March 2014

Meditation Opportunities

Thursday evenings at 1st Presbyterian

We will meet for meditation on all Thursdays in March and April (except April 17, Maundy Thursday) from 7:00 – 9:00 pm in the fellowship hall. Our format for the first hour is two 20-minute periods of sitting in silence with a 10 minute walking meditation in between. For the second hour, we are watching videotapes of Fr. Thomas Keating’s “Spiritual Journey” series. This series is produced by Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. and describes the method and background of Centering Prayer developed and taught by Thomas Keating, a Cistercian monk at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado.
The topics the series covers are Developing Centering Prayer, Models of the Human Condition, Paradigms of the Spiritual Journey, and Contemplation the Divine Therapy.
Tuesday evenings at Hei’s house

Hei has opened his house to those who would like to join him for meditation from 6:00pm – 6:30pm on Tuesdays. It is one half hour of sitting meditation. Please call him at 899-4845 for directions and to let him know that you are coming so he can prepare a place for you.

March Retreat Day

Saturday, March 29, 2014        8:30 am – 3:00 pm        In the Fellowship Hall
A Day of Zen Meditation

Joseph and Hei will lead our retreat day with a focus on Zen meditation.  We will have an hour and a half meditation in the morning, a two-hour talk and discussion time, time for lunch in silence, and conclude with another hour and a half time of meditation.  Come join us as we learn from Zen practice how to deepen our silence and bring more love and peace into the world.  Please bring a sack lunch.  Coffee, tea and refreshments will be provided.  A freewill offering will be available.

Upcoming Events

Ongoing Hei’s Tai Chi class at Oldemeyer
Center (Tu/Thur at 10:30 am)

April 26 MMG retreat day 8:30 am – 1:00 pm
Sacred Poetry

May 31 MMG retreat day 8:30 am – 1:00 pm
Compassionate Foot Massage

June 28 MMG retreat day 8:30 am – 3:00 pm
A Day of Zen Meditation

Summary of Last Month’s Retreat

For our February retreat day we were treated to a presentation of Tai Chi by Rev. Hei. We are fortunate to have his expertise, as he has been working with a Master Teacher, Dr. Paul Lam of Sidney, Australia for the past 10 years and has practiced Tai Chi for years before that. Hei shared the history of Tai Chi, the health benefits for those who practice, and the personal joy and wellbeing he feels from his everyday practice.
The first mention of Tai Chi in China was in the Tang Dynasty (618 – 960) in the Wudang mountain temple. The Chen Style, Yang Style, WU Style, and Sun Style forms of Tai Chi developed from 1600 until the early 1900’s in China, and the first Tai Chi School in the United States opened in 1968 in New York.
Tai Chi is born out of the Taoist understanding of creation and the universe. It is their attempt to unite with the energy that created the universe and everything that is in it. The Taoist belief is that in the beginning there was only WU JI, a void. For some unknown reason, a polarity of YING and YANG was born. Energy began to flow between these two polarities of YING and YANG and the process of flowing energy was called Tai Chi. The energy is called CHI. Hei shared that when he practices Tai Chi and experiences the CHI, he feels as if he is experiencing the energy that has created and is creating the universe and everything in it. He is participating in the process of creation.
The health benefits of a Tai Chi practice include:
the benefits associated with low-impact, weight-bearing, aerobic exercise
to improve physical condition, muscle strength and flexibility
to improve balance and decrease the risk of falls
to ease pain and stiffness (such as in arthritis)
to improve sleep
for overall wellness

We all had a chance to participate in Tai Chi exercises and movement. It is a good counterbalance to our sitting still in meditation. There is the same connection to the depth of silence — whether in motion or in stillness.

In closing,

“Do not seek to become powerful,
Seek only to release fear from the body-mind.
Do not chase after joy,
Only breathe out your pain, your grief, your loss.
Do not ask for mastery,
Ask only to shed that which is unnatural and disharmonious.

Darkness and day follow each other,
Heavy is the root of light
Stillness is the mother of movement
Emptiness is the source of ten thousand things.

Release, breathe, shed, stand still, un-do,
Let your tears fall into the earth beneath your feet,
Let your sorrow sink and become your strength,
What you thought was weakness will become your strength,
Where fear has been dissolved, laughter blooms;
After looking inward, the spirit rises.”

Cheng Man Ching (Tai Chi Wisdom)

 

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February 2014

Meditation Opportunities

Thursday evenings at 1st Presbyterian  

We will meet for meditation on all Thursdays in February and March  from 7:00 – 9:00 pm in the fellowship hall. Our format for the first hour is two 20-minute periods of sitting in silence with a 10 minute walking meditation in between.  For the second hour, we are watching videotapes of Fr. Thomas Keating’s “Spiritual Journey” series.  This series is produced by Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. and describes the method and background of Centering Prayer developed and taught by Thomas Keating, a Cistercian monk at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado.

The topics the series covers are Developing Centering Prayer, Models of the Human Condition, Paradigms of the Spiritual Journey, and Contemplation the Divine Therapy.

Tuesday evenings at Hei’s house

Hei has opened his house to those who would like to join him for meditation from 6:00pm – 6:30pm on Tuesdays.  It is one half hour of sitting meditation.    Please call him at 899-4845 for directions and to let him know that you are coming so he can prepare a place for you.

February Retreat Day 

                                            Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 

                                                8:30 am – 1:00 pm

                                              In the Fellowship Hall  

                                                     Tai Chi with Hei                                                                                                      

Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practices.  Tai Chi is categorized as an Internal Martial Art, as opposed to External Martial Arts such as Karate, Kung Fu, or other fighting arts. Tai Chi encourages us to work with our internal and external energies that are readily available for us to access.  It encourages us to move slow, smooth, and steady.  In Tai Chi we move with an upright posture, and this helps open our joints to facilitate better passage of energy (chi).  Join us this Saturday for our Monterey Meditation Group retreat day with a focus on Tai Chi.  Hei Takarabe will be our presenter.  Hei has been practicing Tai Chi for over 10 years, and he encourages us all to join him in the fun and health benefits.  Hei attributes the practice of Tai Chi for his own good health.  It is especially good for arthritis.  It helps to improve flexibility,  muscular strength, and fitness. Hei will introduce Tai Chi from both the theoretical and practical points of view.  We will also have a chance to experience the practice and get a taste of Tai Chi.

Upcoming Events

Ongoing                                  Hei’s Tai Chi class at Oldemeyer

Center (Tu/Thur at 10:30 am)

March 29                                MMG retreat day     8:30 am – 3:00 pm

                                              Day of Zen sitting

April 26                                 MMG retreat day     8:30 am – 1:00 pm

Sacred Poetry

Summary of Last Month’s Retreat

January’s retreat day was the third edition of Susan Raab’s presentation of Christian Symbolism in the Harry Potter literary series.  This time we focused on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling.  It is such a treat for those who attend to catch the infectious joy Susan has for this literary work and the delight she gets from delving into the symbolism between the pages.  Susan shared with us the major theme of the book:  the quest to find one’s father.  This theme plays out in Harry’s journey throughout the book to discover more about his father who died before he had a chance to get to know him.  The theme can also be expressed as one of self-discovery as we all must try to find our true character and destiny.  This is evidenced in questions such as “Who am I?”, “Where did I come from?”, and “Where am I going?”.

This Harry Potter book also addresses transformation from depression and despair to hope.  This despair is symbolized by the Dememtors that suck out the soul of Harry, leaving him worse than dead.  In order to overcome his despair, he is taught a spell by Lupin — “Expecto Patronum!”.  The symbolism of this spell is the latin translation “I long for Little Father” or “I long for my Savior”.  Harry has to work at this spell throughout the book to allow it to get strong enough to deflect the Dementors.  In the end, he realizes he has the power to cast the Patronus spell and he realizes that he is no longer an orphan but actually has much support from those who love him.  He learns from Dumbledore that love is more powerful than death.  In fact, his father was helping him strengthen his Patronus spell all along.

In closing,

“You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us?

You think that we don’t recall them more clearly than ever

in times of great trouble?  Your father is alive in you Harry, and

shows himself most plainly when you have need of him.”

Dumbledore from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you.  Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also.  In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”

Jesus from John 14: 18 – 20

 

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January 2014

Meditation Opportunities

Thursday evenings at 1st Presbyterian 

We will meet for meditation on all Thursdays in January and February from 7:00 – 9:00 pm in the fellowship hall. Our format for the first hour is two 20-minute periods of sitting in silence with a 10 minute walking meditation in between.  For the second hour, we are watching videotapes of Fr. Thomas Keating’s “Spiritual Journey” series.  This series is produced by Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. and describes the method and background of Centering Prayer developed and taught by Thomas Keating, a Cistercian monk at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado.

The topics the series covers are Developing Centering Prayer, Models of the Human Condition, Paradigms of the Spiritual Journey, and Contemplation the Divine Therapy.  

Tuesday evenings at Hei’s house

Hei has opened his house to those who would like to join him for meditation from 6:00pm – 6:30pm on Tuesdays.  It is one half hour of sitting meditation.    Please call him at 899-4845 for directions and to let him know that you are coming so he can prepare a place for you.

January Retreat Day

          Saturday, January 25, 2014   8:30 am – 1:00 pm  

 In Fellowship Hall                      

 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 

How Faith overcomes Despair … a dry sermon topic until the tale is told with a luminous white stag defeating a dark, soul-sucking shadow… then it’s a record-breaking book and movie!

Join us on Saturday, January 25 when Susan Raab taps into “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (book 3) to reveal another layer of how Harry cast his global spell with J.K. Rowling’s enchanting system of heart-touching Christian symbols.

Upcoming Events

Ongoing                                  Hei’s Tai Chi class at Oldemeyer

Center (Tu/Thur at 10:30 am)

February 22                             MMG Retreat Day/  Tai Chi with Hei

8:30 am – 1:00 pm

March 29                                  MMG Retreat Day/   Zen sitting

8:30 am – 3:00 pm

April 26                                    MMG Retreat Day/  Sacred Poetry

8:30 am – 1:00 pm

Summary of November’s Retreat Day

For our November retreat day we focused on bringing to light the spirituality of the five adult generations alive today.  The talk was based on the book Faithful Generations by John Mabry.  The author writes as a Pastor from Generation X and as such proclaims that the book is subjective and un-scientific. His observations, however, opened a window for us see into the shadow side of our own generation and helped us understand other generations a little bit more.  There was much laughter and stories as we delved into this subject matter.  Here is a brief look at John Mabry’s descriptions of the five generations.

The G.I. Generation birth years are from 1901 until 1924, which makes them currently 89 – 112 years old.  This generation is grounded in tradition, to a collective idea and to authority which was not questioned.  They had tremendous courage, sacrifices, and achievements.  Tom Brokaw called them “The Greatest Generation”.  This generation is seeking financial, national, and medical security.  Their generational motto is “Waste not, want not”.   Spiritually they are the most overtly religious generation and they accepted faith as they received it.  They are traditional believers who approach religion from a conservative, literal orientation.  For the G.I. Generation, spiritual growth is equated with growing in responsibility and obedience.

The Silent Generation birth years are from 1925 until 1942, which makes them currently 71 – 88 years old.  This generation followed in the G.I.’s shadow and continued their pet projects.  They were focused on humanizing and softening the institutions built by the G.I.’s.  This generation is largely unnoticed by other generations.  Their greatest achievement was the Civil Rights Movement.  This generation is motivated by compassion rather than ideology.  The Silents are seeking Liberty and Justice for all and their motto is “Social Justice for all”.  The pursuit of justice and peace is integral to their spirituality.  Peacemaking and reformation are their spiritual gifts.  They are liberal believers who see their faith as partial truth whose symbols and metaphors point to the mystery of the Divine.  Church attendance is highest among Silents than any other generation.  For the Silents, spiritual growth is equated with growing compassion for self and others.

The Baby Boomer Generation birth years are from 1943 – 1960, which makes them currently 53 – 70 years old.  This Generation formed as a reaction to the G.I. Generation and thus created the largest generation gap between these two generations.  The Boomers grew up thinking their parents were hypocrites.  They saw the dichotomy between the appearances of a happy life in the suburbs and the reality of domestic violence, prejudice and patriarchal dominance.  This generation is seeking transformation from injustice to justice (and the material to the spiritual).   Their generational motto is “Give Peace a Chance”.  The Boomers are Spiritual Eclectic believers that pick and choose their beliefs from a variety of traditional and contemporary sources.  They view spiritual growth as growing in concern for others and growing in awareness of the Presence.

Generation X birth years are 1961 to 1980, which makes them currently 33 – 52 years old.  Gen X feel that their parents rejected them through Divorce, having a negative attitude toward children, and abandoning them through the latch-key-kid phenomenon of the 1970’s.  These children felt unimportant and feel like no one is there to help them.  They are intolerant of authority figures and suspicious of institutions.   They are seeking survival and their generational motto is “Whatever . ..”  Churches hold little appeal for Gen X.  They are more likely to trust their own experience, friends, and pop culture as sources of wisdom than scripture and tradition.  If they do follow a faith tradition they are most likely Religious Agnostics.  If they don’t follow a faith tradition they tend to be Ethical Humanists.  They view spiritual growth as growth in authenticity, transparency and honesty.

Lastly, we have the Millennials, whose birth years are 1981 to 2001, which makes them currently 12 – 32 years old.  The Millennials are the largest generation ever.  They are hopeful, optimistic, and happy.  Moral and cultural relativism is common in this generation.  This generation is very relational.  Everything is evaluated according to how it helps or takes away form their ability to tend to their relationships.  Lifestyle and friends are rated above their job.  This generation is seeking happiness and their motto is “TR DR”  (an acronym text message for “too long, didn’t read”).  The Millennials are the least religious generation alive today.  Few are in religious communities, few pray, few do religious study.  Their faith style is either Ethical Humanism or no faith style at all.  For Millennials, spiritual growth is growth from happiness for self to happiness for the greatest number of people.

In closing,

I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant

Between me and you and your descendants after you

And for the generations to come,

To be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

Genesis 17:7

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November/December 2013

Christmas Project and Party

The holiday season has arrived and once again Monterey Meditation Group is joining First Presbyterian Church in the Adopt-a-Family Christmas project.  We have received a family of eight from an after school program in a Seaside Middle School.  A sign-up list will be available Thursday Nov. 21 and Dec. 5.  There will be opportunities to give a family member a gift or monetary donations that will go towards a grocery store gift card. The gifts need to be wrapped with the family member’s name and returned by Thursday Dec. 12 in order to get them to the church by Sunday Dec. 15. Thanks so much for helping us spread Christmas Cheer.

Another traditional December activity is our Christmas Cookie Party.  After our 7:00 Thursday meditation on Dec. 19, we will share in fellowship and our favorite Christmas cookies.  Bring your favorite holiday cookie or dessert and join us.

Meditation Opportunities

Thursday evenings at 1st Presbyterian 

We will meet for meditation on all Thursdays in November (except Thanksgiving) and December (except Dec. 26) from 7:00 – 9:00 pm in the fellowship hall. Our format for the first hour is two 20-minute periods of sitting in silence with a 10 minute walking meditation in between.  For the second hour, we are watching videotapes of Fr. Thomas Keating’s “Spiritual Journey” series.  This series is produced by Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. and describes the method and background of Centering Prayer developed and taught by Thomas Keating, a Cistercian monk at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado.

The topics the series covers are Developing Centering Prayer, Models of the Human Condition, Paradigms of the Spiritual Journey, and Contemplation the Divine Therapy.  

Tuesday evenings at Hei’s house 

Hei has opened his house to those who would like to join him for meditation from 6:00pm – 6:30pm on Tuesdays.  It is one half hour of sitting meditation.    Please call him at 899-4845 for directions and to let him know that you are coming so he can prepare a place for you.

November Retreat Day

          Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013   8:30 am – 1:00 pm                                                         In the Fellowship Hall

 Spirituality Across Generations

 Join us Saturday November 23 for a day of meditation and an exploration of the unique culture and spirituality of each of the five living adult generations (spanning the G.I. generation to the Millennials).  We’ll look at the distinctive values, language, and spiritual needs of each generation and come to understand what works for one generation does not necessarily work for another.   We’ll see where the generation gaps are the widest and which generations seem to work best with each other.  We’ll also look at the faith style, prayer style and spiritual growth focus of each generation.

The talk will be based on John Mabry’s recent book titled “Faithful Generations:  Effective Ministry across Generations”.  John Mabry is a Presbyterian Pastor and writes from the perspective of Generation X.

Upcoming Events

Ongoing                                  Hei’s Tai Chi class at Oldemeyer

Center (Tu/Thur at 10:30 am)

Nov. 26                                   Interfaith Community Thanksgiving

Carmel Mission   7:00 pm

Dec. 19                                     Cookie Party after 7:00 pm   Meditation

No retreat day in December

Jan. 25                                       MMG retreat day     8:30 am – 1:00 pm

                                                   Harry Potter 

Summary of Last Month’s Retreat with Ruben Habito 

Thirty participants shared a wonderful retreat with Ruben last month.  We shared in silent and walking meditation, lunch, a tea ceremony, and insightful talks by Ruben.

Ruben’s talks focused on looking at stages of the spiritual journey from both the Christian and Zen perspective.  He began with the question:  “Where are we heading on this spiritual journey?”  The answer:  “Home”.  With our spiritual practice of meditation we are practicing returning to the core of our being, which is home.  When we are at home, we are at home with each person we meet and we feel at home wherever we are.  There is no “other” when we are at home.

A classic Christian form of the spiritual journey is the three stages of Purification, Illumination, and Union.  In the purification stage we realize “my life is a mess” or ask, “is that all there is?”  We realize we are vulnerable, can’t achieve our goals on our own, and learn to accept our shadow and ourselves.  (We never complete this stage in our lives – we are in a process of ever deepening letting go throughout our life.)  In Illumination, we are invited to look at the life of Jesus as the embodiment of the Way.  In this stage we hear the good news of Mark 1:11 – “You are my beloved in whom I am well pleased”.  This good news is enlightenment in that we awake to the realization that we are already at home.  There are no conditions to the love God has for us.  The third stage of the spiritual journey is Union.  In this stage we enter deeply into the place where we are one with everyone and everything.  In the Zen tradition this is expressed in the figure of Kwan Yin – the embodiment of compassion.  Kwan Yin is the one who hears the sounds of the world and becomes those sounds.  In Kwan Yin the hearer and the sounds are no longer separate.  She is the one who suffers alongside the suffering. When we come home to our true self, we are all Kwan Yin.  

In closing,

Rejoice always,

Pray constantly,

Give thanks in all circumstances;

For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you 

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

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October 2013

Meditation Opportunities

Thursday evenings at 1st Presbyterian  

We will meet for meditation on all Thursdays in October and November (except Thanksgiving) from 7:00 – 9:00 pm in the fellowship hall. Our format for the first hour is two 20-minute periods of sitting in silence with a 10 minute walking meditation in between.  For the second hour, we are watching videotapes of Fr. Thomas Keating’s “Spiritual Journey” series.  This series is produced by Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. and describes the method and background of Centering Prayer developed and taught by Thomas Keating, a Cistercian monk at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado.

The topics the series covers are Developing Centering Prayer, Models of the Human Condition, Paradigms of the Spiritual Journey, and Contemplation the Divine Therapy.  

Tuesday evenings at Hei’s house 

Hei has opened his house to those who would like to join him for meditation from 6:00pm – 6:30pm on Tuesdays.  It is one half hour of sitting meditation.    Please call him at 899-4845 for directions and to let him know that you are coming so he can prepare a place for you.

Monterey Meditation Retreat

Contemplative Prayer Retreat

Zen as Engaged Spirituality:
Toward Healing a Wounded World

Ruben L.F. Habito

October 18–19, 2013

                                           HELD AT                                                            SPONSORED BY

                 First Presbyterian Church of Monterey                         Monterey           Meditation Group

                    501 El Dorado Street, Monterey, CA                              www.MontereyMeditation.com

Ruben L.F. Habito—a practicing Catholic and former Jesuit priest, as well as an acknowledged Zen master and a professor in the Perkins School of Theology and Southern Methodist University—makes a clear case that Zen practice can deepen a Christian’s experience of God, further clarify the Gospel teachings of Jesus, and enable one to live a more joyful, compassionate, and socially engaged life.

Ruben Habito is the author of numerous publications, in both Japanese and English, on Zen and Christianity and is a prominent figure in the Buddhist-Christian Dialogue. A native of the Philippines, Habito served as a Jesuit priest in Japan under the guidance of the great spiritual pioneer Father Hugo Enomiya-Lassalle, and studied Zen with renowned teacher Koun Yamada. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

                                            FRIDAY                                                                  SATURDAY

                                     October 18, 2013                                                       October 19, 2013

                                        Presentation                                                                Workshop

                                   7:00 pm – 9:00 pm                                               9:00 am – 4:00 pm 

Suggested Donation for Friday is $15, for Saturday $40, and $50 for both days.  Lunch is provided on Saturday.
All levels of meditation experience are welcome. Bring your own cushion or bench if you have one. Chairs are available.
For more information, contact Janet at hoffmanjms@gmail.com or 831-484-1686

Upcoming Events

Ongoing                                  Hei’s Tai Chi class at Oldemeyer

Center (Tu/Thur at 10:30 am)

No classes in September

October 12                              Garage Sale at Hei’s house

8am – 12 noon

Oct. 18/19                               MMG Weekend Retreat with

Ruben Habito

Friday 7 – 9 pm, Saturday 9 – 4 pm

Nov. 23                                    MMG Retreat 8:30 – 1:00 pm

Faithful Generations:  Effective

Ministry Across Generational Lines

Dec. 19                                   Cookie Party after 7:00 pm

meditation

 

Summary of Last Month’s Retreat Day

Joe Cotham and Joe Neary presented an inspiring and informative talk on neuroscience and the fruits of meditation taken from  Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson and Rachael Mendius.   The talk began with a focus on how the Mind/Brain is a source of our suffering and concluded with the ways our meditation practice can help us mitigate pain with the fruits of happiness, equanimity, love, and wisdom.

One of the main sources of suffering in Buddhist teaching is the fact that everything is always changing and we resist it.  Our brain is always trying to stop the river – it chases after moments that are not yet here, and wants to hold on to what passes by.  When our mind is in this state we are never satisfied.  We learned that the brain actually secretes chemicals that keep us on this wheel of suffering, and that it goes back to earliest humans and their strategies of survival.   As we live moment by moment, the part of our brain called the hippocampus decides if what we encounter is a threat or an opportunity.  If there is a pleasant encounter, the neurotransmitter dopamine is secreted and it creates a sense of desire.  If there is an unpleasant encounter, the dopamine levels are discontinued.  Thus our brains are wired to chase carrots (pleasant experiences) and avoid sticks (unpleasant experiences).  The human survival need to avoid sticks (death and danger) is the most powerful wiring in the brain.  The brain is able to detect bad information more quickly than pleasant.  The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive experiences.  And we learned that many of problems of the human condition are tied to this fact:  greed is the desire for more and more positive experience, hatred is aversion to negative experience, and delusion is not seeing how things are ever changing in the world.  So, with these few facts about how our brains are wired, I suddenly have much more compassion for others and myself when I get caught in these feelings and when I am not able to control my thoughts in my meditation practice.  It’s a set up – our brains are working against us and we need to be patient with others and ourselves!

Our practice of meditation is a way to work with this wiring and create new pathways and choices.  One way to cool the flames and promote happiness that Joe and Joe shared is to balance the inhale and the exhale in our breathing.  The inhale activates the Sympathetic Nervous System and the exhale activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System and the balance of these two is our best bet for a long, healthy life.  A second way that meditation helps is our ability to practice equanimity.  The authors used an image of a mudroom in a house to teach us to leave our reactions to things in an inner mudroom so that our most inner selves remain spacious and in balance.  The mudroom creates a buffer between the feeling tones of an experience.  This is a practice of non-reactivity.

And finally the reminder of the importance of love to help heal and ease our suffering.  The story of the two wolves was told.  Each of us has a Wolf of Love and a Wolf of Hate within us.  The one that we feed the most grows the most.  It is not possible to kill the Wolf of Hate, only to continue to nourish the Wolf of Love so that it becomes more and more of who we are.

We also watched a fascinating online video by Kelly McGonigal.  In it she talked about the “default mode network” and the “alternate default mode” that occurs with our mind.  When we are not focused on a task, the default mode network of our mind kicks in.  In this mode we are in the self-referential “I, me, mine” mode and our mind is full of stories, commentary, and images of the past and future.  This default mode also seems to drain us of more energy.  Brain scans show that a certain area of the brain is active when we are in this default mode.  Brain scans were also studied from long time meditators.   Another area of the brain was found to be active in these meditators called the “alternate default mode”.  In this mode the mind is focused on the experiential self in the present moment.  This awareness of self is based on awareness of the body, not from the stories and thoughts that the mind brings.

The video also described a study on pain tolerance using these same long-time meditators.  It was found that they had a higher pain tolerance.  They attended directly to the experience of pain and turned off the commentary of the default mode network.  It was found that the more they could turn off the commentary and stay present, the higher their pain tolerance.  Quite amazing!  And conversely, those who tried to distract themselves and ignore the pain were found to be in default mode and they experienced more pain.  If they ignored their pain, they got more default mode and more suffering.  This shows another great benefit of meditation.  The more we are able to train our minds to use the alternate default mode by staying present to our experiential bodies during meditation, the more we will reduce our suffering.  

In closing 

I have tasted the fruit of the earth, O God.

I have seen autumn trees hang heavily with heaven’s gifts.

I have known people pregnant with your spirit of generosity.

Let these be guides to me this day.

And may Mary who knew her womb filled with your goodness

Teach me the wisdom that is born amidst pain.

May I know that deeper than any fallowness in me

Is the seed planted in the womb of my soul.

May I know that greater than any barrenness in the world

Is the harvest to be justly shared.

 

J. Philip Newell

Celtic Benediction

 

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September 2013

Meditation Opportunities 

Thursday evenings at 1st Presbyterian  

We will meet for meditation on all Thursdays in September and October from 7:00 – 9:00 pm in the fellowship hall. Our format for the first hour is two 20-minute periods of sitting in silence with a 10 minute walking meditation in between.  For the second hour, we are watching videotapes of Fr. Thomas Keating’s “Spiritual Journey” series.  This series is produced by Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. and describes the method and background of Centering Prayer developed and taught by Thomas Keating, a Cistercian monk at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado.

The topics the series covers are Developing Centering Prayer, Models of the Human Condition, Paradigms of the Spiritual Journey, and Contemplation the Divine Therapy.  

Tuesday evenings at Hei’s house

Hei has opened his house to those who would like to join him for meditation from 6:00pm – 6:30pm on Tuesdays. There will be no Tuesday evening meditation in September and it will begin again on Tuesday Oct. 1.   It is one half hour of sitting meditation.    Please call him at 899-4845 for directions and to let him know that you are coming so he can prepare a place for you.

September Retreat Day

          Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013   8:30 am – 1:00 pm                    

  In the Fellowship Hall

The Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom 

Joe Neary and Joseph Cotham will lead us in an exploration of recent advances in neuroscience that provide a better understanding of consciousness and meditative practices.  We will discuss, meditate, and engage in activities intended to broaden our spiritual horizons. You’ll participate in exercises drawn from “Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom” by the neuropsychologist, Rich Hansen and neurologist, Richard Mendius.

We will discuss recent discoveries in neuroscience that provide a more detailed explanation of the effect of mindfulness and meditation on the brain.  Additionally, we will share insights from The Emotional Life of Your Brain.

A freewill offering will be available. 

Upcoming Events   

Ongoing                                  Hei’s Tai Chi class at Oldemeyer

Center (Tu/Thur at 10:30 am)

No classes in September

October 12                              Garage Sale at Hei’s house

8am – 12 noon

Oct. 18/19                               MMG Weekend Retreat with

Ruben Habito

Friday 7 – 9 pm, Saturday 9 – 4 pm

Nov. 23                                    MMG Retreat 8:30 – 1:00 pm

Faithful Generations:  Effective

Ministry Across Generational Lines

In closing, 

My Lord God,

I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.  And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.  I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.  And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.  Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.  I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. 

Thomas Merton

Thoughts in Solitude

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July / August 2013

Meditation Opportunities 

Thursday evenings at 1st Presbyterian  

We will meet for meditation on all Thursdays in July and August from 7:00 – 9:00 pm in the fellowship hall. Our format for the first hour is two 20-minute periods of sitting in silence with a 10 minute walking meditation in between.  For the second hour, we will be watching videotapes of Fr. Thomas Keating’s “Spiritual Journey” series.  This series is produced by Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. and describes the method and background of Centering Prayer developed and taught by Thomas Keating, a Cistercian monk at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado.

The topics the series covers are Developing Centering Prayer, Models of the Human Condition, Paradigms of the Spiritual Journey, and Contemplation the Divine Therapy.  

Tuesday evenings at Hei’s house 

Hei has opened his house to those who would like to join him for meditation from 6:00pm – 6:30pm on Tuesdays.  It is one half hour of sitting meditation.    Please call him at 899-4845 for directions and to let him know that you are coming so he can prepare a place for you.

July Retreat Day 

          Saturday, July 27, 2013   8:30 am – 1:00 pm                                                          In the Fellowship Hall

Sacred Journey of the Heart 

This Saturday we will have two sessions of sitting and walking meditation and for our presentation we will watch a video titled “Sacred Journey of the Heart”.   This video features a group of scientists and theologians who explore the Heart and weave together the journey of how science and spirituality are combining to create a new reality.  We can learn how to regulate our emotional landscape by choosing to live with heart-based principles.  We can discover what science has proven about the power of the heart.  And we can connect these scientific findings with the wisdom on the ancestors.  Join us for a day of silence and inspiration.  A freewill offering will be available. 

Upcoming Events

Ongoing                                  Hei’s Tai Chi class at Oldemeyer

Center (Tu/Thur at 10:30 am)

August 24                                Garage Sale at Hei’s house

8am – 12 noon

No August retreat day

Sept. 28                                   MMG Retreat Day 8:30 – 1:00 pm

Buddha’s Brain Part 2

Oct. 18/19                               MMG Weekend Retreat with

Ruben Habito

Friday 7 – 9 pm, Saturday 9 – 4 pm

Nov. 23                                    MMG Retreat 8:30 – 1:00 pm

Faithful Generations

In closing 

Fireworks ended

And spectators gone away . . .

Ah, How Vast and Dark!

 

Shiki

 

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