Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

Embodiment: Four Pillars of Spirituality

Summary
Workshop Number: 
12
Leaders: 
La Verne Maria Shelton
Who may register?: 
Open to All (adult & high school)
Worship/Worship-Sharing: 
25%
Lecture: 
5%
Discussion: 
35%
Experiential Activities: 
35%
half gathering attenders welcome
First half (Monday-Wednesday)

Individuals and meetings embody a dynamic balance among four aspects of spirituality -- belief, community, activism, and mystery -- which change with experience. Participants will assess their "spiritual fitness" profile and revitalize their individual spiritual practices, enhancing growth in awareness and faithfulness.

Workshop Description

This is a spiritual fitness workshop. Spiritual growth occurs both from the outside in, with actions inducing shifts in consciousness, and from inside out, with experience and insight inducing changes in behavior. The workshop objective is that each person learn more about their own spiritual gifts and learn both individual and corporate practices for developing them further. As well, the exercise practices we will do have the potential to improve each person's ability to recognize opportunities (nudges and calls) for using their gifts in loving service to others and to their community, and for growing into the trust in the inner teacher required for faithfulness.
I have been intrigued by the markedly different ways in which people manifest their spirituality, including those who insist that they are “not spiritual.” I have come to believe that the conformity induced by the intense competition in our global culture sometimes thwarts the spiritual growth of those whose strengths in spirituality do not seem to fit well into those of their Quaker meeting or other spiritual community to which they belong. For example, those drawn to elaborate theology might feel out of place if they compare their gifts and interests to the deeply mystical experiences some have in worship or individual contemplative practices.My calling among Friends has to do with enhancing appreciation of diversity, both within ourselves as we walk through our lives, and among the various people we encounter and come to know in our communities. In my experience, as this appreciation, which is a core part of practicing Equality as life testimony, increases, we grow not only in the spirit—in Love, but also in practical relationships with other individuals and with community. The development of this workshop grows out of the current focus of that calling.
In the recognition that each person has their own spiritual content, we will focus first on self-assessment, including the loci of awareness where each aspect is centered within our bodies, before moving into detailed work on each aspect in the context of the whole.
I will ask each participant to bring to Gathering an object (or a photograph, if the object is a large one) that plays an important role in the development of their spirituality.

Schedule (Subject to Change with New Insight]: There will be a brief centering worship before the activities listed below for each session, and a brief open worship at the end of each. Passages for contemplation are read aloud. Various individual and group contemplative practices will be used on each day, including guided meditation, worship sharing and lectio divina.
Meeting One. Introduction
a. Reading for Contemplation: 1 Corinthians 12
b. What are the four pillars/domains/aspects of spirituality? Descriptive content of this taxonomy and its holographic nature
c. What is each participant’s perspective or experience of each of these aspects? Description of the object you brought with you.
d. Introduction of chants, mudras (hand postures) and other postures to clear or enhance activity of body regions where each aspect is centered.
e. Exercise for assessing current profile for each participant
Meeting Two. Mystery
a. Reading for Contemplation: 1 Corinthians 13
b. Seeing “face to face:” Guided meditation for opening heart chakra.
c. Sharing of experience around this practice
Meeting Three. Activism
a. Reading for Contemplation. From John Woolman’s Journal.
b. How to avoid turning an action into an attempt to control: The Activist’s Galliard
c. Exercise around Trust.
d. Individual practice for enhancing function of the third and fifth chakras and the collaboration between them
e. Sharing of experience around this practice
Meeting Four: Beliefs (Expressions of Joining in both Physical and Transcending Reality)
a. The “Word” and The Embodiment. How to talk about our beliefs about divinity/transcendence/wholeness without creating a Tower of Babel: group exercise
b. Writing exercise in expressing belief.
c. Individual practice for enhancing function of second and sixth chakras and the counterpoint between them
d. Sharing of experience around this practice.
Meeting Five. Community
a. Reading for Contemplation: Pennington's letter from Aylesbury (1667)
b. Triads and whole group exercises around being "members of one another." What is the place of spiritual community in your life? What are your spiritual gifts? What corporate practices might assist your growing into your gifts of ministry for your community?
c. Individual practice for enhancing function of root and crown chakras and their relationship.
d. Sharing of experience around this practice.
e. Development of your own commitment for building spiritual community at home.

N.B. All of the hand and body postures I will use are gentle enough for anyone with the level of physical ability that allows them to be at Gathering and can be done seated in a normal chair. However, if some participants desire the freedom of movement a mat and/or pillow can afford,they should bring their own with them.

Leader Experience

I have led workshops at Gatherings 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013. I have also led short workshops at Northern Yearly Meeting several times since 2005.
I facilitated one of the six two-hour sessions (“Worship”—6 October 2012) on Quaker Topics offered by Green Street Meeting fall 2012. I developed this series in consultation with other members of Green Street’s Worship and Ministry Committee.
I taught a term-long course at Pendle Hill, spring 2011, “Writing Our Lives”
I co-led the Inquirers Weekend Workshop November 2010 at Pendle Hill.
I co-facilitated the A&O Outreach Hour-and-One-Half with Jane Berger at 2007 Gathering
I facilitated a two-part (one-and-one-half hours each part) workshop on our NYM Sessions theme, Building Spiritual Bridges. (2007 NYM Sessions)
I facilitated an afternoon workshop on responsibility and co-creation at our NYM regional meeting (2003 Milwaukee)

I have facilitated Madison Meeting Community In-reach interactive trainings, lasting from two to three hours. These trainings form a basis for the first workshop I developed for the Gathering. The first two trainings, on Quaker Worship and the Equality Testimony, were the foundation for pamphlets co-authored by the participants on the respective topics. Our contributions were published in the Madison Meeting newsletter. There have also been In-reach Sessions on the Peace Testimony and, fall 2007, a session on God and Community. (2007—2009)

I facilitated a Framework for Cultural Competence training as part of the Center for Friends of Color Program (2002 Gathering)

Secular Venues:
I facilitated three sixteen-hour (two-day) workshops in Cultural Competence for staff and clients, including one that I authored myself “Valuing Diversity.” I also authored a workshop in the same series on Cultural Self-Assessment, which was not given because of funding cuts. These were at my previous workplace, Mental Health Center of Dane County (MHCDC).
2001-2
I co-facilitated with a Yahara House (unit of MHCDC) member, monthly hour-long interactive trainings in Compassionate Communication (also known as Nonviolent Communication)
June 2007—2009

I taught academic philosophy at graduate and undergraduate levels 1975-1985 and 1988-1096. (Rutgers University, Haverford college, College of Charleston, University of Wisconsin)