Practice Circle on Service2018-05-15T11:30:31+00:00

Practice Circle on Service

Please contemplate a typical day in your life and bring to mind the predictable stressful situations and problematic individuals that often occur.  As you do this, imagine how you will bring elements of this meditation into each of those stressful moments.  Do this at the conclusion of each meditation session before you head out into the world.

Take some time to write about these in your journal.  List the typical stress points and how you will bring the steps of this meditation into each of those moments, transforming them as gifts and opportunities rather than horrid intrusions.  You might even imagine them as open wounds onto which you will apply the cooling, healing salve of gratitude, love, mindful breathing, and wisdom.  Write about how you are trying to apply these during the day and how this meditative antidote impacts your mind and body.

Please share a summary of your present contemplative insights on this step in the practice circle below. Condense your journal writing (into 2,000 characters or less) and post it in a comment box below. Your personal experiences with this step of the meditation will be gifts to everyone.  Please don’t be shy about sharing.

6 Comments

  1. Ed Bastian April 16, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    Please share how your meditation will help you to be in service to others.

  2. crisgarli@icloud.com May 29, 2018 at 8:22 am

    I read chapter 7 titled Dedication “May I Serve All Beings with Compassion, Peace and Wisdom” this morning and smiled when Ed wrote about his hesitancy to be in Varanasi, a busy, crowded city in India,when he went there to study in the 1070’s. I have been to India three times, first in 1966 while traveling and studying on the University of the Seven Seas. Now I think it’s called Semester at Sea. It was an experience that changed my life. Second was when my husband got a grant from the school system in Australia to write a unit of study on India because they wanted their curriculum to be more diversified. He has a PhD in Indian history and speaks Hindi. We took our two children who were 10 and 8 at the time and traveled around the country for three months. The third time was in 2011 when we went to Bangalore, to visit friends and travel around the south of the country. I experience much of what Ed wrote about. It is such an interesting and diverse country that I wrote the following poem about it.
    India Awakens the Senses
    The sights and sounds of the subcontinent are like no other:
    the rush of motorcycles, trucks cars, three-wheeled rickshaws and buses racing through the streets;
    roadside trash, rubble and piles of burning rubbish;
    wandering cows, goats and street dogs;
    modded of humanity;
    ornate temples;
    saris in shades of lavender, hot pink, lime green and tangerine;
    lush vegetation with a million palm trees clustered throughout Karnataka and Tamil Nadu;
    houses painted mustard yellow, sapphire and chartreuse;
    the constant roadway honking;
    street dogs barking from midnight to 6 am;
    the loud, animated chattering of Hindi mixed with intermittent English;
    train whistles,
    the high pitched singers of popular songs,
    the gentle mooting of cows and cooing of pigeons,
    and chanted calls to faithful Muslims from minarets.

    You can smell, taste and touch the uniqueness of the country:
    the stench of garbage, feces and urine on the roadside from cows, goats and men;
    diesel fumes from countless vehicles;
    the aroma of fresh chapatis,
    fragrant plants blossoming in botanical gardens,
    spices that prickle the taste buds,
    sweet juice from foreign fruits;
    microbes that tighten you stomach and loosen your bowels;
    the warmth of your palms uniting in a namaste,
    the expanding of your heart with your connection to new friends.

    Our consciousness grows as we experience:
    our false sense of permanence,
    our aversion to change and
    our fear of the unknown.
    We awaken to our wonder of the variety of the natural world,
    our sense of oneness with all of humanity
    and our gratitude for the joys, sorrows and flowering of life.

  3. awolfe June 4, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    In considering the overarching goal of being of service to all, I find inspiration and purpose in these quotes from a variety of different faith traditions –

    Buddhist:

    Prayer for Humanity

    “May I be a guard for those who need protection
    A guide for those on the path
    A boat, a raft, a bridge for those who wish to cross the flood
    May I be a lamp in the darkness
    A resting place for the weary
    A healing medicine for all who are sick
    A vase of plenty, a tree of miracles
    And for the boundless multitudes of living beings
    May I bring sustenance and awakening
    Enduring like the earth and sky
    Until all beings are freed from sorrow
    And all are awakened.”
    -Shantideva, Indian Buddhist sage 700 A.D.

    Muslim:

    Your acts of kindness
    Are iridescent wings of
    Divine love, which
    Linger and continue to
    And uplift others long after
    Your sharing.
    ` -Rumi

    Native American

    All things are our relatives;.
    What we do to everything,
    We do to ourselves.
    All is really one.
    -Black Elk

    “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

    ― Mahatma Gandhi

    And especially meaningful to me from my tradition:

    Christian:

    Christ has no body but yours,
    No hands, no fee on earth but yours,
    Yours are the eyes with which he looks
    Compassion on this world,
    Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
    Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
    May God, Creator, Christ and Spirit, bless you
    To be Christ’s body this day and forevermore. Amen
    -Theresa of Avila

    And so as I close my meditation on being of service, I am moved by this benediction:

    Go forth into the world in peace;
    be of good courage;
    hold fast that which is good;
    render to no one evil for evil;
    strengthen the fainthearted;
    support the weak;
    help the afflicted;
    honour everyone;
    love and serve the Lord,
    rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit;
    and the blessing of God almighty,
    the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
    be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

  4. pahutton June 10, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    Interspiritual Meditation is a powerful tool that has changed my life. It is a vehicle for calming my thoughts and lessening emotions that tend to pull me away from my best self and clear thinking.

    Meditation creates a stream of consciousness that dredges a path between my emotions and my rational/left-brain thinking.

    Meditation is a sacred process that enables me to get in touch with my higher/best self without being pulled away by distractions of thoughts and feelings.

    Meditation calms my breathing and my soul. It provides an inner silence that allows me to hear the whispers of God.

    Meditation does not require me to be present in a particular place or with a particular person. It allows me to access the strength and Wisdom within me.

    Meditation provides a container for the alchemy which takes my experience and my learning, and melds it into new ways of seeing and understanding.

    Meditation is a seeking of Wisdom.

    Meditation allows a New Way of caring and loving. It lets me access Love and Compassion which fuels my service to others. It gives me the courage to be the change that I want to see in others and in the world.

    Interspiritual Meditation is a powerful tool that has changed my life and has the potential to change the world.

  5. susiej@jetbroadband.com June 11, 2018 at 9:48 am

    For Cris above, thank you for sharing your wonderful poem about India. I have never been there but from what I’ve heard from others who have, and Indian friends I’ve known in the U.S., it seems as though you’ve captured the marvelous potpourri that is India. (I don’t know if you are familiar with The Sun magazine, but a few years ago they ran a similar piece by Andrew Boyd, called “Submit to Mother India” that is one of my all-time favorite writings from The Sun!)
    For pahutton, I too feel I have gained so much from this introduction to ISM. I know it will act as a guide for my meditation practice in the future in so many ways. And what I feel can be SO helpful to the world in healing division and connecting diverse peoples is its emphasis on honoring the collective wisdom from various traditions. (Now I would really like to start a meditation group with people from various religions!) Humans everywhere, from our earliest days, have continually sought answers to the Big Questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What happens when I die? etc. ISM, by including writings and inspiration from all the world’s great religious/spiritual traditions, is a testament to the reality that the deepest and most essential yearnings we all have as humans spring from the same place of longing for meaning and transcendence. And through such examples from other traditions, we can truly understand that all humans are really not so different, helping us to see that everything, all the natural world and all peoples, truly are one: one world, one tribe, one family. “All my relatives.”
    A few thoughts on service…I’ve come to believe that the highest form of spiritual expression is social activism. It seems to me that when a person develops an abiding spirit of gratitude, compassion, and service through a long-term spiritual practice, it will naturally result in a true understanding of the interdependence of all. And from that understanding springs a desire to render selfless service, with the knowledge that none can be free and happy until all are free and happy.

  6. Elaine Catterall June 13, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    Dear group, I watched the recorded webcast yesterday evening, of the final step 7: Service. I have not dedicated as much time and space as I hoped I would, during the past 8 weeks (a typical pattern for me), however, what I notice is a shift toward greater self acceptance about this and a growing sense of patience and (hopefully ) perseverence towards developing ISM as a regular practice. The process really is making sense and whilst I may worry a little that I have not (as yet) identified the spiritual tradition that forms the foundation to my practice, it was immensely helpful and reassuring to hear Maud talk positively about the impact of ISM, despite her lack of previous spiritual knowledge and practice.
    There were so many thoughts and emotions that arose in me whilst listening to those of you that participated, that I would like to share a few of these reflections now. Firstly, so glad to see that you felt recovered and well enough to lead the discussion Ed and thanks to all of you that volunteered to guide us through the meditation with your own words and reflections of inspiration. I was moved to tears through much of the meditation, allowing myself to ‘be touched’ by everyone’s sincere words and heartfelt sharing – feeling so glad and full of gratitude to have been a part of this deep sharing, even though it was not in real time for me. There has been an unfolding, a letting go in recent weeks, of some of my Ego expectations about attaining knowledge and achievement; being the ‘good student’. Practicing and reading about ISM has certainly played a part in this shift. For me to recognise I am really ‘just starting out’ with a deeper meditation practice, going beyond my basic mindfulness practice of the past few years, and now not feeling anxious or in a rush about learning and developing ISM practice, feels a relief (and I smile as I write this!).
    I realised as I listened and participated in Step 7 yesterday that whilst I still have to define and visualise the specifics of my service dedication I have in fact been dedicating my service to others regularly over the last 3 years, often as I am out walking my dog – by chanting the lovely Sanskrit prayer (from my yoga class):

    “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” This is chanted to invoke greater states of compassion and peace. On a personal and collective level. It roughly translates to: “May all beings everywhere be happy and Free. And may my thoughts, words and actions contribute to that happiness and freedom for all”. This now holds so much more meaning and spiritual energy for me after yesterday’s group sharing. 🙂

    I Wish you all continued nourishing insights and may we be blessed with the motivation and courage to continue on our spiritual journeys, on a personal and collective level. With love and gratitude – Elaine (UK)

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