I had never felt the feeling I felt the day you were born. You stirred within me the profound realization that someone truly special had entered the world. You were noble, like a king or a queen; not because you came from me, but because you came from God. All of the power of the kingdom of heaven was within your tiny little chest. I stared at you and said out loud, “Oh what a wonder, wonder you are.”
You came into this life at this time for a purpose. You were perfectly created for the Divine mission for which you were appointed. You were gifted with all of the tools you would ever need. God put them inside you, deep down in your heart. Your number one task in life will be to realize who you have always been, who you truly are. You were sent to learn this truth, but you were, also, sent to teach and help those around you learn the truth of both your Divine Nature, as well as their own. Life is a lesson, a lesson on being and on becoming. You are both student and teacher. Oh, what a wonder, wonder you are.
When you were born you began co-writing a book with God, a book about you. Pages are written day by day, and those pages will become chapters. There will be some pages you wish you had not written, but those pages are part of your story. There aren’t any mistakes, only lessons to be learned. As you learn to walk, you will fall down; but you won’t stay down, you’ll get back up. When you learn to ride a bike, sometimes you will fall and will have the scrapes to show it. But eventually you will ride your bike skillfully and the bruises will all heal. It’s all part of a learning process, and the paragraphs you wish you didn’t write, will serve a greater purpose in achieving your mission.
As you grow older, you will meet others who don’t look like you. They won’t dress like you or speak the language you do. That’s ok. They are exactly who they are Divinely created to be. You aren’t in any kind of competition with them, and you don’t need to prove anything. But if you feel you must prove something, let it be that you love everyone, just as they are. See everyone as your friend and as being the same son or daughter of God that you are. As you look at those who are brought into your life, say to each one, “Oh what a wonder, wonder you are.”
Always remember to filter your senses through your heart. Your ears will help you hear, but it’s important to listen with your heart. Your heart will hear what’s behind the words that are said and will seek to understand another person’s point of view. Your eyes will help you see, but it’s important to see with your heart. Your heart will let you see beneath the surface to the Divine Seed that is within everyone. Your tongue will help you taste, but it’s important to taste with your heart. Your heart will allow you to taste the sweetness of love and spit out the bitterness of hate. Your nose will help you smell, but it’s important to smell with your heart. Your heart will smell the aroma of equality and refuse the stench of supremacy. Your fingers will help you touch, but it’s important to touch with your heart. Your heart will let you touch the life of another in a way that will change their life.
I encourage you, my child, to open your mind to the fascinating world all around you. Go to the woods, and commune with the trees. They will speak to you if you will take the time to listen. Pay attention to animals. Study them and make them your friends. Notice how each of them is made. Stare at the stars. Ask them questions. Put your feet in the ocean. Feel the spray of the water and focus on a wave as it rolls to shore and then returns to the greater source from which it came. Recognize your oneness with everything you see. Perceive it all through the lens of your heart. Say to everything in Nature, “Oh what a wonder, wonder you are, and Nature will echo, “Oh what a wonder, wonder you are.”
You will often tell me what you want to be when you grow up. A fireman. A nurse. An astronaut. You can become anything you want to be, and the sky presents no limit for you. The secret, though, to your rising to become what it is you want to be will be in your ability to go down deep within you. An archeologist studies human history by digging through layers of earth and analyzing the artifacts that were hidden beneath the surface. While you are growing from the perfect little baby to the toddler, to the teenager, you will hear things that are not true but will stick to you. You will have some unpleasant experiences that will cover up the awareness of your Divine nature and unlimited potential. Dig through the layers. Use the golden shovel of forgiveness. Develop your ability to close your eyes and listen to the voice within you. You will become more in tune with God, whose perfect child you will always be. You will find that God is constantly whispering, “Oh what a wonder, wonder you are.”
God isn’t scary or angry. God is love, warm love. God is light, pure light. God is laughter, contagious laughter. God is the smile that makes you smile. When you uncover the reality of your nature, you will discover that God and you are one. Inseparable. Indivisible. You always have been, and you always be.
There will come a time when I won’t get to see you as much. But I want you to know, I am always thinking about you. I’m always sending you love and positive energy. No matter how many miles may separate us on any given night, I want you to know I’m gazing into the night sky, and thinking of you as I say to a star, “Oh, what a wonder, wonder you are.”
Click Here to see the video Rev. Chris opened Sunday's message with.
Unity Church is about spiritual development. We aren’t a traditional religion; the world isn’t seeking more traditional religions. Yet, many are truly hungering to experience God. You are a spiritual creature, and you are likely reading these words because you have a desire to grow and expand spiritually.
Is it okay to have questions about God? Well of course! Look at the word “question,” and you will see the word “quest.” A person who asks questions is on a quest, a journey. Children ask questions because they want to understand. There is no quicker way to stunt your spiritual and intellectual growth than to stop asking questions. I love the three letter word “why,” and my heroes are those who have swam upstream rather than merely accept handed-down answers. In this article, we will briefly look at two questioners: Jesus and Thomas.
In Luke 2, Jesus’ family had gone to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. While on their way home, they realized Jesus wasn’t with them. Yikes! How would you like to be the parents who lost Jesus? Frantically they searched for him and found him three days later in the temple, “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (vs 46). (Perhaps Joseph and Mary were the first two people to “find Jesus.”) The Scripture goes on to say, “Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers” (vs 47). How did Jesus amaze them? Was it some kind of Torah trivia game? Or, does understanding imply something deeper than mere rote memorization? I think it’s fair to say Jesus had a profound awareness of God from a very early age. Yet, even he had to grow, mature, and develop (vs 52).
Thomas is my favorite of the apostles. He’s been referred to as “Doubting Thomas” throughout the ages. However, I find him the most honest of the 12. One time Jesus was giving a speech about how he was going away but one day the others could join him where he was. Thomas interrupted Jesus and burst out, “We don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). Thomas didn’t get it. He didn’t understand. So, he questioned. Not only do I not find fault with Thomas, I identify with him. Think of it this way. You only ask questions if you care. I do not understand Algebra, and I do not care enough to ask questions. I do not understand how a car runs. If the vehicle gets me from Point A to Point B, that’s all I care to know. I will not research manuals or ask mechanics or engineers any questions. Why? I don’t care. However, when it comes to spirituality, I am full of questions. Why? Because I care. Because I am on a journey. And, chances are, if you’re still reading, you care, too. There is some part of you that is on an honest spiritual quest.
In John 20, Thomas is told that Jesus, who had been put to death by crucifixion, was alive again. Thomas didn’t believe them. Do you blame him? What do you call people who believe everything they are told? Idiots. (That’s what I call them, but you’re probably kinder than me.) Thomas was unwilling to believe something just because someone else said it was true. I admire his desire for a first-hand experience. His questioning was not a sign of weakness, but of character. “There lives more faith in honest doubt than in half the creeds” (Alfred Lord Tennyson).
Do not allow yourself to be satisfied with hand-me-down faith or worn-out explanations. You would not rinse your mouth with the mouthwash someone else has spit out. You need your own mouthwash, and you must find your own answers. There is enormous danger in merely copying the beliefs of another. All true seekers have had to find their own path. Spiritual leaders may serve as guides and luminaries, but they must be limited to being just that. A friend of mine shared these meaningful words with me: “Not everyone will understand your journey. That’s fine. It’s not their journey to make sense of. It’s yours.”
Are you interested in learning more about Unity? We invite your curiosity! Here are 7 of my reasons for you, for Unity.
Reason One: A place to belong. As Sapiens, we thrive when we are part of a healthy community, for we are social creatures. Nature teaches us the principle of symbiosis, the mutually beneficial relationship when two organisms live in close association to the advantage of both. Do the trees not provide the oxygen we need to live, as we exhale the carbon dioxide they need to thrive?
The barriers to entry that exist (whether written or unwritten) in most churches do not exist here. Your social status, your race, your religious background, your sexual orientation…none of these are exclusionary. We are truly an open-minded and welcoming church. We practice complete love, and love is inclusive.
Reason Two: A place to think. At Unity Church, we embrace a range of thought. When I came to Unity in the summer of 2016, I was searching for a place that would allow me to be intellectually honest. We have Five Basic Unity Principles, and we teach The Twelve Powers of Humanity. However, we allow you the freedom to flesh that out as you understand. We are not a “Here’s the creed, sign on the dotted line” organization. We won’t force or coerce you to rigidly believe some dogma. In fact, I will encourage you to think. You will not be spoon fed here. Quite honestly, I am more interested in your living the Beatitudes than quoting the Ten Commandments.
We embrace the good in other world religions. I am excited when people share with me what books they are reading. We learn from each other. That’s rare for a church. You have insights; you have spiritual revelations. There are moments when the pieces of the puzzle come together for you, and that experience you have can help someone else interpret the events in their own lives. The river of truth is always flowing, and it flows through you. Ask questions. Engage your brain. In the words of Einstein, “Never lose a holy curiosity.”
Reason Three: A Place to Experience God. I have always fought against the feelings that there is anything about me that experiences God in a different way than everyone else. But now I am thinking “Why fight it? Allow it!” God has acted in history through revealing himself and speaking through ordinary people. It does not mean those individuals were intrinsically of any greater worth than those who did not receive the same experience. It certainly doesn’t mean that anyone who experienced God in this way desired to be worshipped or to be well thought of. It was simply a reality to the prophets. Did that necessarily stop? I once thought it did. Now I think I was mistaken to believe that an extraordinary experience of God was relegated to the time in which the Bible was written.
Where does someone like this come to worship? Come to Unity! I refuse to create boxes, with their inherent limitations and control. I invite you to connect with your inner self, your God-self. What that looks like on an individual basis will differ and that’s okay. It can be a powerful raw energy, bursts of creativity, pure love, or pure peace. For some, God may radiate as a healing force. Here we desire to empower you with the tools to express the God within you.
Reason Four: A Place to Develop. We care about you as a person, for you are intrinsically as valuable as anyone else. The same Divine Essence is in all of us. Every attribute that comprises God is within you. You are unique, filled with unlimited potential. Here we want to give you a place to have that developed, cultivated, and grown as a seed matures to fruit. I look at you with wonder, and I imagine what you can become. I look at myself as growing. If I have already arrived, this is terribly anti-climactic! Unity is a place to push, to grow, to stretch, in divine partnership with each other and with God.
Reason Five: A Place to Heal. Your wounds are not a sign of your defeat; they are a sign of your survival and triumph. They are a means to help and bless others. Acknowledge your wounds! Each of us has a story and most of them involve some hurt. For some of us that hurt came from church. Unity is a place of wellness, wholeness, fullness, and completeness. One of our own, Minnie Burton, shared her testimony of cancer healing and the place that prayer and Unity teachings held in that. You can read that here on our website.
Reason Six: A Place to Launch a Better World. Remember the lyrics to the song from Disney’s Aladdin?
Yes, we will acknowledge the challenges, personally, as a congregation, and in our world. But we will also affirm our solutions. We don’t just moan and groan, we help each other! With faith the size of a mustard seed, we can create a better world.
Reason Seven: A place to take a fresh look at Jesus. I am not going to treat you like a “sinner”. We’re not discussing talking snakes or a fallen race or separation from God here. Jesus was a peasant carpenter with a profound understanding of God. He himself said, “I and the Father are one.” He had a spiritual energy so intense he manifested physical healing.
He wandered the villages and communities around Jerusalem teaching messages of hope. He showed compassion and honored the outcasts. He upset the apple cart and for that he was crucified. Sadly, much of Christianity has created a fixation on his death, rather than an appreciation of his message!
I remain open-minded, if you need Jesus to be Savior, that’s okay. Just understand that here at Unity God is not angry and satisfied only with the blood of his son. You are not “lost”. Here we look at Jesus with wonder and appreciation as a mystic whose teachings we explore and study from a different angle. This is a place to allow the teachings of Jesus to richly bless your life.
Our time is now. Yes to Unity. Yes to now. Unity is “A Positive Path to Spiritual Living” and this is your invitation to join us on that path!
Religion to liberate humanity I admire. Religion as a means to control humanity I abhor. Discontent with having been instructed by all of the wisest spiritual teachers to simply love others as you love yourself, our ancestors and our friends today want rules. With rules comes judgment about who is a good rule keeper and who isn’t. With judgment comes pride, fear, and condemnation. For condemnation to be effective, guilt, shame, and punishment are required. The time to break the chain of judgmental control is now. It’s the love revolution. You were not created to live in chains. You are the image and expression of God, and God is Love. This truth will set you free.
Jesus was a revolutionary. His spirit of rebellion brought him into constant friction with the religious authorities. He spoke against their hypocrisy and rule-keeping self-righteousness. He said ‘enough is enough’ to the idea that a person should not experience God to such an intimate degree that he or she could not say, “I and the Father are one.” Jesus was a liberator, a chain breaker, and a perennial lover. He calls those of us who would walk in his footsteps to join the love revolution.
The first order of business is to love yourself. Love yourself enough to set yourself free from old ways of thinking that are no longer serving your highest good. If necessary, enumerate your grievances on paper against the limiting or damaging government of wrongful thinking and sign your declaration of independence. Love yourself enough to truly forgive yourself and all others. Do it for you. Love yourself enough to set yourself free from all chains of addiction. Love yourself enough to meditate and fully embrace the Divine Presence within you, who is you.
The “shot heard round the world” in the love revolution is fired when you make an honest commitment to love yourself and allow yourself to be all that you can be. “Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen…yourself, right now, right down here on Earth” (Bradley Whitford, actor).
For many of us, including myself, I am asking for a careful analysis of our approach to life. Ask yourself, “Why do I think that way?” “Why do I think I can or cannot do that?” “What do I believe is my purpose for my divine, eternal spirit to have been clothed in human flesh?”
What is it I want to do? I rewrote the following paragraph and replaced “I want,” with “I am.” I am a preeminent preacher of love. And what makes me a preeminent preacher of love? It’s because I hold love to be all preeminent. I am the apostle of love and the evangelist of love. With love, I am a bridge-builder and a wound healer. I am a link between prejudicial division, past or present, in whatever form it has manifested. I am standing on a solid rock with outstretched arms, for I stand upon the rock of love. I am the gentle and gracious father/mother who in the name of unending love calls all of my children to feast at my table, and everyone I see with either my eyes or my mind is my child. I am a catalyst for change in your life, for I love you as I love myself and I affirm your highest and noblest good.
Do you remember the words from this popular song? “What the world needs now is love, sweet love, It’s the only think that there’s just too little of. What the world needs now is love, sweet love, No, not just for some but for everyone.” The world, truly needs to be flooded with love. Let’s make it happen. Let’s start a Love Revolution.
My exodus from fundamental, evangelical Christianity was prolonged and painful. My faith of origin (Church of Christ) was very much part of my identity. My family was at the church building Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and every other time there was a special function. My entire education from kindergarten to Master’s Degree in New Testament Studies was in schools affiliated with the Church of Christ. I was a paid minister in the Church of Christ for roughly 24 years. My love for God and desire to speak things that were true was as fervent as anyone’s.
For those unfamiliar with The Church of Christ, it is a group that widely believes the Bible is the exact and only Word of God and needs to be interpreted literally. While some primary teachings in the Church of Christ would, also, be found in mainstream Protestant denominations, there are noticeable differences. (The Church of Christ would deny being a denomination. The claim is that the Church of Christ has restored the church as it was in the New Testament. All other groups are denominations. As the Lord only has one body, he only has one church. Hence, all other Christians are not true Christians and will burn in hell. Further, members of the Church of Christ who “err” in the judgment of mainstream Church of Christ dogma are “liberal” churches and not true Churches of Christ, thus risking the fiery wrath of God.) For instance, most Churches of Christ forbid the use of a piano or any other instrument in worship. Full water immersion baptism is necessary for, and the moment of, salvation. Women are not allowed to teach men or hold positions of authority over men. A believer must continue practicing the faith as described by the Church of Christ or risk burning in hell. The list of trivial peculiarities is endless.
In the spirit of fairness, some members of the Church of Christ are more open-minded and less judgmental. Some members would agree with the statement that God doesn’t send everyone who isn’t a member of the Church of Christ to hell. Still, the rhetoric remains in the self-description as “The Lord’s Church.” Even the more “liberal” members (conservative in classical religious vernacular) would maintain a literal approach to Genesis, the historicity of Bible stories, and faith in Jesus as the only means of salvation. (This article is NOT a personal attack on every member of the C of C. There are many noble, generous, kind-hearted, wonderful people in the C of C who bless the lives of others. Further, if had I been reared in the theology of Baptist, Methodist, etc., I would still have the same macro issues with veracity.)
There was a sentence I often used while preaching, “You have a brain; use it.” Congregants liked my use of that sentence when I said things with which they were basically in agreement. However, problems arose when I used the same principle in an honest search to the questions I had about the doctrines I taught. Questioning is a good thing. If it weren’t for those who questioned, common conviction would be the earth is flat and the sun revolves around the earth. Yet, religious leaders are afraid of questions for which they cannot provide a defendable answer. Robert Ingersoll said, “Any doctrine that will not bear investigation is not a fit tenant for the mind of an honest man. Any man who is afraid to have his doctrine investigated is not only a coward but a hypocrite.”
For the sake of time, I will list only a few of my questions and doubts. (None of these questions are original.)
Why do I believe what I believe? Because my parents taught me to.
Why do they believe it? Because my immediate ancestors are from a conservative area of the United States that readily accepts Christianity as the standard religion.
Why does the US traditionally embrace Christianity? Because white Protestants from Europe came to the Americas and killed the Native Indians who were here.
Who were the Protestants? They were Christian sects protesting the Catholic Church who condemned as a heretic anyone who questioned their authority.
Why did they protest? Because for the first time they had a Bible they could read in a familiar language.
Why was Europe mostly Catholic? Because Euroasia had been divided between Christianity and Islam by war. Which army won which war determined the official religion of that area. Europe remained Christian when Charles the Hammer stopped the Islamic westward invasion. If he didn’t repel the Muslims, it seems probable all of Europe would have become Muslim.
Why was Europe Christian? Because of Constantine, the pagan who credited his military success to the Christ-god.
What did Constantine do next? He reunited the Roman empire and established Christianity as the official religion.
Which version of Christianity? The one voted on at the Council of Nicea.
What is the Bible anyway? “The Bible is a book that has been read more and examined less than any book that ever existed” (Thomas Paine). I was taught and had taught others that it was the inspired word of God.
What does inspiration mean? That God-breathed the words and they were thus inerrant (incapable of being wrong) and infallible (incapable of mistakes).
How did that occur? No one can provide a consistent answer.
Is it even true that the Bible is the actual word of God? How did it come to be regarded as the Word of God? Must one believe in a six-day creation, a magic garden, a talking snake, a talking donkey, etc.? Did God say he loved Israel more than every other group or did Israel say that about themselves? Did God tell them to kill people and take their land or did they say he did for self-justification? What are the similarities between stories in the Bible and other literature from this time and place?
Does faith get a free pass from other academic disciplines? Should we listen to and study the books written by the leading authorities of anthropology, spiritual psychology, history of civilization, and history of religion? Must any consideration be given to what the brightest minds say regarding the age of the earth, how long Homo Sapiens have lived on Earth, and evolution? Or, is it completely unnecessary for church doctrine to align with anything else widely accepted in academic circles?
The problem is not in the questions. They should be asked and every seeker allowed to study on their own. The conclusions (in my case) led me to determine that my faith of origin was much too limiting of God, and the wider thesis of “orthodox” Christianity suspicious. When presented with historical facts, the leaders of the church where I ministered did not offer one word of intelligible defense. I received blank stares, a question about my sleep habits, and a baseball remark. When I continued to ask for a response, I was finally told, “We have no interest in studying with you.” It was a crushing blow. For all the talk of being people who cared about truth, they were not. Their chief concern was making sure I never taught there again unless I taught ideas that I did not find plausible. It was a painful life lesson that organized religion, regardless of how it masquerades itself, is about control.
So, what does a person like me do? Like the millions before me, I stopped going to church. I read prolifically the books that make a defense of traditional Christianity, but did not find any of them persuasive. Yet, I found myself incurably spiritual, and wanting to believe that there was something else out there. For me, the something else was larger than the God portrayed in Genesis through Revelation, even greater than any one religion. I am a minister at Unity because my heart wants to serve. However, I have to be free to be intellectually honest with what I believe history and science show. I choose to be a person of faith and believe in a God who is universal and all-loving. This God does not send people to burn forever and ever and ever in hell where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth because they did not get the “right” version of God. My spiritual views affirm the innate good in all of humanity. I think there is something to be learned in all of the world’s enduring religions. Uniformity is not the path to unity. Love for all is the necessary component for the continued evolution and elevation of the species.
It isn’t needful for me to convince you of anything. Study for yourself! My message is one of hope for those who think there aren’t any churches available for them because they “don’t fit the mold.” Quite honestly, I believe the mold is broken and is evidenced by the numbers of people turning away from it. Children and teens are far more apt to search Google for answers to their theological questions than to ask a preacher. Open-minded, forward-thinking places exist that will welcome you and assist you in your spiritual journey.
"I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination.
Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Knowledge is limited.
Imagination encircles the world."
"Logic will get you from A to Z;
imagination will get you everywhere."
It seems as though every time I go into the silence to explore my own imagination, this church is at the center of my thoughts. Imagination - - image. What is the image held in my head?
I see love energy. In every chair, the mere act of sitting produces a vibration wherein the sitter feels love. I see doors of pure love the energy of which is so charged that touching the handle or push plate sends a pulse of love into the hand and entire body. I see love particles that, though invisible to the naked eye, are breathed in, assuring the breather they are loved, and exhaled with a more dramatic love energy for others to breathe in and multiply the process.
I see healing. The eye does not see when the bone of a broken arm has grown back together and been restored to its proper function. The eye does not see when the lung filled with pneumonia is cleared, and healthy breathing resumes. Yet this healing occurs. I visualize healing. It is a God-Spirit that permeates the receptive mind, healing everything within that is less than perfect. As the God Spirit comes in, She touches the anger, the resentment, the hurt, the hate, and bonds herself to the cells holding these cancers of self-destruction. The God-Spirit being only complete, perfect, and true love rebirths herself in those cells, setting free – removing the sickness and giving complete life, new life to every cell, which in turn bring a sensation of pure joy and freedom, that had been missing for a long time.
I see growth. Does one notice when the actual occurrence of a blade of grass lengthens? Does one behold the foot of a child enlarge as it moves from one shoe size to the next larger? Yet it is a reality. I see the growth of your consciousness as if reading the rising temperature on a digital thermometer. You are realizing to greater and greater degrees your Godness. The limits you have imposed on yourself are lifted. All mistaken views that you are any less than or greater than anyone else fade away. In your escalating awareness of your Godness, love goes forth from you as a radiant warm light, changing others by your mere presence. I see the growth in you as complete, non-judgment gives way to complete acceptance of yourself and others as you behold the Christ in yourself and in everyone. In this growth, I see the outgrown, tattered clothes of bigotry, phobia, prejudice, and self-righteousness removed and put in the trash where they belong; for now, you are God adorning the holy, majestic robes of unending love, eternal kindness, and abundant gentleness. I see your growth as you ponder the peace of God and recognize that peace is you.
I behold glory coming forth, and not coming down from the sky, but emanating from within you. I behold your glory, the exact glory of the God you are.
I've never been a great sleeper, but not falling asleep or waking up very early doesn't bother me anymore. I use the time to consciously be with God. (This is patterned after Jesus, who got up while it was still dark and went outside to pray--Mark 1:35.)
Meditation does not need to be taboo or a practice only for gurus. This morning I simply closed my eyes and purposefully breathed in Divine Love and exhaled Divine Love. I mentally pictured my sleeping wife and daughters receiving the Divine Love I breathed out. I pictured my son who's three hours away receiving the Divine Love flowing in and out of me.
I concentrated and found my heartbeat. If my heart is going to beat, let it circulate Divine Love. I then consciously breathed love to all the members of my extended family and my church family (past and present). Then I dared to enter that space where I breathed the Divine Love freely given to me by the grace of Spirit into the lives of those whom I perceive to be my enemies. As I breathed Divine Protection upon them, they didn't look like enemies anymore.
Naturally, my mind wanders when I do this. When it does, I simply bring it back to my inhaling and exhaling Divine Love. Before opening my eyes, I pictured the few of those who might read this post as being charged with the positive energy of knowing someone breathed a Divine Blessing he couldn't create but could merely pass along into their hearts.
I encourage you to take just five minutes and practice this simple meditation exercise.