the sun and moon, there were far fewer distractions to clog our divinity receptors. Back then our psychic windshields were crystal clear by comparison. Today, they are like the windshields of a semi…on the Interstate…in the Northern States…during black fly season! And unfortunately, it’s not just distractions but a myriad of forces that actually draw us away from the nourishment that only our inner self can provide. This is why terms like social justice, liberation theology and collective salvation set off giant flashing BS alarms in the heart of hearts! They are the Pied Pipers who lead us away from the freedom of our infinite soul to the deep dark dungeons of Group Think and Political Correctness!
So for this kickoff edition of the Sunday Morning Tune-up, let’s begin at the beginning. The greatest spiritual tool I have ever been given, is the tool of meditation. It is the fuel of the engine! Deepak Chopra put it perfectly, The voice of God is in the gap between our thoughts, and the purpose of meditation is to widen the gap! For some of us this will be easy and for some it will seem nearly impossible. Think of it like exercise. When we’ve allowed ourselves to get out of shape physically, it can be excruciatingly difficult to get back into the routine of exercise. But once we do, it becomes easier and easier until it becomes what we call 2nd nature. Meditation simply requires the development of different muscles, but it requires the same discipline of routine that physical exercise requires…no difference. And just like physical training, it can be very frustrating in the beginning. But, perseverance will bring rewards you cannot imagine!
There are many different types of meditation and meditation techniques, but they all lead to the very same still waters of the quiet mind. And this is where the frustration comes in especially with those of us new to meditation. There is a tendency when we actually try to sit and quiet our minds, for the inner chatter to actually pick up! So patience is a very useful spiritual tool here. So let’s just start with a very basic meditation technique.
Ideally, it is best to mediate anywhere from 20-30 minutes twice a day. Usually we mediate first thing in the morning and at night before we go to sleep. This will be a different experience for each of us…I try to do twenty minutes in the morning and never seem to get to it in the evening. Next, it is important to pick a place in your home where you create the energy to support your practice. I have dedicated such a space and have created a shrine which includes dharma and various Buddhist influences as well as stones from the Galilee. I begin by lighting the candles & incense…these are my own personalized and eclectic techniques. You are free to incorporate your own as you see fit in harmony with your learned faith.
Now we simply sit however we are most comfortable with our hands together in our lap and close our eyes. We begin by focusing on our breath…our inhale and our exhale. We may find it useful in the beginning to count our breaths. Doing so automatically begins to reduce thought activity which, again, is the primary objective. As we begin to feel our selves slipping into a deeper state of relaxation we can now prepare to use this third and very powerful spiritual tool of visualization. We begin by visualizing our inhale as pure white light of the most divine source above…coming into our very being washing over every cell & fiber into the exhale and visualization of any negativity we’ve accumulated (I hear you!) in the form of dark smoke which dissipates harmlessly into the atmosphere. When we feel our selves distracted and held by our thoughts, just release…smile at yourself and refocus on the breathing and visualizing once again.
Remember, our purpose is to reconnect to source…to God. Our mission every Sunday is to help each other to clean the windshield. We will find that as we do this, we will begin to experience almost instantly though subtle at first, things happening in our lives…signs we would have previously missed or passed by. I believe that each of us has a purpose…some individually unique destiny we were born to discover. This tool will bring you to it if you haven’t discovered it already. I will leave you with a Musician’s Prayer I wrote to capture the spirit of gratitude I feel every time I pick up my instrument. God bless and I’ll see you next week!
We thank you for blessing our lives with music. Help us to be mindful that we are only the reeds dancing with the winds of your creation. Let us pick up our instruments, empty our vessels and allow your magical grace to manifest into and from our hearts to all who will listen.
In your name we pray,