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Hope in a Weary World

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. And this year it’s not about the bustle of the Holidays and Christmas shopping, if anything those activities were a welcome distraction.

After a year of  extreme politics and further division within the USA, rising deficit and threats against health insurance,  I for one am just tired.

As I look back to the events that have led to where we are, I remember the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001.  I remember videos of terrorist attrocities in the Middle East.  I remember US cabinet members laughing and clapping when a Middle Eastern leader was killed, and most of all I remember angry people arguing politics, myself among them.

It occurred to me that we are a Nation and a World that is constantly dealing with both primary and secondary traumatic stress.  And we are dealing with these stresses not only as individuals, but as communities, as nations, and as a world community of human beings.

There is a phrase from old Western movies that applies to how communities deal with traumatic stress: “circling the wagons.”  We form groups of like minded people with the intent of protecting ourselves and our families.

Both ancient and modern history are filled with examples of communities experiencing extreme stress and trauma, pulling together, rallying around a common identity, be it ethnic or religious or nationalistic, becoming powerful, and in turn becoming the source of stress and trauma towards neighboring communities.  Eventually, someone stronger always comes along and the cycle begins again.  Trauma, circle the wagons, gain power, cause trauma, and then experience oppression and trauma all over again.

At Christmas time, the world celebrates the birth of a man called Jesus.  I say the world because at this point in human history, with few exceptions, everyone is pretty much aware of everything, including the origins of the Christian religion and culture.  I say the man Jesus because the humanity of Jesus is something we all have in common.  Jewish people may view Jesus as a historical Rabbi, Buddhists and Hindus may view Jesus as an Enlightened Being, Muslims may view Jesus as a revered Prophet, and Christians view Jesus as both Human and Divine.

Enlightened, Prophet, Human, Divine, Personal Savior, or anointed Christ, however we view Jesus, the words and teachings attributed to this person are what is left for us in the 21st century to read, share, interpret, and draw inspiration from.

2000 years ago, Jesus’ words and teachings inspired a group of people, human beings, to become  followers.  These human followers of Jesus the Christ also experienced extreme trauma, at the hands of a government, specifically the Roman government who had power at the time.  And like human communities have done since the beginning of time, the followers of Jesus the Christ reacted by circling the wagons.   They focusing on mutual care of each other, they comforted families who lost loved ones to the Roman Government’s systematic oppression, they cared for each other, and they talked about ways to deal with the stress of living in the traumatic world they lived in.

They also turned to the teachings of Jesus the Christ whom they followed for guidance.  And in those teachings, they learned of the repeated history of violence, conquering, and being conquered.  And they saw the alternative message that Jesus taught: demonstrate our love of God through loving each other, loving neighbors, and even loving the oppressive enemies.

So, instead of gathering weapons and power, these followers of Jesus the Christ offered love and help to their Roman neighbors.  They bound wounds, offered medicine and a kind presence to people who were sick, they loved their neighbors, they loved their enemies, and they prayed and worshiped together, reminding each other that though the path they chose did not make sense in a world of “fight power with power,” this was the path that Jesus of Nazareth lived and taught.

The world is still a dark place, people are still circling wagons and gathering resources to hide or fight.  But Christmas is a reminder, a still small voice, a voice so small it is symbolized in  the presence of an infant child, calling us to a path of Grace.  A small voice reminding us that peace is possible, we don’t need to react with anger and violence, we can choose to be loving and caring instead, even with those we perceive as enemies.

It is my fervent wish this year that even in the midst of darkness and conflict, even with memories of trauma and fear either fresh or distant in our minds, experienced first hand or vicariously through social and broadcast media, we think of this infant, this prophet, this enlightened one, this Jesus who is called Christ, and remind ourselves that even as we circle our wagons, we can choose to share peace and kindness with others, even others we don’t know or feel suspicious about.

I’m going to follow this thought with a challenge.  For those who are able, if you find yourself sitting in a drive through window waiting for coffee or a meal, consider buying the coffee or meal for the car in line behind you.  It’s a way of sharing that does not judge, and does not expect a reward or even a thank you.  Catch the Spirit of Christmas, offer up a gift of kindness.  The family in the car behind you may be Jewish, Christian, may be Muslim, may be Buddhist or Hindu.  They may be black, they may be white, they may be Hispanic or Asian, they may be Gay or Straight.  They may be living in poverty or blessed with great wealth. They may be politically conservative or liberal; they may be a member of the law enforcement community or they may be struggling with legal issues.  No matter what their race, culture, or circumstance, they are human, and they are loved, even as we are loved.  Share the Love.

May All People experience a Merry Christmas, a Blessed Holiday, and a Peaceful and Prosperous New Year.

Peace Gathering Reminder

Just a reminder, Sunrise Meditation and Counseling is offering weekly Ecumenical Contemplative Peace Gatherings on Thursday evenings.  The gatherings begin at 6:00 pm and last less than an hour.  The format includes 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.

logolargerChristian Tantric Meditation workshops are now available for groups or individuals by appointment, so please call for more information.   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.

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.

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?

lotus-1205631_1280Like 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 lookdove-41260__180 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.

logolargerWe 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.

Meditation and Recovery Workshops Announcement

Meditation Workshops:

Sunrise Meditation and Counseling, located in Sautee Georgia in the North Georgia Mountains, is happy to announce that we will be providing a series of four Christian Tantric Meditation classes begin Saturday March 4th 2017, from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM.  Our location is in Sautee Georgia which is near Helen Georgia, about an hour from Gwinnett and about 1.5 hours from Metro Atlanta.

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.

Our Meditation Workshops are helpful for Managing Stress, Releasing Barriers to Growth, Increasing Spirituality, and increasing Compassion for self and others.  We teach techniques that have been in practice for thousands of years, presented in a manner consistent with Judeo-Christian Scripture and Practice, with proven therapeutic benefits. 

Recovery Workshops:

Sunrise Meditation and Counseling, located in Sautee Georgia in the North Georgia Mountains, is happy to announce that we will be providing a series of eight weekly addiction recovery classes starting Thursday February 2 2017 from 7:00 to 8:30 PM.  The curricula of the classes will include education regarding addiction and recovery, emotions management, codependency, and long term recovery strategies.  People in recovery, families of people in recovery, and people seeking knowledge regarding the challenges involved in recovery are welcome.

Classes will cost 25.00 per person per week.  A $40.00 discount will be available for advanced registration and payment for all 8 classes.  Upon completion of the classes, a certificate of completion will be provided.

These classes are intended for people actively involved in recovery and people affected by addiction, including family members.

Our Recovery Workshops include Education and Tools for establishing and maintaining physical, emotional, and Spiritual health. We provide tools for increasing Self Awareness, promoting Emotional Stability, encouraging Healthy Relationships, and building personal long term recovery strategies.  All recovery workshops include mindfulness oriented meditation instruction.

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.

Meditation Classes Start This Saturday September 10th

Greetings,

We are happy to remind everyone that we will be offering a series of four Christian Tantric Meditation classes in the beautiful North Georgia Mountains beginning this Saturday September 10th.   This is a another opportunity to experience all four phases of the Christian Tantric Meditation protocol in a low cost short series of classes on four consecutive Saturdays.  The traditional Wellness based Christian Tantric Meditation protocol will be offered from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM.  And we will again be offering these Meditation classes from Recovery oriented perspective from 9:00 AM-10:30 AM.  Our location is in Sautee Georgia which is near Helen Georgia, about an hour from Gwinnett and about 1.5 hours from Metro Atlanta.

FireworksBoth traditional Tantric Meditation techniques and Christian Contemplative perspectives are explored in the classes.  Our wellness meditation classes teach skills for dealing with stress and increasing enjoyment of life and personal freedom through letting go of negative thoughts and emotions.    Classes also explore increasing Spirituality 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.

People who attend our recovery oriented meditation classes learn about the disease aspects of youth-570881_1280addiction, and tools for building self awareness in recovery.  Classes will also explore emotions management, healthy relationships, and long term recovery strategies.  Note that these classes are intended for people and family members actively engaged in recovery.

Walk in registrations are welcome, or visit our Workshops page and sign up on line, or call 678-358-8775.  Our rates are very reasonable, 20.00 for a class.

Meditation Classes Growing

We are happy to announce that participation in our Atlanta area Christian Tantric Meditation classes offered in the beautiful North Georgia Mountains has been growing. Our next class is offered on Saturday August 8th. Registration is open now, visit our website for more information and to register on line.

20150530_081019People who attend include working people, retirees, and people with and without meditation experience.  People participate who practice Christianity and other faiths, people who consider themselves more “spiritual” than “religious”, and people who don’t identify with Spirituality or Religion at all.  The common thread that seems to draw people to meditation is a desire to “let things go”, be more relaxed, and have a greater ability to experience joy and  personal freedom.   A desire is also expressed to become better at getting along with and helping others, personally and professionally.

In our last class, we had a good discussion regarding the practice of “opening consciousness”.  Participants discovered that “open consciousness” develops the ability view the world from other perspectives.  As if looking through the eyes and into the heart of another, the practice allows us to experience the joys and disappointments, love and resentments, and fears and strengths that motivate others.  This powerful practice is a  prerequisite to the compassion practices that follow.

As more participants complete the first two introductory classes, “Mind Stabilization” and “Open Consciousness”, we will begin opening classes for the next phase: Self Emptying.  Ultimately, we will have four sets of classes to participate in, the Introductory classes, Self Emptying, Divine Communion, and Compassion for self and others.

Peace and all good, may our minds be filled with peace and creativity, our hearts with love, and our cores with faith and self confidence.  Blessings!

 

 

Free Book Promotion

20150530_081901To celebrate the opening of Sunrise Meditation and Counseling in Sautee Georgia, the electronic Kindle version of Christian Tantric Meditation Guide is being offered for free for a limited time through Amazon.com.  Kindle ebooks can be easily read on PC’s, Macs, and Android devices using free Kindle Aps which are available through Amazon.com  The promotion will be running from May 31st 2015 through June 4th 2015.

Our first meditation workshops are being offered on June 13th 2015.  Based on the book Christian Tantric Meditation Guide, these workshops will introduce key concepts and introductory practices required for engaging in Christian Tantric Meditation.  The skills of Mind Stabilization and Stress Reduction Meditation will be shared in the morning workshop, and the skills of Opening Consciousness and Self Awareness Meditation will be shared in the afternoon workshop.

Christian Tantric Meditation is unique in that several practice disciplines are utilized in a series.  Each practice builds on the skills introduced in the previous practice.  After the introductory practices are learned, more advanced practices are introduced, including Self Emptying, Divine Communion, and advanced Compassion training.

While many meditation techniques are primarily focused on the mind, CTM exercises the mind, heart, and core areas of consciousness.  This holistic approach to meditation increases mind body self awareness and can be used to address issues such as anxiety, physical pain, and physical cravings.  CTM practice can also increase a person’s capacity for love, self esteem, Spirituality, and Compassion, and reduce blocks to success and intimacy.

Registration for classes is easy, either sign up on our website or call 678-358-8775 for more information.

 

Experiencing Jesus at Christmas

lamp_trimmed_1 As we approach Christmas, Christians anticipate the coming of Jesus in the intimate form of a baby, innocent and vulnerable. While the familiar Christmas story stands in stark contrast to the hype and commercialism that accompanies the season, for many of us, the commercial façade eventually fades and a real encounter takes place.

With regard to encountering Jesus during meditation, the book “Christian Tantric Meditation Guide” says:

“As we relax, we picture Jesus in our minds. Our friend, our teacher, and our comforter, Jesus is the One who loves us unconditionally. Jesus may appear in robes, He may appear sitting in front of us or next to us, He may appear very close, comforting and embracing us. Jesus may appear as we have seen in pictures or artistic renditions, or Jesus may appear in a different form. Jesus may even appear in female form, if we need Jesus to. Some of us have been deeply hurt by men in our lives. Jesus understands, and Jesus will come to us in any form we need in order to share God’s unconditional love.”

Recently, while practicing Christian Tantric Meditation, the vision I experienced was Jesus as a homeless person.  Recently while visiting San Francisco, I encountered fully bearded homeless men with nut brown tans laying in the grass in parks. This was the Jesus I experienced during meditation.  Some time later, I was working with a group of men in recovery when the meditation encounter resurfaced in my memory. I smiled to myself as I recognized that Jesus was among this group, reaching out to me and speaking to me, even as I worked with them.

On another occasion, while meditating I heard the voices of my family in the kitchen. Usually distractions don’t connect with my consciousness while meditating, but I heard these voices while I was practicing Divine Communion, visualizing Jesus. When I heard their voices, I recognized Jesus, reaching through them to connect with me in a warm and familiar way.

On yet another occasion, I experienced Jesus in a comforting embrace. The experience was intimate and much needed at the time, and I found my eyes tearing up in spontaneous reaction to the encounter.

Of course, meditation is one of many ways to encounter Jesus. It seems that every year, the Spirit of Christmas, the Spirit of Christ, eventually becomes a part of us. Some of us encounter the Spirit while writing cards and remembering friends and loved ones who are living away from us, some at church as the candles of Advent are lit, and for some the Spirit arrives with a glimpse of a child on a Mall Santa’s lap, eyes bright with hope and anticipation.

Whatever the reason or the situation, whether through quiet contemplation, joyful encounters with friends and family, or even in sharing a moment with a stranger, if we open ourselves to the encounter, the Spirit will come.

And this is my prayer for this Season, that we may all encounter the Prince of Peace, in whatever form that touches our hearts. Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, Come.

Christmas Blessings from Ecumenical Christian Wellness Ministries.

Press Release

logolarger

Ecumenical Christian Wellness Ministries Releases
Christian Tantric Meditation Guide

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dave Miller, Administrator
Ecumenical Christian Wellness Ministries
678-358-8775
dave@ecumenicalwellness.org

 

Atlanta, Ga – Dec 6, 2014

Ecumenical Christian Wellness Ministries is pleased to announce the release of the book “Christian Tantric Meditation Guide” by author David J. Miller. The book is now available in paperback and electronic forms from all major on-line retailers, including Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and BooksaMillion.com. The book is also available at select independent book stores in the Greater Atlanta and North Georgia areas.

In the book, Miller presents Tantric Meditation practices using a Christian perspective. Miller describes the combined practice as “an exercise for the heart, mind, and core areas of consciousness.” He further elaborates that the practice increases a person’s “capacity for mindfulness, spirituality, and compassion.”

When asked who would find this practice valuable, Miller replied “anyone who desires greater success in life, anyone dealing with unhealthy habits or emotions, relationship challenges, or anyone desiring a closer relationship with God through Christ will find this practice useful.”

About Dave Miller

Dave Miller has earned a Master’s in Community Counseling from Argosy University Atlanta, Georgia, a Master’s in Theological Studies from Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering from Milwaukee School of Engineering, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As a Lay Minister and as a Licensed Associate Professional Counselor, Dave has worked in Recovery, Mental Health, Judicial, and Church settings. His training and experience in Counseling and Christian Ministry, combined with his studies in Tantric meditation techniques, all contributed to his development of this powerful and unique Christian Tantric Meditation practice.

About Ecumenical Christian Wellness Ministries:

In an unconditionally accepting environment, ECWM provides Christian Tantric Meditation Retreats and Workshops, Individual Mindfulness Oriented Therapy and Non-Denominational Christian Spiritual Direction in the Atlanta Metro and North Georgia areas. Call 678-358-8775 or visit Ecumenicalwellness.org for more information.

Meditation as a Listening Prayer Practice

Hello again, my name is Dave Miller, and I am a licensed associate professional counselor in the state of Georgia, lay pastor, and author of the book Christian Tantric Meditation Guide, available at Amazon.com in Kindle and paperback editions. Form more information visit ecumenicalwellness.org.

I’m going to start today by asking a question: What are our strengths, what are our gifts, and who is it that God made us to be?

Some of us may be self aware and living our potential, accepting and being who God made us to be. Many of us are not sure, but we have some ideas. Some of us don’t have a clue, but that’s OK, in fact that’s great, because people who admit that they don’t have a clue about who they are approach the question with an open mind, which is a great place to start any adventure.

Who are we, as human beings? For many people who participate in the Abrahamic traditions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, our first clue about who we are comes from our sacred scripture, which says that we are made in the Image of God. And also, from our sacred scriptures, we have some clues about who God is. We all believe that God is Merciful and Gracious, and we all believe that God is with us.

Lets unpack that a little bit, what does Gracious mean? Full of Grace. What does Grace mean? Grace means showing unmerited favor or having unconditional love. Unconditional means that whether we are sinners, or saints, or somewhere in between, God is with us and loves us.

So when we go back to our original question, which was what are our strengths and gifts, we have a few clues to start with. We are made in the image of God, we are loved unconditionally, and God is always with us.

These are powerful tools to start our adventure with, knowing God is with us and that we are loved unconditionally. From here the question naturally arises, what does it mean to be made in the image of God? Well for starters, we know that unconditional love is part of who we are, part of our DNA. We also know that being with others is part of our DNA, we are social beings.

The questions we have asked so far are about the nature of humanity, the remaining questions are a bit more specific, they apply to us as individuals.    How do we ask God, who is with us always and loves us unconditionally? In the Abrahamic traditions we ask God in prayer.

If we pray to God asking specific questions, we may need to take time to listen for an answer.  When we try to listen, a variety of things can happen.   Sometimes our minds become so flooded with possibilities that it was hard to pick out an answer.  Sometimes  our minds are so filled with day to day life the answers are covered up. And sometimes they

This is where meditation comes in.

The Abrahamic cultures and faiths have volumes and volumes of wonderful stories, advice, and messages from God as told through prophets, there are other traditions in this wonderful planet we live on who have spent thousands of years developing and documenting techniques for listening through meditation. And those techniques include Yogic Hindu and Tantric Buddhist practices.

There are many many mystical teachings from within the Abrahamic traditions that focus on listening, and studying and using those writings and traditions is a wonderful thing to do. But within those traditions, mysticism, meditation, and listening have been outside of the mainstream. In Eastern traditions, meditation has been a central focus for thousands of years, leading to Tantric practice techniques.

Because of the focus on listening, Tantric practices are consistent with many of the Abrahamic religious teachings and traditions. For example, Tantric Self Emptying calls to mind fasting and atonement practices in all traditions. Guruyoga calls to mind practices used to bring people close to God. And Compassion based meditation is consistent with teachings related to loving our neighbors and treating others as we would be treated.

Some of the eastern meditation techniques are finding their way into counseling practices. Mindfulness and Compassion oriented meditation techniques have applications in addiction, anger management, codependency, and all other areas of mental health.

Christian Tantric Meditation consists of three stages – self emptying, Divine Communion, and Compassion. Self emptying allows us to release the desires, resentments and attachments, and fears and burdens that hinder our ability to listen to ourselves, others, and God. Divine Communion invites God to become a part of us, increasing our intimacy and ability to listen, and allowing us to accept the gifts of Hope, Love, and Faith that God has to offer. And finally, Compassion practices help us to accept and love unconditionally ourselves and others, for who we are here and now.

So, we’ve asked and answered some questions, about who we are, who God is, how we speak with God in prayer and how we can listen to God using meditation. We have talked about Tantric practice applications to human psychology and to Abrahamic cultures. We’ve also talked about how Christian Tantric meditation uses Tantric practices in a Christian context. What have we learned, what are our take aways?

God is with us, and we are all loved unconditionally. Knowledge of this is our foundation. We are all formed in the Image of God, and we all are given strengths and gifts. Meditative practices help us learn and grow into our strengths and gifts. Meditative practices increase our ability to listen, which helps us appreciate ourselves, God, and others more fully.

Christian Tantric Meditation provides a powerful collection of Meditation practices that can be learned through the book and / or workshops, so visit ecumenicalwellness.org for more information.

My final prayer is that we all learn to listen to ourselves, and God, and to one another, so that we may all encourage each other and grow into being the people whom we were created to be.   Have a blessed day!