Jessica: Hey there! It’s Jessica Honegger, founder of the socially conscious fashion brand Noonday Collection. And this is the Going Scared podcast where we cover all things social impact, entrepreneurship, and courage.
Today I’m sitting down with Phileena Heuertz. Her most recent book, Mindful Silence, has been saving my life lately. It’s called The Heart of Christian Contemplation, and it’s filled with insights and wisdom from her own experience, and she introduces us to themes and teachers of contemplative spirituality as well as several other prayer practices, and invites us to greater healing and wholeness by learning to practice faith through prayer.
And I know the kids are getting back in school, and life is picking back up again, and those summer rhythms are becoming more routine. And I would just invite you to let contemplation and mindful silence be a part of your fall rhythms. I have found that contemplation is what grounds me—getting alone and silent at the beginning of each of my days and not having any other expectation than just quieting my soul is absolutely what is fueling me and what gives me energy and love in order to get me through the day.
I love Phileena because she has such a heart for social justice. She led for 20 years at Word Made Flesh. They work in more than 70 countries building community among victims of human trafficking, survivors of HIV and AIDS, abandoned children, and child soldiers, and war brides. And then she and her husband, Chris, who is an Enneagram expert — they’re cofounders together of the Gravity Center. You’re going to hear all about that in today’s conversation. So, just listen to it with an open heart, with an open mind. And I would love to know what you’re going to do in response to this conversation in particular.
OK. So, I have to tell our listeners how this came to be, because I love this story, and here’s why. We are gonna be talking about mindful practices today, about contemplation, about things that I often don’t associate with Instagram, OK? I do not associate like consciousness and mindful and meditation … So, a friend of mine recommended your book to me months ago, and I’m like a book junkie, so you recommend a book to me and it immediately goes Amazon Prime. And it had just been sitting on my bookshelf for months, and we were getting ready to move out of our master bedroom and into the Airstream, and I had to edit, edit, edit, edit down my books. And I saw your book again and I thought, I’m gonna just take this with me into the Airstream. It’s gonna be one of the ones that I keep. Fast forward a few months later, and I am sitting in my Airstream really in a time of coming off of nine years of adrenaline, you know? Life has been supercharged, starting a company, scaling a company, working in vulnerable areas of the world, motivating and inspiring people here in America to care.
And I’m realizing I’ve got just more growth to do. And I have a long history with contemplation. Actually, my whole spiritual journey sort of was I was awakened in Washington, D.C. by a church called Church of the Savior, which was one of the first to kind of marry … well, I mean we’re not talking Francis of Assisi first, but perhaps first in America to marry social action with contemplation. So, I have this history, but then I always pull away from the practices, then they have to be brought back again and then have to be brought back again and have to be brought back again. So, I’m sitting in one of those moments where I’m getting brought back again and I’m like, “Oh my God, that book, that book.” And so, I pick it up. I just randomly open it up, which is what I do because I’m a Seven on the Enneagram, and I’m just like, just give me a little parcel, give me a little bite.
And I open up to exactly what I’m needing to hear because God has me in this journey of becoming unattached and untangled from outcomes. I opened up to this page, and I immediately posted on Instagram, and I’m thinking, I’m mean, “I don’t even know who this person is.” I didn’t even think about tagging you. I’m like, people like this don’t exist on the internet. They are off in a faraway hut, somewhere in straw-bale hill hut, and they are not attached to anything that has to do with anything modern, she’s removed. And then I get this DM and it’s from you and it’s like, “Oh my gosh, you’re reading my book.” And I can’t tell you in that moment how much credibility I received because I thought, “She’s on the internet. She’s living this contemplative life, and she’s still on the internet.” And that’s what got me excited to talk with you today because I think most of my listeners, listen, they are dedicating … we are probably dedicating obviously a lot less time than we should to mindful silence. And certainly maybe a lot of listeners today don’t even know what we might be talking about. And that’s what where we’re gonna kind of start with the 101. But I just, I appreciate that you are a normal person, but choosing practices that are transformative. So excited to chat with you.
The Journey Toward Mindfulness
But before we dive in, before we dive in, I wanted to know a little bit about where you came from and what brought you to this place, because I gave the bio before you came on. But this idea of deep mindfulness is now a part of not just your own life, but of what you’re wanting others to come along this pilgrimage with you. So, tell me your journey to get here.
Phileena: Sure. OK. I’ll do my best. Thanks for all of that. I’m so happy to know about how this came about, and it’s wonderful to get connected with you. I just love your work and respect what you’re doing in the world. So, thank you for that. And I think there’s a connection point, a common ground here for us in terms of our work in the world. So, after university, I ended up getting involved with an international nonprofit that was working with, at that point, this was in the mid ’90s, we were working in South India with children with HIV and AIDS. And at time the disease was really scary. We still didn’t know a lot about how it was contracted and there’s a lot of fear around all of that. So, in India little babies were abandoned on roadsides and in hospitals which is because their parents had the stigma of AIDS, and there was no one that wanted to care for these little babies.
So, my husband, we weren’t yet married, but he had … he was a few years ahead of me, and he had started the first pediatric AIDS care in Chennai, South India. And so, once I graduated university, I got involved with this international nonprofit. My husband and I were married, and our life just took off. So, the organization grew from just a few of us doing that work in South India to about 300 of us working in 13 cities around the majority world. So, we were working with, in addition to the children with HIV and AIDS, we were working with children living on the streets and abandoned widows and children of war, so war brides and child soldiers.
And about a period of eight years, I can understand what you were saying about kind of running on adrenaline and not catching up with us, that happened to me. And I was in Freetown, Sierra Leone at the peak of the war over blood diamonds. And I had a huge crisis of faith and just began questioning everything about my world, my worldview, my sense of reality and questioning what it was that I was trying to do in the world and does it even matter and big questions around “If God is good, why is there suffering?” And I can really relate to what you were saying about struggling with outcomes because it’s like, here I was trying to make the world a better place and feeling like it’s not really getting any better. I had a huge crisis of faith and just began questioning everything about my world, my worldview, my sense of reality and questioning what it was that I was trying to do in the world … struggling with outcomes because it’s like, here I was trying to make the world a better place and feeling like it’s not really getting any better.
So, after that, I came back to the States. My work was very itinerant. We were establishing these communities all over the world so we would jet across the globe multiple times a year, visiting our communities and trying to address some of the most horrific issues related to human suffering. And so, I came back to the U.S. and was trying to process human brutality that I witnessed in Sierra Leone at a scale that I’d never seen before. And my friend asked me after listening to all the stories, “Do you ever doubt the goodness of God?” I just broke down and wept.
And you have to understand, I grew up in a religious home. My father was a pastor and took my spirituality very seriously from a young age and had a sense of my life had meaning and purpose. But in those moments, it was like everything came crashing down. It was a huge deconstruction of my sense of self and reality. And so, and not long after that, I met … I guess it was about two years … I mean, I actually was in a really dark night for two years, which means that not only was I questioning my spiritual upbringing and perspective, but I was dealing with psychological deconstruction too, and I was in therapy and just going through darkness.
Not only was I questioning my spiritual upbringing and perspective, but I was dealing with psychological deconstruction too, and I was in therapy and just going through darkness.
Jessica: And were you still at this time running the organization or how? I mean that’s what’s so challenging, right, because you can’t just suddenly be like, “Oh, I built this organization for nine years and I’m having a breakdown, so I’ll be back in a few months.”
Phileena: Yeah. And all the while, you can relate, all these people around the world are dependent on you doing well and continuing the flow of the work so that they can feed their children.
Transforming Tension Through Centering Prayer
Jessica: So, how did you walk in that tension during that time of holding both your work and your internal pilgrimage?
Phileena: Oh my gosh, it was so intense, Jessica. It was so intense. I mean, I don’t know how I did it, to be honest. I mean, looking back, you just do what you have to do. I think parents understand this. I’m not a parent. But, you just do what you have to do. And it was just putting one foot in front of the other, taking care of business and doing my best to tend to my soul. And then it was meeting Father Thomas Keating after two years of this darkness that I was introduced to the Christian contemplative tradition and this practice called Centering Prayer and meditation practice. And I had not been exposed to anything like that ever. And that changed my life, saved my life. Finally, I had a practice to hold me in the tensions of my life and the way things were falling apart inside. So, really at that point, that’s how I did it. That’s how I made it. That’s how I was able to keep my responsibilities and tend to this deconstruction of self.
“I was introduced to the Christian contemplative tradition and this practice called Centering Prayer and meditation practice. … And that changed my life, saved my life. Finally, I had a practice to hold me in the tensions of my life and the way things were falling apart inside. … That’s how I made it. That’s how I was able to keep my responsibilities and tend to this deconstruction of self.” Phileena Heuertz
Jessica: So, what were some of the key awakening moments for you when you contrast this idea of Centering Prayer with what your prayer life had previously been?
Phileena: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. No, I love what you’re saying. So, what I came to realize at that point of breaking was, yeah, I couldn’t pray anymore. I couldn’t read scripture, I couldn’t go to church. Nothing … all the practices that have sustained me up to that point, spiritual practices, we’re falling short. They weren’t helping anymore. They weren’t connecting to the real world that I had come to know and love. And so, all of that just seemed really not helpful at all. And so, there I was really struggling. “Where do I go from here?” And my faith community really ill-equipped to support me at that point. And it was … I mean, there’s this wisdom saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear, and that’s what happened with Thomas Keating for me.
And so, I had this guy that was helping me realize that there’s an onward journey and the practices that fall short, that’s a part of the spiritual journey, that that’s actually OK, that we don’t have to despair over that. So, then coming into contemplative practice, contemplation, meditation, what I found was that the ways I was praying before in a lot of ways was me still being in control. And then now I had a practice that helped me let go of control and move into a deep place of trust. And honestly the practices before that point couldn’t help me acquire that, that depth of trust.
What I found was that the ways I was praying before in a lot of ways was me still being in control. And then now I had a practice that helped me let go of control and move into a deep place of trust.
So, that was a big awakening, I guess, of realizing I needed practices that could actually hold me. I needed to be held. I needed to be grounded. I needed practices where I could really let go, and let love do its work in a transcendent way so that my love in the world would be more flowing from that source, if you will. I know this can sound a little maybe esoteric to people, but if we think about our life, how much of our effort to love is draining us, and in the Christian faith Jesus is saying this as that my yoke is easy and my burden is light. And it’s like, that’s not what I was experiencing at all beforehand. And so now I was starting to move into a spiritual space in my life that helps me flow more, I think, with this easy and light way of being in really desperate, horrible, challenging circumstances.
Social Justice from the Inside Out
Phileena: Another awakening that I’m thinking of is when I came to realize that social justice and activism addresses toxicity in the world, but contemplation addresses it in ourselves. And so, what I’ve come to really appreciate over the years of like now, gosh, probably 15 years of serious meditation is that what’s happening in the world is a reflection of what’s happening inside of us, collectively, and that if we don’t address our inner self and the illusions of self and how we project so much of that on the world, unless we’re doing that work, our work externally in the world will be limited in terms of its effectiveness. So, the two have to go hand in hand.
Social justice and activism addresses toxicity in the world, but contemplation addresses it in ourselves. … If we don’t address our inner self and the illusions of self and how we project so much of that on the world … our work externally in the world will be limited in terms of its effectiveness.
Jessica: It’s really like switching fuel tanks. My dad, he was a Vietnam War vet, and he kept up with his pilot license. So, he’s had a little Cessna over the years. And my mom sent me this video recently with a text message that said, “Almost died.” And they were flying up into the air. They were flying from Texas to New Mexico, and my mom’s filming the takeoff. It was like the perfect flight conditions, beautiful day. And she kind of moves her iPhone to the right wing of the plane, and there’s something coming out of the right wing. But she’s like, my husband knows exactly what he’s doing. I’m not even gonna let him know. Well, it ends up it was the fuel gauge, the fuel was leaking all over Texas because my dad had not screwed the gas cap on.
Phileena: Oh my God.
Jessica: He had not screwed the gas cap on. But I guess in flying you switch from the left wing … There’s a fuel tank on the left wing, and then there’s a fuel tank on the right wing. And so, when he switched to the right wing for the fuel tank, the plane would just start to coast because there was no fuel. So, they had enough fuel in the left wing of the plane to emergency land, and they were safe, blah, blah, blah. But I often think it’s like, we can operate from this one fuel tank, but if the fuel tank is like hustle and striving and performance or getting our needs met by meeting other people’s needs or whatever it is, that is gonna run out, and then we’ve gotta switch. We’ve gotta switch to another tank. But there’s that moment of coasting in between where you’re like, the wheels are off the bus. We’re coasting. Am I gonna land? Am I still gonna be able to fly? But you’ve got to be able to be fueled by that other wing, you know? But the new fuel is something that is sustainable and will get us through. And it’s interesting to think about how our posture in prayer can even come from a controlling place and that will absolutely drain us. And so, I’m curious to know what is your crash course, to use this plane terminology, on contemplative spirituality?
Phileena: Gosh, I love your metaphor.
Jessica: You know, the 101, the 2-minute version here?
Phileena: Yeah. Oh gosh. Where should I begin with just a few minutes? I mean, what I’d love to say is come to my retreats. I’ll get into … I mean we’ve got…
Jessica: Yeah, well, tell us about that. No, no, no tell us about that because, yeah, I’m so curious to know about now this is a part of what you’re wanting to teach in the world.
Phileena: Yeah, that’s right. So, just so listeners can kind of track with me chronologically. I continued to co-lead with my husband, that international nonprofit for another, I guess 10 years or so. And then in 2012…
Jessica: So, you had this moment with Thomas Keating, not just a moment, but then you become introduced to this new way of interacting with God and yourself and your attachments and your egos and all of these things, and you start getting fueled by a new source. And then you continue to run this nonprofit but in a way that you did ultimately were able to wear a lighter burden. Would you say that’s true?
Phileena: Yes. For sure. Yup. And we started to try to integrate contemplation with that community, but people aren’t really for the most part, they weren’t really ready for it. It wasn’t really sticking. There was still … I think that we need like to live a certain amount of life to get to the place where we do kind of crash and burn to realize what we need. I mean, hopefully, we can … I mean, there may be another way to do it. And I’m hopeful that the trajectory of the evolution of consciousness and where we’re at today as a society really beginning to value contemplation, meditation more, that there’s another way to do it. But for most of us, it takes time to get to a place where we really appreciate the need for contemplation in our life.
So, all that to say, by 2012, my husband and I decided to devote ourselves full time to the integration of contemplation and action by starting a new nonprofit called Gravity. And so, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last seven years. And so, at Gravity, we focus on spiritual direction, contemplative retreats, and Enneagram consultations and workshops. And so, we host three retreats a year. Yeah, three retreats a year here in the Omaha area. And then I’m contracted out to various communities around the world to give these retreats. But for these weekend retreats, we offer different stages of introduction to contemplative practice. And the one we do in the fall is called the Grounding Retreat. And we gather people together from all over the country. They come to Omaha, Nebraska, in the center of the U.S. And we go out to a little Benedictine monastery, and we spend the weekend together, and I offer teaching around what is contemplation and all that. And then we’d practice various contemplative practices together and we debrief those, and we help people figure out how this can be integrated into their life.
So, I mean, for our listeners today, it’s basically about making time for some degree of solitude, silence and stillness. And this version of contemplation really comes from the monastic tradition in the Christian lineage. So, it is very much around practices of solitude, silence and stillness, but that’s not to say that there aren’t other ways to enter into contemplation, but this is just the lineage from which I teach, which is similar to Buddhist, a lot of Buddhist and Hindu practices as well that focus on some degree of solitude, silence and stillness.
So, in solitude, as we cultivate more solitude, withdrawing for a time from the rat race and the intensity and the drivenness, and we take some time to be relatively alone, we actually develop this capacity to be more present to ourselves, to our people, the world that we live in, and whatever notions of God we have. To be more present, this is the gift of solitude. And then in silence we cultivate this capacity to listen, to listen to ourselves, to listen to one another, to listen to God. And then in stillness we cultivate this capacity for really for restraint. So, see so much of our action in the world, I think Parker Palmer mentions it like this, like so much of our action in the world is reaction. And so, we’re operating with a lot of reactivity in the world. My reactivity is hitting your reactivity. And we’re doing the best we can. But if we can pause and withdraw for periods of time, if it’s a few minutes a day, if it’s longer periods at different seasons in the year, then we can deal with this reactivity. That gets addressed, and we emerge from these practices with a little more capacity to respond to life rather than react.
We’re operating with a lot of reactivity in the world. My reactivity is hitting your reactivity. And we’re doing the best we can. But if we can pause and withdraw for periods of time … then we can deal with this reactivity. That gets addressed, and we emerge from these practices with a little more capacity to respond to life rather than react.
And this is where the real work gets done in the world, when we find a way, I think, to respond to what’s going on rather than react out of our own deficits, our own needs, our own illusions, that sort of thing. So, contemplation begins to free us up from ultimately who we thought we were and plants us in a more rooted identity of being really divine humans that have access to so much more resource to be co-creators in the world, to be agents of creativity and healing. And so, we need ways to access that essence, and contemplation helps us do that.
Contemplation and Courage
Jessica: It’s interesting because I wrote a book called Imperfect Courage, and the end of your book really, you kind of summarize everything as being about being brave and being courageous. And let’s talk a little bit about the correlation between courage and contemplation.
Phileena: Wow. Courage and contemplation. Yeah. So, OK, we’re just gonna get real now, OK?
Jessica: Let’s do.
Phileena: So, when I found myself kind of deconstructing and rethinking and re-imagining everything, who I am, the nature of reality, I was confronted with this personality structure for myself, which the Enneagram really helps illuminate. So those of your listeners who are aware of the Enneagram, there’s nine types and I identify with type Two, the need to be needed is another way of knowing or understanding the type Two. So, this is what I mean when like contemplation helps us begin to uncover our illusions. So, I was just operating in the world as Phileena. I never gave it another thought. I was just doing my thing. But part of the reason why I burned out and had that dramatic crisis was because I was operating out of this personality that was driven by what I thought other people wanted or needed from me and being driven by their approval of me and their acceptance.
So, when I woke up to that, I realized how much of my life had been driven by that. And it was devastating to me because it was killing me ultimately. And it wasn’t who I really was. So, I woke up to that, and then it’s like, “Now what? Now what am I gonna…? And who the hell am I? If that’s not who I really am, who am I, and how can I be more free, to not be so enslaved to other people’s opinions of me?” That sort of thing. So, I’m dealing with all of that, and I begin to access this possibility that there’s another me inside. I kind of refer to that other version as false Phileena and not the true Phileena, but then it’s like, that’s the only Phileena I ever knew.
So, through contemplation then, see, I had this opportunity to let go of that personality structure. And that takes enormous courage. I mean, because you don’t know who you’re gonna be once you let go of that. And I was wrestling with that internally, and it was very much like a walking off the cliff. It was a freefall. And it was like, I had no guarantees that I wouldn’t just crash at the bottom of the fall, and there’d be nothing left of me. And so yeah, the courage came through the practices of just this continual … it’s this embodied practice of letting go and trusting, trusting beyond any kind of trust we’ve ever exercised before. And then it’s very much the process of the caterpillar and going into the cocoon and not knowing what will be on the other side of it.
Through contemplation then, see, I had this opportunity to let go of [my] personality structure. And that takes enormous courage. I mean, because you don’t know who you’re gonna be once you let go of that. … It was a freefall.
And in my first book I mentioned this story that I heard on NPR and these scientists studying these butterflies and they put these little microphones up on the chrysalis while the caterpillar was in there being transformed. And what they found was that the caterpillar cried out in agony. It’s a really difficult process. So, this is why contemplation is not too popular on Instagram because it’s just like I can’t sell this stuff. All your listeners are like, “OK, I’m done. I don’t want this.” But those of you who have woken up to the reality that the way you’re functioning in the world isn’t working very well for you, those are the people who are ready for contemplation. Those are the people who are ready to get real. It’s like “The Matrix.” I mean, I love that movie so much. It’s really nice. Which pill are you gonna take? Are you going to keep living in blissful ignorance or are you going to wake up to the truth of who you are, your divine humanity with these resources for incredible co-creative work in the world that really brings so much more meaning to your life. That’s what contemplation offers.
Taking a Break from Wanting More
Jessica: Well, and I think so many people relate to being burnt out and being like, “Oh my gosh, I’m being pulled in all these different directions, and life is so crazy.” Because we do live out of these places of people pleasing. I mean for me, I’m a Seven on the Enneagram, so my kind of way of helping others has come from something else, which I think actually getting to know the Enneagram made me see I just hate pain so much that I … it makes me so uncomfortable when other people are in pain. So, I feel like a lot of my motivation in wanting to create possibility for the poor has been because I just can’t stand you being in pain, so I have to get you out of that place.
And what would stop me from contemplation is this idea, the false belief which I write about in Imperfect Courage, that this lie that I’m all alone in the world, and no one is gonna come to rescue me. And so, choosing aloneness, that feels so scary when you already have this back narrative of life that you are all alone, and you’re gonna get all alone, and when you get alone, you’re just going to feel more alone. So, let’s just keep going so we don’t feel alone in the world, you know? And I think we all have these different things, but then when we can actually do the bravest thing we can do, which is just stop and feel our feelings and then just untangle all of these egos. I’ve been like naming my little egos lately. It’s been helpful.
I’ve had this one ego, and she was like, “I want what I want, and I’ll get what I want when I want it.” OK. I don’t know how much more Seven on the Enneagram you can get than that. But I was feeling discouraged about some intentions I had towards the business and where Noonday was gonna be and everything I do, I want it to be big and more, and there’s always more and I’m always wanting more. I mean that is sort of my natural state of being is I want more, I want more. And it was when I was in this place, it was the day I read your book where I had really hit a low, and I kind of called an emergency session with my executive coach who I had not seen in a few months, which might explain also why I got to this place.
And I was just explaining, I feel like I’m on a diet and not losing weight. We’ve done this, we’ve done this, we’ve done this and I’m just, I’m frustrated. And that’s when she just was like, “You are holding on so tightly to outcomes.” And she said this to me, and this is what has transformed my life in the last two months, she said, “I wanna give you permission to spend the next few days not wanting.” And I was like, that’s an option? I mean, I’m like the visionary. I’m the passionate … I’m the who’s getting everyone to … I am breathing the wind in everyone’s sails. Like, let’s go. And I thought that I could just not want.
Phileena: How was that for you?
Jessica: Liberating. I’m still trying to find my way though. I feel like I’m in between fuel tanks right now, if we’re gonna go back to the airplane analogy, because wanting has always fueled me, like wanting more. And of course, the more is always constantly justified because I’m wanting more people to have dignified jobs so they won’t go work in brothels when they’re 10 years old. And I’m wanting more women to be able to have economic empowerment in India so that they’re treated like humans and not like cattle, you know? So, I’m like, OK, I’m just trying to find my way now that I’m not being fueled by this perpetual need to want. And so, it’s definitely brought this stillness. And my mantra in the last couple of months has been, I don’t want anything more than the moment that I have right now.
Arrival Is Presence
Jessica: And I love that about contemplation because I think people think contemplation, and you do think a lot about remembrance or kind of processing, and towards the end of your book you talk about one of your times at a hermitage, and I love this, you say, “I found the grace of being present to be so profound that I had very few reflective moments.” And I think that’s the power of contemplation is that it’s not like … I think so many of us we wanna go in with … here’s our list of questions we’re gonna ask ourselves. Our executive meetings are like, start, stop, keep. What are you gonna start doing? What are you gonna stop doing? Where are you gonna keep doing? And that’s not what contemplation is. Contemplation is waking up to the very moment you have right now, the present, which is basically all you have. You’re only always in the present, that’s it. And I am 100,000% future-oriented, and I use it as a huge escape, a place of escape for me.
Contemplation is waking up to the very moment you have right now, the present, which is basically all you have. You’re only always in the presence, that’s it. And I am 100,000% future-oriented, and I use it as a huge escape, a place of escape for me.
And so, for me, I’ve lived under this false belief that there is a point of arrival. And so, that was another … I mean, I had so many things come breaking down a couple of months ago in that moment with my executive coach. It was awesome. So, it was, yeah, it was like, don’t want anything more than what you have right now. And then I said, I believe there’s this point of arrival that like, if I can reach this amount of success that suddenly, then I’m not gonna feel like as responsible or as stressed or as driven or whatever. And so, I’m operating out of like getting to that place. And she’s like, “Yeah, yeah, there’s no point. There’s no point of arrival.”
Phileena: That’s right. There’s no point of arrival out there. It’s the stopping and finding that you’ve already arrived that is the gift.
Jessica: So, what would you say to the person that’s listening right now, and they’re like, I relate? I relate to believing that there’s a point of arrival. I relate to serving the world out of this need to be needed or maybe they relate to me that like, “Oh my gosh, if I get alone, I’m gonna just feel more alone.” And let’s say they get off this podcast, what are just like a couple little … Take them by the hand, and maybe they’re listening to this in the morning on their way to carpool drop-off or on their way home, how could they spend 10 minutes today differently? Give them a taste aside from, of course, coming to your retreats, but what could the next few days look like for them?
Phileena: Yeah. Well, I mean, some of the most practical things folks can do on the go is return to the now. So, if you’re driving and you’re coming to a traffic light, how many of us can just like be quiet and still even for moments at a traffic stop or in the line at the grocery store or whatever it is, when there are those down moments? It’s so hard for any of us to just be present to that. We have to get on our phone. We have to scroll through whatever. I mean, there’s some really serious sicknesses going on now with our addictions, digital addictions. And this is a real thing in the brain.
So, another reason why I think people are realizing the need for contemplation and meditation is because we’re living in this kind of digitally addicted age, that’s just killing us. So, just taking those … being mindful of those opportunities when everything stops and you have a moment to just be and let yourself be and notice your breath, and being just attentive to taking a few deep belly breaths, this three-part yogic breath from the belly through the chest and head, like noticing breath is a great way to begin to cultivate presence.
Being mindful of those opportunities when everything stops and you have a moment to just be and let yourself be and notice your breath … noticing breath is a great way to begin to cultivate presence.
So, finding those moments when everything stops and your first impulse is to grab the phone and scroll through whatever you wanna look at, just resist that for a few minutes. Or if it’s turning on the music in the car or whatever, maybe it’s just getting quiet, just letting yourself be there, those are really easy, practical things that we can do just to become a little more mindful of the present moment. And then I’m thinking about an Insight Timer app. It’s the world’s largest meditation app called Insight Timer. And it’s free and there are so many different teachers and guided meditations, and you can sort them by the minutes that you have.
And I would just recommend everybody get that and explore it and just take some time to … You know, a lot of folks like feel intimidated to just stop everything and go into a silent meditation like especially if they’ve never had a teaching or instruction on it. So, use the Insight Timer, and find some guided meditations that appeal to you. There’s meditations from all different faith traditions on there. And that’s a great little support for folks.
Jessica: Well, and your book Mindful Silence is so helpful in that way is that it does really give practical ways to enter in to this. And that’s another thing I deeply appreciated about your book is there’s like a certain pragmatism behind it, which I think is really helpful for people. You get kind of to the concrete ways to practice this so it’s doesn’t remain so esoteric. So Phileena’s book, Mindful Silence: The Heart of Christian Contemplation, I would highly recommend it. Well, we always ask our guests at the end how they are going scared. And I’m assuming that even though you are awoken, awake, fully awake and you spend now, I don’t even want to know how many silent weekends you might spend in your year, but you probably still have some fears. So, how are you going scared right now?
Phileena: I love this question. It is so hard to be human, you know? No matter how much I am committed to spiritual practice, I have seasons in life that require enormous courage to be present to my life in a really authentic way. So, not in a way that’s like defaulting to my personality structure that wants to please everybody, but responding to life from authenticity, what I know to be true and most real and most right. And what I found is that when I function from that place of essence, truth within me, as terrifying as it is, because ultimately I risk being rejected, right, but as terrifying as that is, it ends up being a gift to everyone else in my life even if they don’t like it in the beginning. So, I’m confronting my fears and my courage I would say almost on a daily basis. And it is a conscious choice to choose courage, which is connected to my most authentic self. And I have the option to do that or not, you know.
Jessica: Thanks for tuning into my extremely Enneagram Seven podcast, where we cover everything from meditation to having people like the founder of the Drybar, Alli Webb, on, or we have the publisher of Forbes on. That’s what I love about these conversations. I love bringing in a diversity of people and introducing you to some practices that are going to be helpful on your journey towards courage. I would love to hear how this podcast in particular is transforming you. I would love for you to go practice some of those things that Phileena suggested, and then DM me on Instagram. Y’all know I’m on Insta. I try to get back to everyone who writes in, and I’d love to hear about your journey of contemplation as well. So, find me, @jessicahonegger—that is two Gs and one N.
Thanks so much for tuning into today’s show. Our wonderful music is by my good friend Ellie Holcomb. Going Scared is produced by Eddie Kaufholz, and I’m Jessica Honegger. Until next time, let’s take each other by the hand and keep going scared.