Wednesday, March 27, 2013

School for Living next week

I want to remind you that the School for Living will not meet this week.  We don’t want to compete with Maundy Thursday services so we will next meet on the 4th of April.  We are up to the fifth of the Disciplines and the last of the Mindfulness Disciplines.  You need not have been to the earlier conversations to be able to fully participate.

Our concern is to be able to make the choices that create what we need without impinging on others getting what they need.  We want to be skilled at self-care.  In order to do that we have to be very clear about what caring for ourselves looks like.  We start by making a specific plan about what we do when we take exquisite care.  Join us.  See more on the calendar tab at

Monday, March 25, 2013

Listening Through the Body as Prayer:

We are super excited to announce that our School for Contemplative Practices offering for April will be presented by Rhonda Mills who is on the staff of the Big Bend Yoga Center and host of the Transformation Playground.  She has constructed this event especially for us but is incorporating aspects of her program that she teaches routinely.
April 6, 2013: 10:00 to Noon with lunch to follow at Pilgrim, 826 Union, 63108.

Transformation Playground Learning Playshop

You’ll discover that everything you need truly is inside you, untapped and yet available in every moment when you know how to be listen inwardly and include breathing and gently moving your body to facilitate your transformation.  Come with an issue, a fear, a goal, a dream or an aspiration.  Whatever you choose, if you are willing, the playshop process bring greater awareness to what is going on in your subconscious mind regarding the issue or goal, and support you to connect directly with your inner wisdom to discover what new learning or direction is emerging for you and through you. 

At the Learning Playshop, we will: 

· Learn and do a breathing practice which acts on the mind and nervous system (balancing, centering, strengthening)
· Locate the body sensations related to core feelings and presence the feelings directly vs. cognitively
· Learn and practice breathing and creative joint play to create a feeling of well-being and harmony in body, breath, and mind.
· Learning a breathing and movement-based game to discover and shift your fear signature. 
· Combining simple breathing and movement as you presence your issue or goal to discover what new learning or new direction is emerging through you and for you.

Wear comfortable clothing that does not inhibit deep breathing or gentle seated and standing moving and stretching.  Registration for the event is $15 and covers a light lunch to follow.  A donation is invited for the teaching.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Upcoming events for Sacred Soup

Here is a summary calendar for the next few months.  You may want to get things on your calendar now.

I have heard some feedback that we are meeting too often.  Please don’t feel as though you need to come to everything.  Pick what you like and leave the rest.

In general the School for Living meets every other week.  The School for Contemplative Practices meets on the first Saturday of the Month.  Gatherings are totally random. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013: School for Living: Suspending Self Soothing: a conversation about the fourth discipline which addresses anxiety and addiction. Doors open at 6:30 with opening meditation at 7:00 at 6454 Alamo.

Friday, March 29, 2013: Gathering: Good Friday: Tenebrae: a service of contemplation on Gospel accounts of the last hours of the life of Jesus and the impact of his death on his disciples. In the sanctuary at Pilgrim at 6:00

Thursday, April 4, 2013: School for Living: Self Care Routine: a conversation of how we get into the habit of caring for ourselves and what we can do to address the ways we don’t. Doors open at 6:30 with opening meditation at 7:00 at 6454 Alamo.

Saturday, April 6, 2013: School for Contemplative Practices: Listening Through the Body as Prayer: Our teacher will be Rhonda Mills who is on the staff of the Big Bend Yoga Center and host of the Transformation Playground. We know that yoga is a great program for physical health and relaxation. Rhonda will help us move to experiencing bodily awareness as a process for spiritual transformation as well. From 10:00 – Noon with light lunch to follow at Pilgrim.

Thursday, April 18, 2013: School for Living: ACE: This conversation begins the consideration of the Practical Disciplines. We have been looking at how to be more aware. Now we begin to look at what we can actually do when discord arises in our relationships and we are willing to change ourselves in order to address it. Doors open at 6:30 with opening meditation at 7:00 at 6454 Alamo.

Saturday, April, 27, 2013: Gathering: The Singing Bowls at Living Insight Center: Jack Sisk, the Director of the Center, is also an artist with voice and singing bowls. He has a dozen bowls and plays them for groups twice a month. This is one of his usual times to invite the public to hear the bowls. We will not be the only ones in attendance. You must sign up to hold a place. We expect this to fill up. From 3:00 – 5:15 at 6361 Clayton Rd.

Thursday, May 2, 2013: School for Living: Statement of Accountability: a conversation about the seventh discipline. We each have, at some time, made a choice that was harmful to another that we regret. We want to be sure that we have done everything we can to clean up the mess we made and to be as sure as we can be that we won’t make the same mess again. Doors open at 6:30 with opening meditation at 7:00 at 6454 Alamo.

Saturday, May 4, 2013: School for Contemplative Practices: Living Insight Center: The Center which many of us went to on April 27 to hear the singing bowls, is home to many marvelous artifacts from most of the major religious traditions of the world. The director, Jack Sisk, will take us on a tour of the Center and help us appreciate how objects and icons can be used to deepen our spirituality and connect us with the Divine. 10:00 – Noon at 6361 Clayton Rd. with lunch at 6454 Alamo.

Thursday, May 16, 2013: School for Living: Apology and Forgiveness: a conversation that builds on the insights of the Statement of Accountability and moves toward a life stance that neither forgets nor re-members the harm we do or which has been done to us. Doors open at 6:30 with opening meditation at 7:00 at 6454 Alamo.

Thursday, May 30, 2013: School for Living: Framework for Creative Conflict Resolution: This is the penultimate discipline in our series. This is a summary of all of the things we can do to address the persistent patterns of conflict which arise in our most significant relationships without expecting or depending upon the change of the other. Doors open at 6:30 with opening meditation at 7:00 at 6454 Alamo.

Saturday, June 1, 2013: School for Contemplative Practices: Contemplative Prayer: We don’t yet have a presenter for this event. We will explore prayer as contemplation (as opposed to supplication or adoration) especially as it is expressed through the Centering Prayer taught by Contemplative Outreach. From 10:00 – Noon with light lunch to follow at Pilgrim.

Thursday, June 13, 2013: School for Living: Making Durable Agreements: In this conversation about the tenth discipline we will look at what we already do to make agreements and use this template as a diagnostic tool for understanding what is missing when agreements aren’t honored. Doors open at 6:30 with opening meditation at 7:00 at 6454 Alamo.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Life we Choose

Viewing the movie The Way again reminded me that there are some movies that you have to see multiple times to begin to get what they have to offer.  Since this is one that gets better the more times you see it I won’t be spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t yet made their own Camino.

Early in the movie we see a flashback that sets up one of the central themes of the movie.  Tom has learned that his 40 year old son, Daniel, has been killed in a tragic accident during a storm in the Pyrenees.  As his train approaches the village in which he will identify and claim the body, he remembers his last conversation with his estranged son.  Tom and Daniel have argued over the path each has taken in life and Tom defends his experience saying, “This is the life I have chosen.”   Daniel responds sadly, “A life isn’t something you choose, Dad, it is something you live.”

We don’t get enough detail in the conversation to know just what Daniel means by that comment, but the contrast in their lives is clear.  Tom is settled into a profession and is tired.  He doesn’t even want to walk the short distance to the golf ball to take his next shot but his ophthalmology patients are scheduled a month in advance.  Daniel is going to hike 500 miles across Spain and has no idea what he will do after that.

So the death of his only son at a time when he is confused about himself and still mourning the death of his wife tips the balance and Tom decides to walk the Camino with the ashes of Daniel.  Along the way he meets other pilgrims and they tag along with him.  When he finally softens toward them he gets into a conversation with “Jack from Ireland” whom Tom has identified is much like Daniel.  But Jack justifies his life as a travel writer who still hasn’t started on the novel he dreams of writing by saying, “This is the life I have chosen.”  Unlike Daniel, Jack sees a life as something you choose.

In the parlance of the movie there is a distinction between a life as something you choose and a life as something you live.  And it isn’t about being a romantic vagabond.

I had a conversation many years ago with a colleague who challenged me to be more ambitious.  His critical feedback was that I wasn’t clarifying what I wanted in life and going after it.  I remember noting to myself—more than to him, he wasn’t asking me about my philosophy—that it was my sense that most of the really amazing things that had happened in my life arose in a manner that seemed random or even capricious.  I was afraid that if I tried to be too focused on creating a specific outcome I would plan out the serendipity.  Still I took his counsel to heart at least enough to become more self-critical.  It doesn’t seem that one can have a life well lived if one only accepts whatever arises. 

I am tempted to suggest that we may need to find a balance between “choosing” and “living” but that seems too passive a stance.  A more active framework is one I first learned in the writings of George Leonard.  He urges us to engage in focused surrender.  Pay keen attention and put all your effort into it and then… let go.

At the School for Living this week we will be exploring the phenomenon of anxiety.  This feeling arises when something is out of balance in our lives.  It can be a call to action if we hear it correctly.     

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

School for Living: Suspending Self-Soothing: March 14, 2013

It is both healthy and normal for us to experience stress. If we never try anything we don’t already know how to do, we don’t grow. But from time to time the anxiety of not knowing how to best deal with a life situation can become overwhelming and we need the capacity to soothe ourselves.

We have all learned coping strategies…things to do which help to relieve our anxiety. We can take a walk, listen to music, smoke a cigarette, go shopping, eat a pizza, go to the boat, smoke some crack. Each of these works to mask the anxiety. None of them addresses the source of the anxiety.

In the conversation on March 14 we will look at the nature of anxiety and appreciate what it can do for us even as we consider how to identify and address its sources. We will acknowledge that we all have things we do which react to anxiety in ways that are self-destructive and we will look at the fourth discipline as a way to learn from the anxiety so as to make choices that lead us toward what we actually need.