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Showing posts from March, 2009

Meditation and Prayer

Some Christians are a bit nervous about meditation because it doesn't quite fit their idea of what prayer is . Most Christians trying to maintain a regular prayer life, sooner or later come up with some pattern of prayer or other which involves talking(even if that talking is carried on within the confines of their own skull); for example the well used ACT pattern. In this, we go through a cycle of Adoration, Confession and Thanksgiving - telling God how great he is, telling him what we've done wrong lately and thanking him for whatever it is that has come our way lately: all stuff you might have thought he knew already. Usually we also ask for things to be done for us or for others, and again, presume upon the foreknowledge of the one who created our desires. Down through the years many Christians have thought, 'surely there's got to be more to prayer than that', and in various ways and at various times, have begun and continued a great exploration of the human psy

Ok...But WHY?!

Get up early and sit in an uncomfortable position in the dark for a long time and do nothing? You're kidding, right?  It's hard to explain why anybody would want to meditate. For  a long time I didn't want to myself,  and then for an equally long time I did but couldn't gather up the requisite willpower to make a regular thing of it. But now there's been a corner turned and the quiet spaces in the day are my favourite bits of it. Partly, it's a cognitive thing. My life has been dominated by an insatiable quest to understand and lately there's been a sort of nagging inner certainty that the path to understanding somehow lies through this period of enforced inner silence. There's also Ian Gawler, who seems to think that meditation is as important, more important even, than any other lifestyle change you might want to make if you are intent on pursuing healing, and I have been quite predisposed to listen to him of late. And then there's lots of frazzled

The Gawler Foundation's 10 Day Life and Living Programme

About a week into the ten day residential Life and Living programme I texted home: Awake at 5 so excited about the day. I know I am going to live. I have looked into the great festering abyss and realised that it is in the past and doesn't exist! It has left a legacy in my present but each thing can be easily dealt with. I am completely and utterly free. It's not that this programme changed my life. Cancer changed my life, but the Gawler programme shaped and focused the changes and showed me where I might pick up the tools to build a future with. The programme is non religious but is founded squarely on the practice of mindfulness meditation. The first activity of the day following the wake up bell and the daily tot of lemon juice and water, was 45 minutes in the sanctuary being gently led into silence. The aim of mindfulness is to be quiet: quiet in body mind and spirit. Quiet but not asleep or in any sort of trance. Quiet but alert and aware of the now, undistracted by thin

Yarra Valley Living Centre

I have just returned from a ten day residential programme at the Gawler Foundation's Yarra Valley Living Centre . I will write later of my impressions of the programme, but in the meantime, here are some snaps, fresh from the SD card. What is missing from these shots is, of course, the main ingredient of the place: people. I shared the experience with 31 others, all of whom, like me, were coming to terms with a life threatening illness and at this vulnerable point in their lives, whatever they were expecting from the programme, it certainly didn't include having their photos on someone's blog. Hence the unpopulated look of these shots. But I hope they give a sense of place anyway. The Yarra Valley Living Centre is located (surprise, surprise) in the Yarra Valley, an hour and a half North East of Melbourne First view from the long, tree lined driveway is of The administrative building Corridor in one of the dormitory blocks Where I slept: clean, well maintained, comfortable


Very soon I'm off to the airport. I'm going to Christchurch and tomorrow to Melbourne to spend 10 days at the Gawler Institute . I'll eat vegan food, meditate for a period every day and participate in classes on the relationship of body mind and spirit in the company of about 30 people in much the same position as me. I hope to walk a bit. Take photos of Kangaroos and Koalas and bright raucous birds. It's the deferred beginning of the sabbatical which was the starting point of this blog , all those months ago. The Gawler Institute doesn't offer an internet connection and doesn't encourage cell phones. So it'll be a week or two until you hear from me again. TTFN

Giving Up

There is a paradox about Lent which actually clings to the whole business of asceticism. We give stuff up for Lent, things which we enjoy or things we know are harmful to our spiritual well being -or both. We do this for a number of of reasons, such as to implant a reminder of God''s presence into each day; or to make a genuine start on that simpler lifestyle we have been putting off 'til tomorrow since 1997. Mostly though, the discipline of Lent is an aid to weakening the hold of our egos. Jesus said, If any want to be my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me (Mtt 16:24) In other words, to follow Jesus we must forsake the control our egos have over our lives and allow Jesus to have control of our daily actions and decisions. It's a big ask, but saying "no" to the chocolate biscuits for six weeks will be just the help we need to make a start on it, right? Well, maybe. There is the small matter of that pesky paradox. The