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Rewire your brain for powerful spiritual connections: Compass 101

Caroline Oakes shares how contemplative prayer and meditation rewire our thinking and open us up for Divine connection. In this episode, you'll hear how Jesus practiced "the pause"--or took time away for centering and contemplation. You'll also hear some of the ways that our own contemplative practices can change our thought processes and awaken a heightened awareness for God's movement in our day-to-day lives.

 

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Episode Notes

Caroline Oakes is the author of Practice the Pause: Jesus' Contemplative Practice, New Brain Science, and What It Means to Be Fully Human. She is a writer/spiritual director/publicist who is fascinated with the shifts in mind and spirit that slowing down and noticing can bring. Caroline has been published by The OnBeing Project (OnBeing.org), the Huffington Post,  the Bucks County Herald, Outlook by the Bay, and other online and print publications. 

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This episode posted on January 25, 2023


Transcript

Ryan Dunn (00:00):

This is the Compass Podcast where we disrupt the every day with glimpses of the divine. These disruptions include slow moments of contemplation that call us to reflection, to notice, and to establish a rhythm of peace. Michelle, who is our lead disruptor for today,

Michelle Maldonado (00:18):

It's Caroline Oakes. She is a writer. She's spiritual director, publicist. She is fascinated with the shifts in mind and spirit that slowing down and noticing can bring. Caroline has been published by the On Being Project, on being.org, the Huffington Post, the Bucks County Herald Outlook by the Bay and other online and print publications. She is also trained in teaching contemplative practices and mindful meditation. She lives in Annapolis, Maryland.

Ryan Dunn (00:53):

A couple things to look for or listened for in this episode I got excited about the different perspectives that she presented between what Christians of the Eastern tradition kinda hold about Jesus versus what we normally consider or view Jesus as in the Western Church. And also, of course, you'll wanna listen for some usable practices that you can apply today to establish your own rhythm of peace. Michelle, what were you excited about?

Michelle Maldonado (01:21):

I'm very excited about that relationship between the contemplative prayer and the science of the brain.

Ryan Dunn (01:27):

Yeah, it's kind of surprising stuff. So let's get into it. Let's talk contemplation, meditation, brain science, and daily rhythm with Caroline Oaks.

Michelle Maldonado (01:37):

So, can you tell us a little bit about your first initiation into centering prayer?

Caroline Oakes (01:45):

Yes. Yes. That, that would most definitely be my initiation into Eastern Christian spirituality, even though centering prayer is Western and was brought to us in the past few decades as a, as a new form of an ancient Eastern prayer. So, yes, my initiation initially, initially was through a seminary class on Eastern Christian spirituality. I hadn't even known that there was such a thing. I'm, I'm I'm almost embarrassed to say. I mean, if there's an eastern, if there's a Western Christian spirituality, there would be an Eastern. I had known the doctrinal differences between the two, but never really thought that there might be significant spiritual differences. And what I learned really just opened my eyes, opened my heart. That was a time in my life where even though I was at seminary and I went to church regularly, I felt a little bit of a misfit, just kind of like square peg and a round hole.

(03:00):

Something just isn't feeling comfortable easy. And so when I learned about this Eastern orientation that's when I suddenly started feeling, wait, no, this really does feel right. So what I learned most profoundly was that there is a very different emphasis on even who Jesus is, the way they're taught to read the gospels, and the way we as Western Christians are taught to read the gospels. So Western Christians, as I learned tend to have a savior oriented lens through which we look that makes sense to us, right? We're taught with a fairly singular focus that Jesus is Savior. Because of that, we miss what Eastern Christians don't miss. That, that Jesus was calling us throughout the gospels to our own divinity, to our own sense of the divine within us, that spark of the divine within us and, and everyone.

(04:11):

So then we also miss that the gospel writers revealed that Jesus himself was showing us a practice that wakes us up to that divine in us, and that divine in others wakes us up so that we have eyes to see beyond our ego and reflexive way of being. And that way, capital w was Jesus' own contemplative practice that he practiced throughout, as was his custom. Luke tells us. So then what, what I learned was the Eastern orientation then is much more wisdom oriented. So to get theologically nerdy, the, our Western Christian orientation is so theological savior oriented. The Eastern orientation is so theological, Sophia, right? Wisdom oriented. So Eastern Christians then see Jesus as also the wisdom master who shows us the way, again, capital w the way to wake up and see the divine in all things. And so then they're taught, look at what Jesus is doing.

(05:23):

We weren't, I wasn't taught to really see what Jesus was doing. Who, who was Jesus? Who, how was he being? Not only what was he doing, but how was he being throughout really each day? So through that through that learning, we also learned practices that were unfamiliar to me, and those were contemplative practices up until then maybe like, maybe like some, some of your audience, certainly everyone I was I was sitting with in church I had thought contemplative practices were really practices that were practiced by monks and nuns in monasteries. That's a cont, right? Yes. I mean, right away, like really away, right? Like sort of cloistered away. And I hadn't realized that no contemplative practices are really everyday practices. In, in according to this sort of self away Eastern tradition. The early Christians practiced contemplative practices sitting with God, resting with God, not only speaking to God and reciting scripture, but then really letting that scripture talk to them, really, almost literally talk to them what word comes out and comes and shimmers and then means something in your life.

(06:50):

 Which of course is the, is the Lectio that you've taught through rethink church.org. So this, this con, this new learning around around what contemplative practice was also opened my eyes. I realized when we sit and watch a sunset, we're engaging in a contemplative practice. We're, when we're savoring a cup of coffee or looking at the steam, come off of our tea, or looking at your sweet little one, talk to you very earnestly, and you have this moment. Those are all contemplative. Those are all long gazing looks where we're connected right in the present moment and very much right in with our innermost self, where there is that spark of the divine. And we, and you know, we feel it. You know, that's what we're wanting. We're wanting more of that, right? We're yearning for more of that in our, in our every day.

(07:48):

So I learned Lectio Divina spiritual reading reading not, and it, I love that it's not studying scripture as much fun as that is. I'm a, like I said, theology nerd, but really to sit and be with the scripture and wait for that word to come and surface and wonder why that word right now. And then to have that sort of conversation with your innermost self and God within you. And that really led me to centering prayer. So getting to <laugh>, the answer to your question, Michelle, that was really my initiation into contemplative practice and ultimately to centering prayer, because that the end of Lectio really ideally and always was an early Christian times, that you would have this back and forth, sort of, Hmm. Wondering and sort of learning a little bit about yourself, and then you would just rest. You would just be in the presence sitting there with sitting there, God and you for a few minutes. That was, that was actually standard practice in the early Christian eras. In fact, it was for, as you know, the desert mothers and fathers. This is what they did. Again, that seems more monastic. But everyone came to them to ask them for wisdom. And this, this was the wisdom that they would often when you read through the sayings, they would also often tell you to go into your inner room or your cell, and you will learn everything

Ryan Dunn (09:20):

In our western theological tradition, certainly, which has been my place of formation, spiritually, we do tend to focus on the, on the doing stuff. And even when we're reading the gospels, we focus on the doing stories of Jesus, Jesus healing, Jesus confronting Pharisees. Can you point out some places where we see Jesus kind of being, the being of Jesus, Jesus engaged in contemplation?

Caroline Oakes (09:50):

Yes. some of them are actually fun stories because once, once we read the gospels, I love the idea of reading the gospels again for the first time, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, once we, once we pick <laugh>, pick up the gospels and try reading it through a different lens. If, when we look at the gospels through that lens of where is Jesus, how is Jesus in his being, what is he where is he going to be with God? And it's everywhere. Mm-Hmm. It's, it's in, especially in Matthew, sorry, especially in the synoptic gospels, Matthew, mark, and Luke the John's gospel, of course, is much later and more Christological. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But we're really getting the day-to-day with in the synoptic gospels. And let's talk about Mark. One of my favorite, one of my favorites when it comes to looking at Jesus' practice. So even just in the first chapter of Mark Jesus comes out of the wilderness and he goes to the temple and he cleans, he, he exercises an unclean spirit.

(11:00):

They go to Andrew's house and he cures Andrew's mother, and the entire town, they say is around for healing. So it's this huge day, it's packed. And so the next day, the disciples are all ready to go back to Capernaum and be famous cuz they were saying, you know, he was making a name for himself. And so they get up, say their prayers they're looking around. Jesus isn't around, and they have to hunt for him. They actually said, it actually says you have to hunt for him. Hmm. He is out praying. And what's really cool about that gospel is Mark says it in two different ways just to make sure everybody knows. Not only did he wake up early before everybody else is up, but he also woke up early at that hour, which they say was probably around three or four in the morning, ah, <laugh> <laugh>. So they're saying, look, he, he made a point to go and be with God in silence and solitude. It just establishes right there. This time is a time where even Jesus was reconnecting after such a huge day before he comes back into the fray of the every day, so to speak.

Ryan Dunn (12:12):

Sorry, are you getting up at three in the morning?

Caroline Oakes (12:14):

<Laugh>, right? <Laugh>. Right. When I first started practicing an Episcopal monk told me, told a group of us the way to deepen your spiritual life is to have this time in silence and solitude. But he said, you can get up 20 minutes maybe earlier than everybody else. It was a really busy time in my life. I had I had a daughter who was three. I had twin daughters. We were moving, but I, there was something in me that really did want a deeper spiritual life. And I got up 20 minutes early, and I still remember that time, you know, coming down the stairs and sitting in a chair and the light coming through the window, and he said be with God in silence and solitude with scripture again. So he sort of, he didn't call it lexio, but he did say with scripture and not, don't study it.

(13:07):

Just let it be with you. And it was a really remarkable time. So it wasn't three in the morning, it was 20 minutes before everybody, but it almost had that kind of a sense of becoming so much a part of me that then it affected my, the rest of my day. It would soften the rest of my day. I would be able to come back to myself. And I think that's what these contemplative practices really are. This time where we're building that muscle of letting go of the outside world just for a short time. We have to engage, we're called to engage, but then that muscle also to keep returning back to our innermost self where there is that of God. And that's the, that's one of the, that's one of the assumptions of centering prayer when we practice it, is that we're coming back into our, our own inner core of goodness, our own inner core of goodness. So then we start finding we're we're moving from that place, right? We're living out of that core of goodness and seeing it in other people. And so then that really shifts things when we're in those stressful moments, <laugh>, that little nanosecond where we might think, oh wait, <laugh>, there's a different way of seeing this.

Ryan Dunn (14:21):

I appreciate that you brought up that it's like building a muscle, because when we are sometimes introduced to new spiritual practices like this, we expect like an instant epiphany. Right? So for you having to get up those, those extra 20 minutes early, was every day kind of a, a restoration where you felt something or were, there's some days where it's like it almost felt like going through the motion and then other days, you know, know not so much. It was, it was this, this is a restorative process,

Caroline Oakes (14:54):

You know, it was kind of a both. And Ryan, it was you know how even when you're doing reps in the gym or something, or building up those, that flexibility and yoga, you know, you have days where you feel sort of tight even though you're doing your work, and then other days where wow, you're really noticing a difference. So I feel as though that muscle definitely, definitely builds over time, but also that you can see it almost immediately. I, I felt and still do. I feel it if, if I don't practice in the morning, I will feel the rest of the day where that I'm not as grounded or centered or don't have that little nanosecond of, of pause that makes, makes me not want to react. You know, that's <laugh>, there's a neuroscientist actually who believes that he actually calls it like rest, like reps in a gym, this building up that muscle mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And he, and, and it brings focus, clarity kindness, compassion. And he believes that in 2050, he said, by that time, everyone will have just a f make sure they have a few minutes in the morning to meditate. I particularly love spiritual Christian meditation, but some kind of meditation to reset, reground, reconnect pull away from all the scattered thinking, thinking rumination activity of our brain to set us up for the day. He said, and this dates him and me, he said, remember when jogging was weird? <Laugh>,

Ryan Dunn (16:40):

Hey Lee

Caroline Oakes (16:41):

<Laugh>, you know, it used to be, what was that? Wow. I don't know even know, 60 seventies. Yeah.

Ryan Dunn (16:47):

When it was the fun new craze, right? Yeah.

Caroline Oakes (16:49):

Fun new thing. What are they doing? And, and of course, now everyone knows how good it is, how, how good aerobic exercise is for our heart. And so that's his point. This, this kind of practice is really helps us live into our human potential, which is this the really cool connection here to me right now in this time that hear Jesus and then after Jesus, the people who learned right straight out of the gospels to take this time apart and how that made them, you know, it didn't, it didn't transform them as much as it revealed them. Do you know what I mean? In, in my book, I talk about how we talk about these as transformative practices that change us, but I really feel as though what they do is they gradually sort of like peel the onion layers and, and get the things that are in our way are unconscious.

(17:43):

Those things that trigger us, hurt us, get us all caught up in, in our way. They, they lift those away from us and gradually reveal us. So I feel as though it's almost a, a more revelatory practice than it is transforming. But what's fun is the, the spiritual and the neuro neurological, now here's Jesus and the wisdom masters of the first few centuries showing us the way to wake up and see with eyes that see beyond our ego. And, and, and science is telling us exactly the same thing. When we keep practicing this, our fear alarm centers in our brain gets smaller. We develop like a, like a highway, a first a path, and then a street, and then a road, and then a highway to our prefrontal cortex that is our human part of us. So it, it, so the practice enables us to live into our human potential rather than going on sort of that automatic pilot in our day, getting things done, thinking about that last conversation, getting, thinking about how we'll make it better <laugh> get back, you know, at whatever someone said. You know, all of that goes away. And we become much more oriented toward really moving toward love when we, when, when it comes down to it, the, it helps us to move toward that center of us. And then in our stressful moments, get that sort of, wait a minute, there's another way of seeing this. And actually I love that person, <laugh>.

(19:28):

I

Michelle Maldonado (19:28):

Think it's, it's, sorry. I think it's just fascinating how the science is catching up and helping God prove that these things do work. Because for so many generations, so many decades, there's always been this disconnect and belief that science has nothing to do with religion or has nothing to do with all these things. Like No, no. They, it does, and it goes hand in hand. And it's just really fascinating to watch how we're evolving to accept that, that partnership between the religious practices and the science.

Caroline Oakes (20:04):

Yes. Michelle, I love how you said I, I love what you're saying and how you call it a partnership. A a wise friend of mine who I've quoted in the book, said that religion and science are dancing together. Yeah. There's now this, this wonderful sort of moving together. Theologians are talking about neuroscience and neuroscientists are talking about theology. In fact, one of the reasons I wrote practice the pause was because I had been invited by a psychologist friend of mine to a neuroscience conference, and the neuroscientist who was up there, prem preeminent scientist, was talking about the power of contemplative practices. And he called them that, that's what's cool too. In fact, he was saying, this is a revolution in, in neuroscience, and a whole new field has emerged, and it's called contemplative neuroscience. That's so cool.

(21:02):

It is the study of contemplative practices. And, and it was when he said this that I just thought, oh, we need to know more about this. He said, okay, yes, we are learning that the brain will rewire and will strengthen in certain areas with contemplative practice. We are learning that the more practice than the more that part of the brain is strengthened. And we're learning that it has to do with empathy and insight and focus. And it then, as an aside, he said, you know, spiritual traditions worldwide have been telling us the same thing for thousands of years, <laugh>.

(21:47):

So, so I love that he not just nodded. He really said, okay, what we're doing here is showing scientifically what spiritual traditions have been talking about for thousands of years. And, and I believe you know that, that, I believe that's why it's fun to read the gospels again for the first time <laugh>, because you start seeing Luke say things like, as was his custom, Jesus would go to the Mount of Olives. Jesus was teaching in the temple by day. And on the mountain that night, you even see little, little things that you, I would never would've noticed before.

(22:30):

Do you, do you remember in Mark, I, I love this part where, okay, mark's the shortest, fastest gospel, right? He's like, in a rush, I wanna get this down. I want people to know this. You know, he's saying immediately, immediately, immediately, he says it like 30 times immediately. But even Mark pauses to tell us, make sure that we know that, that Jesus himself, when everything's really busy and the disciples are going back and forth and there's no time to eat, you know that that one line where it says, it's just so busy, disciples are on their mission, and Jesus says, come away to a quiet place and rest a while. All of a sudden I read that and I thought, well, that's, he was telling them to do what he did. It's like, wait, okay. You're just like all caught up in everything that's going on.

(23:24):

I get it. It's hard. It's busy. You're exhausted. Come away and rest a while. Come away to a quiet place and rest a while. And, and so then they try to, and then they get recognized by the crowds, and that becomes the feeding of the 5,000. But then there's this little moment where it says, Jesus sent away the disciples and he went to the mountain to pray. So even, even then, it's you, you, you, you see him telling it, telling his disciples the way to do what he does. You know, Paul says, put on the mind of Christ <laugh>. And it's like Jesus is saying, here, I'll show you how <laugh>, here's the, here's the how-to manual

Ryan Dunn (24:12):

That story. I don't know, it's hitting me right now because of the, that feeling of being set upon. And I don't know, even in your attempts to kind of retreat away within the world, like yeah, it can still be difficult. Like even Jesus felt this challenge. And yet there was a piece in the persistence, if that makes sense, that

Caroline Oakes (24:39):

No, I hadn't thought of that. Yes. That let's go, let's go take some time and then we get interrupted. It's also that wonderful reminder that sometimes our interruption is our life. Yeah. <laugh>. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, remember that. So there's the interruption, and then he finds another way or another moment to make sure that he has this time, this time, you know, in, in the wilderness, so to speak. That's another delightful aspect of this, is often, often they, the gospel say he goes to the wilderness or to the mountain, or to an isolated place. And those first century audience members hearing this, you know, in the biblical tradition, all the patriarchs went to the wilderness. And Right. Moses was in the wilderness when, you know, so many going back all through the Hebrew scripture, you know, those, those experiences were, you know, God talking to them in, in the, in the wild, in the quiet places.

(25:43):

Right. And we know that as when you interviewed Victoria Loorz church of the Wild she speaks so beautifully about this, that, that we're in relationship with nature, which is God talking to us, the divine, the holy, and we feel it. And we all do, oh, I'm gonna go on a hike, and we're, we sort of get buoyed up thinking about it. Right. We're gonna, and it settles us, right? Yeah. And it grounds us. So it, it, it, and she even talks about how the wilderness, his wilderness experience, you know, we think of it as this, this time of almost despair, right? But, but she recontextualizes it and says, okay, he was being ministered too by the angels. And he came from that place saying, came right out of there delivering his clar clarion call message. Some teachers call it, of Matan Noia.

(26:40):

Right. he's I, I, I love this word, metanoia, because many of us think of Jesus coming out, and his first thing that he said was Repent. And John the Baptist repent. But one of the great surprises in my research was that repent is a very bad translation of what actually was being said. The Greek is metanoia, which even just looking at it, just in a quick glance, we get the sense of meta=bigger noia=like mind news. Hmm. So, so immediately Jesus comes out of that context and into his call. And what he is continually, continually calling us to do is seeing bigger, seeing beyond fear, not see beyond that fight and flight and, and see bigger in the sense that of remembering, right. Reconnect yourself with who you are. Remember, we are of God, we live and move and have our being in God. So to be able to see in that way was, you know, it just changed the gospel for me in, in, in some exciting ways.

Ryan Dunn (27:57):

Well, to get a little syntactically nerdy, like that word, metanoia, is that what we are interpreting as, as repent? And then are there yes. Ways that say in the Eastern tradition that they interpret the word differently?

Caroline Oakes (28:16):

I wouldn't say that they interpret it differently. It's I mean the, the translation has been repent. I mean, is repent in English, I think that it was a mistranslation, it was considered a mistranslation by many from the start. Martin Luther was against it back in the third century. Tuan was against it. It was actually first translated Jerome when the, when the, when the Bible was being translated. He just continued on with what the, what the church was saying. They were using repent. I don't have the Greek that, but it was, I mean, by the Latin, but it was pen something penitent, right? And getting into penitent pen penance, because that was the orientation of the church was this giving penance for what we have done. And, and, and many people just, it, it's, it's a fascinating thing to research because there was a real uprising against using repent because it did not capture what the real intent of the word metanoia was.

(29:21):

In fact, it, it shifted quite dramatically in kind tragically some somewhat, someone called it a tragic mis mistranslation. I mean, imagine if we were in Sunday, really even in our own lives personally, if we were in Sunday school and instead of hearing repent even when we knew that as kind of a change of heart, which is helpful because the Hebrew is a word that actually means shifting almost out of exile. Right? that makes sense too. But but to hear repent in our time, we think of generally, and Webster's even defines it more as feeling misgivings about our, our failings. And if we had, instead in Sunday school been taught that Jesus was saying, Hey, see a bigger perspective mm-hmm. There's something else going on. Not just what you're afraid is happening, but actually something else is happening which is what then the contemplative practices help us so much with let go of those thoughts and come back to center, come back to the divine in you mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. So the whole piece kind of pulls together, metanoia, see bigger, and this is the way to do it. Sit with God. And remember, literally remember, reconnect yourself reattune with the spirit in you so that you can move out of that spirit.

Michelle Maldonado (30:45):

So talking about that pause, what are some of your favorite practices to practice a pause in your

Caroline Oakes (30:53):

Life? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. I would say that j like in my book, I say that Jesus practices on the mat and off the mat, <laugh> I have favorites on the mat and off the mat. I should just tell you the background of that, that way of phrasing. Practice. I was in a yoga class this was several years ago. I had gotten really away from my practice, this is probably 10 years ago now. I'd gotten away from meditation and away from my practice, just caught up on a lot of things and really feeling off balance. And I thought, okay, I'm gonna take a yoga class and I'm gonna take it this yoga class that has that little bit of meditation at the end. And so, went right through the yoga class, had the meditation, and there I was in Shavasana. And, and, and, and those of you who've experienced yoga, you know, you exactly that pose, you're just completely relaxed, arms out, legs out, completely relaxed.

(31:54):

And in that moment, I heard it was like an out loud voice, but it was in inner, an inner voice, and it, and it said, oh, there you are. Welcome home, welcome home. And, and it was just like this inner and outer connection. And a great message. Just a, just a life changing message, really try to stay with your practice <laugh> mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, right? Because there is this inward, Howard Thurman, the social activist advisor, you know, of Martin Luther King, talked about connecting always his inward sanctuary with his outward se sanctuary so that it could be whole. That what he was doing in his outer life came from his inner life. So in that class, that yoga class, that teacher explained to us why yoga is called a practice. And she said, okay, we practice on the mat in yoga, we practice challenging poses and always to come to the breath, come to the breath in every pose, we come back to the breath.

(33:06):

And we do that. And we call it practice, because it is practice for our outer life. As soon as we walk across that threshold of the yoga studio, we're going to be engaged in life and also often engaged in challenging poses. Quote, quote, these stressful moments or even what's going on in our head sometimes, you know, the stressful moments. And so that's what she calls our off the mat practice. We, we practice, we have an intentional practice so that we can, in real life be living in the way that we want to live. So I would say that my on the map practice favorite practices are centering prayer. Just having that few moments. It's almost like a retreat to me now, Michelle. It's almost a way to sort of get in a comfortable chair. I, I started with five minutes when I first did this, cuz it's a lot of, it's, it's kind of a different way of being right at first.

(34:06):

Correct. And it takes some getting used to, but even just the five minutes and, and then move it to 10, move it to 20. At first there was just this barrage of thoughts. I mean, there always is a barrage of thoughts cuz that's what our mind does. But but what the practice is, is, and especially in the centering prayer, is just very gently letting go of the thought and coming back ever so gently back to this consent, they call it, to the presence and activity of God within you. So it's not that there aren't thoughts, it's because there are thoughts all the time, but there's this rhythm of letting go of the thought and coming back, letting go of the thought and coming back. Some people called it Jesus' formula, the release, let go, return, release, let go return. And that, that's the rhythm that then that then develops our own muscles, so to speak, to be able to remember the divine in us.

(35:07):

Now, my my favorite off the mat practices are really those moments that happen in life. I call them shimmer and savor moments. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you know, just like in Lectio, a we might look for a word that shimmers outta scripture. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> someone who I follow talks about life Lectio and how we can walk through our day. And just try to be aware of those moments that shimmer and, and when there's a, a moment, you know, it can be a conversation, it can be the way someone looks at you. It can be the smell of your coffee or, or the or the, or the rising tea steam from your teacup or just leaning the way your dog leans up against you. Those moments are pause moments for me that, that i, that I call savor moments. And it, again, I think it's the same. I think it works the same muscle. I think that you just, the more, the more you savor, then the more you notice mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, the more you practice intentionally, the more it seems to open up for us.

Michelle Maldonado (36:23):

I'm a millennial, so coming at this from a millennial perspective, I, I think a lot of people, when they notice those moments, they'll whip out their phone to take a picture of it and post it. Yeah.

Caroline Oakes (36:34):

Oh yes, of course. And I, and, and I'm not a millennial, but I do that too. Yeah.

Michelle Maldonado (36:40):

Right. But putting the, that urge aside and really being present. Yes. I think that will help people make that connection better rather than immediately think, I'm gonna share this. Yeah. I have to post.

Caroline Oakes (36:53):

Oh, that's such a good observation because it, cuz you're right. If we, if we allow it to be our, so a almost really a gift to us mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, then, then, then it becomes part of us and it, and it fills us up and it, and it I think it, it shifts us. It shifts something in us. It reminds us of, of our, of our being out being gr in the midst of something greater than ourselves. Yeah. A friend, a friend of mine, when she takes photographs instead of, she said, we actually, this is this is Christine Walter's painter I should, I should do a shout out for her. She has a book on contemplative photography. She said, you know, our orientation is to take photographs. We even say we take a photograph or we capture an image. She said, what about going through your day?

(37:45):

And even if you're a photographer and rec being aware that you're receiving something. Hmm. So even when we take a photograph, it can kind of be a both and we can say, wow, look at this moment. But instead of saying, I'm going to get that, and then kind of spinning away and ooh, got that, we can instead say, oh wow, look at this, look at this gift. And, and I might take a picture of it and share it, but to still really realize this isn't something that I grabbed and did. This was some way, this is a way of being mm-hmm. <Affirmative> to be able to be receptive to all the things that are happening around us. Yeah. I hadn't thought of that. Thank you. Un until you, until you mentioned that. Yeah.

Michelle Maldonado (38:32):

All right. So where can people find you online to connect?

Caroline Oakes (38:35):

Well, thank you. They can find [email protected] is my website. Oaks with an e <laugh> <laugh> is where they can find me. And that also gives information about where they can find practice, the pause, the, the book practice, the Pause. As far as, I don't have resources on my website for these practices but I would love to offer up the resource the online contemplative community resource called Closer Than Breath. And that's just as it says closer than breath.com. Keith Kristi and Janna Renzel they teach centering prayer in very, very accessible ways. They have a short online course with little three and four minute videos. In fact, I took the course, they offer it to beginners and two people who have an established practice. And it is remarkably wonderful for both <laugh>. I remember listening to their course just through my earbuds while I was on walks, you know, a three or four minute video.

(39:45):

 Or sorry, not video explanation course little course snippets, I guess all build up into a real understanding of the practice. And then they offer a community prayer sits where I actually on Tuesday mornings, sit with a group of people I think, goodness, probably 25 of us now from all over the world. It's amazing. Malaysia, Australia, people from Canada here in the States. And we just are, are introduced with a, with a scriptural passage or a, or, or a or even a piece of a poem. We sit together for 20 minutes and then and then share with each other for a couple of minutes. And it sets everyone's week. Really, we all, we all talk about the profound difference it can make. And that's just another thing to, to, to, to add in, is that practicing with a group, surprisingly, surprisingly transformative. Yeah. Yeah. That's awesome. To be, to get to know people through, by sitting in silence together and then sharing what your practice is, or sharing what, what happened in that time. Yeah.

Michelle Maldonado (41:01):

Yeah. That's awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us today.

Caroline Oakes (41:05):

Oh, thanks. It's, it's been a, it's been a real joy and delight to be with both of you. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Ryan Dunn (41:12):

All right. We have been disrupted for the sake of peace and wholeness. Thanks for taking this walk with us. The Compass Podcast is brought to you by United Methodist Communications. If Compass is meaningful for you, then check out another episode. If you like this one, then experiencing God in Nature might be right up your alley. Carolyn referenced that, that episode in our chat just a few minutes ago. Or you might wanna check out using your imagination in prayer from November of 2022. That's a good one too. While you're listening, leave a rating and or review. So much appreciated. Compass comes out every other Wednesday, unless we're interrupted by a holiday, in which case will hit your feed the following week. But we'll be back online in two weeks time in this case. So I'm gonna chat at you then. Peace.

 

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