The Transformative Power of an Ancient Practice:
It´s easy to dismiss something when we view it as old and therefore no longer relevant. It´s also easy to disqualify an idea that challenges us because of its origin. In this post I present both. An ancient practice rooted in Christianity. For some, the word Christianity might be a turnoff but if I haven´t lost you yet, I invite you to look at the universality of the idea and its benefits.
Consider viewing it from the perspective of a method that facilitates transformation in the life of the practitioner.
We live in an age of overstimulation. We are surrounded by digital noise and constant distractions. While this affects so many areas of our lives, I want to look at just one. Reading.
I came to reading late in life but have become an avid reader. I read for information, inspiration and transformation. I enjoy reading poetry and occasionally, I´ll grab some fiction. Mostly, I read for self-improvement. I read to become a better version of myself. I´ve come to understand the importance that reading plays in personal transformation.
Reading did not come easy for me. In the beginning I found it hard to focus and would have to read the same passage over and over again before understanding what the writer was communicating. My inability to comprehend was two-fold. I was not developed in the art of reading and I was distracted.
Then I discovered this!
It´s known as Lectio Divina—a method of reading, meditating, praying, and contemplating that has been a source of spiritual nourishment and transformation for many throughout history.
Lectio Divina, which translates to "Divine Reading" in Latin, is a contemplative practice that originated in the monastic traditions of Christian spirituality. It involves a slow, meditative reading of (sacred) texts, allowing individuals to open themselves to the presence of the divine and to receive guidance and inspiration.
Before going any further, I believe that the act of reading is a spiritual act. Any time the word on the page becomes life in our souls, there is a spiritual dynamic taking place - regardless of its origin. The moment the writing becomes enlightenment or inspiration is the moment it has become sacred to the reader.
Marcus Aurelius on what he learned from Rusticus: Meditations 1.7
To read attentively - not to be satisfied with “just getting the gist of it.”
The following is a breakdown of Lectio Divina:
1. Lectio (Reading):
The practice begins with a slow and deliberate reading of a chosen sacred text. This is not an intellectual exercise but rather an opportunity to listen with the heart. As the words unfold, practitioners pay attention to any phrase or word that resonates with them.
2. Meditatio (Meditation):
Following the initial reading, individuals enter into a state of meditation. They reflect on the chosen words or phrases, allowing them to penetrate the depths of their being. This stage invites a personal connection with the text, often leading to a deeper understanding of its relevance to one's life.
3. Oratio (Prayer):
In this stage, the practice transitions into a dialogue with the divine. Practitioners express their thoughts, feelings, and desires that arise from the meditation. It is a moment of conversing with the sacred, cultivating a sense of intimacy and connection.
4. Contemplatio (Contemplation):
The final stage involves a wordless resting in the presence of the divine. This is a state of quiet contemplation, where individuals allow themselves to be still and receptive. It is a time of being rather than doing, a moment of communion with the divine beyond words.
While Lectio Divina has its roots in monastic traditions, its principles can be applied by anyone seeking a richer life. Integrating this practice into your daily routine doesn't require an extensive time commitment. Start with a short passage from a (sacred) text, set aside a few moments of quiet, and allow the transformative power of divine reading to unfold.
This might not work for you if your attempting to read one book a week. But if you if you want to reach deeper into the text try this approach. Especially when what your reading has relevance or importance to you. Use this when you are reading to grow or desiring transformation.
Here´s to discovering a healthier happier you in 2024