Thursday, November 19, 2015

Emotional Maturity….The Practical Kingdom of God Within Us

This blog is a response to the excellent Daily Meditation on Emotional Sobriety

and the 12-Step Program offered today by Fr Richard Rohr. He refers to the 11th step.

Step 11
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out.

Emotional maturity needs to be learned. I am not talking about having a bit of restraint, I am talking about quieting that inner critic, letting go of the niggling fear and anxiety about stuff, changing the perception from a glass half empty to a glass half full, moving beyond the need to control everything and everyone in your life, reducing your reactivity to cultivated responsiveness. Do you know that psychologists use meditation in therapy? Some use spiritual direction also as a nonjudgmental method of reflecting you to yourself. Here is why.

Religion is all about re-ligare, “binding back” to your highest (best) self we call “God.” Religion uses ritual and liturgy and practice of prayer to encourage you to be aware of the Spirit of Love that integrates the Mind- body on the very levels (see programs for happiness) that Fr Rohr describes below. Before there was psychology, there was religious practice. But the goals are the same: a healthy, balanced, integrated mind body; a subtly aware, emotionally mature individual, who is balanced and fair to herself and to others.  This is Union with God. This is the Kingdom of God within you.  We cannot help someone else be any more emotionally mature than we are, in the same way we can’t teach concepts that we don’t know our self. We must be the change we want to see in the world (Gandhi). This is where it begins….with “me.”

The 11th step on the 12 step program is important for all of us! We are all “addicted” to our entitlement to be negative and judgmental, to our pain and anxiety, to our “suffering” as Buddha would say. We are blindly addicted to our immature emotionality. And it takes a long gentle process of waking up and being with our self to heal. We would often rather suffer, leaving things as they are (certain and predictable), than change! That’s addiction.

The way we feel and act follows the evolution of the human brain. So here is Rohr’s explanation from a scientific/evolutionary perspective, simplified: Our reactions result from our primitive needs for: 1. survival/safety (oldest part of the brain – reptilian) 2. power and control (next oldest part of brain – limbic-frontal cortex) 3. esteem/ affection (Frontal cortex – limbic). Check out the graphic of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This developmental process not only takes place across humanity, but it is the way we each develop as individuals. The body responds with sympathetic flight/fright first (vagal tone), then the emotions follow reactively, and finally, our mind becomes aware of the situation and either reacts or holds. The rational mind is the last to kick in! This is why we need to cultivate a delay and a more subtle awareness between the mind and body. The body physiology “remembers” responses we needed when we were more primitive and the mind – capable of objectivity – must mature into a capable, skillful master of compassion. That is emotional maturity. Not denying or repressing your emotions, but learning to be gentle with them so that you can also be gentle toward others’.

Meditative prayer is the time-tested way to hold space – indeed, it anatomically and physiologically changes the brain wiring and neurotransmitting to downplay emotional and egoic reactivity and stimulate skillful rationale. The answer has been right in front of us all this time. We must learn to BE with ourselves. We must learn to be Mary and not so much Martha. We must learn to Be Still and Know that we are. What are we? Made in the image of God, vessels of the Kingdom, Love incarnate. We can only know who we are if we are quiet enough to listen to our selves.

For the excellent blog that spurred my thoughts read Fr Richard Rohr's November 19, 2015 Daily Meditation Emotional Sobriety by Fr Richard Rohr  

I leave you with the message in this meme - I cannot state it any better than that!! Love and peace to all of you!!

_/\_Peggy @ Ecumenicus

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