A Spiritual Practice To Free The Mind

 

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The most powerful form of prayer, and the one which can gain almost all things and which is the worthiest work of all, is that which flows from a free mind. The freer the mind is, the more powerful and worthy; the more useful, praiseworthy and perfect prayer and work become. A free mind can achieve all things.
Conversations With Meister Eckhart Meister Eckhart, Simon Parke

What does the Meister mean by a free mind? Single-minded, focused on God, no distractions? Yes, but he also talks about ichgebundenheit, a state of mind in which we are bound to the drama of the ego, so a free mind would be a mind unchained to ego.
Eckhart also says,” I pray God that he may quit me of God,” so it means a mind free of false images of God.

A free mind is an empty mind, detached from all that enters, even from sacred moments gifted in contemplation.

For me it means that for just a moment I stop clinging to that which clamors for my attention. A common little drama which plays out in my everyday life is the distraction of noise. I live in a spralling apartment complex where maintenance needs generate constant loud noise. Tuesdays at 7:00 the city garbage trucks subject us to 20 minutes of an automated machine emptying one can after another. Wednesdays bring a grounds maintenance crew wielding their monstrous lawn blowers. The list goes on, but we musn’t. Most often the noise closes in on me taking over all of my attention. I rant and rave and denounce “progress,” as environmental injustice until I have allowed the noise to become me and there is no space for the divine. My mind is not free.
Buddhists have an excellent way to free the mind. They would tell me to see the garbage trucks as a mindfulness bell calling me to meditation. My practice has become a variation on that advice. In this practice substitute “garbage trucks” with whatever threatens to take over your being.

Spiritual Practice: Freeing The Mind

  • The distraction presents itself, threatening to take over thoughts and feelings.
  • Acknowledge it’s presence saying, for example, “Garbage Trucks.” Acknowledge the thoughts and feelings.
  • Establish a rhythm to your breathing saying, “Breathing in I acknowledge this noise and it’s hold on me, breathing out I release it.”
  • Breathing the intention will eventually create a space for the divine to enter. Say, “Breathing in God is here. Breathing out, I am peace.”
  • When you feel yourself resting in God’s presence continue breathing and wait for the Spirit’s prompting.

 

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Neuroplasticity and Spiritual Development

I recently read an article entitled “How To Draw Better.”  A few salient points made by the author, Jesse Miller, strike me as pertinent to spiritual development as well:

“Simply put, neuroplasticity means that our brains change their shape and structure as we learn new skills and information.

A scientific study into the development of drawing skills in students found that the best learners used a ‘strategic’ approach to learning. These students identified their weaknesses, and found tried-and-tested methods to practice and improve them. They also tracked the progress of their skills, and updated their practice methods accordingly.

Research has shown that the development of motor skills requires periods of rest between practices, when our brains can gather together and act on the information. Therefore it’s best to do this exercise little and often – practice it just once a day for as long as you can.

But recent studies into the neuroscience of creativity have found that looking at the works of others may indeed be essential to cultivating a creative mind.”

Surely, the soul, like the brain, is neuroplastic..or are the soul and brain one and the same?  In any case, the soul is constantly adapting.  Its development depends on spiritual practices.  It does not grow and thrive on prayer alone.

The soul needs quiet and solitude to create the environment in which the Spirit can work.

A person who desires to live deeply into her/his spiritual life would do well to delve into the writings of the mystics in diverse traditions and pull out spiritual practices that fit with their lifestyles and belief systems.

Learning to draw is similar to spiritual development. If you are intent on learning either skill you will both enjoy and benefit from reading this article:

https://www.jenreviews.com/how-to-draw-better/