As we near the conclusion of our nine week series on healing, I am sharing with you my practice which I have undertaken during the course of the last several years. This practice includes all the teachings about healing that I have included in this series and invites the practitioner to partake in the divine flow of healing. It’s only a framework, which means you are free to add or drop any or all of it. It mirrors the framework that Jesus offered when he taught his disciples how to pray, it also embraces the tradition of Christian contemplation and Eastern meditative practices. This is your fly-on-the-wall view to enter as my guest into how I experience the divine moment (Christ). Perhaps I’m a weirdo to some. Perhaps to others, a concierge that introduces that which is just beyond everything.
I had hoped when I began this process that I would in some way tap into some super power which would bring tangible results in the world. While I haven’t ordered a red cape on Amazon yet, I do have to say that I have perceived too many shifts between what “could be” to what “is now happening” that I am more certain of God’s desire to bring healing into the world through people than I have ever been. I’m not suggesting this has anything to do with perfect execution of a spiritual practice, God knows its messy. Nor does this have to do with me as a person, as if I possessed something of my own that everyone else doesn’t, I’m no healing guru, I’m just a man whose trying what I can.
I’ve got a long way to go. I could tell that even on my best days, the rate of flow changes like a surfer catching various types of waves. In fact my own imprecision despite my most diligent efforts is what caused me to realize just how immense the forces of darkness are against which we are striving. Even when Jesus disciples were given power to heal and cast out demons they couldn’t get them all. When asked why not, Jesus said “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:28) and “Because of your little faith” (Matt 17:18). In other words, while I can clearly see movement, I realize the design is for the collective body to share in this practice and to be honest, most people just aren’t there. The world and even the church have so little faith. It’s no wonder people don’t expect miracles anymore.
Test this and see for yourself. That’s what this whole series has been about.
To begin the practice we begin with our posture, specifically our inner posture. I’m not as concerned with our bodily posture as I am with that of our heart and mind. Every religion has its own signature prayer posture for all to observe. What I can offer is to ask your body to honor what is happening inside. Let freedom reign over rigidity and routine, but let reverence rule over comfort.
At the Living School, James Finely would teach us to sit in a comfortable place and position. I found myself wanting to cross my legs or arms at first. Just as in the therapy session, this is a gesture of closing off, or guarding and not that of receptivity. I usually keep my feet flat on the floor and hands quietly at my sides or folded on my lap. Not sitting up too proud, nor slouching, my head not too high and not too low. I desire no sense of arrogance, nor slackness. When seated I’m simply trying to just be me. Just a broken, dirty man who is somehow deeply inspired to sit here and be myself.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Since I come from a Christian perspective, when I sit, I try and become conscious that I am in the presence of a king. I find surrendering to a nebulous, nameless cosmic energy a bit impersonal. Perhaps that is what you prefer. That’s fine and I respect that. For me, the whole practice is the hope that the scepter will be tilted toward the practitioner so he or she may enter divine presence. We aren’t court jesters, we are humble servants coming into the throne room of grace with our petitions. I have never been able to enter into those practices that make me into the greatest power or that conclude the presence I encounter is only myself. In this practice, when graced, I can confidently join in the divine flow of Father, Son and Spirit, but I am always distinct from them, while at the same time fully included.
When I get this posture correct I feel like Peter on the mount of transfiguration. “For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified.” (Mark 9:6). I know that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7), but part of me seems to always gain a sense of angst. I want to leave, stand up, or quit or run. Scripture tells us that God is love and that “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:18-19). I do trust the infinite love that is pulling me in now. I think the better way to express this whole body experience is to call it “Awe, or Sobriety.” We’re not messing around now. This isn’t empty. May I encourage you to stay through this. Do not leave. Press through and wait. This is a time we are invited into something for which we are integral so try to enter in faith and expectation and not give way to fear despite how palpable.
Humility is the key. Not self-deprecation, but honest self awareness knowing you are vital part but only a part. You are here not only to broadcast, but primarily to learn how to receive whatever may come. If we cannot meet this moment in humility, we cannot ever truly meet this moment.
If you don’t believe is spiritual opposition, this practice should convince you otherwise. Entering the flow and spaciousness of divine presence is not like turning a faucet on high. Every distraction imaginable presses in and vies for attention. If you can get beyond the dog barking, random noise, or sudden itch on your face, then there will be a train of thoughts that will all strive to derail or impede the process. Don’t get frustrated or get a spiritual FOMO. Just be with and experience each thing in turn.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Pslam 46:10)
Notice your body and some of this will fade into the background. Just notice your hand or foot or ear or top of your head and how as you give attention to it, it sort of tingles or can suddenly be perceived. This is the grounding power of our body and it should encourage you to realize just how fast the quantum entanglement affects our corporeal experience. The body is the first place to find presence.
Notice your breath. The rhythm of inhalation and exhalation. Breath is another word for wind, Spirit or Pneuma. As I pay attention to it I realize I’m not breathing, I’m being breathed into in sort of mouth to mouth resuscitation. If spirt stops. I stop. This emits a tremendous gratitude within my being along with a sense of helplessness. Love and the grace of Spirit is being breathed into me, even when I use that breath to curse or use its life energy to ruin myself or others. How is anything this good? How many times will Spirit fill my lungs. There is a known and fixed number and I cannot forget it.
The Breath or Spirit Practice
Spirit work is integral to healing, “to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:9). The Holy Spirit works in opposite tension to malevolent spirits through the wisdom of God, which as I’ve shown through this series are many. In my experience, the absence of one almost always necessitates the presence of the other; “when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order.” (Luke 11:25). This practice is the practice of being filled with the Holy Spirit and the conscious removal of those spirits which wage war upon us. “Then a harmful spirit from the Lord came upon Saul” (1 Samuel 19:9) This isn’t a cosmic game of chess where we pick teams. Satan means adversary, and is necessary by design. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.” (Genesis 3:1). The spiritual realm of reality is not an intersection where we can pick one way or the other under our own power. It is a stream that flows one way and the only alternative is the upstream struggle. Like a river, we never get out of this realm in the same place we enter.
The Spiritual work is that of kenosis, self-emptying and filling. The filling part really differentiates this practice from Eastern meditative practices. I take in the Spirit/breath of God and it I am filled with all that is God. Each breath is a taking in of Love, Peace, Mercy, Compassion, Wisdom, Forgiveness, Grace, Healing, etc… and as it runs its course I attach to the breath confusion, pain, disorder, anger, resentment, jealousy, pride, ambition, lust, evil, etc… I take in Spirit from the infinite well of the Love of God and I send out, in faith, and “let us also layaside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” (Hebrews 12:1). Healing is the exercise of letting go of a breath that has run its course.
I do this for myself and then I expand it to those I have conscious awareness about. This quantum entanglement is palpable. The flow of this must be outward in that we take on the Spirit of healing and we send it out in conscious intention to those who need it. I got the flow wrong in the hopes of trying to help those who would not engage int his process. While possible, I was quickly overwhelmed. As I took on the burdens of others and tried to relieve them within my practice it was not long before I was overrun. I began to feel crushed. I spent several days in terrible anxiety, high blood pressure and a deep pain in my chest. It was not sustainable. The flow of Spirit must be outward unless you are gifted with the ability to bear it and relieve it. I was not. This means that the recipient must also engage in the practice of healing or the quantum entanglement loop is not complete, it requires their awareness to join in mine and the awareness of the praying body.
This is how I came to the conclusion that this practice seems ineffective because most people live on the surface and even when “praying” do not scour the soul in faith and love.
Next, I move from perceiving the body and breath into finding that place of being within your minds eye. It’s much easier with your eyes closed but I’ve learned there is much to be gained by trying to do this practice with eyes open though the distractions are multiplied. Within this space I almost always begin to see colors or shapes emerge almost as if my eyes are were slightly open, but it does the same thing in pitch black. I call these colors “borealis” because they fade in and out of brilliance. Eventually blue light arrives and begins to fade in until it covers my field of view. I always notice a slow, rhythmic, expansion and contraction of this borealis inside. It may be very different for you, just go with what you have.
As thoughts bubble to the surface about what I need to do or something horrible, dark, stressful, sexual, or whatever, I just notice them and acknowledge them. I put all of this into the stream or flow and let it go, nothing stays put within this wind or pneuma, it either comes or goes. It helps me to remember that we are connected to a collective consciousness (Body) and that not all thoughts are me. By noticing them and going right back to the borealis I avoid being pulled into them but it never fails that one or two cause me to fall by the wayside. If they do, I just go right back to being and not thinking. There are days where my entire practice gets no further than this.
Some practices would have me just work through my thoughts and into just being. I’ve found that the intellect and all its thoughts and capacities are vital in the divine presence and thus must be brought in, not just placed outside the door of the inner chamber. Many of my thoughts are the mental formations of the weight of concern within my soul and life. This is my first order of business, I unload my cares and anxieties. Peter, having pioneered this practice offers this advice at this point:
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:6-8)
This emptying doesn’t need to be a drawn out process. In this part I don’t even form words or questions. I let the concern arise, I acknowledge that God sees the heart, and I need go no further. I know that God does not require many words. I see more of my false self than I wanted to at this point in the process. I see my faults and whats more, I feel them. Deeply. I ask the king for mercy. 1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Somehow I always know I need this. I need cleansing I need to feel ok. I have to let go of everything here or this is as far as I can go. Afterwards, I have nothing left to say.
“I am mute; I do not open my mouth,
for it is you who have done it.” (Psalm 39:9)
As my mind runs its course, I usually get to a point where I sense that it is enough. This marks the beginning of my transition into the restful state.
“Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?
I lay my hand on my mouth.
I have spoken once, and I will not answer;
twice, but I will proceed no further.” (Job 40:4-5)
This portion is not only stemming from the body, but it is also the body of the prayerful contemplative practice. At this point, I am done with being on broadcast. I have gotten to “yes” as Richard Rohr would say. My prayers are answered before they come to mind. I wish everyone could see this, it would re-write our theology text books and religious services.
“Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether” (Psalm 139:4)
There is no more to do. Breathing has no attachments, it just is. All is good. I can take the string off my finger, no reminders are necessary. There can be nothing that I have forgotten, or that needs to be brought before my own consciousness. I am healed here and so is everyone else. This is the eternal moment. No one has a fake ID. Each is known perfectly and entirely and loved. Nothing is broken. Nothing is weak or frail or breaking down. Everyone is here. Everything belongs. Nothing is missing. What words can describe this? Heaven has come to earth. Word has become flesh. The dwelling place of God is with man. Now is the time to sit and dwell in the YES. I cannot describe how free it feels to be completely known and to be accepted at the same time. This flow is to abide in the here and now. In the back of my mind I know I have this external life to live with a bunch of things to do but in this space none of it matters.
“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” (Psalm 84:10)
Every prayer request which was consciously registered during my surface life, every concern for the marginalized in the world, the economies, the suffering, the forgotten, those in need of healing, deliverance, forgiveness, and on and on has been placed within a bin. This bin, which is the cause of pain, distraction and anxiety for the mind who suffers it, is openly shared and within the “YES” it is acknowledged and not a micron of it is missing. It is all entirely emptied and what’s more its turned into beauty. If you ask me to explain it, I cannot, not in words. I can only tell you that everything we call useless suffering isn’t useless and it serves a purpose. It’s even beautiful. The moment of YES can handle it all.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
Abide. As long as I can. That is my goal. But I know it cannot last right now. This has only been a dress rehearsal of what the next life will be. Until then I have work to do and I can always sense when I’m about to be released to go do it. As I cling to my beloved, I know from experience that the departure is ultimately only within my perception. The union of this moment is with me at each and every moment, but as I go about my day I lose consciousness of it.
Closure and Transition
Amen means: “So be it.” It’s not “So Do it.” Yes, as I open my eyes my mind begins to be flooded with the list of all the things I must do, but somehow they have a deeper meaning and purpose. There is coherence to them all. I look now at faces and see more than I did before. My bin is with me and like a harvester I begin to put within it the sadness I now see. I put the anger, the pain, the loss, the false. I see the world with all its questions and in they go. I see the need for transformational answers and the bin fills.
I will practice living from this spacious place after the practice. Living becomes the practice of stating in my breath or “walking in the spirit.” still feeling my breath and body, but less so. I open my posture, I open my heart, I open my life. I receive the next moment, as it is, in all its incompleteness within this plane of existence. I receive it as it is. I receive myself as I am. A man. A beast. A spirit. A light. A dark hole. It’s all only this moment’s reality, not all reality.
Go.“Go into the land that I will show you.” As Abraham, and billions of others after him was sent, so now I am too. I go into my day of service. I step onto the stage, where my lines are being co-writen with me as the invisible is now slightly more visible. The Divine impulse is really awake. It inspires me to join in creating the world through faith. I must give my unique gifts back to the world. I must do the work required but not forget to satisfy this impulse with diligence and faith. I join all others in making the world into heaven.
This practice has placed but a brick into the eternal landscape and it is a privilege to live this way. I’ll be back and I’ll bring all who are willing.