“The human heart is full of longing. We long to discover who we are. The voices of longing keep our lives alert and urgent. Yet, if we cannot discover a shelter of belonging within our lives, we could become a victim and target of our longing.” John O’Donohue, Eternal Echoes: Exploring our Hunger to Belong
We experience spiritual wellbeing through an inner shelter of belonging, which in turn gives rise to an experience of connection within self, with others, and with Life itself. Through such a sense of connection we can feel at home in our world.
We experience an inner shelter of belonging through a unified belief system in the form of a sacred narrative which responds to our spiritual questions regarding meaning and belonging, within the light of current knowledge, beliefs and lived experience. Therefore, the centre piece of personal spiritual wellbeing is a sacred narrative of being and belonging, which resonates with both mind and heart. Such a sacred narrative may sit within one of the world religious traditions, but not necessarily so. How can we discern our personal inner shelter of belonging? Engaging in contemplative practices is one way.
In light of the above, contemplative inner exploration involves a gentle, yet courageous, process of self discovery, towards an inner shelter of belonging. At the heart of the contemplative process is posing our personal open ended questions regarding meaning and belonging, and discovering responses which hold true. . . for now.
In terms of contemplative inner exploration, Trappist monk, poet, social activist, and student of comparative religion, the late Thomas Merton wrote:
“Our greatest journey in life is interior. It is a matter of growth, deepening and an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts”
We cannot embark on such an inner journey unprepared, or we may find we become lost in the cave; the cave of the heart. We need to engage in contemplative practices which will nurture, sustain, challenge, and pave the way for us to continue to engage in the ongoing life adventure of being and belonging.
A philosophy without practice is like reading a menu without ever tasting the food. (As quoted in Awakening the Energies of Love, by Anne Hillman)
Read more about contemplative practices: