Contemplative Light

Inspiration and Guidance on the Journey to Awakening

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.

What Exactly Is The Dark Night of the Soul?

In contemplative circles, whether spiritual formation, spiritual direction, or contemporary spirituality, one often comes across the phrase The Dark Night of the Soul. The phrase calls to mind a certain image and is fairly accessible to a modern mind on the surface.But all too often it seems interchangeably used with terms like depression or suffering. We hear the phrase and automatically call to mind the worst time in our lives. Maybe we had to face a harsh reality, suffered deep and prolonged depression, or lost a loved one. But is that what this phrase refers to?

A Contemplative Response To Election Week

About twenty years ago I was sitting at a dinner table in in Adelaide, Australia. Shortly after another election in which Bill Clinton had been elected for a second term, the conversation soon turned to America, its politics, and its influence in the world. As was not uncommon in such conversations, much of the conversation circled around our combination of arrogance and ignorance.Someone at the table pointed out, “Well, they’re the biggest. They’re the most diverse, ethnically and ideologically. They’ve got the best, and they’ve got the worst.” In this political season, it’s been pretty easy to situate oneself on one end of that spectrum and one’s political enemies on the other.

A Hidden Way To Stay Balanced

One of the trickiest things about contemplative practice is the strict rhythm it demands. This is one of the first thing that turns someone off to the practice, even if they are enthused about the real benefits of emotional balance, acceptance, and inner growth. It takes a commitment.The minimum in most traditions is at least 20 minutes a session at least once, but usually two sessions a day, often first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. But so often, with the way our lives are structured, even a strong commitment doesn’t make it happen.

A Contemplative Practice For The Crazy Schedule

As summer winds down, the contemplative in me is looking forward to a little more structure, a little more rhythm. During the summer months, there is travel, family visits, and the kids are home from school. This year I was in different cities in multiple hotels and time zones. At times it’s simply not possible to find twenty minutes of quiet solitude twice a day and maintain any kind of spiritual practice.One of the trickiest elements of the contemplative path is the discipline involved in maintaining a consistent rhythm. When I’m out of rhythm, I’m back in default ego mode. I’m irritable, judgmental, and egocentric. The volume on my mental tapes of past hurt, self-protection, and even aggression is cranked back up. I can hardly hear outside of that echo chamber.

A Practical Guide for a Bumbling Mystic

A little while ago I was contacted to see if I would be up for reviewing an upcoming book on the blog. Technically I refer people to books all the time, so I was at least open to it, if a little wary. But the project sounded interesting, so I decided to read it and promised to post a review if it could serve my audience in a practical way.Going through the process of finding a publisher for my current book made me certainly aware of the herculean task of building some buzz around a project you deeply believe in. So I looked up the author’s company, Mindvalley, and looked into one of their new ventures, Soulvana, offering subscription-based spirituality courses by people like Thich Nhat Hanh and Eckhart Tolle. Fascinating.

2 Ways of Dying To Yourself

Sixteen years ago I took a world lit class taught by a professor who opened my eyes, not only to the relevance of myth and classical literature, but to contemplative spirituality as well.

Dr. Thorpe opened the class with a simple statement “We’re lost. We’re trying to get home. That’s the story at the heart of Western literature and it’s the story at the start of the spiritual journey.” With that framework in mind we read Homer, Dante, and Dostoevsky. We read the stories like maps of the soul’s journey home.As a kid who had grown up overseas and suffered from reverse culture shock, it was like being handed a golden key. I might not have been home yet, but I had a way to get there. It felt like hope.

5 Rules For A Contemplative On Social Media

As I browse through my social media feeds, my community is so often split down the middle. I see “conservative” posts from extended family afraid of moral decline. And I see “liberal” posts from friends, colleagues, and former classmates, angry about injustice and abuse of power. Occasionally, these threads cross when an argument breaks out and the insults and indignation begin.

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