Oct 27 2009

Transforming Anger – The Spiritual Thief

In looking back at my experience with fasting during the month of Ramadan the thing that I struggled with most was Anger. It is a nagging shrew who was constantly tickling that back of my neck with her hot breath.

Often I find that awareness of the problem I am facing helps transform the issue. And in the past this has helped, particularly in the fasting context where physiological processes are enhancing negative emotional states, like anger. I have reminded myself that transforming anger is one of the lures of fasting as a spiritual practice. But this time it didn’t work. Sometimes, you emerge from a spiritual exercise with a different than intended experience. That was my fasting experience. And I kept wondering why I was doing it at all. I mean what is it worth if all I do is get grouchy and upset.

I think I have my own answer. That is even after all these years of fasting, I still find it challenging. The fact of its difficulty reminds me that the goal is not to have an easy time while fasting. Perhaps this was the best fast I have had in years because it was so tough. Fasting was worth the pursuit even if I didn’t like the outcome is not a reason to give up the exercise. I will repeat it again.

Related Posts:


Apr 29 2009

The Smiling Meditation

In this article I haven’t yet jumped into the pool of effective spiritual practices. There are many. But I will dip my toe in the water with a simple meditation that I learned in the Excellent book Essential Spirituality.  I am going to suggest this meditation before I explain why I think meditation in its different forms is powerful and important spiritual  practice. I am doing this because not everything that works or is good, begins with the mind or our rational thought process. Maybe it can be explained by it later, but often we adopt things in life because it works. This is a meditation you can do anywhere. It is simple and satisfying.  This introduction takes longer than the meditation itself. It is like meditation lite.  For the skeptics (good for you), its success has its basis in our own human physiology. If you are inclined to dismiss the spiritual side of it, that is up to you. It will still feel good and be good for you!

How to do the Smiling Meditation

Ready? Wherever you are simple take a deep inhalation saying to yourself “This breathe I take is relaxing.  And as you begin to exhale smile and say to yourself, “This breathe makes me happy.” It should take a few seconds. Now, do it again.

It is important that you smile.

It is not important if you feel like smiling or not. What is important is that you smile and breathe. We have power in simple things. By smiling it tells our body we are happy, even if we are currently less than ecstatic. This is a simple act.

But involves taking action. This is not passive Spirituality, waiting for someone or something to do something to us. I will not tell you how you will feel, after doing this only a few times.

There are physiological reasons why this simple exercise done repeatedly will transform your mindset. But the fact that it can be explained scientifically does not negate either its power or spiritual impact. Finding spirituality without religion does not need to defy logic.

Related Posts: