Starting from Our Sacred Self

“There is a place in us where we have never been wounded.” These words of Meister Eckhart really resonate with me. This is the heart place, the home place, the place of our inmost core, our sacred self. It can also be described as the place of wholeness, which Helen Keller describes as the place of happiness. Tal Ben-Shahar suggests that this wholeness/happiness has five components, indicated by the acronym SPIRE: spiritual, physical, intellectual, relational, and emotional.

Other expressions of solitude may nudge us gently toward that place within where we have never been wounded. These can include reading thoughtfully something that resonates with us, such as, perhaps, the writings of Richard Rohr or Thich Nhat Hanh. Another avenue is to focus on a word or phrase that expresses the openness or deep longing of our spirit. Variations of this form are called prayer of the heart or centering prayer. Other pathways include becoming attuned to our sensations or feelings, without judgment; focusing on a candle or other object; sitting beside a stream or waterfall and simply listening to the sound.

There are also instances where our breathing becomes conscious. One interesting experience I recall is being at a higher altitude, at Mt. Edith Cavell in the Canadian Rockies and Pike’s Peak in Colorado. In these places, the air is thinner and the breath is initially a little more laboured. I became vividly aware that I was breathing and that it was good to breathe. Accompanying this sensation may be the sense that while we are breathing, we are alive, that it is good to be alive, and that we are grateful for the gift of life. When this reality is experienced deeply, it includes, at least implicitly, an undertone of gratitude–rather than resentment–for our life; a sense of the worth of our life, and that life itself is a wonderful gift.

Listening to beautiful music can also be a pathway to our inner core. I have really appreciated Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber and Nella Fanstasia sung by Sarah Brightman. Both are available on Youtube. The beautiful, repetitive refrains of the music of Taizé may lead us gently into the silence of our own heart. I have often repeated the words of Eva Rockett in an issue of Homemakers magazine, many years ago. She affirms that the beauty of music may reach behind all our defences and touch the core of the condensed self.

Another approach I recently came across is to become aware of our thought patterns. These can influence how we feel and act. The fundamental conviction I have mentioned repeatedly is the sacred worth or value of our very self. At the same time, I have mentioned that we may often speak to ourselves in very harsh, judgmental, and negative terms. These are ways we would never talk to a close friend. When we notice this negative self talk, we might pause, and think: What if instead we stopped and asked ourselves how we would think and how we would speak to ourselves, if we started from the conviction of our intrinsic worth. Instead of moving from the thought that “I am no good because…,” we start from the presumption that “I am of sacred worth, therefore …”

This may be a question of halting a years-old, and possibly unconscious pattern, and introducing a new approach. We may not feel that worth, but we begin to act from that centre. When we truly listen to another, we acknowledge where they are at the time, and how they are presently feeling. We need not agree with them or want them to remain in that space. But in recognizing their present reality, we are affirming their worth as the deeper reality, This is the basis for creative growth. Instead of trying to move them directly to a different place, we try to listen them into their own truth. We try simply to foster the process of their attuning to the place within themselves where they have never been wounded. Perhaps we may begin more and more to listen ourselves into our sacred worth, to become more at home there, and to live more and more from our true home, our heart space.

Perhaps we may conclude with our words from the last reflection. Our journey into the silence and solitude of our heart may pass through the whole spectrum of feelings. Yet beneath these may be uncovered and emerge to awareness our inner core, in its beauty and sacredness. We may then–though not without reversals and new beginnings–gradually live more and more from that centre, and discern and respond to its presence in all we encounter.

May you more and more become attuned to your sacred core, find there your home, and live from there.
And may you then become more fully at home to, and a home for others whose life path crosses your own.
Norman King May 12, 2023

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