Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

FULL: Deepening Your Experience with the Light

Summary
Workshop Number: 
9
Leaders: 
Jerry Knutson
Who may register?: 
Open to All (adult & high school)
Worship/Worship-Sharing: 
30%
Lecture: 
25%
Discussion: 
5%
Experiential Activities: 
40%
part time-attenders welcome

By studying Quakers and other mystics, we plan to experience a greater union with the Spirit. We will study and practice worship sharing, meditation, centering prayer, and a brief Tai Chi exercise, along with teachings from George Fox, Edgar Cayce, the Bible, Rex Ambler, and Thomas Kelly.

Workshop Description

  1. Your expectations and objectives for the week.

Participants will learn about techniques to help them to experience a greater union in Meeting for Worship and in their personal mediation practices.

  1. A list of the specific areas or topics that you expect to cover. For some workshops this might include things that the workshop will NOT cover.

Please see the Proposed Schedule below.

  1. A rough description of the format. This might include an estimate of the time to be spent in worship (most groups find 20 to 40 minutes daily gives good spiritual grounding), field trips you anticipate, writing activities (poetry, journaling, etc.), or other activities (role play, guided meditation, lecture, interactive exercises, discussion, etc.).

Each day, I will teach two techniques that can enhance your experience with the Spirit. Some will be meditation techniques that we will practice, some will be guided meditations (see Proposed Schedule below.) Each day will start with 15 minutes of  meeting for worship, which will begin when the first person arrives. Friends that want to start with a longer worship are invited to arrive earlier than the listed start time. In the first half of the class, we will learn and practice a technique. We will take a break halfway through the morning and then practice the Tai Ji (a brief, easy movement experience—a type of Tai Chi). In the second half of the class, we will learn and practice a new technique.

  1. Specific recommendations for advanced reading, or reading assignments during the Gathering.

None—each technique has a brief handout (often one page), which we shall read in class.

  1. Specific requests for items to bring to the Gathering, such as artwork or manuscripts in progress.

You might want to bring a comfortable collapsible chair or a yoga mat or sleeping pad if you like to lay down when meditating.

Proposed Schedule

Monday

Worship Sharing  This workshop teaches the Quaker process of worship sharing. In a discussion, often a few talkative people dominate and others don’t get an opportunity to talk. Also a discussion can get moving so fast that there is no time to try to hear the spirit. Worship sharing solves these potential problems.

Introductions

Tai Ji This is a very simple method of Tai Chi (slow body movement) that can be easily learned and then can be practiced daily after the workshop. 

Introduction to Meditation This workshop is based on the meditation technique in the book, The Relaxation Response, by Herbert Benson, M.D.  We will read and worship share on a handout and then practice the method.

Tuesday

Centering Prayer This is a very popular meditation technique that was taught by the Roman Catholic monks, Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington.  We will read a handout and then practice the method.

Tai Ji—See Monday

" Be still and cool in thy own mind and spirit from thy own thoughts, and then…." George Fox wrote a two-page letter to Lady Claypoole addressing the basic technique about what should be going on in the mind of a Quaker.  We will read the letter and learn about its principles.

Wednesday

Edgar Cayce's Meditation Cayce, a devout Christian and psychic diagnostician, has taught a meditation technique that is in use around the world by small meditation groups. After an explanation of the method, we will practice it.  

Tai Ji—See Monday

A Guided Meditation to Experience God's Love and Grace This meditation is based mostly on the teachings of Edgar Cayce and John van Auken’s Spiritual Breakthrough.  This is combined with Bible passages and quotes from mystics George Fox, Thomas Keating, Thomas Merton, the author of The Cloud of Unknowing, Julian of Norwich, Evelyn Underhill,  Hildegard of Bingen, Jewish scholars, etc.

Thursday

Liberal Quakers and the Bible This brief presentation will cover the reluctances some Quakers have about reading the Bible and introduce some new ways to read the Bible.

Guided Meditation on the Old Testament In this workshop we will read passages that relate to meditation from the Old Testament and then we will be guided in a meditation on these passages.

Tai Ji—See Monday

Guided Meditation on the New Testament In this workshop we will read passages from the New Testament that will help us to unite with God and rejoice in that union and then we will be guided in a meditation on these passages.

Friday

Experiment with Light Rex Ambler, a British Quaker, uses George Fox's writings to articulate a meditation technique based on the early Friends.  Many Quaker "Light Groups" have formed using his book, Light to Live By; An Exploration in Quaker Spirituality.  After a brief explanation of the method, we will practice it.

Tai Ji—See Monday

The Gathered Meeting We will read and worship share on the tract "The Gathered Meeting," by Thomas Kelly, a twentieth-century Quaker and conclude with meeting for worship.

Leader Experience

I have presented workshops at Gathering in 2001, 2003 and 2004. I am working on completing a Masters of Divinity at Earlham School of Religion (ESR); I taught these workshops in many settings in Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.