Monthly Archives: July 2014

Mindfulness Meditation Benefits

It’s easy to find articles and books describing the benefits of meditation. A quick search on Google or Google Scholar quickly reveals many articles describing benefits of meditation. And the varieties of meditation described in the articles are wide ranging as well, including mindfulness, compassion and Spiritually oriented meditation techniques.

While scholarly articles are important in providing statistical proof of benefits, sometimes illustrations can speak more clesunset_smallarly.

For example, everyone has tools for dealing with stress. Some people deal with stress by escaping or seeking a path of least resistance, while others deal with stress by taking control, sometimes aggressively. Through the practice of mindfulness meditation, a person can begin to recognize how they habitually react to situations and learn to “catch themselves” before reacting automatically.

Consider the case of Charlie, who had a habit of yelling and blaming others when he misplaced something. One day Charlie couldn’t find his lucky argyle socks, and his first reaction was to yell out loud to anyone within ear shot “who stole my lucky socks!”

After meditating for a few weeks, Charlie again couldn’t find his socks, but when he was about to shout, he hesitated, smiled at himself for recognizing his reaction, and chose another pair of socks instead. As a result everyone in the house had a better day, including Charlie.

Consider also the case of Jane, who routinely “tries to fix” situations she has no control over. One day Jane’s husband, Charlie, (a different Charlie…) couldn’t find his favorite golf socks. She was about to leave the house for work, but instead she stopped and went through his drawers until she found the socks he claimed were missing. She left the house late and experienced stress at work as a result. After Jane practiced mindfulness meditation for a few weeks, Charlie lost his socks again, and Jane started to react as always, but this time she caught herself. She smiled at herself for recognizing her reaction and said “Charlie, you’re just going to have to figure it out for yourself, I don’t want to be late for work.” As a result, Jane had a better day at work, and Charlie learned something about himself, his wife, and something about the relative importance of “lucky socks” as well.

While these examples are simple, they are fairly accurate representations of how mindfulness meditation begins to help a person. With more time and practice, simple little changes build upon themselves. As Charlie continues to develop awareness and new tools for personal accountability, his relationships with his family and peers at work improve. And as Jane continues to develop awareness and new tools for asserting herself, her relationships with her family and her peers at work improve also.

These examples represent positive outcomes from developing self awareness through mindfulness meditation.  Many other benefits are possible from compassion meditation and from meditation that incorporates Christian Spirituality. Christian Tantric Meditation addresses all three of these meditation discipline areas.

Like a physical workout increases strength and stamina, regular practice of Christian Tantric Meditation increases a person’s capacity for mindfulness, compassion, and Spirituality. And like a physical workout, with regular practice, these capacities expand within a person, yielding personal, professional, and relationship benefits.


There are many forms of meditation a person can practice. In its most basic form, meditation can be considered a listening practice. As a spiritual practice, meditation can be considered a listening prayer. When practicing listening prayer meditation, we open ourselves up to see, hear, and feel what the Holy Spirit would have us experience.

At the core of most meditation practices is self emptying. Self emptying practices may be used to achieve a sense of joy and peace. As a stand alone practice, self emptying can be very powerful.

The path that is followed in Christian Tantric Meditation very much parallels the path that Christ took in his life and ministry. Christians may recall the story of Christ wandering in the wilderness for 40 days. This part of Christ’s journey represents the practice of self emptying. During this time Jesus released His human desires to the extent that He was not vulnerable to temptation. Similarly, in Christian Tantric meditation, we release our desires, our resentments, and our fears that hold us back and prevent us from receiving and accepting Divine Communion through the Holy Spirit.

By emptying one’s self, a person makes room for awareness. The awareness that develops in self emptying can have many dimensions, including awareness of self, awareness one’s spirituality and connection with one’s Higher Power, and awareness of creation and others who are a part of our lives. This development of self awareness is also known as mindfulness.

Meditation can be used as an intentional exercise, aimed at increasing our internal capacities. Christian Tantric meditation was developed as an exercise for the mind, heart, and core areas of consciousness. By exercising these areas of consciousness, a person increases her / his capacity for mindfulness, love, self confidence, and compassion.

Recognizing our Fruits, Gifts, and Strengths

In my last Blog posting, I stated that as an Ecumenical Christian I  strive to “accept and love and celebrate the diversity of cultures and faiths and orientations that people bring to therapy.”

When discussing acceptance and inclusivity, some people are quick to respond that “if we just accept everything and everybody, then anything goes. The world is not a healthy nor a safe place, we need some standards for discerning right from wrong, and good from evil.”

I’m reminded of something the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church in Galatia regarding the discernment of good in people. He wrote that “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…” It has been my experience that most of us hold many if not all of these characteristics, these fruits of the Spirit, whether we are aware of it or not. And the Spirit does not discriminate when distributing these fruits – people of all faiths and cultures and orientations have the capacity to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, generous, faithful, gentle, and self controlled.

I’m also reminded of a phrase that Jesus spoke: “Seek and ye shall find.” I believe that if we seek out the good in ourselves and others, then the good will flourish. We live in a society that pathologically seeks pathology. We are constantly looking for answers to the question “what’s wrong, and how can we fix it?” Imagine a society where we ask the question “what’s right, and how can we build on it?”

People sometimes enter into therapy because they feel that emotions or behaviors hold them back from experiencing happiness, professional success, and healthy relationships. When we are feeling bad, we naturally seek help. While part of the therapeutic process includes recognizing the challenges we face that take away from our happiness, another substantial part includes recognizing the fruits of the Spirit, the gifts, and the strengths we carry within us.

Along with developing a mindful understanding of the way we think and feel and interact with others, we develop an appreciation for the gifts and strengths that we bring to the table also. And in the process of recognizing both our challenges and our strengths, happiness and healing often emerge.

What In the World is an Ecumenical Christian?

The dictionary says that the word “Ecumenical” means universal, and that the word is usually applied to promoting unity within the Christian faith. The root of the word comes from the Greek Oikos, which means “house.” This ever shrinking world we call “earth” is our home. We are all neighbors, we are all family members, and wouldn’t it be nice if we all tried to be friends as well?

When I think about what it means to be an Ecumenical Christian, I start by asking myself: what does it mean to have a good friend? I think in terms of someone who accepts me for who I am, loves me unconditionally, and believes in me.

What does it mean to accept someone for who they are? The core of who I am is defined by my Christian faith, my family life, my occupation, and many other factors. So naturally I appreciate a friend who respects and accepts me as a Christian, a family man, and as a licensed counseling minister.

I also love music, I love to fish and garden, I love to write, and I’m also a certified EMC engineer. I appreciate a friend who respects and accepts these aspects of who I am as well.

I’ll admit, I don’t particularly like it when people point out my faults. But if I’m struggling with an issue, I like having a friend who offers help and support. And if I’m not ready to accept help, I like being able to say “no thank you,” and still know that my friend will be there for me. I also like knowing that my friend is familiar with my gifts and strengths, and believes that my goals and ambitions are achievable, especially when I doubt myself.

When I think about the characteristics I appreciate in a friend, I think of some of the words that Jesus had to say on the subject. Words like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Then I think of some of the friends who I am blessed to have. I have friends who are Christians of all varieties, including Evangelical, Ecumenical, and Catholic. I have friends who are Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, “New Age”, Hindu, and Atheist. I have many friends who are not sure of what faith represents who they are.

I also have friends who are married, single, with children, without children, male, female, gay, straight, bisexual, and just not sure of who they are yet.

For me, being an Ecumenical Christian means being a Christian who recognizes that we are all connected, we are all family, and who tries to accept, love, and believe in others.  An Ecumenical Christian tries to be patient and available when a someone needs help, and looks for and encourages the strengths and gifts within others.

And this is what I bring to my therapeutic practice. I love working with people of all faiths and orientations, and I strive to accept and love and celebrate the diversity of cultures and faiths and orientations that people bring to therapy. I help people to identify and build on the gifts and fruits that they bring with them, and I love seeing the light that shines in a person’s eyes when he or she realizes how loved and gifted they really are.

Dave Miller,


July 9, 2014