Awake in the World

Awake in the World

Centering for Sanity

posted by debramoffitt

Anchoring in one’s Self during the storms and trials is a way to stay centered during the rush of the day. In Native American traditions, the circle is a powerful symbol of wholeness. The Plains Indians used medicine wheels made of stones laid out on the earth as ways to connect with the sacred in the cosmos both within and without. The best known is the Bighorn Medicine Wheel on Medicine Mountain in Wyoming used by the Northern Arapaho and other tribes including Cheyenne, Crow and Shoshone. They’re probably called wheels because of their shape. Stones are located in the center with a series of spokes moving out from the center.

Today medicine wheels are sometimes used by Native American counselors as a way to bring balance and centering. One elder suggests that people draw a wheel with a central point on paper and divide it into four equal parts. He advises people to designate an area for Emotional, Physical, Spiritual and Mental life. In each area he suggests that people contemplate where they are and how they feel about each aspect of their lives. The aim is to achieve balance. “Standing in the center is the most powerful place,” he says. In the center one is anchored and perfectly balanced between all of the areas of one’s life. Being well centered means that when trials occur and problems arise, we can still maintain a sense of peace and not be thrown off or dragged down.

Labyrinths offer a similar sense of centering. Once after walking a labyrinth in a quiet park I awoke at three a.m. with the image of the center of the labyrinth. That was all, just the small, circular area where I stood at peace and unmoving in the heart of it after winding in and out. The center represented a place of stillness and unity. My mind remained quiet and unattached to anything just for that moment.

Take a moment to focus on this center. People will try to provoke and tempt. By staying in the center it’s easier to make decisions that reflect your deepest aims and align with your Higher Self. What would your medicine wheel look like? If you contemplate yourself as a whole, what would you wish to add or remove for better balance? Throughout the day reflect on the center. Find an image that reminds you of this and come back to it often. Reflect on what it means for you to be centered and how you can stay in this place today.

Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2011). She is devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life.  Debra leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the world and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. Find out more at: http://awakeintheworld.com and http://www.debramoffitt.com.

The Grace of Saying Grace

posted by debramoffitt

When I was a child, not a meal passed when we didn’t “say grace.” Someone , usually my father, would take a meaningful pause. We would all bow our heads and he would begin, “Thank you for this meal that you have put before us.” The prayer only lasted a minute and as a child I found it mostly an annoying ritual that delayed my dinner. On the big occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas, granddad had the honors and saying grace was more solemn and potent. Today I grapple with how to incorporate this into a daily routine. Sometimes with friends who also feel deeply spiritual one of us will say a prayer, chant or mantra before we begin to eat. Though we are of different religious backgrounds, Sikh, Hindu and Christian, we pray to the one God with many forms.

But in public and with friends and colleagues who don’t seem particularly interested in spiritual practice I pause before eating and repeat words of gratitude silently to myself. Sometimes my table companions recognize the pause, but most of the time they’re absorbed in other things and don’t. Saying grace in the traditional sense means, “a short prayer before or after a meal in which a blessing is asked for and thanks given,” according to Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. The word grace derives from Middle English and Old French. It probably reaches back to Latin and we hear it in romance languages. In Italian the words for “thank you” are closely related to grace. They are “grazie” and in Spanish it becomes “gracias.”

During meals today, take a moment to remember the Divine. Say grace in whatever way or form appeals to you. Pause before the meal and enjoy the scents and sights of the food. Consider the hands that prepared it and the Earth that gave birth to it. Food connects us to many people in the process of getting to our tables. By saying grace and being thankful for the food, the blessings extend out to all who helped bring it to you.

Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2011). She is devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life.  Debra leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the world and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. Find out more at: http://awakeintheworld.com and http://www.debramoffitt.com.

The Power of Sacrifice as Spiritual Practice

posted by debramoffitt

By Debra Moffitt

Author, Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life

The recent catastrophe in Japan has shown us the power of self-sacrifice in a way unfamiliar to us in recent history. When the earthquake and tsunami shook the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant the Japanese people set examples of civility, caring for others and unselfishness unprecedented in our time. Crisis brought out the best of them in the worst of times. Nowhere was this more powerfully illustrated than in the actions of the workers who exposed themselves to high levels of radiation as they tried to repair the leaks and damages at the power plant. These people knowingly entered into a dangerous situation. Each minute spent in the highly toxic environment meant days, weeks and probably years shaved off of their lives. Why would they do this? Like firefighters at the World Trade Center and those who continue to face danger everyday, they possess a sense of working for something greater than themselves. In the case of the Fukushima workers, they aim to contain the radiation and prevent it from polluting the seas, air and land as well as the people in the vicinity and around the world.

One of the most common and most taken for granted sacrifices we see everyday is the sacrifice mothers make for their children. They sacrifice time, energy, money and attention to give life, teaching, education and love to their children. But sacrifice can extend into daily life for all us – not just for firefighters and mothers. Sacrifice is a deep spiritual practice that leads us to experience a profound sense of interconnectedness and oneness. It diminishes ego and shaves away barriers of separation. It may be as simple as giving a dollar to someone on the street or as big as risking your life for others.

This is not an easy practice for most of us. The word sacrifice comes from the word “sacred” and literally means “to render sacred.” A good way to make the process sacred is to offer whatever is given to the Divine in whatever form you love.  How would you like to bring sacrifice into your life today? Please share your experiences and what sacrifice means to you today. It may help others to hear about your challenges and successes.

Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2011). She is devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life.  Debra leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the world and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. Find out more at: http://awakeintheworld.com and http://www.debramoffitt.com.

 

Laugh Through the Spiritual Growing Pains

posted by debramoffitt

Can you believe it? Laughter can be a spiritual practice. We tend to take anything spiritual with such seriousness that we lose our sense of humor. Humor is spiritual. Think of the laughing Buddhas in the East, and I can easily imagine that Jesus was a very charming man with a great sense of humor too. He would have had to have had to laugh at life to go through the betrayals and trials he experienced without becoming bitter and angry. Think of the benefits of laughter. It releases tensions, raises endorphin levels and a good deep belly laugh is a way to stop taking one’s self and one’s ideas so seriously.

I love the story of the laughing wise men. The three men traveled the towns and villages teaching people through laughter. They spent endless hours laughing thorough rain and sun, through cold and heat and through periods with no food and periods of bounty. One day one of the men died. He had instructed his friends to leave his coats intact and when they put him on the funeral pyre, the sparks ignited firecrackers he’d kept in his pockets to give his friends one last laugh on his behalf. Then the laughter teaching began again.

When we get started on a spiritual journey it can turn quickly into a pious, self-important way to impose ideals and values on others. When the focus begins to turn outward rather than inward, then we’re heading in a wrong direction down a dead-end street. Lighten up today. Take a break from self-possessed seriousness, look in the mirror and laugh. Self-deprecation is a wonderful way to ease a tense situation and make friends. In men its an irresistible quality that women adore. Relax. Take a deep breath and put on a red clown nose if you have one or go out and buy one. Laugh at yourself and enjoy the journey with levity.

Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2011). She is devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life.  Debra leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the world and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. Find out more at: http://awakeintheworld.com and http://www.debramoffitt.com.

 

Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life. A visionary and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the globe and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. She has spent over fifteen years practicing meditation, working with dreams and doing spiritual practices. Read her blogs at Intent.com and www.debramoffitt.wordpress.com. Visit her online at www.debramoffitt.com and www.awakeintheworld.com.   
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