Claim Ownership


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Great saints and modern psychologists agree that our lives work best when we pull off something that, technically, might be anti-human: hurting whenever we hurt, but not anticipating some future challenge or pain. As Jesus teaches, animals are good at that; people not so much. So how do we pull off this most-important thing? And what does it get us if we do? Mentioned on this podcast:Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior, The Great Courses course by Mark Leary, of Duke UniversityThe Interior Castle, by Teresa of AvilaMatthew 6:25-26 and 10:16-20
The greatest spiritual teachers tell us that doing our best to improve however we can is crucial. But then they warn us that our quest for improvement will abruptly become less helpful--which is not a problem at all, but is an invitation to walk into the full life we've been wanting. This is the moment when transformation comes into play. Dave Schmelzer walks us into a deep dive into the great teacher of transformation, the sixteenth century biggie Teresa of Avila. Along with insights from the blockbuster movie Interstellar, he'll offer some concrete steps into Teresa's deep, powerful waters.Mentioned on this podcast:The Interior Castle, by Teresa of AvilaThe Christopher Nolan movie Interstellar
Alongside Jesus, the mystics tell us we have a superpower when we've been hurt or when the larger world seems scary or hostile: lovingkindness prayer or meditation. The Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela show us its power. The new movie Everything Everywhere All at Once takes it as one of its themes. Join Dave Schmelzer as he lets you in on a lovingkindness hack and as he introduces you to the thinking of the great modern teacher on the subject.Mentioned on this podcast:Everything Everywhere All at OnceLovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, by Sharon Salzburg
Don't Fear Your Fear

Don't Fear Your Fear


Moving into all the possibilities of our lives requires a fearlessness that can seem out of reach. Dave Schmelzer takes a look both at helpful tools along these lines from modern teachers and also at how some New Testament writers teach us that overcoming our fear of being afraid unlocks the rich benefits of faith itself.Mentioned on this podcast:Hebrews 11:13-16The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self, by Martha Beck
Be Seen

Be Seen


The early stages of our life of faith often require us to keep quiet about anything that might rock the boat with others around us. But a surprise is that subsequent stages do the reverse. Now we need to continually relearn what's true for us and then be fully seen for those truths. The transition can be a painful one! But then we discover rich rewards. Dave Schmelzer explores how The Examen (discussed in the last episode) can help us with this while also taking a deep dive into advice from the mystics (and from St. Mark) about the power of knowing and speaking our truth. Mentioned on this podcast:The Critical Journey: Stages in the LIfe of Faith, by Janet O. Hagberg and Robert A. Guelich
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encourages us towards a kind of perfection--what the contemplatives see as a kind of inner, structural integrity--that God has. Dave Schmelzer looks at two different takes on how to pull this off: one from pop culture, and the other from among the most ancient and enduring Christian spiritual practices, the Jesuit practice of the Examen.Mentioned on this podcast: Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life, by Dennis, Matthew and Sheila LinnThe Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self, by Martha Beck
We're told that a major benefit of deepening spiritual practice is discovering a profound kindness towards ourselves and others. Dave Schmelzer will fill you on insights from psychology and contemplative practice about finding this self-compassion and then Grace Schmelzer will tell an affecting story about how learning to hear God's voice powerfully broke through her own inner judgment. Mentioned on this podcast: Shauna Shapiro's book Good Morning, I Love You: Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Practices to Rewire Your Brain for Calm, Clarity, and Joy
Modern contemplatives often tie spiritual practice to wellness in general. Dave Schmelzer looks at some inspiring stories about healthy aging even as he discusses modern brain science around things like telomeres and emotion contagion and positive stress. He closes with a look at the nine common habits among the parts of the world that are home to the people who live the longest.Mentioned on this podcastA Los Angeles Times column by Steve Lopez called "The secret to a long life? Curiosity, says Morrie, who has now survived two pandemics"The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest, by Dan Buettner
One of the great promises of contemplative practices is that maybe we won't have to suffer as much as we do. Today, learning from psychology professor Shauna Shapiro, Dave Schmelzer will review how exactly that happens, along with a look at some basics about things like getting sleepy or feeling pain or being frustrated as our mind wanders, along with other things along those lines. Mentioned on this episode:Shauna Shapiro's book Good Morning, I Love You: Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Practices to Rewire Your Brain for Calm, Clarity, and Joy
Eighteen hundred years of Christian teaching tells us we should be focusing on something that we likely have never even heard of--union with God. Join Dave Schmelzer as he takes a brief tour of some of these great teachers as he explores whether such a thing is possible for normal, modern people and how, if it is, the way to start will be by reengaging some fundamentals. Mentioned on this podcast:Christian Mystics: Their Lives and Legacies Throughout the Ages, by Ursula KingThe Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith, by Janet Hagberg and Robert GuelichJohn Wooden on the Fundamentals: YouTube Video
On Stages of Faith

On Stages of Faith


It can feel threatening when our experience of faith changes--or when someone else's does. Dave Schmelzer looks at classic wisdom from spiritual direction about what different stages of faith look like and about how to figure out both where we are and what we might expect is to come. Mentioned on this podcast:The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith, by Janet O. Hagberg and Robert A. Guelich
Outrageous cultural happenings understandably provoke our outrage. On the downside, the recent FB whistleblower points out that FB's artificial intelligence relentlessly looks to inflame that righteous anger for its own nefarious purposes. A whole category of spiritual writings, called "apocalypses," helps us safely navigate this conundrum. Dave Schmelzer offers wisdom from a major scholar and from the great writer sometimes called "John the Revelator" to help us boldly stand up for important things while remaining happy and hope-filled. Mentioned on this podcastCraig R. Koester's magisterial Great Courses course: The Apocalypse: Controversies and Meaning in Western HistoryIf you'd enjoy giving to The Pocket Contemplative:
Irene Kraegel is a pioneer in exploring mindfulness from a Christian perspective. Dave Schmelzer explored some of her insights in the previous The Pocket Contemplative. She joins us in this episode to walk us through how she's arrived at her unique life mission and to offer wise counsel to those of us on a similar journey.Mentioned on this podcast:The Mindful Christian: Cultivating a Life of Intentionality, Openness, and Faith, by Irene Kraegel. Also, check out themindfulchristian.comTo learn more about or join in with an online group with Dave and others: journey-on.netTo join Dave's mailing list for a conversation about big topics about faith and culture: Then click "Join the list."
Practicing mindfulness is popular and, for Dave Schmelzer, robustly helpful. But is it Christian? Dave looks at insights from The Mindful Christian, in which Irene Kraegel thoughtfully and thoroughly grounds it in the Bible and the Christian tradition. God, it turns out, is very much present and at work as we "get behind the waterfall" of our thoughts and emotions. Mentioned on this podcast:The Mindful Christian: Cultivating a Life of Intentionality, Openness and Faith, by Irene KraegelTo learn more about or join in with an online group with Dave and others: journey-on.netTo join Dave's mailing list for conversation about big topics about faith and culture: Then click "Join the list."
Maybe like C.S. Lewis you've had spiritual experiences that have kicked off a kind of longing that's almost painful. Contemplatives like Meister Eckhart, calling in particular on the biblical book Song of Songs, tell us that such experiences--along with many others that are more subtle--are ways that God is inviting us into a renewed, vivid experience of being alive.  Join Dave Schmelzer as he explores these experiences both with Eckhart and the Song of Songs and also with a modern brain researcher who gets excited about what such experiences can mean for your long-term thriving. Mentioned on this podcastMeister EckhartSong of SongsJ.P. Williams's book Seeking the God Beyond: A Beginner’s Guide to Christian Apophatic SpiritualityWallace J. Nichols's book Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being near, in, on, or under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You DoIrene Kraegel's book The Mindful Christian: Cultivating a Life of Intentionality, Openness, and Faith
Our newsfeed can overwhelm us with terrible world news, but what are our options? We don't want to cover our ears and disconnect, but who wants to feel daily dread? Dave Schmelzer walks us through advice from contemplatives, from spiritual leaders like Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama, from folk wisdom, and from a man who learned from his native India the power of embracing the chaos that's all around us.Mentioned on this podcastBob Miglani's book, Embrace the ChaosThe Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu's book, The Book of JoyAn article from by Loyola Marymount philosophy professor Brian Treanor called "The 'Melancholy Joy' of Living in Our Brutal, Beautiful World"A scene from Shakespeare in Love
A therapeutic approach called ACT has a lot in common with contemplative spirituality with the added benefit of offering practical advice in unexpected language. Dave Schmelzer offers a deep dive into how to take fresh action about the things that can build your richest life--even as you allow your challenging thoughts and emotions to live in an expansive world.Mentioned on this podcast:The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living: A Guide to ACT, by Russ Harris
As perplexing as our lives can feel at any given moment, big-name early Christians like Gregory of Nyssa encourage us that, right now, we have the stuff of unending spiritual growth and the joy and purpose that come with that. With his customary lively stories and cultural touchstones, Dave Schmelzer helps us poke our heads into Gregory's "darkness above the light" as we wade into a spirituality of these early Christian heroes that's, strangely, gotten lost to most Westerners but has provided a path to union with God to countless fellow journeyers.Mentioned on this podcast:Gregory of Nyssa's The LIfe of Moses1 JohnPhilippians 3:12-15The Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso
What are we hoping our spirituality will offer us as we age? The famed Harvard Grant Study looks at men and women over 75+ years to answer the question of what aging well--and dying well--looks like. What will lead to happiness, health and mental capacity in our eighties if we get that far. Among their intriguing findings: religiosity is surprisingly correlated with depression, but another version of devout spirituality ages very well. Join Dave Schmelzer as he walks you through their insights with his usual lively stories and with insight from a pop culture phenomenon. Mentioned on this podcast:Aging Well, by George VaillantThe Harvard Grant StudyTuesdays with Morrie movieThe Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer
Our lives can feel like one big waiting-room where the stuff we're hoping will happen is taking a long time to actually, like, happen. But what if the deepest spiritual wisdom of all is embedded in plain sight in that observation? Join Dave Schmelzer as he looks, in this episode, at wisdom from the biblical Letter to the Hebrews about that unexpected contemplative insight--and from the way that wisdom is expanded in the latest Oscar winner, Nomadland.Mentioned on this podcast:The Letter to the HebrewsNomadland
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