Integrating the Epicurean, Picturesque, Reflective and Meditative Way of Life

“Some people think their way into a new way of living. Others live themselves into a new way of thinking.” My own bias is that it is our habitual way of life that primary and our conceptual beliefs that are secondary. As we become aware of our habitual patterns of living from moment to moment, day to day, how we use our time, what we choose to do, where we choose to go, where we spend our money, whom we choose to be with, how we employ our gifts, how we enjoy our leisure, these tell the truth about who we are and what we cherish, even if we give lip-service to a different set of theoretical values and beliefs. Our habits of body and mind shape and define us.

In our modern Western Culture there has been a rift between the physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual aspects of our nature. One can easily fixate on any of these four elements and neglect the rest. Each of these four elements have created its own “cottage industry” in our corporate consumer commodity culture.

We today could learn something from the medieval monastic orders that developed holistic and integrative daily routines (rules of life) to honor the physical, emotional, rational and spiritual sides of our nature. We need time each day to nurture our bodies through exercise and proper diet. We need time for friendship and conviviality, for healthy self-care and loving relationships. We need time for reflection and study, and a lifestyle balance of work and leisure. Finally, we need time for solitude and meditation,  for inner stillness and contemplative renewal.

One of the values of periodically getting away from our familiar surroundings to spiritual growth retreat centers is that they provide us with “sacred space” in which to re-connect with “the Ground of Being,” our transcendent and indwelling Source, however we happen to intellectually conceptualize that Source. In contemplative renewal we learn to re-connect not only with Source but to bring together the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual dimensions of life into an integral whole. When we learn to educate our instincts into a pluralistically integrative way of life we learn that while knowledge is good that wisdom is better. Knowledge puffs up. Wisdom edifies.

 

 

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