Spiritual Practice with Beau
As well as deepening relaxation and awakening insight, a daily spiritual practice buoys the heart and lifts the spirit. It gives us the strength to navigate the more difficult times and helps us to be a center of calm in a stressed out world. Meditation and prayer practices can become foundational for daily self-care as well personal growth.
How will you make the time to practice daily? How will you work with your restless body, busy mind and yearning heart? How will you sustain daily practice over time? Will you practice on your own or find the supportive strength of a community of practice? These questions and more arise as we build a foundation for sustained practice.
Robert Bowler or "Beau" will support you as you develop your spiritual understanding and practice. Your sessions can take several forms, depending on what works best for you.
- If you are looking to start your practice, Beau recommends centering prayer, and will teach, discuss and practice centering prayer with you.
- If you already have a practice, but would like someone to listen and support you on your path, sessions can be a time for spiritual direction.
- If you would like to study the mystics (seminal figures in mystical and monastic tradition such as Lao Tsu, Patanjali, Kabir and Rumi, St. Benedict, Dionysius the Areopagite, Meister Eckhart, the author of The Cloud of Unknowing, Thomas Merton and Thomas Keating, among others) or just spirituality in general, one-on-one or group sessions can be guided explorations.
Beau is the Director of Stone Church Center. He majored in Religious Studies at Reed College with a focus on the western mystical tradition and he wrote his thesis on the 14th century Dominican mystic, Meister Eckhart. He earned an M.Div. degree from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California and is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister. He spent over twenty years following an eastern spiritual path, and, for the past ten years, has practiced centering prayer.
Suggested Donation to Stone Church Center for a 50-minute session: $30. For information or to schedule a session, call 802-376-5244 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Brief History of Spiritual Practice
The roots of spiritual practice go deep in religious tradition in both the east and west. Kabbalah, the mysterious mystical tradition in Judaism, is traditionaly said to date to Eden, but is generally understood to have arisen in the 13th century BCE. In Hindu spirituality, yoga practices for body, mind and spirit were first referenced in the Upanishads dating from around 900 BCE. The Buddha, 500-600 years before the birth of Christ, taught the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold path. And Taoism began promoting living in harmony with the Tao, the principle that is the source, pattern and substance of everything that exists, 300-400 years before Christ.
The Desert Fathers and Mothers, beginning around the third century after Christ, withdrew into the desert in Egypt as hermits. Eventually, communities gathered around some of these early hermits and the first monasteries were founded. With John Cassian and St. Benedict, the contemplative life in community became well established.
The early mystics in the west practiced what was called contemplatio, "looking at", "gazing at", "being aware of" God or the Divine. While the origins of contemplatio are in the Greek philopsophers, Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus, the practices were adopted by early Christians, especially by monks and nuns.
Today, three Trappist monks, Fathers William Menninger, Basil Pennington and Thomas Keating, have revived ancient practices of contemplative prayer, including centering prayer and lectio divina, making them more accessible to people who have jobs and live in the world. Their teaching of centering prayer is inspired by the Desert Fathers, Benedictine practice, the 14th century book The Cloud of Unknowing by an anonymous English author, and Thomas Merton, who wrote in his book Contemplative Prayer, "Monastic prayer begins not so much with “considerations” as with a “return to the heart,” finding one’s deepest center, awakening the profound depths of our being”.