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Archive for November, 2009

What a great “visit” we all had with Janice Lynne Lundy, our very first guest blogger here on Bead One, Pray Too. We had 23 comments, and, as promised, we will send a copy of Jan’s new book, Your Truest Self to one of the winners. I am going to throw all the names of the people who commented into a pot (minus me!) and have my husband draw one out of a hat. I’ll post the result tomorrow.

For those of you who want more of Jan, today is Monday, so if you go to her blog, Awake is Good, you’ll get her usual feature, “Meditation Monday.” I highly recommend it. It has helped me get my week off to a good start more than once.

Now, sad things. Like most people, I am shocked and sad about the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas last Thursday – the very day Jan visited us and we talked about such positive things. The news today reports that the shooter is awake and talking. But I am sure no one will ever be able to understand the motivation and reasoning behind such a terrible act. And as for whether he is a Muslim or not, I fall in with those who say anyone who claims to be a member of any faith and then commits such an act is a liar and a fake.

So today I ask that we pray for both the victims and the perpetrator of the crime. The victims and their families need our prayers to live with their losses and fears, and the victim needs our prayers to live with the fallout of his acts for the rest of his life. Here’s a prayer from the website From Tears to Hope to get you started:

Prayer for Victims:

I pray and wish that you
have eternal peace with God,
and for you to know that you
are always in our hearts and minds.
I ask that God let you watch over
future victims and alleviate their fear.

 

 

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Janice Lynne Lundy

Hello, everyone. As I promised in my last post, we have a guest blogger today – Janice Lynne Lundy. Jan is an interfaith spiritual director, spiritual mentor, inspirational speaker and workshop and retreat leader in Michigan. She is the author of three books, the most recent of which is Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You Are Meant To Be. We will be giving a away a copy of Your Truest Self to one of today’s commentators in a random drawing.

I met Jan here on this blog, when she left a comment last June, and then asked me to be a guest blogger on her site, Awake is Good, which frequently touches on meditation and other spiritual practices.

Today, Jan prepared the following essay for us on the value of spiritual practices – which includes using prayer beads of all types. I hope you enjoy it – and that at the end, you will post a comment or question for Jan, who will be checking in throughout the day to respond.

Here’s Jan:

Finding Your Ideal Spiritual Practice

We have all witnessed others engaged in meaningful spiritual practices. Bearded men garbed in black, bobbing rhythmically at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. White-robed swamis chanting “Hare Krishna.” A Gospel singer raising the rafters with heartfelt strains of “Amazing Grace.” Sufi Dervishes whirling. African drummers drumming. A lone Buddhist meditating cross-legged on a craggy peak overlooking the ocean. All these and more fill our imaginations, ever hopeful that we, too, might find practices that enliven our spirit.

Spiritual practices, simply put, are those activities that connect us more deeply with the virtues of the Spirit, with the Divine itself, by whatever name we call it. They are practices that provide us with a unique opportunity to experience sacred time and space; to remove ourselves from the distractions and noise of a too busy world, and remember our spiritual connection. Spiritual practices, properly cultivated, enable us to access inner calm, joy, and gratitude for life.

A Feast for the Spirit

The variety of spiritual practices available to us is boundless, as is our understanding of the sacred. There are quiet practices: various forms of prayer, meditation, silence, or sacred reading; active practices: singing, chanting, dancing, worship, or creative expression; and physical practices: yoga, bowing, tai chi, gardening, or mindful walking. Spiritual practices can be done alone or with others. In one’s home, in nature, in a church, temple or mosque, at all times of day or night.

It might seem that we must search long and hard to find the spiritual practices that will nourish and sustain us. In truth, all we need do to uncover them is explore a bit, then listen deeply as we “feel” our way through them. The measuring stick by which we discern whether a particular practice suits us is through body awareness—through the vehicle of our thoughts, physical senses, and emotions.

Any spiritual practice that we try on for size should, initially, have a positive effect upon us. We notice what thoughts we are having; if conscious thought has slowed or disappeared, altogether. Is our body at ease? Are our senses pleased? Are we feeling a sense of connection to our spirit, or with a Higher Power? We listen to what our body/mind says and we honor its wisdom.

With dedication, we will locate the “right” practices for us. By staying faithful to them, we will begin to experience their deeper benefits. The key is dailiness. It takes time for spiritual practices to work their magic upon us—to root us more deeply in the qualities of the spirit. Psychologists tell us it takes twenty-one days to create any new habit, ninety days for that habit to stick. Spiritual practices are no exception. It may take a year or more for them to become an invaluable part of our lifestyle.

Have Practices, Will Travel

A personal spiritual practice, well honed, can also provide comfort and stability in a very busy life. It can dependably deliver us to the shores of peace and well-being no matter where we find ourselves. For example, if nature is our spiritual connector, all we need do is step outside, take a deep breath, and feast our eyes on Mother Nature’s glory. If music enhances our sacred connection, we can plug into that—literally—with an iPod or CD player, in a car or on an airplane. Books for inspirational reading can be taken anywhere, as can a yoga mat or prayer rug for devotional practice. Have practices, will travel, I say. It is sound and wise for us to cultivate spiritual practices that can be done alone, anytime, anywhere.

Becoming the Practice

In time, the lines of distinction between ourselves and the spiritual practice will begin to blur. We actually become the practice. Its benefits—inner calm, openheartedness, generosity of spirit—meld into us. One day we may actually awaken to realize that we not only feel more loving, be we have become more loving; that we do not just feel more peaceful, but that we have become a peaceful presence in the world. Our friends and family confirm this. They tell us we are different; that we have changed for the better.

Ultimately, by engaging in spiritual practices, we have not only benefited ourselves, but we have done the world a great service. Perhaps, unknowingly, we have succeeded at what peacemaker Mahatma Gandhi invited us to:

To be the change we so desperately wish to see

in the world today.bookthumbnail

And this is Kimberly again – I LOVE this quote from Ghandi, don’t you? This should be our prayer today – say it with or without prayer beads: “Lord, make me the change we so desperately wish to see in the world today.”

Jan, I’ll start with a question: My biggest problem with spiritual practice (in my case, the regular use of prayer beads as a means for meditation) is sticking with it. I have a terrible time keeping my mind still and focused on my prayer. I get discouraged. Can you give me some advice on how to tap into that quiet place? And I fear am I too hard on myself when I don’t stay in that place for very long – and that just makes me want to avoid going there – and failing to do it – again? What benefit will I gain by being easier on myself?

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Jan Lundy

Well, here’s a first for Bead One, Pray Too – a guest blogger! I hope you will all join me in welcoming Janice Lynne Lundy to this corner of the internet on Thursday, Nov. 5.

Let me tell you a bit about Jan, who I met when she wrote into this blog several months ago. Jan is an interfaith spiritual director, inspirational speaker and the author of several books, the most recent being Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You are Meant to Be. She lives in Michigan and conducts retreats and workshops all over the place.

Your Truest Self is part memoir, part spiritual workbook. In it, Jan shares her very rich experiences as a spiritual seeker among mystics, artists, teachers and other wise women. She takes what she gleaned from them and distills them into “Twelve Truths” that can help us find the person inside us that God wants us to be. And while the book is written for women, men will find some true jewels in here, too.

Let me give you a sample:

“As our journeys unfold, each of us will need to determine what it is we have come to know as personal truth. “Know thyself,” Socrates said, for self-knowledge will lead to God-knowledge. “Tell me your beliefs, and I will tell you who you are,” said another, unknown philosopher, indicating that our beliefs form the basis of how we choose to live. To walk in the world as our truest selves we must first uncover the core beliefs that form the basis of our thoughts, feelings, and actions, whether they be lofty or base, original or borrowed, true or false for us.

And so I pose this same question to you that I have posed to myself many times over the years: Who are you, and what do you really believe?”

Jan very kindly asked me to guest blog on her site, Awake is Good last August and I had a fantastic time. Her readers asked me very thoughtful, well-considered questions, so I hope you all will return the favor! Heres how it is going to work – Jan has prepared a beautiful essay on the value of spiritual practices and how we can each find our ideal one. For many of us, this is prayer beads, but there is also meditation of many types, art, dance, singing, reading – oh my goodness, so many. I know you will find Jan insightful about all things contemplative and prayerful, as I have. I’ll post Jan’s essay early Thursday morning and she’ll check in to answer your questions through the day. I’ll pop in and out too – I already see a great prayer in her essay that can be used on prayer beads. And on Monday, we’ll give away a copy of Jan’s very fine book to one of you who has chimed in.

So, see you all here on Thursday, Nov. 5.

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Boo, everyone! Stop eating that leftover Halloween candy. I had 4 bags and 0 trick-or-treaters. But I have eaten only one piece of candy. My secret? I only buy candy I don’t like.

This is a busy weekend for Christians and Sikhs (more on that later). After the Saturday Halloween festivities, Sunday dawned on All Saints Day. This is a Christian holiday, though when I was growing up it was only really marked by Catholics and Anglicans/Episcopalians. But in the last 20 years or so, more Protestant groups have recognized the value of remembering the lives of the mystics and seers who came before us, whether they name them “saints” or not.

And today is All Souls Day, another Christian holiday largely celebrated by the more liturgically-based churches, that commemorates those who have died before us. Now, if you are Catholic, you are remembering specifically those who have gone before us and may not yet be in heaven. No matter what your faith, remembering and praying for those who are gone is a good thing.

So, in that spirit, here is a prayer to use on prayer beads or alone for the saints and souls we want to remember for what they can teach us – love, patience and the value of living life to the fullest. It comes from the United Methodist Church’s  “Remembering the Saints: 21st Century Resource for All Saints Day” by Rev. Nathan Decker

You, Lord, have shown us light:
The light of a million candles sharing their faith.

The light of saints past,
the living tradition of the redeemed,
the resurrection retelling,
the passing of this flame from generation to generation.

We Remember,
We Remember,
We Remember, and
because of you in them, we walk in the candlelight of Christ.

And I promised a word about Sikhism.  Today, Sikhs around the world celebrate Guru Nanak Jayanti, the birthday of Guru Nanak, the founder of their faith. Sikhs celebrate by reading the Guru Granth Sahib, their sacred text, aloud and sing hymns and have feasts. I urge you, if you live anywhere near a gurdwara, (and you probably do!)  to stop by there on this day or any other. In my experience as a religion reporter, I have found Sikhs to always be most welcoming of people to their temples and their festivities. Like most people, all they crave is understanding. You will probably also get a lovely and graciously-served vegetarian meal out of it. If you like, go in the spirit of All Souls Day to remember the Arizona Sikh killed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks because someone thought his turban meant he was a Muslim. Go and remember andenjoy.

Here is a prayer attributed to Guru Nanak himself. I think you’ll see it will work for people of many faiths:

“The True One was there from time immemorial.

He is there today and ever there you will find Him.

He never died nor will he ever die . . .

Look within, you will see Him there enshrined.”

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