Tag Archives: Integration

Meditatio House: Growing in the God-human’s Yes.

We are living in an age when the possibilities for the development of human consciousness have been radically transformed by the resurrection of Christ. Every human consciousness has undergone this transformation because in his risen and universal consciousness we have access to the Father, the source and goal of human life and indeed all creation. We live in an age of the infinite mystery realised in Christ and in us. Meditation is simply openness to that reality. (John Main, Word Made Flesh, 3. Italics added).

In Christ Jesus (the God human) humanity can now be a full human participant in the divine life. This is the startling gift and message of Easter.

Jesus’ full yes to God (in his life, death and resurrection) can be our yes to God happening within God and us now.

The fullness of divine Love as transformative of the human condition resides in our human consciousness waiting for our acceptance of Jesus’ yes to his Father as our yes. This yes of Christ is what the Christian grows into over a lifetime.

All that stands in the way of what God can do in us (and with us) is our unbelief in what God can do. All other impediment is gone, dissolved in the yes of Jesus.

The Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed to you by us, that is, by me and by Silvanus and Timothy, was never Yes-and-No; his nature is all Yes. For in him is found the Yes to all God’s promises and therefore it is ‘through him’ that we answer ‘Amen’ to give praise to God. It is God who gives us, with you, a sure place in Christ and has both anointed us and marked us with his seal, giving us as pledge the Spirit in our hearts. (2Cor1:19-22).

In the depths of our being we already are what our egos desire to be of themselves. This is what the Reality of Christ consciousness reveals and makes possible in our human lives. Humility and faithfulness (part of any yes of the human creature to its Creator) are the foundations of the realisation of this revelation in human development. Our deepening acceptance of this (as we grow in the yes of Jesus) is perhaps the key to any ongoing human and Christian transformation in this material part of life. With humility and faith Divine Love transforms us into love here and now.

The resurrection appearances of the Gospels are God’s imprimatur on all of this.

In meditation, as we  give attention to the mantra, we grow in openness to what God has done in Jesus and what God wants to do in us through Jesus. And what is this doing of God? It is nothing less than the transcendence of ego consciousness. Ego consciousness is transcended as we grow in this openness. This transcending of the ego is “the hinge that allows us to swing into the Mind of Christ” (Laurence Freeman). In meditation we transcend into the yes of Christ. Our yes to Jesus and the yes of Jesus to God become one. We then experience ourselves in the divine life and discover this life as Home.

This growing openness is a pilgrimage in itself. It is why we are always beginners in meditation. We are always beginning humbly and faithfully from any point on the way.

The Easter season, Eastertide, is a time to reflect on just what the divine life can do in and for human consciousness and human life. We need more than one day (Easter Sunday) for it all to begin to sink in. It is profoundly and radically freeing. Psychologically, it is the integration of our conscious selves (ego) and the unconscious (where the source of Self and God are at our depths).

Internal and external growth in self-forgetting is key to this process of integration. Meditation and community (where ever we find it) can be where the external and the internal work together for integration, for salvation. Our life at Meditatio House is where we are experiencing this working together – often in ‘fear and trembling’.

Eastertide, as the ongoing celebration of the Risen Christ, is also a celebration of what we have become in this Christ and what we are becoming because of this Christ: Beloved Daughters and Sons of God. In one way or another, Love will have its way.

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Meditatio House: Bere Island (Ego) Laid Bare

The house community has just got back from the annual WCCM Easter retreat held on Bere Island, Ireland. Bere Island is located on Bantry Bay about 2 hours south south west of Cork.

Bere Island is a wonderful place to hold a retreat. Its natural pace is slow. Cows have more to say about setting the tone for the island than any traffic. The island is ancient. It holds lightly and faithfully a contemplative spirit.

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We were part of a group of meditators (old and new) who rented three houses located about 15 minutes via bus from the Bere Island Heritage Centre. Fr. Laurence gave his talks at The Heritage Centre. This centre was also where all the retreatants meditated together.

We were on the island for the entire week leading up to Easter. This week is called Holy Week in the Christian tradition. From Palm Sunday until Easter Sunday we lived together, ate together, and prayed together.

As the week went on we all experienced the challenges that new beds, new people, new living space, and communal travel had to offer. Our differing personalities and temperaments began, in their own unique ways, to ‘feel the pinch’ of the conditions we found ourselves in. By the middle of the week I felt thoroughly overwhelmed by it all.

I felt. Who was this I who was overwhelmed by it all? It could be said that this I was my ego, that conscious part of my inner life which was painfully discovering that it could not have the retreat experience on its own terms. The experience became one of rawness. The vulnerability of my ego to too much change too quickly was laid bare, revealed for all to see.

The way my ego wanted to present itself to the world became too hard to maintain. An ‘in control, warm, loving, and quirky’ persona became instead increasingly anxious and rigid. Rather than ‘how can I love these people’, my rationale was fast turning into ‘how can I survive this week?’

As the week went on I could see the people around me start to fray around the edges. Impatience and frustration began to leak into our relating. Psychological subsistence and the cooking roster met head on. The tendency for us all to end up in the kitchen all at once had me exasperated.

Then came a realisation: this was part and parcel of the community experience for the week. Anger and resentment began to rise in me. Ego felt ‘ripped off’, manipulated, ambushed.

By Good Friday I could see a choice before me: participate as practically and as gently as you can or shut down. In a moment of grace, a moment that the practice of meditation quietly prepares us for, I chose to contribute as I could from moment to moment. Inner movements of perfectionism and anxiety (‘You must do more!’ ‘People think you’re lazy!’ ‘You must be liked!’) began to settle somewhat. I began to accept that I could not do everything (and did not need to). As tiredness and impatience increased I began to trust those around me to understand. I began to risk rejection.

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The art of the spiritual life, of a human life growing in full health, is all about the de-centring of the ego, that is, about our attention being more on loving others than being fixated on ourselves. Sometimes this is just too hard, and that is ok. When it’s too hard we have the opportunity to experience the limitations we have at that moment and to mysteriously grow a little more in the grace of compassion that awaits within all of us.

If this growth in graced compassion is too hard to see and accept, that’s ok as well. Sometimes all we have left is the experience of the ego suffering, experiencing fallibility, failure, and limitation. Easter is here to remind us that Divinity is already in this experience, even if we cannot see or feel it.

Dying to egoism and rising to love does involve psychological pain, or suffering. Good Friday too lives on in us. Good Friday, though, is only part of the story.

The good news is that when ego is experiencing this pain, this disorientation, it can be the very time when the divine life can move powerfully for integration and healing. The illusion of control which ego maintains is exposed as a lie. In this experience we have the chance to let go into Love just a little bit more. It can all be a part of the experience that is the integration of ego with the deeper Self in God.

As a part of the retreat experience there were regular periods of meditation. These periods really helped. Attention on the mantra was attention off the experience of being overwhelmed. It is important to note here that attention off this experience of being overwhelmed was not repression of the experience. It was simply attention on the transformative and integrating consciousness of the Risen Christ within us all. The last three days became easier. The experience of love for myself and others began to return.

Then something else happened. On Sunday, as Fr. Laurence read from John’s account of the first Easter morning, a new, subtle, gentle experience of Christ rose into awareness. This experience was the fruit of both the meditation and the struggle of the week. The words of the Gospel story had new clarity. The experience of Christ risen, mysteriously held within the words themselves, was resonating afresh within. Another veil had fallen.

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I am learning that any growth in the acceptance of Divine Love, so radically and completely given to us at Easter through the death and resurrection of Jesus, frees us to engage struggle with a growing compassion and a gentle curiosity. Growth can be a painful struggle. Peace, joy, and humility are (just some of) this struggle’s fruits.

So then, now that we have been justified by faith, we are at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; it is through him, by faith, that we have been admitted into God’s favour in which we are living, and look forward exultantly to God’s glory. Not only that; let us exult, too, in our hardships, understanding that hardship develops perseverance, and perseverance develops a tested character, something that gives us hope, and a hope which will not let us down, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)

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Meditatio House: What Comes Up on the Way

John Main describes the first task of the mantra as “to bring those surface areas of the mind into harmony with the deeper peacefulness within.” (Awakening 1)*. There is always a deep peace within us. The more we live with our attention at the surface of consciousness (our self-consciousness) the more out of touch we can be with this deep peace. How long this first task of the mantra takes is not important. What is important is that we meditate with a growing faithfulness, steadily growing in our attendance to the mantra. The fruits of our attending grow in us and in our lives as we journey into this harmony between the surface and the deep.

As this harmony grows, what John Main describes as “the second task of the mantra” begins to take place: the mantra can begin to stir what lies in our psyches’ shadow. The energy we have used for years to repress fears, guilt, and painful memories begins to shift. What was in the dark of us begins to move into the light of our awareness. It is not uncommon for meditators to feel in these times feelings that they have not felt for some time (years, perhaps going back into childhood), or perhaps to feel more intensely feelings that they have been feeling for some time (anxiety, for example).

For many, this shadow experience is part of the meditation pilgrimage into a conscious awareness of the union we all share with the Divine. If we are to consciously experience in the ordinary of our lives this union, then what is in the shadows must come to light, be named, and in this way be integrated. The ‘oneing’ of our psyche with the Divine life cannot happen without this integration of consciousness. In fact, in a very real way, the oneing is this integration.

As this integration happens awareness of the Divinity within us becomes a conscious experience. The words of St. Paul come alive: ‘It is not I who lives, it is Christ who lives in me.’ We experience the mystery of who we most deeply are as we lose self-consciousness more and more in the light of Christ consciousness as it rises though our shadow’s fading dark. Our consciousness, in time, becomes Christ consciousness. This becoming is a work of God that in no way compromises our uniqueness.

As this process happens energy is released from the project of repression that is the cause of the shadow in us. This energy then becomes available for life and for loving. It becomes easier to be and participate in love. We discover a new normal, that is, we encounter our original normal.

This second task of the mantra can take decades. It can never end.

As this integration is happening we continue to say the mantra. It is the mantra that facilitates the integration. It helps us to experience and name what is coming up for us. Sometimes this is done in and with peace, sometimes not.

Attending to the mantra may be a challenge at times, especially if we are encountering strong feelings and painful memories. Compassion for ourselves may require that we stop meditating as these feelings and memories come up. It may even mean that we seek psycho-therapeutic help and/or assistance from a wise spiritual companion.  What is important for the meditator is that we ultimately remain faithful to what grace is doing in us through a gentle re-giving of attention to the mantra sooner rather than later.

In the words of Fr. John

Just say the mantra and keep saying the mantra. This is what will free you from the bondage that prevents the majority of people from praying with absolute freedom. It will free you from the chains of your own repressed fears and anxieties that are the principal cause of those surface distractions. That is why this form of prayer is of such immense importance, because it frees you from those compulsions and the chains of guilt and fear. (John Main, Awakening 1).

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This is an important point: the “principle cause” of our surface distractions are our own “repressed fears and anxieties”.

What is happening during this second task of the mantra is the eradication of the deep inner roots of our distractions. As this happens the noise, bustle, and hyperactivity of the external world loses its hold on us. The external world’s ‘points of purchase’ in us fade because our repressed fears and anxieties are fading in the light of Christ and our growing integration. We are experiencing Jesus as the ‘divine therapist’ (to use the description used by Thomas Keating).

What is happening here is nothing less than the transformation (or salvation) of the whole of our psyche. For this transformation to be ongoing what is required from us is a growth in the giving of the whole of us to this ongoing transformation. Divinity has given everything, God’s whole life, to this transformation of us and all creation. To be a full flowering of this divinely inspired transformation we too must give our all to it. In this giving is our greatest happiness because we are made to be  conscious manifestations of Divine Love in creation. Our attending to the mantra is the giving of ourselves to this process of transformation.

However, as we attempt to give ourselves to this process of transformation, we soon discover that we cannot do it ourselves. We need God to help us give ourselves to God. We come to experience our own inner poverty in the form of ego fear, stubbornness, and pride. In time though attending to the mantra becomes not only our practice of giving ourselves to God, it also becomes our practice of dependency on God.

As this giving and dependency grows we discover a God of unconditional love restoring to us our birthright: a life of free, loving, and creative adventure. The trust we grow in enables God to restore us to ourselves.

This is the inner pilgrimage of meditation that happens as a stable practice grows. The community at Meditatio House is committed to assisting the establishment of this stability in every meditator who meditates with us. We know and are coming to know these stages of the mantra from and in our own experience.

* The full transcript of Awakening 1 is available here from the WCCM website (2014).


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