Author: Marc Thomas Shaw

A Simple Practice To Get Out Of Our Heads

In contemplative teaching we talk a lot about structures and stages, about mental habits and patterns, about awareness and self-observation, about attachments and letting go.And making a daily practice of contemplative prayer or a similar meditative practice certainly helps create the conditions for the peace that passes even the ability for understanding, when we begin to see that false self, the ego for what it is – a contrived system, a distraction.

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A Key Problem Facing Contemplatives

Several years ago, Fr. Richard Rohr taught a Summer intensive at a nearby Seminary and gave an evening talk as well with a Q&A session.Among the many topics touched on that night, he explained to a group of Protestants something of how the Franciscan lineage functions within the greater Catholic tradition. He clearly identified with the tradition and was proud of the work of Franciscans both lay and monastic.

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A Contemplative Ego?

After engaging in contemplative practice for about seven years, in mid-2014 I had an awakening experience and for about 3 months it seemed like I had superpowers.Things that would normally eat at me just fell by the wayside. I had a sudden burst of energy and wrote most of my book during that stretch. I had insights into questions I’d long been diving into. It was like a bubble had burst and I could see relationships, the outside world, and the inner landscape with sudden freshness and clarity.

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A Checklist for Resurrection

Traditionally, on Easter Sunday, we identify closely with a person who suffered, died, and rose again. In the Christian tradition, Christ’s resurrection is kind of the whole point.But often we turn it into a mental story of something out there. We think of it mechanically in a sense, it’s something that happened and if I respond thus and so it means I don’t have to die or go to hell when I die or however we conceive of that. It’s as if a fact we either accept or reject, and that determines our afterlife.

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A Contemplative Checklist

A famous quote in contemplative circles reads “the mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.” What this refers to is our normal tendency to be pulled this way and that way by the incessant stream of unconscious thought.Instead of using our minds when necessary, we are mostly used by our minds and kept in a kind of mental prison. Some of us nurse and rehearse our resentments, some of us obsess over our never-ending to-do list. Some of us stay steeped in our losses, limitations, unfulfilled needs, dreams, or fears about the future.

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A Dark Secret To Happiness?

I recently spent the weekend with an old friend who was going through a series of losses on several fronts. His grandmother, his mother, and his dog had died within a year, and he separated from his wife and was undergoing divorce proceedings.Meanwhile, there are two small children to take care of on a tight budget as he wraps up an advanced degree program. On the surface, the challenges seem overwhelming.

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A Simple Practice to Grow Lovingkindness

Here is a simple practice of moving down into the little lower layer and getting more deeply in touch with that heart that is always giving-of-itself. Cliché as it sounds, it grows within us that very thing we often claim the world needs more of: lovingkindness. And all it takes is a few minutes of time and intention.

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A Simple Practice To Grow Lovingkindness

As a child growing up in an Evangelical context, Catholic depictions of Jesus fascinated me. One especially striking image was that of the Sacred Heart in which Christ touches his chest with his heart aglow.Maybe it seemed archaic or too formal or stoic on the one hand or too simplistic or too melodramatic. Maybe it seemed too obviously metaphorical and therefore a little bit dangerous. But maybe the most striking aspect of it was it seemed too vulnerable.

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