Monday, March 16, 2009

MPOW #8 - Word: "Faith"

Throughout our lives, many words have become laden with meaning and emotion. Our past experiences prime us in how we see and interpret words. Words Are Powerful in many ways, and it is valuable for us to use their powers and explore the latent meanings that we have ascribed to them for self-discovery. How are these words loaded with meaning? What does this tell us about our pasts and how can we learn about who we are now?

Jean Smith has written an excellent book called Now!: The Art of Being Truly Present (Amazon) that has collected a number of particularly laden words and provided some context to work through them. I love this book. I find it very powerful. The first word in the book is Faith. I had no idea how I felt about this -- carrying so many emotions and prejudices -- until I meditated on it.

In the section on how to use the book, Smith recommends that "... you take time to really answer for yourself two questions: What does this have to do with me? and How can I make use of this? Use this to shape the practice.

The practice - Meditate on the word: "Faith"
Take some time for yourself. Sit in your meditative posture, and bring yourself to a calm and reflective place. When you are there and peaceful, invite the word "faith" in. Give this plenty of space for exploration. Explore yourself. See what thoughts you associate with the word and the notion. See what images come to mind. Do you ascribe a color to it? A sound? Does a person or quotation come to mind?

See what emotions you feel. Does your body change at all? Perhaps a faster or slower heart rate, a sense of peace, happiness, sweaty palms. Any of these or other physical signs may be noticeable.

Are there any mantras that you tell yourself about the word? Do you view it positively? Negatively? Distastefully? Neutrally? How do you use the word?

When you are ready, answer the following question: "What does this have to do with me?" Explore the answer to your satisfaction.

When satisfied, then answer "How can I make use of this?" Maybe you can fit the word into your life, giving it a new context and a new meaning for yourself.

In closing, offer yourself a prayer. Here's an example from Now! that I use, though you may choose another that you prefer..
May I be graced
with the power of a faith
that dispels doubt,
so that I can open to life's
mysteries and joys
with confidence.
... I recommend not reading on until you have tried this at least once for yourself, otherwise my learnings may be another prime ...

Some of the things that I learned
In my initial meditation on "faith", I discovered much about myself. First, I have a lot of disdain for the word "faith". I see faith as a crutch. I think of faith healers, and I view them as snake oil peddlers, evangelical con men. I think of "blind faith". I think of religion laced with that modern bad word "dogma", something passed down without one's own choosing. This was powerful for me, and knowledge of it allowed me to address it. After spending this time in contemplation, I began to see other ways to look at faith. I can have faith in others, a trust of their good intentions. I can have faith in positive outcomes, seeing it as a kind of optimism. I can be and have faithful friends, true companions on life's journey. There are several ways to redefine and reclaim the word in a positive light. Closing with the prayer really heartens me.

This post is dedicated to my Goddaughter Sara Gilbert, whose birthday was this past week. May she experience the powers of well-placed faith, avoid the cynicism of misplaced faith, and feel out situations curiously with her heart and soul so as to avoid the pitfalls of blind faith and make her own choice's from a deep source of wisdom.

Request for Comments - please share your learnings from your contemplations on "faith".

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