Tools of the Trade
A wonderful aspect about our modern era is the sheer availability of spiritual tools. From prayer books to prayer beads to vestments, you can find just about anything you need, and you can find almost everything online as well.
A mere few centuries ago, finding some of those spiritual tools might have been impossible depending on where you lived, especially if, say, you were in a hardcore Protestant area of the USA or some such situation. Imagine trying to find a rosary under those circumstances!
What about a meditation teacher? Even just a good manual how to meditate?
Today, we might find ourselves running into the opposite problem: we live with such immediacy and availability that we end up with what's termed "choice paralysis." Making a decision become more difficult because we have so many options.
If you don't believe me, try to go buy a rosary. I mean it. Right now. Go search for a rosary online and look at the overwhelming options of literally thousands of different kinds of rosaries of all shapes, sizes, colors, styles, and costs.
With something like a rosary, this can be an issue, but the use of the tool is similar across designs. The same is true for vestments, and while there's a wide range of vestment designs available, not everyone is ordained into the clergy, and so vestments aren't as big of a deal immediately.
But when we start talking about something like meditation books, this is where things get really tricky. Good information on how to meditate well versus bad information is a crucial, crucial difference.
One of the fundamental aspects of meditation is being able to relax and then scan for tension. Fair enough, but most of the meditation books I've read over the years haven't hit this point as hard as they should, and it's extremely important and beneficial for us to get this part of meditation down first before trying to proceed to something else.
Of course, we can always run into a Catch-22 where we need to visualize in order to relax, but we have to relax to effectively visualize.
There are always issues, aren't there?
Sometimes, you have to make use of the tools at your disposal. As a mystical group, we don't necessarily have the wide range of published material that a more mainstream church might have, yet that doesn't mean we can't make use of the mainstream church's liturgical materials.
I myself still have my copy of the Book of Common Prayer gifted to me upon my Confirmation in the Episcopal Church in 2012. I still use it; in fact, it's sitting on the table that serves as my oratory.
And this is the reality: the BCP is beautiful in many ways. Perhaps it is a little more mainstream than my own individual tastes, but this is beside the point: I understand what my prayers mean, and God understand the intentions I have. The tool is just that: a tool.
So make use of the tools you have around. It's okay.
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