Yesterday, in the gathering of the Authentic Freedom contemplative community, one of the tools we used for contemplation was the scriptural account of Jesus’ temptation in the desert. Typically, I explore this passage through the three temptations faced by Jesus. Yesterday, a new perspective was offered by one of the participants of the gathering. Through his own prayer and reflection, this participant revealed that there were not three specific temptations, but one temptation with three faces. In this metaphoric description of the doubts that Jesus faced before stepping fully into active ministry, the core temptation that Jesus faced was the temptation to lose faith in God. In the end, it was Jesus’ faith and trust in God that allowed him to overcome these temptations and step fully into his unique giftedness and the way in which he was being called to share that in the world.
What this story reminds us is that faith in God is the key to overcoming the obstacles that we perceive to be standing in the way of our ability to be the greatest vision of ourselves that we could possibly be. And faith, as Jesus demonstrated, does not just simply show up. It is something that has to be cultivated, tried and tested. It is not a coincidence that the story of Jesus’ temptation occurs during a time of prayerful retreat. It was through his dedication to contemplation and prayer that Jesus had the strength to face these temptations and overcome them. In the end, trusting in God was the answer to each of the temptations he experienced. This is the case in our journeys as well.
As we maintain our commitment to contemplative practice, we find that we grow in our ability to rely on God for all that we need in our lives. God, we realize, is the source of our desire and the agent of our transformation and we are able to rest in the knowledge of this truth. We come to understand that as we surrender to Divine providence, our lives will simply unfold before us. All that we need will come to us at the exact time that we need it and usually in a way that far exceeds our own limited expectations. We are no longer required to be the architect of our lives knowing that the Divine knows what is in our highest good and works toward revealing this to us, along with the means for its manifestation. In other words, we can get out of the way knowing that God is doing the work. There is great freedom and peace in approaching life from this perspective as it allows us to live more fully in this moment, as we set aside yesterday’s regrets and tomorrows worries. Having faith and trust in God leaves no room for the fears that typically plague our human experience and opens us up to the expansive power of the creative energy of the Divine.
There is an exercise that we participated in yesterday that helps us to remember and connect with that expansive energy of the Divine and assists us in our desire to trust in this energy. I share this exercise with you today as a tool for supporting your own journey of freedom and peace:
The central focus of this exercise is the breath. In a safe and quiet space, in a comfortable seated position, draw your attention to your breathing. In particular, become aware of the movement of your physical body as you draw in each breath and as you give it release. Become aware of the expansion of your body as you breath in and in the way that the body restricts to expel the out breath. Become aware that as your lungs and rib cage expand to receive the in breath that space is created in your inner body to receive that breath. Know that as you breath in and that inner space is created that you are taking in life. At the out breath, be aware of the muscular contractions that gather to push the breath out of your body. Imagine that inner power pushing out fear, resistance, past hurts with each out breath. Continue in this visualization of expanding and taking in life with each in breath and the inner power that pushes up and out to expel fear, woundedness and constriction. Know that with each in breath, space is being created in which your truth may more fully reside and with each out breath all those constrictions to your inner freedom are being expelled. Continue with this visualization for 15-20 minutes or until you find yourself resting in a state of peaceful calm. As you connect with that place of inner calm, know that you are in the Presence of the Divine that lives in and through you. This is the energy that you can trust to bring you toward enduring freedom and peace. Trust in this energy to lead you to your truth and guide you on your path.