Sunday, November 29, 2015



Stillness within one individual can affect society beyond measure. -- Bede Griffiths

To meet everything and everyone through stillness instead of mental noise is the greatest gift you can offer to the universe.  -- Eckhart Tolle in Stillness Speaks

Later we will explore the practice of solitude, an important part of the journey toward heavenliness.  And we will explore the spiritual style of relationships as presented by Edward Bastian in Mandala: Creating An Authentic Spiritual Path: An InterSpiritual Process.  I want to emphasize here how intimately and intricately connected all of these practices are.  Once harnessed, as Ed likes to put it, these practices become the gateway to creating heaven on earth, a realm of abundance, joy, wisdom, beauty, love, truth, peace, justice and freedom.



Attain the center of emptiness,
Preserve the utmost quiet;
As myriad things act in concert,
I thereby observe the return.
Things flourish,
Then each returns to its root.
Returning to the root
Is called stillness:
Stillness is called return to Life,
Return to Life is called the constant;
Knowing the constant is called enlightenment.
- Tao-te Ching (DailyZen 4/11/14)

The ultimate goal of this journey is not stillness nor detachment (which comes next) nor humility (next after that).  The ultimate goal is “return to life,” “enlightenment,”  and “the constant.”  A simple and profound abundance is the shining effect of this practice.  “Things flourish, Then each returns to the root.”  We need to have experiences in our roots, in the ground of being.  This is an emptiness we can live with, really live, live abundantly, compassionately, wisely.



Contemplative prayer is the world in which God can do anything. To move into that realm is the greatest adventure. It is to be open to the Infinite and hence to infinite possibilities. Our private, self-made worlds come to an end; a new world appears within and around us and the impossible becomes an everyday experience.
 -- Thomas Keating in Open Mind, Open Heart

Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina as taught by Father Thomas Keating is an excellent method for entering the glorious stillness which leads to our awakening.  Many people have been discovering this new world since Father Keating’s books began to gain popularity toward the end of the twentieth century.  From the Contemplative Outreach website here is a very brief introduction to Centering Prayer:

“Centering Prayer is a receptive method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God's presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.

“Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer. Rather, it adds depth of meaning to all prayer and facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer - verbal, mental or affective prayer - into a receptive prayer of resting in God. Centering Prayer emphasizes prayer as a personal relationship with God and as a movement beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Christ.”



In the stillness of the quiet, if we listen, we can hear the whisper of the heart giving strength to weakness, courage to fear, hope to despair.  -- Howard Thurman
This was the Word for the Day on June 17, 2015 at

Even those among us who really feel the need and desire to practice stillness still resist taking the time to do it.  We know there are so many blessings from the practice but there are so many other possibilities out there with their own promised blessings.  We constantly need to find ways to move into the stillness which is so powerful, more powerful than any other practice or activity.

+ You can always find a link to any of the Spiritual Explorations posts by going to

Tuesday, November 24, 2015



…work out your own salvation… (Philippians 2:12)

What does it mean to come into the great inner silence, the cognizant stillness of consciousness? How do we find and open our inner door to the sacred? Words, formal prayers, and guided meditations can point the way, but only our own action, only our investigation of our private experience, only our own inner experimentation and observation can give us the taste, the understanding, and the ability to enter the spiritual depths.
-– Joseph Naft in an Inner Work post on Spiritual Efficacy offered in May 2013.

Each of us has our own path, our own styles.  I really appreciate what Ed Bastian offers. He has developed a dynamic process of discovering what works for each unique person.  He has identified 12 important spiritual styles and offers a tool for discerning your natural inclinations and your strengths and weaknesses.   I urge you to check out He has written a groundbreaking book on this process: Mandala: Creating an Authentic Spiritual Path: An InterSpiritual Process.

SPECIAL NOTE FOR THOSE READING THIS IN LATE 2015 and EARLY JANUARY 2016.  Ed is offering a comprehensive Internet course on THE MANDALA PROCESS: CREATING YOUR SPIRITUAL PATH durin January and February. I have benefited immensely from taking this course. The cost is $175 and totally worth it.  Video meetings are held weekly.  A lot of wonderful sharing is done at the course website once you have registered.

The course will help you:
· Create a spiritual path and contemplative practice that give your life meaning, purpose and direction.
· Find answers, traditions and practices that most powerfully align with your personal spiritual styles.
· Discover consilience among spiritual, psychological, mythological and scientific traditions.
· Gain an appreciation and integration of diverse spiritual traditions, modalities, beliefs and practices and learn to meditate and pray with people from those diverse traditions.
· Cultivate a calm, focused, empathetic and centered state-of-being.



In that cognitive stillness, first revealed to us in the gaps between thoughts, we find a deeper part of our mind, we find our true consciousness. This is the awareness behind our thoughts, behind all our sensory perceptions. With practice, with returning to this cognizant stillness again and again, with steeping ourselves in that quiet mind, we become able to open to it even when there are thoughts. We are in the great stillness while thoughts drift by like small clouds in a vast sky. Even during the day, when we are not sitting in meditation, we become able to be in that stillness, in the midst of activity, in the midst of thought.
-– Joseph Naft in an Inner Work post on Transcending Our Thoughts offered in September 2014.

When we learn how to be still, really still, then we can truly know and experience the pervasive Love which is everywhere at all times. It’s here right now, at this time. Let this amazing Love be unmasked. Let ecstasy reign.

Stillness is the path which leads to awakening and awareness. While it is OK to sleep on the journey, you do miss a lot. So let’s wake up and become aware through the magical practice of simply being still.

When we are still we awaken to the glorious reality that … We are intimately, intricately, infinitely connected by a matrix of unconditional, unlimited, uniting LOVE which is miraculous, mysterious and marvelous.

Being still simply gives us a point to become aware of the movement, the flow, the dance. We become still and appreciate movement. Life is impossible without movement. But in stillness we learn how to move better, how to respect the whole creation more fully, even how to control movement for useful purposes. Of course our control is always quite limited and elusive. We think we have things under control only to find out that nothing is going as planned. That's OK! God has everything under control and that's all that matters. God is mysterious, elusive and holy. We are intimately, intricately and infinitely connected to God and everything God has created and is creating. It's wonderful. It's real.

The importance of this practice cannot be over-emphasized. It is the foundation upon which all of the essential spiritual practices are built. It is both extremely easy and extremely difficult.

 + You can always find a link to any of the Spiritual Explorations posts by going to

Monday, November 23, 2015



In meditation and contemplative prayer, the purely receptive approach is to do nothing, or more accurately, to not do anything. We just sit. We do not try to shape our inner experience in any way. We notice any impulse to go with a thought, to pay particular attention to something, or to change our inner state. But we let those impulses fade without acting on them. We just sit and wait and allow everything to be as it is. This silence of our will attunes us to the deepest silence, to the realm beyond space and time. In this practice of non-doing, we make ourselves available to the Sacred depths. It is not our part to make something happen, much less make any demands. We just sit and be. Gradually our thoughts subside on their own. If and when and to what degree the Sacred touches us, we will know. But that only happens in its own time and only if we are available.  -- Joseph Naft

This quote is found in a series of posts at Inner Frontier > Mind and Thought: Part 5

For many of us, the practice of stillness is based primarily on the practice of sitting still but there are other ways.  Walking mindfully works for some.  Yoga works for some.  Tai Chi or Chi Gong works for some.  Dance works for some.  Music works for some.  Many ways.

But the power of stillness is only achieved when the “monkey mind” is prevented from dominating our consciousness.  That’s what this practice is all about.  Slowly but surely we are led to a heavenly realm of existence which allows us to let go of so much of the clutter which blocks our enthusiasm and effectiveness.    



What's wrong with being busy? Plenty. Americans have become the most anxious, time-stressed people in the world, thanks in part to all the high-tech devices at our fingertips that are meant to make life easier. The white noise of trivia and the thrill of consumption fill our heads and guide our behaviors.-- Richard Mahler

So, stop it!  Don’t surrender to the rat race.  Lily Tomlin said that even if you win the rat race, it is still a rat race.  Allow the practice of stillness to become so essential that you are liberated more and more from much of the anxiety and stress which has become so deeply embedded in our society.



There are times when our offering is not necessarily some tangible gift or helpful act, but rather simply a peaceful manner. If we are clear and present, if we are quiet and centered, then others may be nourished simply by our lack of agitation. The world is so agitated that to be in the presence of a single person who is at peace can feel remarkably healing, a great blessing. If we are still, others will come when they need to remember who they are.
 -- Wayne Muller in How, Then, Shall We Live

The powerful practice of stillness is a powerful offering to the world.  Even before you are meeting other people, your stillness is making a difference.  Every thought we have is transmitted into the mysterious web of interconnectness which makes life possible and meaningful. 

Paradoxically, the practice of stillness makes community happen.  When you bring your whole self into your relationships you make it possible for others to bring their whole selves out.  This  is the foundation for an authentic, compassionate community.  It can grow and grow and grow.  So, this is a practice we can live with and the whole planet can live with.  This is a practice which creates heaven here on earth moment after moment.  It is definitely a heavenly practice. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015



In the stillness
of this breath
I can take comfort
in knowing I am
part of something
greater than myself.
— Joan Noeldechen
in Pocket Prayers collected by June Cotner

The practice of stillness is an adventure which takes us to realms beyond ego.  It is not an escape from reality but an immersion in reality.  Within the confines of our egos, illusion prevails over reality.  Stillness stops the endless cycle of creating your identity as a separate being rather than a connected being.  We really are …

by a matrix of
which is
mysterious and

+ You can always find a link to any of the Spiritual Explorations posts by going to



To return to your original state of being,
You must become a master of stillness.
Activity for health’s sake,
Never carried to the point of strain,
Must alternate with perfect stillness.
Sitting motionless as a rock,
Turn next to stillness of mind.
Close the gates of the senses.
Fix your mind upon one object or,
Even better, enter a state
Of objectless awareness.
Turn the mind in upon itself
And contemplate the inner radiance.
- Anonymous

That was the wisdom I found at on November 21, 2015. I have nothing to add.   

+ You can always find a link to any of the Spiritual Explorations posts by going to



Know your mind as the sky;
Allow everything to pass on through,
The clouds, the lightning, the winds,
All of it, even the blue itself.
Don’t even get caught on the blue.
See and hear whatever arises,
But don’t grasp at anything.
Don’t even get caught on the sky.
-- Ji Aoi Isshi
(Posted on December 12, 2009 by Navita at

We will explore the spiritual practice of detachment after we have worked on stillness a little longer.  I believe detachment comes naturally as we move deeper and deeper into stillness.

What works for you?  What doesn’t work for you?  Can you share your experiences with us?  If so, I will be looking for your contribution on Facebook or you can send  an email to  Write “Stillness” in the Subject line so that I can find it even if it’s in my spam box.

+ You can always find a link to any of the Spiritual Explorations posts by going to



When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world. … Your innermost sense of self, of who you are, is inseparable from stillness. This is the I Am that is deeper than name and form.
-- Eckhart Tolle

As you move deeper and deeper into the amazing state of stillness, you become more and more the Real You, the You God has always intended you to be.  Again, becoming still is not easy but it is simple.  It’s a challenge to get to know yourself and discover the many, many obstacles to your authenticity which keep you outside of the heavenly bliss we all can inhabit.

+ You can always find a link to any of the Spiritual Explorations posts by going to



Here is another quote from that wonderful book by Erich Schiffman, the great Yoga teacher:

Stillness, therefore, is a higher energy state than what we're used to. This is because we are rarely wholehearted, or unconflicted, about anything. When you are not wholehearted, when you'd rather be someplace other than where you are, parts of you shut down and begin not to participate. Your energy circulation becomes constricted, and the creative life force is unable to flow through you unimpeded. Your energy flow, the amount of life force flowing through you, begins to diminish. The source of the energy does not diminish, but the amount that flows through you does. This leads to ill health, low energy, lowered vitality, lack of enthusiasm, depression, frustration, unhappiness, and suffering. None of this feels good.

Several years ago, Erich Schiffmann collaborated with Ali McGraw in a great teaching video with some of the basic asanas of physical yoga practice.  You can buy it at  There is a brief intro on Youtube at

Of course, yoga is not the only mental, spiritual and physical practice which can create and sustain stillness, but it is a good one, tested for thousands of years.  Even if you don’t practice yoga, the spiritual wisdom Erich Schiffman offers in Moving Into Stillness is wonderful.



You imagine a spinning top. Stillness is like a perfectly centered top, spinning so fast it appears motionless. It appears this way not because it isn't moving, but because it's spinning at full speed. Stillness is not the absence or negation of energy, life, or movement. Stillness is dynamic. It is unconflicted movement, life in harmony with itself, skill in action. It can be experienced whenever there is total, uninhibited, unconflicted participation in the moment you are in - when you are wholeheartedly present with whatever you are doing. -- Erich Schiffman in Moving Into Stillness.

What a fantastic definition or description of the gift of stillness which, Schiffman tells us, is what Yoga is all about.  In the next post, I will offer another paragraph from Schiffman’s fantastic chapter on Stillness in Moving Into Stillness, his great book on Yoga, a spiritual feast as well as a practical guide.

His chapter on Stillness is available on the web at

Much, but not all, of the book can be found on the web at You can buy the book at

+ You can always find a link to any of the Spiritual Explorations posts by going to



Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at anytime and be yourself. -- Herman Hesse

To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else -- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting – E. E. Cummings
You are fantastic. You are fascinating. You are wonderful.  You are delightful.  The gift of this practice of stillness is You, the Real You, and You are a gift to the universe, a very important gift. 

I encourage you to say to yourself as often as needed:
I am fantastic.
I am fascinating.
I am wonderful.
I am delightful.


+ You can always find a link to any of the Spiritual Explorations posts by going to



"You do not need to do anything; you do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You do not even need to listen; just wait. You do not even need to wait; just become still, quiet and solitary and the world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet." -- Franz Kafka

Since STILLNESS is the most essential spiritual practice, I will be staying with this theme for a while.  That quote is one of my all-time favorites.  But I know it is not as easy as the quote suggests.  This is a life long journey and, for most of us, there will only be a few of these totally ecstatic moments or peak experiences as Abraham Maslow puts it.  Maslow described these peak experiences as he studied very happy and healthy people.  As he continued his research, he found that it is possible to stay on a plateau of a certain amount of ecstasy for long periods of time. 

So, this practice is definitely worth the effort.  There will be many ups and downs, detours and delays.  But this present moment is wonderful.  Begin again.      

+ You can always find a link to any of the Spiritual Explorations posts by going to



Be still, and the world is bound to turn herself inside out to entertain you. Everywhere you look, joyful noise is clanging to drown out quiet desperation. -- Barbara Kingsolver in High Tide in Tucson

STILLNESS is the most essential spiritual practice.  There is simply no other way to enter heaven.  And I am not talking about our physical death.  Stillness is not like that.  Stillness is simply another level of consciousness.  Our ordinary perceptions slowly disappear and we awaken to something new and different, more whole, more holy, more healing, than ever before.  Every time.  So, what are you waiting for? Do it?  Practice stillness and become your whole self, your heavenly self.  It’s a feast.  But, be warned, a lot of pain and fear and doubt and confusion and bewilderment may come up in the process of becoming still.  Don’t avoid it.  Don’t resist it.  Let it be.

But do make sure you have a community of support.  Solitude is a good thing but there are times when we need companionship on this journey.  Seek a friend. Seek a guide.  Join a group.  We all need to connect with fellow spiritual explorers. This journey is a community affair allowing for a multitude of individual styles and preferences.  Be unique and share your uniqueness with others.  The practice of stillness is essential for creating and discovering your own uniqueness.  But, as Jesus said, “don’t hide your light under a bushel.”  You need others.  Others need you.  You are fantastic.  You are wonderful. 

Friday, November 20, 2015



How to know God? By being still. How to be still? By practice of meditation. Meditation is the art of being still in body, in mind, in heart, in will, in the entire inner being, and enabling the higher Divine Consciousness in us to have direct, immediate perception of God. – Omkarananda

Most of us don’t realize how much we sleep even when we are not in bed, even when we seem to be very active. This is because our activity is often mindless, habitual, addictive, inattentive. Stillness leads us to a new style of awareness. We become aware of our greater reality.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


+ Updated at 4:12pm EST on November 12, 2015

+ I invite you to join me on a journey that will take us to both familiar and unfamiliar realms of our greater heavenly existence.  In other words, let's explore heaven.  Jesus said: "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you." (Luke 17:21)

Some of my posts will be very short and others perhaps a little longer but rarely or never as long as this one.   I plan to offer at least 366 of these posts so they can be a daily blessing.  Each post will include a quote by a wise spiritual teacher and a brief reflection. 

I have a plan!  There will be four major areas of exploration. We will begin with the spiritual practice of stillness which leads to the related practices of detachment and humility.  I believe these are essential practices of Mindfulness.  I don’t know how long this portion of the journey will take.  The next portion of the journey will be an exploration of practices of the heart: silence, discernment and healing.  I believe these practices come naturally once we have developed some proficiency in mindfulness.  The third portion will focus on body explorations: solitude, devotion and holiness.  The fourth portion will focus on soul explorations: simplicity, delight and heavenliness.

On the home page you will find a table with links to pages on each of these 12 spiritual practices. I update and continue to add reflections and resources to these pages.  

I believe we are heavenly beings having a temporary human being experience.  But our awareness of our heavenly existence is limited.  Let’s explore heaven!  We can definitely move beyond these human limits through spiritual practices. 

 “Be still and know that I am God.” 
-- Psalm 46:10

“To the mind that is still the whole universe surrenders.” 
-- Lao Tzu

 “To meet everything and everyone through stillness 
instead of mental noise
 is the greatest gift you can offer to the universe.”
 -- Eckhart Tolle in Stillness Speaks

It is simple to be still but it is not easy. 

I am convinced that the practice of stillness is essential if we are to become more and more aware of our heavenly existence.  

And I am not the only one. This exploration of the practice of stillness will offer the insights and inspiring wisdom of some very wise guides including The Buddha, Jesus, Joseph Naft, Herman Hesse, Franz Kafka,  Eckhart Tolle, Howard Thurman, Dag Hammarskjold, Edward Bastian, Joan Noeldechen, Erich Schiffmann, Omkarananda, Richard Mahler,  Barbara Kingsolver, T.S. Eliot, Henri Nouwen, Ravi Ravindra, G.K. Chesterton, Stonehouse, Lao-Tzu, Deepak Chopra, Bede Griffiths, Rosen Takashina, Paul Brunton, Henry David Thoreau, Hui-Neng, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Meister Eckhart, Tara Brach, Ji Aoi Isshi and more.  These guides offer powerful guidance and inspiration for people choosing to receive and share the abundant  gifts which come to us as we become still, as we practice stillness.

I will offer their wisdom and regularly offer reflections of my own.  I would love to hear from you and offer your reflections from time to time.

So, I invite you to join me.

I believe:

We are
intimately, intricately and infinitely connected
by a matrix of
unconditional, unlimited and uniting love
which is
miraculous, mysterious and marvelous.
In order to experience this greater reality we need to:

Breathe deeply. Breathe fully.
Be still. Be silent.
Be centered. Be grounded.
Lighten up. Loosen up.
Let go. Let God.
Celebrate. Enjoy.
Be glad all over!

Let’s go.

+ You can always find a link to any of the Spiritual Explorations posts by going to