This post is a part of our weekly email called “Presence+Practice”. You can have early access to this weekly content by subscribing to our newsletter.
Almost every day, my husband and I take a walk around the cemetery which is on the edge of our neighborhood. We enter the gray stoned path and make a quick right and do the same loop day after day. Usually we discuss the tasks of the upcoming day and in thirty minutes we are back home.
Recently we took our 10 month old granddaughter on this same path. She sat up in her stroller and looked to the right and then to the left and then glanced at us with eyes wide. She babbled happily as she swung her little chubby legs up and down. We tried to figure out what she was looking at and then we saw these large pods hanging down from one tree; some purple blossoms from a series of bushes; and then the large interestingly shaped stones everywhere. She laughed as we went from the pavement to the gravel and back to the smooth surface again. For her this path was beautiful and pleasant and joyful . . . and helped my husband and I see what was familiar in this same way!
Meister Eckhart (1260-c.1329), mystic and prophet, wrote: “The path is beautiful and pleasant and joyful and familiar.” Eckhart does not prescribe exotic ways to enter into the presence of God but rather helps us relax and experience God in the beauty of the “well-known” in our lives. Interestingly, research in neuroscience (by Andrew Newberg, MD and others) have noted how spiritual practice has a powerful effect on the thalamus, a central brain structure that processes sensory information which helps regulate our awareness of alertness and well-being.
Our Featured Practice this week on the app, called “Familiar,” honors both the wisdom of Meister Eckhart and the reality of neuroscience. It clears the mind; opens the heart; and connects us with our body to experience our lives as “beautiful, pleasant, joyful and familiar.”