26 May 2013

Mindfulness Meditation

I’m still an introvert, kept to myself, and enjoyed being apart from what most enjoyed being a part of. I enjoyed putting my old life behind and building a new life. I worked, I read, I walked and I looked at buildings’ architecture. I ran, I rode my bike, and went to museums and art galleries and movies and symphonies and to simple restaurants, and I taught myself to cook. I went to church.
And I sat, or lay on my back on my bed in quiet in my little 224 East 74th St. between Second and Third Avenues $175 a month Manhattan Upper East Side apartment, and I watched my mind. I watched my memories my thoughts and let myself feel my emotions. I didn’t act on them. I talked about them with my psychiatrist. I tried to draw my images, without success. In time I realized I was lonely and slowly, slowly I emerged from my reclusiveness. I wanted to meet people. It was my most wonderful, horrible, terrific, terrible, very good era. I meditated and I was! I never knew it was meditation; no one used that word in that era.
Mindfulness meditation now is a practice in which people sit down with feet flat on floor or lay down on bed or couch, in quiet and silence, and observe their memories, thoughts, and emotions come up into mind go out of mind, without judgment and without acting on them; some practitioners focus on breathing too but it’s not a requirement. These days it’s an everyday tool in the psychotherapeutic kit.
Watching my mind is a wonderful skill and I use it to check in with my self. I watch what rises to mind, experience my memories and how I feel. Feelings, thoughts, and memories rise up and fall away, I watching all. When some return repeatedly I know I must pay heed and do some work by digging deeper.
Later in time I learned it existed in the 10th & 11th century monastic practice of St. Romuald of the Camaldolese Benedictines. It’s written in their Little Rule of Saint Romuald. This little rule was for the hermits’ practice with The Psalms. The Psalms are the center of Camaldolese monastic practice. The Little Rule begins,
Sit in your cell as in paradise. Put the whole world behind your and forget it. Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman, watching for fish. The path you must follow is in the Psalms ~ never leave it.
And continues,
If you have just come to the monastery and in spite of your good will you cannot accomplish what you want, take every opportunity you can to sing the Psalms in your heart and to understand them with your mind. And if your mind wanders as you read, do not give up; hurry back and apply your mind to the words once more.Realize above all that you are in God’s presence, and stand there with the attitude of one what stands before the emperor.Empty yourself completely and sit waiting, content with the grace of God, like the chick who takes nothing and eats nothing but what his mother brings him.
Mindfulness meditation in the 10th & 11th centuries practiced by people filled with The Holy Spirit.

20 May 2013

Campus Dei 2


Campus-dei is the Latin phrase for the level place often the literal level field for gathering to hear of God. It's the field for spiritual formation and practice. It’s literally God’s field where one gathers and practices religious and/or spiritual acts and living in fellowship and community. The campus-dei is the sacred center for cultivating spiritual vitality and renewal.
In 1997 I attended a Benedictine Retreat in New Harmony, IN, sponsored by the Canterbury Cathedral Trust of America. I learned about St. Romuald and the Camaldolese hermits there. The leader was Robert Hale, o.s.b. cam. a monk and a hermit, from New Camaldoli Hermitage, Big Sur, CA. I’d never met a hermit.
I’ve been Google-searching the history of St. Romuald and Camaldolese Benedictine monastics. The most famous of the monasteries he founded was the Moastero di Camaldoli in Tuscany, Italy. Here Romuald founded the Order of the Camaldolese Benedictines uniting a monastic and hermitic life.[1] So this literally means the monastery was founded on land, a field, owned and given by a man named Count Maldoli. The proper name Camaldolese is formed with the latin “campus” and proper name “Maldoli.” Campo-Maldoli. In everyday Tuscan language Ca’ maldoli, for Casa Maldoli. Cam-maldo-lese; Camaldolese; those on Count Maldoli’s field. Here is literal incarnation of field of God, the campus dei.
Yes it happened in the 10th & 11th centuries in Italy. Yes it happened in Poland and Hungary, Yes it happened in Big Sur, CA, Bloomington, OH, and Windsor, NY in America. Yes it can happen, now, today, in our hearts and minds as we live into being.



[1] http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Saints/saint.aspx?id=1419

08 May 2013

Zombie Mania


Gifted actors in "Zombie Prom"
I stipulate that if I’m writing about zombie-ism the cultural phenomenon has peaked.
I know the illustrating image is a fanciful, theatrical goof; I get it. And the staging is cool; I get it. And my friend's acting, the emotions in the faces, is great. My friends are talented and gifted actors. Yet, I brain-fibrillate suspending belief. The direct expressions chill me, especially the woman’s; these actors are through the lens in my face. It’s revolting and this is the desired effect.
A WSJ item grasps the phenomena. I’m informed and enlightened by it. Yet I know an older couple, never able to birth children, who’ve now adopted a girl and a boy, who wonder and are amazed and dismayed at their 9 & 11 year old fascination with the living dead. I reassure the father the ancient customs that’ve crept into our religious service, though different and unaccustomed especially in the buckle of the Episcopal bible-belt, are nowhere near zombie acting out. His boy likes them.
Wikipedia’s narrative… a hypnotized person bereft of consciousness and self-awareness…. is helpful. The popular culture entries reveal: …hungry for human flesh, …eating (human) brains, …victims of some pandemic illness causing the dead to reanimate are direct and contemporary. My sense is the boy child might like that even more.
The AH online dictionary offers a contemporary order and additional meaning. I like the older ’92, Third Edition’s:
1. A snake god of voodoo cults in West Africa, Haiti, and the southern United States. 2a. A supernatural power or spell that according to voodoo belief can enter into and reanimate a corpse. b. A corpse revived in this way. 3. One who looks or behaves like an automaton.
I don’t like portrayals of brutalized faces. I’m reminded of Farrah Fawcett’s, The Burning Bed. I never understood this mass-market TV- entertainment. The reality is painful and horrifying and incalculably sad. Entertainment ignores and exploits the sustained struggle of brutalized men, women, and children.
My spiritual renovating and renewing self says zombie-ism is a cultural symptom. Zombie-ism is vain discordant alienation that knows it’s not harmonious. Like “living history” zombie-ism is living fear. Zombie-ism is a cultural flash-mob antidote to Disney. I zombie therefore I am. Zombie-ism is like psychiatric nihilism, the delusion that one’s mind, body, or self doesn’t exist. It’s simulating disease, decay and death, brought to life. Simulated bodily corruption, but one is revived, and so one does exist. Zombie-ism is a “bad” dream: the wish that fails. Zombie-ism is acting out spiritual and religious failure.

And what if I'm not even close. My judgements may be all MY little peanut-ego conceptualizes. Maybe the Holy Spirit moves in a manner I cannot even conceive. What if Jesus was the original zombie, and Thomas really couldn't believe his eyes and was revolted, just like me, seeing oozing stigmata and the open gash in Jesus side. Stripped of contemporary cultures did Thomas see,
 A supernatural power or spell that . . . can enter into and reanimate a corpse.
Maybe zombie-ites really want to experience a living death? Maybe Jesus was the first zombie, the Holy Spirit entering and reanimating his corpse. Maybe zombie mania has peaked, I'm way behind the curve, and I have too much time on my imaginative hands.