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12/18/11 11:11 PM
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Benedictus
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Anyone here practice it? I've begun to start with meditating around 5 minutes here and there. Either on the scriptures or perhaps a profound and wise quote.

Ridge, do the EO meditate or anything similar? Phone Post
12/19/11 11:10 AM
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Benedictus
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Anyone? Phone Post
12/19/11 11:12 PM
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TheStewedOwl
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Okay, I'll jump in, Benedictus.

We Roman Catholics do a form of focused meditative prayer, which is based on an intensely scriptural system of prayer and which is designed to bring us into a closer and more personal relationship with Jesus. The meditative prayer is divided into groups known as "decades" - which include repetitions of the Lord's Prayer, which Jesus himself taught us, as well as the Hail Mary, which is built of verses taken from the Bible:

“Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee” (Luke 12:8) / “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” (Luke 1:42)

The meditations associated with each decade (called “mysteries”) are straight out of the Bible and salvation history: The Annunciation, the Nativity, The Crucifixion, and the Resurrection.

While some claim repetition of prayer is unscriptural, citing “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do" (Matthew 6:7), it is important to remember that Jesus did NOT tell us not to repeat prayers, as in the same gospel, and by Jesus' own example, He repeated the same prayer 3 times in the Garden of Gethsemane. The operative word in Matthew 6:7 is not “repetition,” it is “vain.” - i.e., to nonexistent pagan gods who cannot answer prayers.

Ridgeback can probably tell you a lot more than I can about the very rich tradition of Orthodox meditative prayer. I've looked into it enough to just scratch the surface and it's fascinating.
12/19/11 11:51 PM
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Benedictus
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Thanks. I believe what you described is known as the Rosary, correct? I have read some accounts of early church fathers chanting.

I haven't been chanting or saying anything, but focusing on a wise quote or scriptural passage internally. Phone Post
12/19/11 11:52 PM
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Lahi
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Thanks Stewed, I'll have to look up more on that, sounds interesting. I'm trying to serious about regular mediation.
12/19/11 11:59 PM
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Lahi
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I learned a form of mediation from a Priest who got it from John Cabbot Zinn (probably butchered that name), and adopted it to Christianity.

Basically he would have the congregation sit upright, feet shoulder width apart, hands resting on thighs with palms up. Then he would have us recite a certain passage of scripture to ourselves, while just noting and releasing any other thoughts that come into the mind...just let them come and go, opening up the mind, repeating the scripture.

At the same time, you breath steadily, holding after you exhale. This can be for as long or short as you feel like, but the important thing is to hold your breath for at least a little after its out (Usually I'll try to do it for a long time several times during the meditation).

He recommended working up to at least 20 minutes a day. I think Cabbot-Zin suggested 40. Its a pretty powerful way to meditate. I think the breathing helps cleanse the blood, definitely clears the mind pretty amazingly.

I need to make this a daily thing.
12/20/11 12:00 AM
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Lahi
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Oh and he had us doing it with eyes closed.

Don't know if that made sense or not:)
12/20/11 1:24 PM
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TheStewedOwl
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Yep, the Rosary. You could purchase an inexpensive one in most church gift shops if you want to try it out. There are numerous websites telling you how to do it,

You could also try Lectio Divina, an ancient Christian tradition of intensive meditation on scripture. Here's a good article on how to do it: http://www.valyermo.com/ld-art.html

Wikipedia has a pretty good summary of the process and purpose of Lectio Divina:

In Christianity, Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading) is a traditional Catholic practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God's Word. It does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied, but as the Living Word.

Traditionally Lectio Divina has 4 separate steps: read, meditate, pray and contemplate. First a passage of Scripture is read, then its meaning is reflected upon. This is followed by prayer and contemplation on the Word of God.

The focus of Lectio Divina is not a theological analysis of biblical passages but viewing them with Christ as the key to their meaning. For example, given Jesus' statement in John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you" an analytical approach would focus on the reason for the statement during the Last Supper, the biblical context, etc. But in Lectio Divina rather than "dissecting peace", the practitioner "enters peace" and shares in the peace of Christ. In Christian teachings, this form of meditative prayer leads to an increased knowledge of Christ.

The roots of Scriptural reflection and interpretation go back to Origen in the 3rd century, after whom St. Ambrose taught them to St. Augustine. The monastic practice of Lectio Divina was first established in the 6th century by Saint Benedict. It was then formalized as a 4 step process by the Carthusian monk, Guigo II in the 12th century. In the 20th century, the constitution Dei Verbum of Pope Paul VI recommended Lectio Divina for the general public. Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the importance of Lectio Divina in the 21st century.
12/20/11 1:37 PM
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TheStewedOwl
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Edited: 12/20/11 1:43 PM
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Or, if you're looking for a meditative practice that is more like spiritual Boot Camp, you could look into the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, who used them to train the Society of Jesus (Jesuit) order. Be advised that these contemplative practices place extremely rigorous demands on the individual, and require an almost Zen-like rigor in focusing the consciousness and in preparing the individual for the demands of a more Christ-centered life.

It's a traditional Catholic practice, often carried out under the guidance of a spiritual director, over the course of about a month at a retreat, but can also be done individually. Protestant Christians have shown an increasing interest in the practice, and some have adapted it to their own spiritual focus.

Yet another wikipedia article about it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_Exercises_of_Ignatius_of_Loyola
12/20/11 2:41 PM
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Ridgeback
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Benedictus -  Anyone here practice it? I've begun to start with meditating around 5 minutes here and there. Either on the scriptures or perhaps a profound and wise quote.

Ridge, do the EO meditate or anything similar? Phone Post

 I am not sure if "meditation" is the correct word for it, but yes there is a tradition in Orthodoxy called "hesychia" which roughly translates to stillness or silence.  The idea here is that you are finding a way to be in the present moment, which is the only way you can meet God.  The Jesus Prayer is sort of the method that is used to accomplish this.  This hearkens back to St. Paul's admonition to "pray without ceasing" but it also gets to the heart of Orthodoxy spirituality, which is focused primarily on healing the inner brokeness we are all subject to since the Fall.  It isn't an easy concept to explain in a short post, but this priest, in this series of talks, does a good job of explaining what is going on.  The basic idea is to take your consciouness out of the mind, which is a great tool, but never meant to be the center of consciousness, and into the heart, which is the normative state for humanity before the fall.  You know you are in your mind if you are bored, if you are judging others, if you are fearful about the future, if you are desiring things, etc.   The heart is at peace in the present moment and is tapped into the life of God.  I've had glimpses of people in their hearts and it is like Jesus walked into the room.  The Greek word for heart is often "nous" so Orthodox take the admonition that the pure in heart will indeed see God literally.  Basically the Jesus Prayer is like polishing a dirty window that has become clouded over with dirt and can't let the light in.  When the window is polished the light of God comes in.

Start at the bottom with these talks and you will have a pretty good idea of what is going on and how it all works.  There is also a very famous Russian book called "The Way of the Pilgrim" that covers the Jesus Prayer as well:

http://ancientfaith.com/specials/archimandrite_meletios_webber 




12/20/11 2:42 PM
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Benedictus
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Wow, thanks! Phone Post
12/20/11 3:10 PM
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TheStewedOwl
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Good post, Ridgeback!
12/20/11 3:40 PM
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Lahi
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http://www.amazon.com/Full-Catastrophe-Living-Wisdom-Illness/dp/0385303122/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324413525&sr=8-1

A link one of Cabbot-Zinn's books if you're interested. He makes a lot more sense than I do.
12/20/11 3:43 PM
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Lahi
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From Amazon

"Kabat-Zinn is founder and director of the stress reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, and the "full catastrophe" of which he writes is the spectrum of stress in life. His program, in a word, is meditation, rescued from the mire of mysticism that made it trendy in the 1960s...this book is also a terrific introduction for anyone who has considered meditating but was afraid it would be too difficult or would include religious practices they found foreign. Kabat-Zinn focuses on "mindfulness," a concept that involves living in the moment, paying attention, and simply "being" rather than "doing." While you can practice anything "mindfully," from taking a walk to cleaning your house, Kabat-Zinn presents several meditation techniques that focus the attention most clearly, whether it's on a simple phrase, your breathing, or various parts of your body. The book goes into detail about how hospital patients have either improved their health or simply come to feel better despite their illness by using these techniques, but these meditations can help anyone deal with stress and gain a calmer outlook on life. "When we use the word healing to describe the experiences of people in the stress clinic, what we mean above all is that they are undergoing a profound transformation of view," Kabat-Zinn writes. 'Out of this shift in perspective comes an ability to act with greater balance and inner security in the world.'"
12/20/11 5:18 PM
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gord96
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When I was attending an Orthodox parish I read the Art of Prayer by Igumen Chariton. It was pretty much all about what Ridgeback mentioned. Taking your prayer out of your mouth and your head and into your heart.

It was pretty in depth. No doubt that this sort of prayer takes years to master. Hard to do in our age of distractions. The guys that really had this down pat were not surprisingly, monks.
12/20/11 8:53 PM
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Ridgeback
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And of course the need for distractions is one of the symptoms of being in the mind.  Fr. Mel, in those talks I linked above, says that we hide from our thoughts in distractions.  I think most of us couldn't sit in a cave for a week alone without going mad from our thoughts.  That alone should tell us something is very wrong.  

I forgot to mention too that Fr. Mel was an Oxford trained psychologist and was a therapist for many years. He is also a recovering alcoholic so he knows a lot about what is wrong with us first hand.  
12/22/11 12:59 PM
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Lahi
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^^^Listening to one of his talks now, he's good. He just cuts right to the heart of what makes us tick.

12/22/11 1:46 PM
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Lahi
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Put on one of his recordings last night on a whim, just happened to be sitting on my table. Like a lot of people, it seems like there's often a dozen or so things bouncing around in my head, resentments, fears, all that stuff - things I'm often barely conscious of that are dominating my mind. With in 5 minutes of the talk, the Fr. had cut to the heart of almost all of them. Not easy answers but a good hard reality check. Glad his name came up on here again.


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