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Practice

RULES OF PRACTICE

FREEDOM

Spiritual life is all about total freedom. Just as you can’t force anyone to pray, nor pray or meditate for someone else, you can’t force God’s gifts and grace. St. Benedict orders to examine the motivations of the person entering the monastery, present him with everything difficult in monastic life, and finally ask: “are you able…?” Following this order, we present the Practice Rules, which are there to help us focus on what matters most.

UNITY OF HEARTS AND MINDS

Good experience of a meditation session depends on the state of mind of all practitioners, expressed by body posture, gestures, way of speaking, and silence. We bind our hearts and minds together through group practice. This attitude creates the chance that our meditation will be bearing fruit, but also requires us to take responsibility for others. We should remember that the quality of others’ practice also depends on the quality of commitment and dedication of our practice. Therefore, we should follow the rules of community life that flow from profound experience and are sanctified by tradition. The essence of practice is always following a common path with others. It doesn’t matter who we are and how long we practice; it is essential to follow a common way, helping each other and supporting each other.

CARE OF SILENCE AND STILLNESS

One of the essential principles of common practice is taking care of silence that strengthens concentration, mindfulness, and respect for each one and everyone. It is not easy. Silence and loneliness allow us to turn our minds inward. When there is no external experience, then our interior manifests itself naturally. It can be a painful and challenging experience of getting to know yourself. However, this is a necessary stage of our exculpation and spiritual growth. Without the practice of silence, it is impossible to talk about taking spiritual life seriously.

LEADING TEACHER, ASSISTANT, SUPERVISORS

The division of roles during a meditation session involves developing a form and rules of practice. It has its significant importance, not only for the smooth organization of the session but also has a deep internal dimension, which serves the practice of participants and duty persons.

LEADING TEACHER

The leader is the primary person responsible for the course of the meditation session. He introduces people who first came to Lubiń in the practice and theology of sitting meditation, meditation in motion, and the practice of prostrations. He conducts individual conversations, and also gives conferences. He changes the session plan as needed. The leading teacher is supported by an assistant, kitchen supervisor, and meditation room supervisor.

ASSISTANT

The assistant cares about the structure and proper course of the session. He/She hits the clappers before the start of meditation, calling the participants to the meditation hall. The assistant gives the sound of the gong about the start and end of each round of meditation. Flaps stroke informs us about bows at the beginning or the ending of meditation round. Also, about the starting and the conclusion of meditation in motion. The assistant introduces newcomers to meditation. His/Her function is also associated with a responsibility for work – its division, distribution, and introduction to it.

KITCHEN SUPERVISOR

The person responsible for the kitchen is liable for monitoring this part of the practice that involves shared meals and working in the kitchen. This person oversees food products, their quantities, and proportions that would allow efficient preparation of meals by persons on duty appointed for this purpose. He/She keeps with the kitchen of the monks. Questions about the organization of work in the kitchen should be addressed to him/her.

MEDITATION HALL SUPERVISOR

This person is responsible for the distribution of mats and pillows, location of individual persons. He/She cares for order and cleanliness in the hall and airs it in time and between practices. He/She also remembers about every time lighting a candle (a few minutes before starting meditation) and about snuffing it out after the practice. If necessary, he/she informs about changes in the layout of mats and new places occupied by session participants.

MEDITATION HALL

A meditation hall is a place of formal practice. Five minutes before the practice begins, a clapper sounds in the monastery corridors. Take off your shoes before entering the meditation hall. Entering the meditation hall, we bow towards the cross, standing up with folded hands. After the bow, we approach the mat calmly, and we stand near its edge. We do not cross the center of the hall diagonally, we always move on the outer line of mats, just like during walking between rounds of meditation. Exiting the meditation hall, we bow towards the cross, standing up with folded hands. The meditation hall is the place where we should especially care about staying focused – here we do not talk, do not exchange comments, and do not look sideways. We carefully carry out every activity, without haste, remembering at every moment of the practice that those who can be patient and thorough in small, ordinary things, he/she will receive great ones. Before the first meditation, participants stand at the edge of the mats. They bow and sit down. Meditation begins.

SITTING FORM OF MEDITATION

Each round of sitting meditation begins and ends with a gong. A double gong means that a round of sitting meditation is followed by meditation in motion.

MEDITATION IN MOTION

During meditation in motion, we should maintain the same discipline and concentration as when sitting. From sitting meditation to meditation in motion, we move smoothly, slowly, with delicacy. However, if our legs numb or we feel dizzy, we get up only when we regain strength. After hitting the clappers, we make a bow with hands folded at the height of the solar plexus. We walk around mats. While walking, we can also use the bathroom or, for some other reason, leave the meditation hall. However, we come back before starting a sitting meditation.

PROSTRATIONS

Prostrations practice precedes morning meditation. Prostrations as a prayer gesture (prostratio) since biblical times are permanent elements of spiritual life. Before each prostrations practice, the leader explains its meaning and essence, and also gives instructions on how to do bow down.

MONASTIC LITURGY OF THE HOURS

We go to the chapel to pray together with the monks four times a day. The basis of prayers is recitations or songs of psalms (Monastic Liturgy of the Hours).

WORK

During the day, about an hour and a half are spent on work by us. Before we start, we meet for Listening to the introduction and for the assignment of duties. Work is an essential element of meditation practice and simple testimony to its quality. Each activity is just equally important, and each one directly affects our inner life. The way we work best reflects our state of mind. In this way, we deepen our meditation, and in the simplest possible way, we check whether it retains value in contact with everyday life. When, for some reason, we cannot do the assigned work, we inform the assistant about it. If we finished our work early, we ask for the next one or help others.

KITCHEN AND MEALS

We eat meals in silence. In the context of meditation practice, it is worth noting that greed is the most common cause of mental sluggishness during meditation and prayer. Eating meals can be a good exercise of awareness when we can see the needs of those sitting next to us when we can finish eating food together with others. Five minutes before each meal, a clapper sounds for a meal.

CIRCLE CEREMONY

The session usually ends with a circle ceremony, which is, sharing your thoughts and feelings with others. It is also a way to thank others for common practice. This custom is an essential and beautiful moment that gives everyone a chance to speak. Our experiences can be inspiring for others when they flow from our heart, and they no lack of simplicity and sincerity. The confrontation of our feelings or experiences with the experiences of others can be constructive in answering the difficulties arising during the practice.

ENDING

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to live in us. Let accompany, inspire, and enlighten us. Ask Him to teach us to pray and strengthen us, that we would not stop.

Introduction

Links

BEDE GRIFFITHS OSB

For those interested in the person and work of Fr. Bede Griffiths OSB, we recommend website www.bedegriffiths.com

INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE

If you are interested in the interreligious dialogue, please visit the website www.monasticdialog.com

FREEMAN OSB

The World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM) led by Fr. Laurence Freeman OSB, in addition to the website www.wccm.org also has a Polish website www.wccm.pl

HESYCHASM

If you are interested in hesychasm, please refer to the website (in Polish) www.hezychazm.republika.pl

KEATING & PENNINGTON

Website https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org is dedicated to “centering prayer,” that is, the form of meditation proposed by Fr. Thomas Keating OCSO and Fr. Basil Pennington OCSO.

BENEDICTINE MONASTERY

Lubiń Monastery website: http://www.benedyktyni.net/

LE SAUX

For those interested in the person and work of Fr. Henri Le Saux, please visit the website www.abhishiktananda.org.in

JESUS PREYER

Website (in Polish) dedicated to promoting Jesus Prayer. Some texts help to enter the path of Christian Meditation on your own, as well as information about meditation sessions and retreats taking place in other centers.

Learn more at http://benedyktyni.pl/modlitwa-jezusowa/

OPEN HEART – OPEN MIND

Dialogue, missions, meeting, i.e., the art-house website of Fr. Wojciech Drążek CMM, being in close contact with the Center of Christian Meditation in Lubiń. If interested, please refer to the website www.otwarteserce.com

CONTEMPLATIVE RENEWAL MOVEMENT IN POLAND

If you are interested, please visit the website of Contemplative Outreach Poland at www.odnowakontemplacyjna.com

THOMAS MERTON

For those interested in the person and work of Fr. Thomas Merton, we recommend websites: www.merton.org and www.mertoninstitute.org

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