meditating with the Jesuits

As part of my academic research, I have recently begun a six-week course on Ignatian spirituality. As a ‘card-carrying’ Buddhist (actually, I do have one from the Buddhist order into which I am ordained) and someone who spends some time teaching the Dharma from different approaches (meditation, Buddhist art), it is a welcome expansion – as well as a good opportunity to turn off my ‘teacher’s head’ and just imbibe. Invariably, comparisons and criticisms come up, but so do acknowledgements of ‘ooh, that’s a helpful way of expressing it’ or ‘yes, this IS important’.

This week we went through the Examen – a five-stage reflective exercise based very much in our own daily experience. Phew! Turning it into a form of a formless practice (or just sitting, if you prefer that term), dropping with a gentle thump straight into an understanding of the oneness of …. umm, what do you call ‘it’? Reality? Life? Beings? Everything and nothing. Beautiful. And grateful for the opportunity to see the benefits of practice, manifesting in a context explicitly grounded in a particular spiritual tradition.

And then the transition. Engaging with the others in the room, all of whom are practicing Catholics. Leaving the building and walking along Piccadilly during an evening (itself a sensory deluge regardless of what had just occurred). Trying to find something to eat, as the pit in my stomach asked for sustenance. The tightness in my chest curious and broad, almost blue and light if visible.

In short, you never know what’s going on inside each and everyone’s head!

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