Category Archives: Tools for Transformation

First Thursday Services Beginning February 5

For two years, the small but growing Integral Church community has met outdoors, in the beautiful and spacious parks of St. Petersburg, FL and for two years, the weather on the third Sunday of the month has been gorgeous. We have had the honor and pleasure of gathering to discuss religion, philosophy, science and spirituality accompanied by music and meditation. We have deeply listened to one another and formed lasting and meaningful relationships.

Starting in February, we are starting up a new monthly service. On the first Thursday of the month, beginning February 5, we will be meeting in the chapel at Trinity Multicultural Center from 6:30-8 p.m. This indoor service will differ from the Third Sunday services (currently held at Crisp Park) in that there will be chairs, a roof and four walls. For now, the order of service will remain the same at both services but the guests (speaker, musician, meditation) will change at each, so we encourage you to attend both if possible. First Thursdays will allow for our community to include those who just can’t be present on a Sunday morning, and we know there are more than a few of you!

I also want to extend my deepest gratitude to all those who have made the time to gather with us (however briefly) this year and have shared in this experience. I realize that in a circle there is no “back pew” allowing someone to discreetly hang behind and observe while other people read things aloud and participate in group activities. To those of you who continue to show up, there are no words to convey my appreciation. As our services continue to evolve, I rely on you for input on what is working and what is not.

If you believe that ALL of the world’s religions have meaning and that no perspective is completely irrelevant, I encourage you to come and check out what we’re doing. If you are interested in meeting with other people in the spirit of interfaith (religious and non-religious) conversation and integral (radically inclusive) spirituality, I encourage you to come and check out what we’re doing. If you are seeking people committed to personal transformative practice, community service and religious literacy, I encourage you to come and check out what we’re doing.

We look forward to meeting you, learning from you and experiencing Spirit-in-Action together.

For a list of all our gatherings and groups, click here.

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Top 8 Ways to Disrupt Your Own Routine

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We all have a daily routine. We’ve all felt the need to break out of it.

By allowing ourselves to wear the same path in the carpet or highway, we become rigid, fixed in our ways and comfortably numb. By disrupting our own routine, we dose ourselves with a small but much-needed shot of adrenaline, enabling our “fight or flight” mode and forcing our problem-solving skills to show up front and center.

Blogger and motivational speaker Glenn Lim suggests keeping a “Disruption Diary,” asking yourself daily, “What is something I can do today for the first time?”

Frank Barrett, author of Yes to the Mess, even says that “being uncomfortable” can spur large-scale innovation and our best creative thinking.

DISRUPT YO’ SELF: Watch Frank Barrett explain “provocative competence” and the disruptive origins of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue.

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Here are some no-cost, easy ways to integrate some imperceptibly powerful tools into your daily grind. They’re short, they’re quick and there are no excuses for not trying each and every one of them. These eight simple actions will force you to take other perspectives or gently expand your own awareness.

Try any of these daily disruptors for a week and see if you can detect any lasting change in your mood or your behavior. Then leave a comment detailing your results.

1. Step Outside
Easy, right? Take a walk or just stand in the sun soaking up the Vitamin D. This could be a brisk jaunt around the block, or end up leading to a new adventure downtown. Be unafraid and allow yourself to go where you are led.

2. Change Your Route
Whether you are in the car on the way home from work or on foot and on your way to eat lunch at your regular spot, take a moment to follow your natural-born instinct to hunt. In her book, The Bond, Lynne McTaggart describes how the brain’s dopamine levels increase when you follow your nose, anticipating the experience of something for the very first time. Whether you decide to turn left instead of right, or follow a butterfly down a side street or swing by that newly-opened business that you’ve been dying to check out, straying from your well-worn path can be highly rewarding.

3. Set Mindfulness Reminders
Set an alarm or a reminder on your phone for the same time every day (mine is 11:11 a.m.) and take a minute to simply think of something you’re grateful for or to sit in silence and meditate. Check your posture, let your shoulders fall, and do some neck rolls or some office chair yoga. A reminder or alarm every day can provide a disruption to an otherwise monotonous routine. Tip: once the reminder itself becomes a monotonous routine, change the time! Continue reading


Patanjali and the Yoga Sutras

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The Yoga Sutras are 196 short aphorisms written 2500-3000 years ago by someone named Patanjali as an instruction manual for living an enlightened life. This highly-influential work is divided into four chapters or padas and includes a detailed description of the the eight “limbs” of yoga (see illustration above).

In January of 2014, yogi Mark Zimmerer wondered what this ancient text might have to say to us in the 21st century and began the project of compiling various English translations of the Sutras into one document.

Zimmerer gave a talk at the Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in July, presenting his insights on the various translations, while mixing in modern cultural touchpoints ranging from Star Wars to Kurt Vonnegut. He states, “In Patanjali’s time, [yoga] was not acrobatics, aerobics, cardio kickboxing or yoga booty boot camp.” According to Patanjali, “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.” Continue reading


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via @Hexeosis on Ello


Chris Grosso: Indie Spiritualist

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I don’t remember how I discovered Chris Grosso or how I stumbled upon his book, Indie Spiritualist, but the name of the book, it’s subtitle (“a no bullshit exploration of spirituality”) and Chris’ image (a tattooed guy, about my age, with gauges in his ears) spoke to me pretty much immediately.

As it turned out, Chris is a fellow musician, podcaster, blogger, and serves as the Spiritual Director at The Sanctuary at Shepardfields, an interfaith non-profit facility in Connecticut. I connected with Chris on Facebook, and quickly learned that we shared a common love for drone metal and old school hip hop. I messaged him to find out where the book was available.

It was reportedly on shelf at my local Barnes & Noble, but when I arrived — literally as I was looking for it — the sole copy was being pulled for return to the distributor. Apparently, Barnes & Noble needed that inch of shelf space for more Bill O’Reilley endcaps and Lego Architecture gift sets. So, the book came home with me.

Indie Spiritualist is what I expected it to be — a series of essays on spirituality that is rooted in the punk rock and DIY ethos, centered in Eastern philosophy, and (according to the extensive credits) the newest in a line of books released by former punks who’ve embraced Buddhism (Noah Levine’s Dharma Punx) and social progressives who are combining spirituality with political buzz words (i.e. Occupy Spirituality by Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox).

It’s a quick read, and perfect for a young person seeking a spiritual path of their own, yet unsure if a “spiritual” lifestyle is really as uncool as it sounds. Chris is the perfect spokesperson to greet them on this journey as he is decidedly not uncool.

It’s also a story of addiction, told by an addict. A memoir of Grosso’s own dark night of the soul that allows the reader inside some very embarrassing and painful moments that, simply through the act of being told, allow them to be transmuted into powerful life lessons from someone who has been to the very bottom and chosen to look up. Continue reading


Nested Recapitulation (aka The “Russian Dolls” Meditation)

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The Nesting Process (a.k.a “Russian Dolls”) is a self-help meditation tool used for shadow work — a shamanic practice that is based on the process of recapitulation popularized by Carlos Castaneda as well as the “3-2-1 Process,” found in the book Integral Life Practice by Ken Wilber and Terry Patten. It should not be confused with the “nesting instinct” found in new mothers.

The ideal time of day to run the Nesting Process is immediately after you wake, but before you get out of bed. However, it may be used anytime.

In metaphysical Christianity (most specifically, the New Thought movement), we are told that through meditation and prayer — and through the use of denials and affirmations — we are able to remove false obstacles in our psyche or soul. By clearing the falsely perceived thought or mental structure, we are removing the object that is casting the shadow, and we are, in effect, removing any real or perceived blockage. This method has been known to remove actual physiological blocks, returning blood flow and life force (prana) to arteries and arthritic (or otherwise afflicted) limbs. At the very least, the method allows for light and energy to flow into the unillumined corners of the soul and restore us to a more perfect and harmonious state.

Through centering prayer and shadow process (psychotherapy), we align our gross (physical), subtle (mental/psychic) and causal (non-dual) bodies — also known in Hinduism as the five “Koshas” — like the concentric rings of a tree. They can be visualized as the layers of an onion, or as a wetsuit inside a wetsuit. And as such, when the layers are perfectly nested and in line with each other — with no fabric caught in the zipper or proverbial peas hidden between the mattresses — we have increased mobility, we are flexible and reflexive, we are at ease.

We begin the Nesting Meditation by lying flat on our back, arms outstretched. Visualize the line across your chest (from fingertip to fingertip), as a symbol of all human limitation. Visualize the line from your feet to the top of your head as the poles of a battery. Imagine energy pouring out from the top of your skull, cascading back down toward your feet, and being reabsorbed in an endless cycle.

We initiate the process by saying, “I deny the limitations of this body.” Continue reading


3-2-1 Shadow Process

“Dissociation proceeds from 1st-person to 2nd-person to 3rd-person: 1-2-3. The reversal of dissociation thus goes from 3 to 2 to 1. Hence, the 3-2-1 process. We summarize this process as Face it (3), Talk to it (2), and finally, Be it (1).”

– Diane Musho Hamilton

Kumi Yamashita: Origami Shadow Art

What follows is an excerpt (with some sections re-worked) from the 2008 book, Integral Life Practice. Shadow processing is a method of therapy that uses meditation and/or journaling to eliminate real or perceived pathologies. It is the most basic and valuable form of this therapy that we have found to date. Enjoy.

3-2-1 Shadow Process

Choose what you want to work with. It’s often easier to begin with a person with whom you have some difficulty (e.g., lover, friend, boss, family member). This person may irritate, disturb, annoy, or upset you. Or maybe you feel attracted to, obsessed with, infatuated with, or possessive about this person. In any case, choose someone with whom you have a strong emotional charge, whether positive or negative. Alternately, pick a dream image or a body sensation that distracts you or otherwise causes you to fixate on it. This can also be positive or negative.

You can recognize shadow in two ways. Shadow material either:

  1. Makes you negatively hypersensitive, easily triggered, reactive, irritated, angry, hurt, upset. It may keep coming up as a negative emotional tone or bad mood that pervades your life.
  2. Makes you positively hypersensitive, easily infatuated, possessive, obsessed, overly attracted, or perhaps it becomes an ongoing idealization that structures your motivations or mood.

3: Face It

Now, imagine this person or observe the disturbance very closely, and then, using a journal to write in or an empty chair to talk to, describe the person, situation, image or sensation in vivid detail using 3rd-person pronouns such as “he,” “him,” “she,” “her,” “they,” “their,” “it,” or “its.” This is your opportunity to fully explore your experience of the disturbance, particularly what it is that bothers you about it. Take this opportunity to “let it out.” The person you are describing will never see this. Don’t try to use skillful language or say the right thing. Don’t “sugar coat” or minimize anything – describe it as fully and in as much detail as possible.

2: Talk to It

Begin an imaginary dialogue with this object or person. Speak in 2nd-person pronouns like “you” and “yours”. Here is your opportunity to enter into a relationship with the disturbance, so talk directly to this person or image as if he or she were actually there in the room with you. Tell them what bothers you about them. Ask them questions such as “Why are you doing this to me?” “What do you want from me?” “What are you trying to show me?” “What do you have to teach me?” Then, allow them to respond. Imagine what their response to these questions would be and either speak the imaginary responses out loud write them down in your journal. Allow yourself to be surprised by what emerges.

1: Be It

Now, writing or speaking in 1st-person, using pronouns like “I,” “me,” and “mine,” be this person, image or sensation. See the world, including yourself, from the perspective of the disturbance. Allow yourself to discover not only your similarities, but how you really are one and the same. Take on the qualities that either annoy or fascinate you. Embody the traits you described while “Facing It” in step 2. Make a statement of identification with this disturbance, ““I am__________,”  “I am angry,” “I am jealous,” “I am radiant.” This may feel wrong or awkward, and it should. The traits you are taking on are the traits that you have been denying in yourself. They’re the traits that your psyche has been working so hard to keep in shadow.

To complete the process, gently become aware of the disowned qualities in yourself. Don’t just see the world from this perspective, but feel this previously excluded feeling until it resonates as your own. Experience the part of you that is this very trait. Avoid staying in your head and making the process abstract or conceptual: just be it. Become aware of the previously disowned shadow reintegrating into your body, your memory, your emotions, your subtle energies. This frees up the attention that was spent on keeping this shadow behind you or in denial.

 

You’ll know that the process has worked because you may feel lighter, more peaceful, more open or relaxed. It may make you feel high or giddy. Allow yourself to be gentle with your newly-reintegrated self over the next week or so. You may experience a newfound joy in the degree to which you are participating in life. Always be present, do the work, and move on.

1-Minute Module: 3-2-1 Shadow Process

You can do the 3-2-1 process anytime you need it. Two particularly useful times are right when you wake up in the morning and just before going to bed at night. Once you know 3-2-1 it only takes a minute to do the process for anything that might be disturbing you.

Morning: First thing in the morning (before getting out of bed) review your last dream and identify any person or object with an emotional charge. Face that person or object by holding it in mind. Then talk to that person or object (or resonate with it, just feeling what it would be like to be face to face). Finally, be that person or object by taking its perspective. For the sake of this exercise, there is no need to write anything out — you can go through the whole process right in your own mind.

Evening: Last thing before going to bed, choose a person who either disturbed or attracted you during the day. In your mind, face him or her, and then be him or her (as described above).

Again, you can do the 3-2-1 process quietly by yourself, any time you need it, day or night.

– from Integral Life Practice – (Wilber, Patten, Leonard, Morelli, 2008)


Best-Selling Author, Lynne McTaggart, Coming to Tampa on September 20

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Scientific discoveries over the past century have led to the realization that our visible world is part of a vast sea of invisible energies that link everything in the universe. The human mind and body, rather than being separate from the environment, are a power center that is constantly interacting with this field of quantum energies and influences.

The implications are enormous — consciousness and intention are central in shaping your world.

Lynne McTaggart is the author of the international bestsellers, The Bond, The Field and The Intention Experiment, she is also the editor of the wellness journal What Doctors Don’t Tell You, and the world’s foremost expert on the science of intention.

On Friday, September 20, Lynne will appear at HCC (Dale Mabry Campus) to discuss how we can bridge the worlds of science and spirit, and announce the launch of the first Intention Project in Tampa Bay! She will build on her discoveries to offer a radical new blueprint for living a more harmonious, prosperous and connected life.

Topics will include:

  • Bridging the worlds of science and spirit
  • Moving past competition
  • Enjoying close relationships
  • Achieving a more connected family, workplace and community
  • Becoming a powerful agent of change – in Tampa Bay & Beyond

Who: Lynne McTaggart
Best-Selling Author of The Field, The Bond, The Intention Experiment and What Doctors Don’t Tell You
When: Friday, September 20; 7 – 9 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Where: Hillsborough Community College
Student Services Building Auditorium, Room 111
4001 W. Tampa Bay Blvd. Tampa, Florida 33614-7820
How Much: STUDENT: $15*, $30 in advance, $40 at the door. * requires student ID at Will Call
More: Sponsored by The Connection Partners, Integral Church, Enliven Wellness Works, Inkwood Books and Creative Loafing

Get your tickets now at bit.ly/lynne2013

RSVP on Facebook


Richard Rohr and the Two Halves of Life

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(presented in Straub Park on Sunday, July 21, in response to Max’s Father’s Day talk, which is forthcoming)

Richard Rohr is a Franciscan friar, author and scholar. He was ordained in 1970  in the Roman Catholic Church and is the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, NM.

In Rohr’s recent book, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, he identifies two segments of life — the first half, in which we “build our container,” and the second, in which we “find the contents” to fill our container.

Rohr’s first half of life has much to do with learning to follow prescribed laws, be they ethical structures, physical laws like gravity, etc. and has everything to do with studying (or worse yet, mimicking) existing traditions.

The second half of our lives then, is when we perfect the art of winnowing, of extracting the grain from the chaff. It’s when we practice the art of spiritual discernment, or separating the essentials from the nonessentials. It is when we find our grace — when we surrender and awaken to spirit. When we realize that we’ve been Spirit all along.

We do a lot of studying, reading and learning in the first half of life, while we’re building that container. But we rarely go back and reinterpret those lessons from a second-half-of-life perspective to see which structures we really need and which we can let go of. It’s quite possible that the scaffolding has been on the building long enough, that the training wheels can be uncoupled from the tires. And when we step into ourselves — getting current in that way — we may find that letting go of those crutches or braces allows for a new range of motion or a new method of feeling or intuition.

We may even find that we no longer need or believe the things that were shown to us as children. Or that our own wisdom may actually contradict some of what we think we know.

It was the apostle Paul who wrote, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Continue reading


Entertaining the Idea of Life

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I understand that some of us just get old and tired. Some of us simply wind down and no longer need to hunt for our food or find a mate – our attraction to colors and scents becomes dulled and our desires fade.

But while you sit there at your screen, I want you to know that new and life-enriching experiences are bursting around you like champagne corks and fireworks as most of us sit, medicated and complacent.

As artists, we are awakened in the middle of the night, scrambling for our journals or sketchbooks as the lyrics, dialogue, melodies and images bloom in our heads like lightning. There are times that we would sell or pawn everything we owned for access to a studio or the equipment necessary to help us give flesh to our vision. And, as entertainers, we are here at the club, theater or concert hall, having rehearsed the show a thousand times or more. Having set up the lights and microphones and amplifiers and promoted tonight’s performance out of our own pocket, hearts beating wildly, hoping you saw the handbills, waiting for you to arrive.

Yet, the rest of us remain on our couches, sleepily re-focusing our eyes between commercial breaks. You might even be at the bar right now, with a band, songwriter or poet performing directly behind you, and your eyes are still glued to the screen.

It’s not entirely our fault. We are continually shown, told and reminded every second of every day what a dangerous, filthy, contagious and most importantly — evil — world we live in. And for all the tools, medicine and miracles we have created, our progress has also increased our loneliness and isolation, and heightened the degree and intensity of our need for distraction.

It’s not new. Technology has always unfolded alongside the aspects of self, culture and nature. The advances of modern architecture once made it possible to house the public theatre and for the best playwrights to showcase their work, the harnessing of radio waves gave us weekly dramatic cliffhanger serials, the cathode ray gave us daily televangelism and MTV, and now the mobile internet makes it possible to stay plugged-in, turned on and marketed-to at all times.

I grew up before we had the world’s knowledge base and creative storehouses at our fingertips. If you wanted to read a book, you needed to check it out from the library, and then return it before it was due. If it was out of print, most times you were out of luck. If you wanted to see a film, you needed to buy a ticket while it was being shown at a theater. If you missed it, you rarely saw that film again, unless it was shown on TV, and even then there was no pause button. We had no VHS tapes. We had no Netflix.

I am in no way implying that things were better when I was young, nor am I saying that we need to deprive ourselves of technology in order to have a meaningful life. Technology is, after all, how I am able to speak to some of you now. But we are alive at a time when so much “art” and “innovation” has been allowed to flourish at an overwhelming rate — with no filter and no editors, with no institutions, patrons or benefactors required. For this, our development (at all stages and on all levels) is being stunted by distraction and the consumption of junk. If we expect to grow, develop, adapt and unfold according to our highest potential, we must find a balance between the alternating states of rest and activity, contemplation and action. The sweeping pendulum of prayerful devotion and real-life service or experience surely leads to real wisdom, even illumination. But we seem to be on our knees, stalled in constant prayer, in front of our television screens and computer monitors, drooling and frozen, too frightened to touch the screen or engage in the world around us. Too tightly wound by the stimuli and frequencies of everyday life.

Continue reading