Saturday, November 25, 2006

Centering Prayer

Centering prayer was taught to me by one of my philosophy profs. We were discussing prayer, and someone mentioned that they often felt moved to pray yet they couldn't find the words to express their prayer. The next lecture, the prof. brought this excerpt in. I use this method often for prayer and meditation. After a stressful situation, five minutes of meditating in this way calms me down and gives me a better attitude about the situation. It also helps me control my breathing after an extremely hard workout, when my athsma kicks in. To use this for meditation, I do exactly as described below and I choose a word that describes the emotion I seek- "calm" and "peace" are two that I use often.

This comes from

"Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God's presence and action within." (cf. Open Mind, Open Heart, chap. 5)
The sacred word expresses our intention to be in God's presence and to yield to the divine action.

The sacred word should be chosen during a brief period of prayer asking the Holy Spirit to inspire us with one that is especially suitable for us.
Examples: Lord, Jesus, Abba, Father, Mother
Other possibilities: Love, Peace, Shalom

Having chosen a sacred word, we do not change it during the prayer period, for that would be to start thinking again.

A simple inward gaze upon God may be more suitable for some persons than the sacred word. In this case, one consents to God's presence and action by turning inwardly toward God as if gazing upon him. The same guidelines apply to the sacred gaze as to the sacred word.
"Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God's presence and action within."
By "sitting comfortably" is meant relatively comfortably; not so comfortably that we encourage sleep, but sitting comfortably enough to avoid thinking about the discomfort of our bodies during this time of prayer.

Whatever sitting position we choose, we keep the back straight.
If we fall asleep, we continue the prayer for a few minutes upon awakening if we can spare the time.

Praying in this way after a main meal encourages drowsiness. Better to wait an hour at least before Centering Prayer. Praying in this way just before retiring may disturb one's sleep pattern.

We close our eyes to let go of what is going on around and within us.
We introduce the sacred word inwardly and as gently as laying a feather on a piece of absorbent cotton.

"When you become aware of thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word."
"Thoughts" is an umbrella term for every perception including sense perceptions, feelings, images, memories, reflections, and commentaries.
Thoughts are a normal part of Centering Prayer.

By "returning ever-so-gently to the sacred word", a minimum of effort is indicated. This is the only activity we initiate during the time of Centering Prayer.

During the course of our prayer, the sacred word may become vague or even disappear.

"At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes."
If this prayer is done in a group, the leader may slowly recite the Our Father during the additional 2 or 3 minutes, while the others listen.
The additional 2 or 3 minutes give the psyche time to readjust to the external senses and enable us to bring the atmosphere of silence into daily life.

Some Practical Points
~The minimum time for this prayer is 20 minutes. Two periods are recommended each day, one first thing in the morning, and one in the afternoon or early evening.

~The end of the prayer period can be indicated by a timer, providing it does not have an audible tick or loud sound when it goes off

~The principal effects of Centering Prayer are experienced in daily life, not in the period of Centering Prayer itself.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

What I learned at work today:

Santa Clause reads Playboy....

you learn all sorts of things about people by the books they buy!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Force is a Tool of Satan - Star Wars Protest

I am no longer going to write in my blog, only post videos.. hehe, just joshing.. this was shared with me by Elizabeth; we found it amusing.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Scientology Explained

This is the best episode of southpark ever made... ever

The Smiley Intervention

Sunday, November 05, 2006

This weekend we went to hear a really good jazz band. I enjoyed the band, as well as the company. It was great fun. Adele and I also went to the Lowry, which is an art museum here in Manchester. It features work by the artis Lowry, of course, but also by several other artists. There was a video of one of Fishli and Weiss's performance art pieces, which is interesting because I've only heard about them. Lowry himself is an interesting artist. His paintings seem to use neutral and vibrant colors to accentuate eachother. For example he'll have a background of all greys and whites, and the subjects of the painting have splashes of rich reds and yellows, and over-emphasized characteristics. In contrast, the background is also standing out becuase it doesn't seem to fit completely with the subjects in the painting.

This week I am planning on getting some work done. Even though I am on holiday, I still have deadlines for applications in the beginning of December. The University of Calgary is still asking for a research proposal, and since that is where I really want to go I think that is what I'll work on most. There is a pretty big library in town, so I will head out there to get some research done. Hopefully by the end of the week I can have the shell of a draft, and at least an idea as to what my proposal might be. It will probably be easier to get it done during vacation, since I don't have to worry about work or the lab.

Over the weekend, I'm going to Liverpool (finally, hehe; I've said every day "I think I'll go to Liverpool tomorrow") and British Jess is coming with me. I hope she doesn't mind that I am a beatles freak and want to do all of the beatle's things, no matter how cheesey. After that, it will be time to head home! The time has flown by quickly, and I've seen some really great things. Now I'm looking forward to having a nice relaxing (but productive) week.

Tonight we are going to see fireworks for Guy Fawkes night. Last night was really crazy with the neighborhood fireworks. Just about everything is legal to set off in the streets here, so there were quite a few large displays going on (Kind of scary, too, considering how close the houses are to eachother) I really don't understand the holiday. For those of you who don't know, Guy Fawkes tried to blow up parliament with gunpowder in 1605 on 5 November. There's a lot of speculation about the plot- for example that the gunpowder was wet and that is why he failed. So now on the 5th, people remember the event (or the failure of the event) by having bonfires and fireworks. I'm not sure that I understand exactly what it is about the occasion that they are paying hommage to. Is it the sentiment that Guy Fawkes failed in his attempts to assassinate King James and thus revolution was thwarted, or are they in fact remembering that government must always be kept in check. Arguments could go either way on this one, but it is evident that Fawkes has become highly revered in his failure. Lennon has a song about him, and his name appears in Harry Potter as Dumbledore's Phoenix (a symbol which goes deeper than just a name randomly picked, when you look at the roll that Fawkes the phoenix plays in the story). So I'll go, and I'll enjoy the fireworks with great puzzlment tonight.

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot ;
I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,
'Twas his intent.
To blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below.
Poor old England to overthrow.
By God's providence he was catch'd,
With a dark lantern and burning match
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, let the bells ring
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip Hoorah !
Hip hip Hoorah !
A penny loaf to feed ol'Pope,
A farthing cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down,
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar,'
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head,
Then we'll say: ol'Pope is dead.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Back in Manchester

Well, I've finished looking around London and now I'm back in Manchester!

More than two weeks into the trip, and I'm ready to come home. Yep, I'm being a fart-head party pooper, and I should be enjoying myself abroad learning about another culture yadayada, but I have had a bit too much vacation. I've seen wonderful sites, and met very wonderful people, and I've done everything that I wanted to do so now it's time to go home. The only thing left is Liverpool. Well, I can't say the *only* thing; there's plenty here worth seeing. I just miss my home.

In London, I was sitting on Gabriel's Wharf (by far my favorite place in London) writing postcards, and a man came over to me. I was a little apprehensive about his approach, since it was after dark, but it seemed like he just wanted to talk, so we talked. With my accent, people here are good at picking up that I'm American (they like to play the "Guess which part of Britain I'm from by the way I speak" game) and he asked me what I was writing, so I told him postcards back home. And we sat there and talked about Ohio for about twenty minutes. There I was, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and I wished I was back in cow-town Ohio.

Part of it is financial. The exchange rate is just about £1=$2. However £1 works and acts in Britain the same way that $1 works and acts in the US. So my $100 US, when used here in Britain, act just as $50 US would at home. This means that everything from public transportation to eating puts a serious dent in my budget, even when I am just lounging around Manchester doing sudoku puzzles.

But most of it really and truly is that I am homesick. I've had a break from life, and now I miss it and want to get back. My babies, my family and friends, and all the obligations that I was taking time away from. I thought I needed a month, but two weeks would have been perfect.

One thing I want to say, so no one gets the wrong idea, is that England is beautiful. I in no way regret having made this trip, and I highly reccomend that everyone come here sometime. Even the small towns have so much character and history, there is nothing negative about this place at all. I've had a blast. and now I'm ready to go to the airport and fly home. Unfortunately, the airline refuses to change my plane ticket, so here I sit and wait.