Understanding + Using Our Inherent Goodness

Open Mind, Open Heart is a book written by Thomas Keating, a Catholic monk and spiritual teacher. In the book, Keating explores the nature of contemplative prayer and its ability to help individuals achieve a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationship with God.

One of the key concepts that Keating discusses in the book is the idea of the "open mind, open heart." This phrase refers to the state of being in which one is fully present and receptive to the present moment, free from the distractions and judgments of the mind. Keating argues that this state is essential for true spiritual growth and that it can be achieved through the practice of contemplative prayer.

Contemplative prayer is a type of prayer that is focused on quieting the mind and opening the heart to the presence of God. It is not a form of meditation, but it can be considered a form of meditation in motion. This method of prayer involves letting go of all the thoughts, images, and judgments that crowd the mind, and instead simply resting in the present moment. This can be done through repeating a word or phrase, known as a "prayer word," or through listening to a guided meditation.

Open to the Presence of God

According to Keating, the goal of contemplative prayer is not to achieve a particular state of mind, but rather to simply be present in the moment and open to the presence of God. He argues that when we are able to quiet the mind and open the heart, we are able to see God more clearly and understand our place in the world. This can lead to a deeper sense of peace, joy, and fulfillment in life.

At a time when the world seems more divided than ever, Keating's message of open-mindedness and open-heartedness is more important than ever. In the book, Keating also speaks about the spiritual practices that can help one to open the mind and heart, such as silence, simplicity and surrender. He emphasizes that the more we can clear away the noise of our thoughts, the more we can hear the voice of God in the silence. By simplifying our lives, we can create space for the things that really matter, such as our relationship with God. And by surrendering our ego, we can let go of the false self and allow our true self to be revealed.

The book's main message is that through contemplative prayer, one can develop a deeper relationship with God, and in turn, gain a greater understanding of themselves and the world. With an open mind and open heart, one can experience a sense of peace and fulfillment that goes beyond the temporary pleasures of the world. This can be achieved by anyone, regardless of religious affiliation or background, who is willing to commit to the practice of contemplative prayer.

How to Be more Contemplative in Your Prayer Practice

Here are 5 simple steps to creating a more thoughtful and contemplative prayer practice into your everyday life:

1. Create a dedicated space and time for prayer: One of the most important steps in developing a more thoughtful and contemplative prayer practice is to set aside a specific time and place for prayer. This can be a corner of your home, a park, or even a quiet spot in your office. By creating a dedicated space and time, you are signaling to your mind and body that it is time to focus on prayer.

2. Clear your mind: Before beginning your prayer, take a few minutes to clear your mind of any distracting thoughts or worries. You can do this by focusing on your breath, repeating a mantra, or using a guided meditation.

3. Listen actively: A key aspect of contemplative prayer is listening to the still, small voice of God within yourself. When you are in a contemplative state, listen actively, be open to receive whatever comes and dont block it. this might mean that you need to quiet your inner dialogue and be attentive to any thoughts or feelings that arise during your prayer.

4. Use a prayer word or phrase: Another way to quiet your mind and focus on the present moment is by repeating a prayer word or phrase. This can be a traditional Christian phrase, such as "Jesus, son of God," or a word or phrase that resonates with you personally. Repeat this word or phrase in a slow and steady rhythm, letting it become a focal point for your prayer.

5. Reflect on the experience: After your prayer, take a few minutes to reflect on your experience. What were your thoughts and feelings during your prayer? What did you learn or discover about yourself or your relationship with God? Journaling your thoughts can be a great way to record your reflections, and allow you to review and understand the inner processes you experience better.

It's important to remember that contemplative prayer is a practice, and it may take time and effort to develop your ability to quiet your mind and open your heart. Be patient with yourself and remember that the goal is not to achieve a particular state of mind, but rather to simply be present in the moment and open to the presence of God.

"Open Mind, Open Heart" is a powerful and insightful book that offers a deep understanding of contemplative prayer and its ability to help individuals achieve a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationship with God. Through the practice of quieting the mind and opening the heart, individuals can gain a greater sense of peace, joy, and fulfillment in their lives. Thomas Keating's book serves as a guide for anyone seeking spiritual growth and fulfillment.

The belief that God is aware of all of his children is a central tenet of Christianity. This belief is rooted in the idea that God is a loving and all-knowing being who is constantly present and actively engaged in the lives of his followers.

One of the key scriptural basis for this belief can be found in Psalm 139, where it states that "You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways." This passage highlights the idea that God is intimately familiar with every aspect of our lives, and that there is nothing hidden from him.

Another scriptural basis can be found in Matthew 10:29-30 where it says "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered." This passage emphasizes that God is aware of even the smallest details of our lives and that everything is under his care.

This belief in God's awareness of his children is also reinforced by the concept of God's omniscience, which holds that God knows everything that has ever happened, is happening, and will happen. It is also related to the concept of God's sovereignty, which holds that God is in control of all things and that nothing happens by chance.

Believing that God is aware of all his children also means that God is available to help and guide them, always willing to listen, to offer counsel and to provide the necessary strength to overcome any obstacle. This belief can bring great comfort, as it means that they are never alone and that God is always with us, no matter what circumstances we may face.

Finding + Embracing our Inherent Goodness

"Inherent goodness" is the belief that all beings, including ourselves, have an innate capacity for goodness and compassion. Here are a few ways that you can incorporate this belief into your everyday life:

1. Practice self-compassion: One of the most powerful ways to activate your inherent goodness is to practice self-compassion. This means treating yourself with kindness and understanding, rather than judgment and criticism. This includes being mindful and aware of your thoughts and feelings, and actively working to reframe negative thoughts in a more positive light.

2. Practice kindness towards others: Another way to bring out your inherent goodness is to practice kindness towards others. This can include small acts of kindness, such as holding the door open for someone or offering a compliment, or bigger acts of generosity and service. By actively trying to be kind to others, you can develop your capacity for compassion and understanding.

3. Volunteer or engage in community service: Giving back to your community is a great way to activate your inherent goodness. Whether it's through volunteering at a local soup kitchen, participating in a community clean-up, or mentoring a young person, you can make a positive impact on the lives of others and feel good about it.

4. Mindful living: living mindfully means paying attention to the present moment with a non-judgmental attitude, which can help cultivate compassion and kindness. Mindful living can be done through mindful walking, mindful eating, yoga, and tai chi among other things.

5. Reflect on your actions: Lastly, taking time to reflect on your actions and how they align with your values can help to reinforce your belief in inherent goodness. Reflecting on how your actions have affected yourself and others can help you identify areas where you can improve and make positive changes.

It's worth noting that it's not always easy to live in a way that reflects the belief in inherent goodness, as we all have our difficult moments, but by incorporating these practices into your daily life, you can develop your capacity for compassion and kindness, and see the good in yourself and others.

Are you looking for additional resources on Contemplative Prayer + Embracing your Inherent Goodness? Try these articles:

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Comparing Qigong, Tai Chi, And Yoga: How They’re Different And How They’re Inherently Spiritual

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