Category Archives: Uncategorized

My Favorite Green Potion

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I went downtown today with the specific goal of getting a refreshing glass of Angela’s Green Potion.  This wonderfully divine elixir made of fresh lime juice, spinach juice, and mint leaves first came to my attention when I attended several catered affairs  by Homegirl Cafe where this drink was served.  It has been very hot and I had a hankering for some potion.  So I jumped on the Metrorail and headed to the outskirts of Chinatown where this small, but spiffy restaurant is located.

What is so special about this restaurant?   Homegirl Cafe is one of the many enterprises of Homeboy Industries, a ministry founded in the early 1990’s by Jesuit priest Gregory Boyle to “assist at risk and formerly gang-involved women and men to become contributing members of the community.”    Youths become a part of a one-year training program in catering, kitchen, barista, and gardening endeavors with many interning at prominent restaurants in the city.  Youths learn the skills that will lead them into economic empowerment.  The motto of Homeboys Industries is “Jobs, Not Jail.”

These days the church (including all flavors of Christianity) gets recognized more for its failings than for the things that it does right.  This, my friends, is an example of church being done right.

Yes, it took me three trains and over an hour to get to the cafe, but I want to support this ministry whenever I can.  As I sit here writing in my journal, I think no drink has ever tasted so good.

Yes, the potion does look like antifreeze but it tastes wonderful!

ljgloyd (c) 2012

 

How Empathic Are You?

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Have you ever heard someone say “I could just feel the negative energy in the room!”  Or have you ever sensed feelings or emotions from someone else?  I was channel surfing one day and I came across one of those paranormal investigation shows —  either on SyFy or A&E — I don’t remember.    Anyway, one of the people on the show was talking about being “an empath” and that she could channel the emotions of of others.

So being the good researcher I am, whenever a topic intrigues me, I go agooglin’ for information on it.  I  came across this quiz that gauges the level of one’s empathic awareness.   So just for fun, I took it.

My results came up as:

You Scored as Human Empath
As a Human Empath, you possess the ability to connect with other people on an empathic level, allowing you to feel their emotion as though they were your own.

 

Hmmm.  So the next time someone complains that I’m grouchy, I’ll just say I’m channeling Ernie across the street.
Just for fun, here’s the link so you too can find out how empathic you are.

Feel free to share your score in the comments section.

Eternal Hope

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Whenever the rancor and hate-filled spew of this world gets me down, when the news of the day threatens to turn my heart to despair, I flee to the embrace of the wild things of this world. By the darkness of the forest, and the depths of the sea, and the heights of the heavens my spirit is healed.

In the natural things, there is eternal hope.

L. Gloyd (c) 2008

Learning to Meditate: Notes from a Novice, Part 2

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The second day of the meditation workshop started with a review of the points we learned last week and everyone was given a chance to speak about their meditation practice during the week. I explained that I had made a meditation space of found objects in my home: a tea light in a cobalt blue glass container, placed on a mat in the middle of my coffee table. I also explained that I used a bead bracelet as a breath-counting device. I managed several 10 minute meditations during the week.

Then instructor then gave a brief overview of the tenets and practices of Buddhism: The Four Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path with emphasis on the practice of meditation. She explained that Buddhist meditation is used to cultivate mindfulness; that is, an awareness of the body, the emotions, and our thoughts, and to discover the relationship between what we think and what we experience. A couple of examples of Buddhist meditation practices include Vipassana, from India, a technique that watches and categorizes thoughts, and Zen, from China and Japan, which incorporates ritual acts into the meditation practice.

Our first exercise of the day involved both a moving meditation in the center’s garden followed by a sitting meditation in the chapel where we would employ the Buddhist Vipassana technique of categorizing thoughts.

The instructor demonstrated how to do a walking meditation which requires a slow and exaggerated heel-ball-toe stepping motion. We formed a line and followed her out the door into the terraced meditation garden. It took me a moment to get the foot movement established and I realized it was not that much different from the movements I had been taught by my tai chi master. It proved to be a little more difficult to walk when we stepped off the path onto gravel. I focused my attention on exhaling with each downward step and visualizing my energy going down through each foot to connect with the center of the earth. In that way, I was able to feel balanced and stable on the shifting gravel.

I want to note that in the center of the garden is a statue of the nine muses of Greek mythology. As we walked we circled around this statue. This is personally significant to me because I am part of an online writing group that frequently utilizes the motif of the muses to inform our conversations about writing and creativity. I felt that my undergoing studies in meditation practices was being validated by the creative force of the universe.

After about 10 minutes of walking, the instructor lead us into the chapel where we did a sitting meditation. As I sat there looking at the stained glass window, I noticed my thoughts being directed forward into the future. I started asking myself questions. What will I do with this meditation practice? Which technique will work for me? Can I adhere to a disciplined life of meditation? What should I have for lunch?   This is an example of categorizing thoughts.  Some people dwell on the past or the present.

The exercise ended when the instructor rang some chimes and we broke for a short break. I spent the break journaling about my experience and reviewing some of the texts she had brought for us to look at. When we reconvened she began the section on Christian meditation.

The first item she covered was the text, “The Way of the Pilgrim,” written by an unknown Russian man in the mid 19th century. In brief, the text explains the use of the Jesus Prayer as a mantra coordinated with the breath during meditation. The Jesus Prayer has several variations from the complex: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner,” to the most minimalist version, “Jesus, Mercy.” The instructor started us on a 10 minute meditation using this prayer in silent recitation. I have to admit that I found it very hard to use this prayer as a mantra as my mind wanted to dwell on the meaning of the words in the prayer.

Next the instructor gave us a brief overview of the practices of Lectio Divina, which means “Divine Reading.” Basically, this is a rumination on the bit of text with the goal of the reader becoming absorbed into the text and experiencing the divine presence. The instructor provided us with the text of the St. Francis prayer. I chose to meditate on the first line, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” We were instructed to use any of the techniques taught to us. Most of the workshop participants chose to sit in the chapel, some in the garden, and a couple, including myself, chose a moving meditation. I started by walking through the garden and then doing a standing meditation in a manner that I had learned from my tai chi master. I began by silently reciting the first line of the prayer over and over. After a few minutes, my mind was directed to a situation in my life where I was not being an instrument of peace. This lead me to make a resolution concerning my actions in this situation.

After the instructor ended the exercise, we had an opportunity to discuss the experience. I can’t say that during this particular exercise that I achieved a sense of the Divine Presence but I can see the potential of this happening after some practice.

We wrapped up our time together by discussing what we wanted to do with the techniques we had learned. The instructor suggested that we find a trusted person who can act as a “spiritual director” to guide us as we practice our meditation.

I left the workshop with a lot of questions to research and a new desire to re-tool my spiritual practice to include a quiet time for meditation.

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.

 

Text and images:  Lori G. (c) 2008