How to fill the faith-shaped hole in modern life

A lovely collection of essays in the New Statesman on ritual after God. It includes Rowan Williams’ description of how he begins his day in silent prayer and meditation.

Lucy Winkett has this to say:

If rituals help us navigate the thresholds of life when emotion is high and the tectonic plates of desire, fear, hope and despair collide, then the truth is that I travel a long way not just when I’m celebrating the Eucharist but while I’m walking the dog. Ordinary life is full of grief and miracles. Rituals are performed at the boundaries, on the border. What we do almost every day, sometimes without noticing, is step over the line.

Free the Mind: Meditation and PTSD

I saw the documentary Free the Mind this evening. It’s a profile of Richard Davidson’s research into “contemplative neuroscience.” I heard Davidson speak last fall on many of the topics addressed by the film. In that talk, Davidson claimed that even relatively brief training in meditation can help to change the brain in positive ways. Although I am convinced of the benefits of meditation (whether or not I practice myself) I found that particular claim a bit farfetched.

The documentary profiles a study of vets with PTSD. Working intensively over a seven-day period, the researchers were able to quantify the benefits. Several of the participants in the study were at the showing tonight and answered questions from the audience. For example, one participant said that while participating in the study, he didn’t need sleep medication and all of them continued to see benefits in their lives from meditation.

In 2011 and 2012, Grace provided space for a related study that sought to use meditation to help stop smoking.

For more on the movie:

The organization is also involved in these efforts to deal with PTSD.

The film is showing at Sundance and is well worth seeing.