Saturday, July 2, 2016

My Sitting Practice

That is the language that I use these days and I like it.  Every day, I try to engage in a "sitting practice" with God.

I used to use words like prayer, meditation, journaling etc.  Which is fine but often did not describe what was really the discipline that works for me.  It was in reading Grace in Aging that I encountered the idea of a "Sitting Practice."

Kathleen Dowling Singh writes this:
"We need the focused, concentrated energy of awareness that seems only to be cultivated with a daily practice if we wish to walk through the world with clarity and compassion.  We need to carve out the time to sit if we have not yet done so, or carve out more time if we have already begun.  
Sitting - the silent, noble stilling of the body and the mind for the purpose of liberating awareness into beyond-self, into deeper, more illunined consciousness - allows an opening in the limited, limiting paradigm of separate self and only form.

Sitting practice is where transformation is effected, where neural connections are rewired.  Sitting practice is the launching pad for the piercing insight, direct knowing, and the opening of the heart.  It is the base of operations."

My spiritual history is one of irregular and haphazard morning prayer with a box full of half filled journals that go back 30 years as a witness to my desire for  and resistance to relationship with God.  I am finding so much more freedom in the idea of a "sitting practice" than I ever have had in devotions, prayer and certainly meditation.

What is interesting is that my "sitting practice" usually includes all of this but it is much more fluid.
Lately I come in the morning to my back porch and just spend time breathing in and out and looking at the trees, birds, squirrels and waiting.   At some point I may pick up the latest book that I am reading and then often after that I may do some journaling.  Sometimes I close my eyes and meditate, sometimes I write prayers of supplication, sometimes I use prayer beads.  But I sit with God in deepening awareness and appreciation.

The other day as I sat there I found myself thinking about the problems of one of my daughters and beginning that analyzing and supposed problem solving that I do so well.  I felt like I heard God saying to me - "Is this the way you want to spend this time?"  And I lifted her to prayer and let it go.
And I realized that my sitting practice is like an hour of spiritual direction when I  - as directeee - decide what I want to talk about and how deep I want to go.

So, I keep learning that this sitting practice can be a time of distraction or real communion.  As I write this, I do not want to give the impression that I am always in a place of spiritual connection because I can't control that.

But what I can do is be intentional about time and place to be - just be - with God.  Hoping that God is guiding me, opening me, healing me as we spend time together in the morning.

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