Week 1: Introduction

(Note: Click here for a detailed schedule for all our classes.)

We begin our course by exploring the general context and purpose for practice of InterSpiritual Meditation (ISM). Please ask yourself, why is ISM and a personal meditation practice relevant and helpful to me at this moment in my life?  In this first class, will explore some of the assumptions and key terms associated with an InterSpiritual approach to contemplative and spiritual practice.  We will examine the rationale for the process and methodology offered by InterSpiritual Meditation.

We begin with the follow brief video introduction.

(1) Video Intro: 

(2) Readings:
(1) ISM Preface, Introduction & Part I up to page 37. (2) “Conducting Your Daily Session” pages 151 – 165. (3) InterSpirituality, by Ed Bastian.

(3) Resources
Take a look at the additional resources I have provided for this topic and do some of your own research.  Gather together and reflect on your own resources and life experiences that provide a foundation for this course.

For an overview of the entire ISM and Mandala process, please listen to this 22 minute interview with Ed Bastian by Rabbi Rami Shapiro of Spirituality and Health Magazine.  CLICK HERE FOR THIS INTERVIEW.

(4) Spiritual Styles Profile
To begin, please ask yourself:  How do I know?  What are the internal lenses through which I perceive and process information?  What are my dominant and less dominant learning styles (i.e., archetypal spiritual styles) for learning and developing a meditation practice?  Which of the following 12 “families of spiritual styles” are my natural ways of approaching ISM?  Is yours the way of the Arts, the Body, the Contemplative, the Devotee, the Dreamer, the Lover, the Mystic, the Naturalist, the Prayer, the Thinker, the Mensch, the Sage?

Please go to the pages listed below to learn more about these styles and to complete your personal Spiritual Styles Profile Tool.  The results will appear after you complete the form.  These results will help you to engage in an inner conversation about “How I learn” and “what is the best way for me to develop my meditation practice.  If you are working with a mentor, or mentoring someone else, this inner knowledge will provide a beginning point for a conversation about finding the best resources, teachers and practices for you.

(5) Meditation:

Let’s start getting familiar with each of the seven steps of ISM and begin stringing these steps together into a single meditative session. Please be patient with this process – – it will take few weeks before it sinks in and begins to flow naturally.  Begin by listening the the 20 minute guided meditation.  Gradually you will feel confident and comfortable enough to cultivate this practice on your own.

 (5a) Guided Meditation with Music

This version of ISM combines a guided meditation with spiritual music from Buddhism (Ganden Loseling Monks), Christianity (Fiona Davidson, Fonn, Ceile De), Hinduism (Swami Atmarupananda), Islam (Sufism – Camille Helminski), Judaism (Rabbi Zalman Schachter), and Native American (Carlos Nakai) traditions.  It is accompanied by a composition by cello player Michael Fitzpatrick “Dawn of the Millenium.”  (It is not presently available for download.)

(6) Journaling:

You may use either the paperback copy of the ISM Workbook & Journal, your own personal journal.  Your journaling for this class will have two parts.

First: reflect on your experiences with each of seven steps of the meditation and your focus points for each step.

Second: contemplate on the definitions for key terms in the book, then write your personal ways of relating to each of these terms.  For example, express your way of defining the following terms:

  • Prayer,
  • Contemplation,
  • Meditation,
  • Spirituality,
  • InterSpirituality,
  • Open Source Spirituality.

(7) Shared Reflections:

In this course we are intentionally working together to build an online community to support each other in the development of our respective meditations.

So, it will be important for each of you to share your personal reflections  each of the steps.  In this way, we will learn from the diverse experiences and perspectives of each member of our contemplative community. We will learn both from and commonality and diversity.

For your reflection, please provide a brief (about 250 word) summary of your personal journal writings and that reflect your experiences with ISM meditation and/or the key terms listed above.

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