Engaging Mindfulness, Spirituality, and Faith for Liberation and Creative Awakening
Tag Archives: Counseling
Spiritual Discernment, Peace Gathering, and Meditation Classes
At Sunrise Meditation and Counseling, we provide counseling services, meditation classes, and Spiritual Discernment services. Whereas counseling is primarily focused on healthy thoughts, behaviors, and emotions, Spiritual Discernment addresses questions of deeper meaning. Questions like what is my place in the Universe? Am I alone? Is there a God? What does God want me to do with my life? Is God on my side, against me, or does God even care? What will happen to me and my loved ones after we die? Is healing possible for me and my loved ones?
Like in counseling, good Spiritual Discernment helps people to find their own answers in a supportive, safe, non-judging environment. We all bring different thoughts and feelings to the table regarding God, Spirituality, and the Universe. The ideas we bring are based on our religious backgrounds, our cultural backgrounds, and our personal experiences with our families and friends. Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Atheist, something completely different, or some mix of several faiths, we all have unique takes on what it means to be human on this planet and in this Universe. For people of faith, there is often a still, small voice, a calling, a higher power, or an intuition that helps guide us through life and the big and small questions that come with life.
My personal beliefs are Christian, and it’s my experience that the Spirit speaks through many avenues if we have ears, eyes, hearts, and the courage to listen. The Spirit also speaks through all traditions and cultures. No belief or idea is “too weird” or “unorthodox” to share in a Spiritual Discernment session.
The one guideline I share regarding the presence of the Spirit in life or in a decision is to look for the fruits of the Spirit. Love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control are the fruits of the Spirit as described in the Christian tradition, and I believe this applies universally.
To celebrate Spirituality in a safe group environment, Sunrise Meditation and Counseling will again begin a weekly Peace Gathering starting Thursday September 7th, after Labor Day weekend. The gathering will begin at 6:00 pm and last less than an hour. The format will include a time of gathering, a time of sharing brief inspirational thoughts and readings, a time of contemplative silence, and a time for closure. There will be no cost for attending, but donations will be accepted.
We will also begin another round of Christian Tantric Meditation workshops beginning Saturday September 9th from 10:00-11:30AM. This is a four class program that introduces several meditation techniques, including breath centered mind stabilization, self emptying, Divine Communion as a form of guru yoga, and Compassion outreach meditation. If you are interested but unable to attend four weekends in a row, we are flexible, our classes often take 6 to 8 weeks to complete based on the schedules of the participants. Now is the time to manage stress, let go of some of the luggage that holds you back, and connect with your true potential.
Our workshops cost 25.00 each, and a 20.00 discount is available for registering and paying for all 4 classes in advance.
For more information or to register for a Workshop or an Individual Therapeutic or Spiritual Discernment Session, visit our Contact and Registration page or call 678-358-8775.
People usually contact a counselor to address specific issues, including anxiety, depression, addiction, or relationship issues. When challenges like these inhabit the life of a person, they tend to use up a person’s energy, leaving no time nor energy for creativity.
In the 1940’s, a man named Abraham Maslow developed a concept called the Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow’s hierarchy can be broken down into three categories: Survival, Love, and Creativity. Maslow said that when people have survival issues to deal with, they are not going to apply energy to pursuing love nor being creative. Survival needs include food, shelter, and feeling safe.
While this model may not apply to every person, it does seem to apply to most people. The counseling related issues mentioned above are survival issues to the people who are afflicted, and as a result relationships become strained and all creative energy is applied to the pursuit of survival.
Unbounded creativity on the other hand, requires nurturing. An ongoing sense of freedom, security in relationships, and security in personal safety contribute to a person’s ability to pursue creative gifts. Everyone has unique creative gifts, be they artistic, physically expressive (like sports and dancing), people related, mechanical inclination, gardening, or something else. The variety of creative gifts people are blessed with are endless.
While the initial goal of counseling is to get relief from specific issues and symptoms, the underlying goal is usually the restoration of the joy and freedom of creative expression and sharing. At Sunrise Meditation and Counseling, we believe that we were all created to be healthy, creative, loving, and joyful people. Using Mindfulness Oriented Meditation and Therapeutic tools, we help people to accept, let go of, and grow beyond the experiences and issues that hold us back in life. Our goal is to help people discover and cultivate the gifts that we are blessed with, in both individual therapy and in Meditation Workshops.
Christian Tantric Meditation classes provide tools for connecting with our Creative and Spiritual roots, and developing compassion for self and others. Our next set of four Christian Tantric Meditation classes will begin on Saturday, May 13th from 10:00 to 11:30 AM EST. We will be providing classes at our studio in Sautee near Helen Georgia, in the beautiful North Georgia Mountains.
Life is full of cycles. Yearly cycles of seasons, seasonal holidays and cycles of learning and growth, graduation, and then beginning again to learn more. And there are monthly cycles of bills to pay, full moons, and fertility.
While some cycles are natural and can be comforting and even inspiring, other cycles can be painful and destructive. Cycles of anger, codependency, depression, and addiction for example.
All destructive cycles have certain characterizing words in common, words like triggers, breaking points, regret, so called “honeymoon periods,” and periods where emotions builds again. Some destructive cycles can be very short, repeating weekly or even daily, and some can be much longer, repeating monthly or even longer.
Consider anger for example, and its partner codependency. In the anger cycle, tension builds, a trigger causes a break when yelling and breaking of things may occur, followed by regret and a period of calm. Meanwhile, a more passive or passive aggressive partner might try to be “nice” for awhile, but eventually attempts to exercise some form of rebellion or self care, which changes a usual routine. This break from routine may “trigger” an argument or angry outburst, and the cycle repeats.
Even depression can have an identifiable cycle, moving from self care, to self isolation, and self neglect.
Every close relationship experiences disagreements, everyone gets angry or unhappy at one time or another, and many people have occasional alcoholic beverages without embarrassing or hurting themselves or others. How can people recognized they are getting “trapped” in a cycle?
When life or livelihood gets interrupted, especially on a routine basis, it is time to consider making some meaningful changes before someone gets hurt. The monthly arguments that always escalate into loud conflict, damaged property, or bruises, the occasional drinking or prescription drug use that turns into every weekend and eventually creeps into the work week, the mood swings that lead to either avoiding friends and family or erupt in conflict with coworkers or customers.
The good news is that recognizing these cycle traps is the beginning of healing. Developing self awareness about triggers, addiction, anger, general anxiety and depression levels, and codependent complacency behaviors can help us to break out of cycle traps before they reach a critical “blow up” or “melt down” stage.
How do we develop self awareness? Tools like journaling, taking note of our state of mind, recognizing the repeated events that lead up to “breaking points”, becoming aware of words or events that trigger impulsive outbursts or depression or drinking or drug use can be of great help.
Coupled with developing self awareness are development of tools for altering thinking or behavior patterns. Techniques like deep breathing, grounding, calling a friend or sponsor, or just walking away can be helpful.
This is where taking part in therapeutic groups dedicated to emotions, alcoholics, narcotics, or codependency, can be helpful. Engagement in one on one counseling with a trusted professional can be helpful also.
Meditation practices are a natural form of self care. Meditation can lead to increased awareness and compassion for self and others, while the relaxation and breathing associated with meditation can be a helpful tool in letting go of the some of the thoughts and feelings that feed the cyclical traps.
With this in mind, Sunrise Meditation and Counseling are happy to announce another “Meditation Day Retreat” in the beautiful North Georgia Mountains on Saturday April 30th. Our location is in Sautee Georgia which is near Helen Georgia, about an hour from Gwinnett and about 1.5 hours from Metro Atlanta.
People who attend our classes learn skills for developing self awareness, dealing with stress, and increasing enjoyment of life and personal freedom through letting go of negative thoughts and emotions. More advanced classes explore increasing Spirituality through Divine Communion practice, and exercising Compassion with healthy boundaries for self and others. People who are new to meditation and people who are experienced with meditation find our classes helpful.
Our Saturday morning class from 10:00-11:30 teaches basic meditation skills including breath centered mind stabilization and mindfulness. Our afternoon class from 1:00-2:30 explores more advanced skills designed to Open our Consciousness. Our classes generally include about 20-30 minutes of instruction and discussion, and 20-30 minutes of meditation skill practice.
To register, visit our Workshops page and sign up on line, or call 678-358-8775. Our rates are very reasonable, 25.00 for a class or 40.00 for signing up for two classes or bringing a friend.
Easter Meditation and News
Greetings Clients, Colleagues, and Friends!
Rather than publishing a Blog directly this month, I have been blessed with an invitation By Kimberly Holman to share my blog through ContemplativeTheology.com. The blog is entitled “Easter Compassion Meditation” and in it I continue to illustrate Christian Tantric Meditation techniques and experiences through narrative examples. Kimberly gets credit for adding beautiful and meaningful illustrations to the blog. Thank you Kimberly!
A great deal has been happening with Ecumenical Wellness. We are working towards opening a Meditation Studio and Counseling Center in Sautee Georgia, near Helen Georgia. The plan is to offer people the opportunity to participate in Meditation classes as part of their own holiday, day trip, or retreat weekend to the beautiful North Georgia mountains. Stay tuned for details!
I want to thank everyone who has supported and purchased our publication, Christian Tantric Meditation. If you have read and enjoyed the book, please consider adding a review to our publication page at Amazon.com.
I wish everyone a blessed and joyful Christian Holy week. Whatever Spiritual or non-Spiritual, Religious or non-Religious, faith or non-faith traditions we associate with or participate in, may we experience and appreciate the hope of Resurrection that comes with Spring. Happy Easter!
Video Introducing Dave Miller
Hi – My name is Dave Miller, and I am a licensed associate professional counselor, lay pastor, and author of the book Christian Tantric Meditation Guide, available at Amazon.com in Kindle and paperback editions. I also administrate Ecumenical Christian Wellness Ministries under the direction of Renewal Wellness at New Hope Counseling in Cumming Georgia. I work with groups and individuals who need some help dealing with or letting go of some of the burdens that hold them back in life, physically, emotionally, in relationships, and Spiritually.
I’ve been married to my wife Stacey for 30 years, and together we’ve raised 4 children who are grown now. I’m also a church going Christian, and I believe that God loves us all unconditionally, and God demonstrates love for humanity through the teachings, the life, the death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. I believe that God is with us today, all around us and within us, in the presence of the Holy Spirit. I believe that we can know that the Holy Spirit is present with us and with others by recognizing the Gifts that the Holy Spirit brings, including love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control. I also have found that in order to recognize and receive the gifts the Holy Spirit has to offer, we need to learn to let go of some of the burdens that hold us back and open ourselves up to receive and accept those gifts.
I first received by calling into ministry in the Spring of 1994. I had been working as an electrical engineer for over 10 years at that point. As I recall, it was a beautiful day, and while I was driving down the road I decided to ask God a question. The question I asked was whether there are trees and flowers and birds in heaven. I was a little surprised when I received an answer. It wasn’t a direct voice so much as a strong sense of a loving affirming Presence. The answer I received was yes, there are trees and flowers in heaven. Then I asked the question whether there I would still be an individual person in heaven, able to learn and grow as a person. I love learning, I love reading, I love exploring and sharing. The answer came back that yes, I would still be myself and I would be able to learn and grow. Then I asked the question that changed everything. I asked whether there is anything we can do here on earth that we can’t do in heaven. The answer was yes, there is one thing we can do here that we won’t be able to do in heaven, and that is help people who are suffering, because there is no suffering nor death in heaven. As you can imagine, this experience affected me deeply, and defined the path that I have been following ever since.
The first thing that people notice when they meet me is my tracheotomy. My trach gives me a little extra room to breath because I have scar tissue in my upper airway. You may notice that I put my thumb over my trach to talk. This allows me to push air up past my vocal cords so I can talk. I’ve had this for 20 years now, and I’m so used to it that I hardly notice it, and my friends say they don’t notice it either. It’s just a part of who I am now.
After I first received my trach, I was left without a voice several years. I could use a buzzer to communicate, but for the most part I was silent. One might say I was forced into a vow of silence. I started writing about the feelings I was experiencing, the sense of loss and frustration, and about my relationship with God as I went through this. A minister friend of mine read my writing and suggested that I take some classes in the Emory University Divinity program to learn the language I needed to express myself theologically. I took his advice, attended Emory and ended up getting my Master’s in Theological Studies.
During that time I attended Emory, I practiced chaplain ministry in a homeless shelter setting at Atlanta Union Mission. Having no voice, I was forced to “just listen” to the people I worked with, offering no advice whatsoever. I was blessed to witness not only the amazing stories and wonderful cultural diversity of the people I worked with, but also the almost miraculous healing properties that empathetic listening can provide. This experience led me to a deeper exploration of the power of listening, to myself, to God, and to others, with the help of meditation.
I continued to listen as I practiced lay ministry within the Methodist Church and later led an alternative worship service that was based on sharing and listening.
My exploration of listening led me to Argosy University, where I earned my Master’s in Community Counseling, after which I went into listening professionally as a counselor. In my therapy practice I use both solution focused and mindfulness oriented cognitive behavioral techniques.
And throughout all of this, I have been training in and studying and practicing techniques in prayerful listening and meditation. .
So here I am today. I’ve had a lot of experiences that have led me to where I am today. My experience as a working professional, as someone who continues to live with a long term medical condition, my experience in ministry, and in working with people who suffer with burdens that hold them back in life, all contribute to who I am today.
How about you? What’s your calling? What kinds of experiences have you had? How have they made you stronger? How have they held you back? What kinds of tools do you have to deal with the issues that life hands us every day? Do you recognize the fruits of the Spirit in your own life and in the lives of others around you?
I share some of the meditation listening tools I’ve learned and practice in my book, Christian Tantric Meditation guide. The book provides exercises for learning to listen to ourselves and the world around us, listening to the Spirit that is all around us and within us, and listening to others. The practice involves letting go of desires, resentments, and fears, so that we can increase our feelings of freedom, love, and faith, and grow our compassion for ourselves and others.
I also share meditation and Cognitive Behavioral tools in therapeutic groups and in individual one on one sessions. I’m currently offering free workshops to introduce Christian Tantric meditative listening practices to anyone who is interested in letting go of burdens, resentments and fears that hold them back, increasing their sense of freedom, love, and faith, and increasing compassion for self and others.
My rates are very reasonable, I’m available on evenings and weekends, and I’d really like to meet you and hear your story. Whether you buy the book or call for individual or group sessions, there’s a blessing waiting for you. Visit my website at www.ecumenicalwellness.org, and give me a call. Have a blessed day!
Publication and Meditation Groups Announcement
Welcome to all the friends, colleagues, and clients who are included in this announcement.
This week’s blog makes 2 announcements: The release of our first publication: Christian Tantric Meditation Guide, and the expansion of our free meditation workshops.
With regard to the publication, Christian Tantric Meditation utilizes the Tantric meditation practices of self emptying, communing with Divinity, and sharing Compassion from a Christian perspective. The Christian perspective recognizes the image of God in humanity, humanity’s connection with God through Jesus the Christ, and our calling to have compassion toward ourselves and Others.
The book is available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle form, as well as selected local bookstores. For more information and a links for purchase, visit our publications page.
With regard to the new workshops, the following expanded FREE Introductory Workshops are being offered:
Wellness Meditation for Professionals and Students
Working Professionals and Students will find this introduction to meditation useful for reducing stress and clearing away barriers that inhibit personal and professional growth.
Wellness Meditation for People with Ongoing Medical Issues
People dealing with ongoing Medical issues will find this introduction to meditation useful for beginning to deal with chronic pain and stress associated with ongoing medical conditions. Caregivers will find this workshop useful as well.
Wellness Meditation for People with Habits and Addictions
Is my issue just a bad habit, or an addiction? Sometimes its hard to tell. When family members are concerned and life and livelihood are impacted, its time to consider getting help. This introductory meditation class can help start the process of building self awareness and self control, which are the beginnings of recovery.
Wellness Meditation for Increasing Spirituality Dedicated solely to Christian Tantric Meditation, this introductory workshop can begin the process of enhancing one’s sense of purpose and meaning in life, as well as growing one’s faith and Compassion for others. The only religious or denominational requirements for this class are an openness to the possibility of communing with unconditionally loving Divinity, and the desire to be a more compassionate person. The group is open to walk-ins, but seating is limited so calling ahead to reserve a space is recommended.
For more information regarding these and other programs, visit our Workshops page.
As a reminder, Ecumenical Christian Wellness Ministries is administered by Dave Miller, LAPC, NCC, MACC, MTh, and Lay Pastor. Dave offers services under the direction of Renewal Wellness at New Hope Counseling, which is located at 330 Dahlonega St Cumming, Ga 30040, and under the supervision of Kim Waters-Rose LPC.
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.