Tag Archives: change

Meditatio House: Stability, Growth, and Change

As some of you may already know, Meditatio House has moved. We have moved from Hamilton Road, Ealing (West London) to Cloudesley Square, Islington (Central London) – Zone 3 to Zone 1 for people familiar with the London Tube zones.

Suburban life is now somewhat more cosmopolitan. Down the road is the well-known Chapel Market (one of London’s famous street markets), and all the cafés and trend that is Upper Street, Islington. Angel Tube Station is not far away.

The first room set up at Cloudesley Square was the meditation room. It is somewhat smaller than the one at Ealing. It was important that this room be up and running as soon as possible. The prayer life of the community and our meditation together is central. The meditation room is the heart of the house. As we unpacked the rest of the house meditating together in the meditation room helped to maintain a sense of stability.

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We all need some kind of stability. As our world becomes increasingly mobile and fast changing, for many of us we can no longer rely on our physical circumstance to provide enough stability. I think of my own life here as an example of this: here I am on the other side of the world from Australia (the country of my birth). And in Australia I don’t really have a ‘place’ of my own. I have a hometown, but not a physical home.

For many, stability of environment helps them with the human experience of growth and change. A lack of external stability can make the inner experience of growth and change difficult.

It is said that the internal of the spiritual life is about pitching tents rather than building houses. Growing in the divine life within us means growth and change becomes not only necessary, but expected and eventually welcomed. It is this growth and change that helps to integrate our self-consciousness with its forgotten roots: God and the mystery of our deepest self. To build a house is to settle down within us at one ‘place’ on this journey back into Love. At some point we may decide that we have had enough of change and just want to stay in the one spot, the one place of growth that we have come to.

Pitching a tent is about settling with the knowledge that, at some point, we will be on the move again. Eventually, the God of love and change will entice us to move on, deeper into forgetting ourselves and being re-membered into love. The extent to which we are responsive to this enticement is the extent to which we have embraced inner tent living.

This reality of inner growth and change can make external stability more important. A marriage, a family, a community, a monastery – all of these have been attempts to make the external stable and supple enough to be a support for growth and change. But what can we do if the external is in flux, no longer providing enough support? Alternatively, what can we do if the external has become too rigid, too fixed in its patterns and ways and no longer at the service of growth?

If we somehow lose touch with the divine life in and around us (the initiator of growth) and our attention is too much on our self-consciousness (without a contemplative balance), the danger is that we will become too fixed, rigid, within ourselves as we over-identify with self-consciousness. As this happens, in time, our living environments can begin to reflect this inner fixedness and become, instead, a distraction away from change and growth. A too stiff personality becomes the foundation of living rather than our being in God.

Alternatively, if our external environment is too unstable the danger is that we can become (again) too fixed, hard within ourselves in response to this instability.

Meditation can help. Practicing it is a commitment to tent living. And when a couple, a family, a community practices meditation together it ensures that the external – the physical and relational circumstances of our lives – are to some degree a reflection of our tent living, supple enough to embrace growth and change.

The moving of the Meditatio House community to Cloudesley Square is a reflection of the change that can happen due to the uncertainty of life. It is also an acceptance of the invitation to have the external of life supple enough to nurture our growth together into the Divine Life.

The commitment to meditation, and to meditating together, gives us a stable practice amid internal and external change.

The paradox is that meditation, as a contemplative practice, not only encourages in us growth and change, it also deepens us in the experience of an ultimate stability in God. As we pitch and re-pitch our tents, we carry the home that is the cell of our heart everywhere we go. Home is where the heart is. The heart is the home of divinity and our true selves. Everywhere we go our heart goes too.

Cloudesley Square:


Changes: David Bowie. Change as Growth into Self-Expression

In this early song from David Bowie (1971, and performed here around 2002) there is restlessness, not for fame and riches, more a restlessness for purpose and expression. For this to happen, Bowie accepts that there needs to be some changes, that he’s “Just gonna have to be a different man.” What is around him, what he has done so far, who he is so far, all this is not as sweet as expected. Expectations about life and living have not yet been satisfied.

“So I turned myself to face me.” At such times of restlessness we can turn to questions about who we are. What we do and what we strive for can, after all, be a reflection of what we value and who we are. If what we are doing and valuing is not good enough to satisfy, what does this say about the person we are? What does it say about the person we want to become?

The ‘not enough’ of life can draw us into honesty. Honesty, however, must be practiced. It seems that Bowie has been practicing something else. He is struggling to catch a glimpse of “the faker” he assumes others are seeing. He knows that he wants to be different, somehow a better man, and yet he also seems to be caught in a role that he has, up to this point, been performing.

If we don’t know enough of who we are we can become lost in the roles we perform, whether these roles are on stage, at work, in our relationships, in our homes. We can come to identify ourselves with what we do rather than with who we more deeply are. When this happens, in our more lucid moments, we may catch ourselves in our own pretending and ask the question “who am I?”

Perhaps Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke of later years were all a part of the search for identity and true expression that this song seems to allude to.

Our true or deeper self is not someone we can think up, or create with a role. This self is already fully given and cannot be fashioned with imagined definition. It is through the experience of this self that we can grow in awareness of it and become stable in it. As this awareness and stability grows, our roles can instead become ways of expressing self. With the existential pressure off, we can then relax into our roles in life.

Our roles are temporary, merely a part of the “stream of warm impermanence”. It is the deeper self that gives them life and energy. Healthy and regular spiritual practice helps us to keep our attention on this self so that we do not forget it and get lost in roles. Attention on self helps us to both experience and express self.

Keeping our attention on self is the contemplative necessity at the heart of any true self-expression. Regular meditation is the practice of ongoing attention on this self. In meditation we experience and stabilise in ourselves. We can then take this experience and stability into our roles and self-express through them.

As we experience ourselves in meditation we also experience ourselves becoming infused with divine life. Why is this? It is because self experience and divine experience are of a union. Attention on self is attention on God.

With this infusion God can be in our human changing helping us to be true to who we are: unique images of divine love. Self is this image of divinity within us. God simply wants our whole humanity to be consistent with who we most deeply are; at our deepest, so do we.

“Changes are taking the pace I’m going through.” The pace of change is an experience and a rhythm of life that we cannot control. Fear of living wants to control change because to change is to live. This fear wants us to opt out of anything that might cause change. To follow this fear is a decision against the inevitability of change. Rather than live life, we live death because we refuse to live the change that life is.

As we grow in a choice for life, we learn that if we are to experience the richness of life and self we must allow the changing circumstances of life to change us. Within this allowing of change divine love can work for the good of us and the world.

The divine life, as energy for life and change, acts in our choices for life, helping us to act courageously and truly. Implicitly or explicitly, whether we are aware of it or not, divinity in life is always moving in support of our choices for life and change.

But what is it, who is it, that we consult about life and change? What were we taught? Were we told that we must leave childhood behind if we are to grow and live? Why is it, then, that spiritual masters like Jesus invite us to become like little children? The innocence of childhood never leaves us. We bury it. Spiritual practice and human healing is about integrating this original innocence into the living of life. As children, before the trauma of life set in, we lived naturally as ourselves.

A tragedy of life is that we have forgotten this ‘original innocence’. Sometimes it is in the experience of the strange – the ‘stranger’ and the ‘strange events’ of life – that we remember our forgotten selves, forgotten selves that may themselves seem strange.

In turning to “face the strange” within himself and life, Bowie modelled for us the courage needed to discover, re-member, and express ourselves.


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