Monday, September 1, 2014

 

  Education    Adult Ministry    Weekday Spiritual Growth Opportunities    Passage Meditation
Education
   

Passage Meditation Group

Tuesdays, 6:00-7:30 p.m., Room 244

Northaven began a Passage Meditation group in March of 2010.  Those who have become involved in an ongoing way have found great benefit to their own personal lives, in their day-to-day activities, and in their relationship with others.  New people join the group regularly and find it easy to become involved quickly.  The approach is simple and practical but deeply effective.  Any interested individual is welcome to become a part of the group at any time. 

 

The approach was developed by Eknath Easwaran, who died in 1999.  Originally from India and a professor of English Literature who joined the University of California at Berkeley faculty, he was the first person to offer a 4-year college credit course in meditation.  Adapting the deep insights of the sages of all major religions to the Western world, he developed an approach that has proven over time to be accessible to anyone and can be pursued as an integrated part of our lives.  The content and spirit with which he presents his own ideas produce no theological or other barriers to anyone, regardless of perspective.

 

Representing a variety of Christian traditions, a strong core of men and women, probably half from Northaven, form the nucleus of the group that attends every Tuesday.  Others attend when they can or are following the practice but do not attend the group. 

 

The basic approach is based on several premises: 

  • We become what we meditate. 
  • Our natural mind is unruly, skipping from one thought to another, but through meditation we can learn to concentrate attention and begin to master our thoughts. 
  • We give power to negative thoughts or powerful desires by dwelling on them; the solution is to “starve” rather than feed these thoughts and desires through disciplined effort.

The Passage Meditation approach is quite simple and includes eight “disciplines” that are to be pursued simultaneously;

  1. Meditate on a Spiritual Passage – Memorize passages of scripture the writings of spiritual sages and meditate slowly on the passages 30 minutes each day, not thinking about the meaning of the passage, but letting the words “drip into” our minds.
  2. Repeat a Mantram – Using a word or brief phrase, such as “Jesus” or the Jesus Prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God” [“Have mercy on me, a sinner”]), Kýrie eléison, or another phrase that has deep meaning, the mantram is repeated often as a means of centering one’s thoughts, calming one’s mind, or managing strong emotions.
  3. Slowing Down – To give attention to reducing the hurriedness of our lives that creates stress and is often experienced by others negatively.
  4. One Pointed Attention – Developing the capacity to give the person one is with or the task of the moment undivided attention, being fully aware and attuned to the moment.
  5. Putting Others First – Consciously focusing on loving and serving others and giving their needs and interests strong emphasis rather than being totally self-occupied.
  6. Training the Senses – Focusing our attention on the degree to which conditioned cravings and desires govern our lives and gradually training our senses is essential to the overall objective.  For many, craving for food is a useful focus of beginning to train the senses.
  7. Spiritual Reading – Regularly read materials that specifically feed our souls, selecting materials with spiritual depth that serve to help us examine ourselves and better understand the spiritual path.
  8. Spiritual Companionship – To become engaged with others on a similar path for mutual support, stimulation and learning, either attending a Passage Meditation group (called a “satsang”) or by creating circles of regular contacts who share your spiritual goals.

To become a part of the Northaven Passage Meditation group we request the following:

  • Read Passage Meditation, by Eknath Easwaran, an accessible and clear explanation of the approach.  It can be downloaded free at www.easwaran.org, purchased at Amazon.com or locally, and the Northaven library has a copy of this book as well as the companion book, Timeless Wisdom, which is a wonderful collection of spiritual passages for meditation.
  • Try as best you can to meditate 30 minutes a day, using the Passage Meditation approach, for one month.
  • Come and join us just to get a feel for what the group is like or come to stay.

Each session follows a flexible plan:

  • 45 minutes of open discussion followed by reading and discussing a passage from a book (no advance preparation necessary)
  • 15 minute DVD lecture by Eknath Easwaran on a topic related to the reading
  • 30 minutes of silent meditation

For more information, contact Bob Stewart.

 

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