In his groundbreaking book The
Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the
Well-Being, Daniel Siegel applies the latest discoveries in
explain the positive impact of what many of us would call the
life. To say the least, it is a stunning examination.
The neuroscientists speak of
“mindfulness”—living deeply and
richly in the moment, in the here-and-now. Hard studies with resulting
evidence indicate that “mindfulness,” slowing our lives in order to
creates a measurable array of benefits—emotional balance, for instance,
cardiac and immune function, an enhanced sense of empathy for others,
self-understanding—in fact, what has been termed by the scientists as a
resulting overall well-being.
I love it when science verifies
what the wisdom literature
of the ages has firmly maintained. From the book-flap copy: “Ancient
and religions worldwide have long drawn on various methods, from
prayer to yoga and Tai-chi, to help individuals move toward well-being
focusing their attention and attuning to the present. Now, mindful
has been scientifically proven to enhance our physical, mental, and
There. I knew there was a
reason for all those “Retreats of Silence”
Hungry Souls has sponsored
seven years of its existence. According to the scientific literature,
kinds of silence are a biological, neuro-physical, psychologically
activity to do! And this is before we add the Christian notion of
transcendence, of entering into silence for the sake of joining
God in a way that cannot happen when our minds are full, busy, planning
“Why silence?” asks Siegel.
Then he answers. “Silence
creates a rare opportunity to pause and drop into stillness, to become
with your own mind. So often we have things to do, places to be, people
In our busy lives our minds are full and reactive. When we start the
attune to our own minds by pausing into stillness, we enter a new realm
experience that can produce surprise in each moment.”
The writer lists some of the
surprises: (1) One surprise is
that the mind is never “empty.” “As the stillness permits the mind to
it becomes possible to be aware of the subtleties in the fine
structures of the
mind’s functions. Stillness is not the same as a void in activity; it’s
like a stabilizing strength.” (2) Another surprise is to experience the
transient ever-changing nature of the activity of the mind. (3) Yet
surprise is the ways in which the distinct streams of awareness
create the texture of awareness in the moment. Siegel goes on to make
that the very process of going into silence, of becoming stilled, of
to our own minds often in dialogue with our own souls, activates the
and cortexes in our brains that create health and well-being. (I am
outrageously simplistic summary—but it is the major point of the
So this is how God has made us,
is it?—with a brain that is
wired such that, given time, given stillness enough, given silence,
attentiveness to the way the mind functions and to the environment in
functions—that humans will be delivered toward a state of unusual
connectedness, to God, to one another, to ourselves, and to the world
the God part)? What a wonder, if this is true. With the psalmist we
praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!” Psalm 139:14. We
paraphrase this just a bit and sing, “We praise you, for our brains are
fearfully and wonderfully created!” Yes, indeed.
begin our regular schedules of retreats with the annual 24-hour Advent
of Silence, December 3-4, 2008. The four weeks of Advent, leading to
Christmas season, are the beginning of the church calendar year. As
will gather at the BishopLaneRetreatCenter
Sibyl Towner and Valerie Bell will be leading us to consider deeply the
words of most biblical Nativity announcements: “Fear not!” How
this unsteady and treacherous economy that we consider our fears. How
appropriate in this anxiety-provoking modern life that we give
ourselves to an
extended period of silence to hear that personal word spoken in the
ways: “Fear not!”
The cost will be
$120 for this guided retreat. If you
register by October 1, this cost will be reduced to $100.
If you invite and
register one or two new attendees
by October 1,
will reduce the price of the retreat
to $90 for each of you.
We have room for 60 retreatants
in private rooms with their
own baths. You can register now by contacting our volunteer registrar
be written to Hungry Souls/Advent and mailed to Box 30,
We can return checks for cancellations only if notified by November 25.
when we must give the number to the Retreat Center and pay for that
May I say, very boldly, if you
do not attend our retreat,
please, please schedule some other retreat of silence into your
several a year. Not only does your spirit need this, your whole
neurological system needs it!
Daniel Siegel’s early work as
an educator, psychiatrist and
scientist concentrated on studying the reality of attachment theory
infant and its primary caregivers. Children with secure attachments
capacity for intimate relationships, resilience and well-being. Siegel
the point that “mindfulness”—this quality of being richly aware—also
the same capacities in an adult. Brain studies showed that successful
attachment with trusted caregivers in the infant and child promoted the
of fibers in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. Siegel goes on in this
work, The Mindful Brain, to
that “mindfulness” in the adult also capacitates the integrative
the mind, similar to that of the infant, in regulating body systems,
emotions, attuning to others, modulating fear, responding flexibly, and
exhibiting insight and empathy. Quite a category. And then, as if this
not enough, we Christians add transcendence.
We invite you to enter into
silence. Please. Give your brains a chance.
Bag Ladies Project shopping bags
to be sold
bags @ an average of $20
margin each = an estimated
bags already sold = $1,145 toward our goal.
Goal to Go: 509
bags = $10,855 (!)
Have you considered giving GBLP
tote bags as gifts? One of
these shopping bags was recently purchased "in honor of" a person being
celebrated, who really appreciated the donation in their name and the
purpose of the GBLP
bag. Other suggestions have been to fill a GBLP
tote bag with shower gift items for an upcoming
wedding, give these bags as Christmas gifts, or purchase several as
favors for a
To receive your own Global
Bag Ladies Project tote bags, click on this GBLP
Purchase Order, print it off, fill it out and send it with a
check made out to Hungry
Souls/GBLP for $20-$50 to Box 30, Wheaton, IL 60187.
Hungry Souls Christmas
Party in September
For those of you who are in the
area, Hungry Souls will be holding
a Christmas eco-shopping party for
micro-credit purposes. Carla Boelkens brought $500 worth of jewelry
HIV/AIDS widows in Kenya.
The purpose of this party is:
you with Christmas gift choices that will
help other women and
their children live.
To expose you to our growing line of eco-shopping bag
To give you a brief exposure as to how micro-credit
To talk about the Kenya
any of you are
interested, we will answer
questions and take suggestions.
WHERE: Mains’ home in West
Chicago IL at 29W377 Hawthorne
DATES: Saturday, September 27 at
September 28 at 4:00 P.M.
give me some
idea if you are coming. My e-mail address is
We would love
for you to bring interested friends and family, but I need to have a
Meeting of Women’s Minds:
A Microenterprise Journey to Kenya in March 2009
details and day matrix for the Kenyan Microenterprise Journey are
complete! I am terribly excited about this trip. We
will be meeting
and dialoguing with many Kenyan women who are working to solve their
problems. The purpose of this journey will be to discover
ways we can
collaborate in these solving-problem ventures. United Nations
(World Health Organization) studies have shown that the most successful
grassroots projects in Africa,
ones that are
sustainable and effective, are organized and run by women.
will be leaving the States March 25 and returning April 6.
this link for more details and costs.
2008 Pilgrimage to France
is room for 10 more people to participate in the upcoming pilgrimage to
France. The deadline is August 31st and full
payment will be due at that time. We truly
hope you can come, as this will be a personal and unique opportunity to
experience France in the company of other pilgrims lead by Karen Mains
and Valerie Bell (
The Soulish Food e-mails are
posted bi-weekly on the Hungry Souls Web
site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to
register on the Web site to receive the bi-weekly newsletter. You might
want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to www.hungrysouls.org.
"I love it when science verifies
what the wisdom literature
of the ages has firmly maintained."
Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of
Siegel, co-director of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Center, blends
personal experience with scientific research, attempting to capture the
spiritual as well as the physiological phenomenon of "mindfulness"-or,
in Siegel's acronym-speak, COAL: the state of simultaneous Curiosity,
Openness, Acceptance and Love. Siegel's endeavor is timely and
well-intentioned, but his is an elusive subject, and his text is
peppered with confusing, semi-technical descriptions of mind-states
(like meditation) and processes (like egocentric and allocentric
circuitry) that frequently frustrate. Despite this, Siegel does
introduce persuasive scientific evidence that meditation and the
mindful state not only produce improvement in well-being, but also
detectable physical changes in the brain, such as a thickening of the
middle prefrontal lobes. He also introduces exotic new vocabulary, such
as "ipseity," "the core sense of self beneath the usual personal
identity." If the result of Siegel's marriage of medicine and mysticism
is something of a muddle, he is to be commended for the effort, and his
attitude toward science is unique in a medical doctor (tellingly,
Siegal took a sabbatical from med school after being reprimanded for
empathizing with his patients, rather than objectifying them, and used
the time to pursue drawing and dancing). Though uneven and weighed down
with too many acronyms, this is a notable science title that smartly
combines the personal, the clinical and the spiritual.
God Through the
Eyes of the Artist and the Artist In the Eye of God October 24 - November 10, 2008
This is a journey for men and women. We have room for 10 more pilgrims.
The land fee of $2,592 is due August 31, 2008.
Airfare is not included. Depending upon the exchange rate (the dollar
being low), we may have to add a bit more to the land price, but we
hope not to do this.
If you have any questions,
contact Karen Mains (
or Valerie Bell (
We can provide you with a flyer that has all the details and the
general itinerary or you can go to the travel Web site at www.hungry-souls.com
to print off the pages you need for full information.
In this year, when economics are tight for so many, we invite you to
give gifts from the Mainstay Ministries catalogue that can have rich
meaning in the days ahead.
If you think about your gifts in August and order them early, you will
be sparing yourself the grief that often comes from last minute frantic
shopping. Let us help!