Scripture ~ “The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.” Proverbs 16:9
Spiritual Focus ~ “Prayer is standing in the presence of God with the mind in the heart—that is, in the point of our being where there are no divisions or distinctions and where we are totally one within ourselves, with God, and with others and the whole of creation.” –Henri Nouwen, internationally renowned priest, professor, and author
Breath Prayer ~ Every breath, A new beginning
Devotion ~ The ego is the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. A fragile ego is susceptible to creating all kinds of stories about ourselves that are distorted or simply not true. These false stories often create a sense of separation that can be experienced in our relationship with God and/or with others. The good news is that we can learn how to break down the sense of separation by making space for God’s presence in mind and heart.
Here is a Zen story that illustrates the importance of making space:
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
Indeed, it is difficult to receive God’s story within us if we are too full of our own story of self. However, we have the tools of yoga, prayer, and meditation to help us make space for God. Several of the limbs of yoga philosophy cultivate space through poses, breath, meditation, and rest. There are many techniques, forms, and styles of prayer and meditation from all realms of spiritual life. One intersection of faith and yoga is the practice of dhyana where we simply learn to sit and be open to God’s presence, allowing God to direct our next steps and next breaths. A Franciscan monk noted the simplicity of this practice, “I used to sit with an outcome in mind, using a variety of prayers and liturgies. Now I just sit.” Or as meditation teacher Jeff Warren says, “When sitting in meditation and thoughts interrupt, simply say ‘oh well’ and return to your meditation.” When we practice making space for God in mind and heart, we begin to experience the oneness with God and ourselves, with others, and the whole of creation.