Winter Retreat Day 4: the dynamic spirit

Dear Friends,

I wanted to share an excerpt from our retreat this year, as an offering of peace and love to the world. We started with diving deeply into the ocean of intention from which our loving kindness and compassion spring forth. On day 2, we learned some physical yogic breathing exercises as a way to more fully understand the connection between inner, outer, breath, life and death. Yesterday, we connected our intention and breath with sound – specifically sacred sound and mantra chanting – manifesting our inner vibrations, and feeling how we are physically and psychically touched by the mindful, slow, and repetitive chanting of holy names, images or ideas.

All of these steps are preliminary supports to the main practice of meditation and prayer. I would say that Eastern and Western spiritual traditions agree – to a certain extent – that meditation and prayer are not something that one does, per se. I do not pray, the Holy Spirit prays through me. I do not meditate, there is no I. Truly, experientially understanding those concepts is a quantum leap from our ordinary way of being in the world, but they are not wholly unattainable. Why?

May I propose that at the heart of every spiritual tradition in the world, is the idea that our fundamental, essential nature is divine, enlightened, pure and free. So, arriving at the understanding that there is no “I” to be meditating because “I” dissolves into infinite luminosity – this is the ultimate meditation. To know at the very core of your being the perfection of emptiness, opens you to receiving the Holy Spirit. All of our practices leading up to this point have prepared us for this level of surrender, humility, focus, and stability. Guy meditating at sunset

“Far from being an escape from our humanity, spirituality is a fulfillment of it…We each have a mind, a will, feelings, and a body which we can direct toward God or away from God as we choose, but our spirit is not an immaterial thing floating in us or through us. The spirit is not a human faculty at all. Rather, our spirit is an emptiness that only God can fill. It is like the emptiness of a bowl that has the potentiality of being filled to overflowing, but cannot fill itself. We must pour all of ourselves into this emptiness so that we can receive everything back from God. Both the Hebrew word ruach and the Greek word pneuma mean “breath” and “wind.” We have both the potential and the need to breathe air, but the air comes from outside ourselves. We don’t have any air within us unless we breathe it in. The spirit is not a passive emptiness waiting to be filled any more than our lungs are. The human spirit is a dynamic movement within us that yearns for the quickening which only God’s Spirit can give.” – p. 2, The Indwelling God, by Andrew Marr, OSB

I have found many other examples from the world traditions, expressing this theme of emptying oneself in order to be filled with the divine. Or, from a Buddhist perspective, this “self-emptying” is only realizing what has always been there. Once this is deeply understood, our enlightened nature – spontaneously manifest wisdom in action based on profound compassion which has developed from our understanding of the true nature of reality – blossoms as effortlessly as a flower in the warmth of the sun.

And consider this introduction to contemplative meditation in the Jewish tradition:

“Jewish meditation is an ancient tradition that elevates Jewish thought, inspires Jewish practice, and deepens Jewish prayer. In its initial stages, Jewish meditation is a way to become more focused and aware. It enables the meditator to free the mind of all judgments, fears, doubts, and limiting ideas so that the voice of the soul is heard. With practice, the experience can be transformational, opening us to experience the Divine Presence during prayer, helping us discover deeper meaning in our lives, and connecting us spiritually to Jewish tradition. Jewish meditation can ultimately lead us to understand the true essence of Y-H-V-H through the practice of deeds of loving kindness and joyful compassion. Through meditation we can become attentive to the Divine imprint on our lives.” – p.1, Elements of Jewish Meditation 

I sincerely hope that these readings have provided hope, inspiration and joy along your path – wherever it may lead you. Remember to post your prayer requests to our homepage by filling out the contact form at

Blessings, Arwen

PS – if you live in the Peak to Peak region of Colorado, you are invited to join us for our upcoming in-person public events as part of our week-long Winter Retreat 2018: Lean In.

  • Community Meditation: Thursday, February 22 from 10:45 to 11:45 at the Gilpin Recreation Center. Entrance fee $2 – $5, suggested donation $5.
  • Day-long retreat: Friday, February 23 from 10 am to 4 pm at 7 Healing Stars (460 Gregory St. in Black Hawk). Opening, cleansing ceremony at 10:30, followed by yoga, meditation, sacred dance, pilates. Light snacks will be provided. $20 for the whole day.
  • Sacred Sound Healing Ceremony: Join Salvatore Vitale and Todd Abel for an immersive healing experience surrounded by singing bowls, native flutes and more skillfully intoned to resonate with our deepest levels of being, and to raise our conscious vibration $20/person at the door cash or check only27992904_1701626119883395_1698693302577680021_o

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