“At the center of your being you have the answer;
you know who you are, and you know what you want.”
– Lao Tsu
When I first started exploring this month’s congregational theme, The Path of FINDING OUR CENTER, I thought it would be about becoming peaceful and calm, and emptying my mind, perhaps through meditation. And yes, meditation is certainly a good way to arrive at our center in a world that’s spinning altogether too quickly. But once we get to that center, what is the nature of the inner peace we find there, at the very core of our existence?
According to author and spiritual leader Marianne Williamson, “Inner peace doesn’t come from getting what we want, but from remembering who we are.” When we reach our center and remember who we are, we rediscover our core values.
What are your core values, the qualities that are essential to who you are? This month, the folks at Soul Matters provide us with some excellent tools to help us explore – to remember, really – what’s at our center. For example, here is a list of core values you may want to review; the suggestion is to select five values with which you resonate, then get together with someone who knows you well to see what they think your core values are. (Remember to return the favor by helping your friend discover their core values.) For a deeper exploration of your core values, here is an online Personal Values Assessment that may reveal something you did not know about yourself.
Why is it so important to get in touch with the values that lie within your center, at the very core of your very being? It’s important because that’s how you will find “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet,” explains theologian Frederick Buechner. “[T]here are different voices calling you to all different kinds of work…. [T]he problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than of society….”
According to author Christopher L. Heuertz, “We all find ourselves bouncing around three very human lies that we believe about our identity: I am what I have, I am what I do, and I am what other people say or think about me.” How can we escape from these lies? Educator Valerie Kaur suggests we listen to “that deep wisdom within each of us”; some call it a sacred name (e.g., Spirit, God, Allah), while others call it “the intuition one hears when in a calm state of mind.” She suggests we practice self-discipline to ignore “the loudest voices in the world right now [which are] running on the energy of fear, criticism, and cruelty,” so we can find the solitude within ourselves.
This month’s Soul Matters packet points out that living in a culture that’s “faster, better and never enough” can cause us to go on autopilot. An excellent technique to return to our core is to build purposeful, intentional pauses into our days. A simple way to do that is to stop what you’re doing periodically to take a walk, or engage in some deep breathing. For those who prefer a more structured approach, here is a set of wonderfully inspiring online guided meditations called Thrive Resets; these short videos can prove helpful for creating the pauses that guide us back to our center.
When doing this work, it is important for each of us to understand that this is not about fixing ourselves, but rather finding out who we really are, at the very core of our being. “[T]he human soul does not want to be fixed, it wants simply to be seen and heard,” says Parker Palmer. “[I]f we are willing to sit quietly and wait for a while, the soul may show itself.”
Offered in this month’s Soul Matters Ministry packet are suggestions for a variety of activities and words of wisdom that can help us go deep within, finding our way back to our center so we can rediscover the Light within each of us. As Rumi reminds us, “The Light you are seeking has always been within.”
I hope you’ll join me this month along The Path of FINDING OUR CENTER.
Seeking more inspiration and wisdom along The Path of FINDING OUR CENTER?