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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 3:48 pm 
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I know that sounds like a dumb question... but I was raised without religion, and have never worshipped anything.

I suddenly realized that some of you have had a spiritual experience that I may be incapable of. What's it like? Emotionally, not the rituals involved. I'd really like to know. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 4:07 pm 
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I think it's probably different for everyone.

I read somewhere once that when people worship, they somehow create a release of endorphins and such pleasurable sensations in their mind such that there's a physical "rush" of feeling good. Most often this happens in a larger group setting, where emotions run high and there's a sense of something "grander" than one's self.

I've had this happen many times, but I think whoever was writing about it in whatever it was I was reading... didn't understand what worship accomplishes in any fashion.

That same rush happens at a concert, or in a theater, or at a football game. Granted, each of those cases might be a type of worship themselves, so maybe that's part of it.

But for me personally, it feels like a connection to God. It's a connection that I feel is always there. In fact, I would feel lost and helpless without it. But when I have a sense of worshipping God... that connection becomes more real, almost physically felt. Yes, there's a rush, a good feelign, a "high" that is certainly more physical than spiritual, but the spiritual connection is the cause, and it's done not out of a desire for that physical "high," but because the feeling of that spiritual connection is not attainable in any other way.

It can happen in a large group, and many people find it more easily that way. But it can also happen when your with a small group, a family, alone in your car, or at home, just simply giving in to the wonder that is that spiritual connection.

Ok, I rambled on a lot longer than I thought I would... sorry

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 4:40 pm 
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Okay, I don't usually post stuff like this on a non-Christian messageboard, but here goes...

I have been in worship services that just about blew the roof off the church! :D

For those of you who are capable of connecting with God in this way, it's an incredible high. And it doesn't have to involve a large number of musicians, or a fancy choir.

One of the most incredible experiences I've ever had was Pentecost Sunday, 1984. Our church was hosting the annual celebration for LAOS school of lay ministry. LAOS, started by the late Rev. Ron Armstrong, focused very heavily on life in the Spirit, and was very charismatic (believed in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as miracles, tongues, healing, prophecy, etc.)

The worship group was just the church's usual "Come Together Group." Its membership varied, but usually it consisted of the church secretary, her husband, and a really excellent (but non-professional) musician and singer named Rob, who could do a marvelous descant harmony. Other members came and went, as their availability permitted.

We started to worship, and I can't describe what happened. It was like we had a hundred-voice choir up there. At one point we were all singing a capella, and the voices were vibrating the floor underneath me, then travelling right up my body to the to the top of my head! It was just...incredible!

When the worship was over, Rev. Bernie Warren, a United Church (Methodist) minister preached the message, then began to minister at the altar. Many people began to receive the release of the Holy Spirit and speak in Tongues. Some of those prayed for by the prayer team fell over (slain in the Spirit). I had never, ever experienced this in an Anglican church before. I was one of the ones Bernie prayed for, and I asked him to pray for my hearing.

He began rebuking the spirit of deafness and dumbness. Well, he didn't manage to heal my ears, but he got me speaking in Tongues for the first time! :shock: :shock:

When I went downstairs for coffee after the service, I felt like I was walking a couple of feet off the ground. One of my friends looked at me, and said, "I can sure tell YOU got a touch from the Spirit!"

I sang at the top of my lungs all the way home.... :D:D:D:D

Frequently during worship, I hear that still, small voice within that is God speaking to me. Sometimes I 'see' visions in my mind's eye. Sometimes there are tears of either joy or sadness, as God touches my heart.

And sometimes there is nothing. It depends a lot on the worshipers present, and also the musicians, and how in tune with the Spirit they are. If they're just there to give a performance, well, then, that's often all you'll get.

Edit: And yes, as Hal says, it can happen when you're alone. But for me, it most often happens in a group of like-minded believers. I feel it's a synergistic thing: the more people present who are in tune with the Spirit, the stronger the connection. Sometimes it's SO strong, I look up and half-expect to see the Shekinah glory. (A Jewish belief, in which the glory of God becomes a real presence in the worship service as a bright light, as it did with Moses when he was receiving the Ten Commandments. That's why Jews close their eyes and cover their faces when praying, as the Glory can be so bright as to blind you.)

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 5:43 pm 
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For me, worship is an opening of perception, a welcoming of love. It has come in many settings -- in a church filled with magnificent music, in a quiet five-person celebration of the Eucharist in a simple cabin, in the solitude of a dark room lit by a single candle, in Muir Woods as morning light shimmers.

It is looking at life as it is with a heart that sees more and says "Holy." It is sensing a Presence that is vast and mysterious, yet closer than breath.

It's utterly indescribable and yet so real that everything else seems a shadow beside it.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 6:21 pm 
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I went to a Christian youth conference in 1998 and they had services where there was a speaker and one of the fellas (I forget his name but he's "known") held an alter call. And it was the most intense experience I've ever had. My friend took me up there and I was overwhelmed to tears. That experience felt like a rush, it was very powerful.

Yet most times I don't feel a rush because my church is very methodical and doesn't really get "excited".

Worship is very personal IMO.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 6:47 pm 
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I think I've been hampered in my understanding of "worship" by that Monty Python film, The Meaning of Life! You know, the bit that starts out, "Oh God, you're so very BIG. We're awfully impressed down here!" And so on and so forth. ;)

But what you folks are describing isn't groveling or fear- but it sounds remarkably like what I feel sometimes when meditating. I've never invoked a deity, but sometimes it feels like I've touched a benevolent power, one that helps and heals.

And once, before I started with the meditation stuff, I was just sitting outside with my family on a beautiful spring day and the kids were playing and having fun and everything was lovely... and my whole body started feeling like it was kind of buzzing. Like when you are on the edge of being drunk, but I hadn't had any alcohol in months. Sometimes I get like that when meditating, too. Buzzed with connectedness to the universal energy.

But I don't try to anthropomorphize that energy, nor abase myself, nor swear allegiance to it, or... or... anything. I just connect and let it flow through me. And it's kewl.

You guys almost tempt me to visit a church service, and see if the feeling is more intense in a crowd. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 7:14 pm 
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Quote:
I know that sounds like a dumb question...


I don't think so; I think it is a great question. I too was raised without any religious training (if that is the word), and the only "worshipping" that I have done has been on my own. So I am very interested in reading people's responses to this

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 7:35 pm 
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Maria wrote:
... nor abase myself, nor swear allegiance to it, or... or... anything....


I don't think I've done that either. There is a bit of a misunderstanding about worship. In most people's minds it is more like idolotry. Placing some... thing... on a pedistal and bowing to it, treating it as something more than yourself, and worshiping it.

When I worship God, it's much more of a mutual thing. It's not about swearing allegiance, or abasing myself, saying I'm so much lesser than God. He already has my allegiance, and asks nothing for it. I couldn't "abase" myself enough to matter, and he doesn't ask that either. The concept is not that I'm so much less than God, it's that I'm so much more WITH God.

Worship is not something God asks for, it's something you can't help but feel...

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For the TROUBLED may you find PEACE
For the DESPAIRING may you find HOPE
For the LONELY may you find LOVE
For the SKEPTICAL may you find FAITH
-Frances C. Arrillaga 1941-1995


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 8:21 pm 
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Worship is intensely personal. For this reason, it is difficult to describe or to put into words. Some people have, very eloquently...but it is difficult.

There was a thread in Bag End here. It was about "how do you know you're an old married couple" or something. What was funny was that we could recognize what someone said (ie, finishing each others sentences, or rolling over in unison without waking up)...there is a commonality to marriage in that...we all know what it is. But really, there is no way I will ever know what your marriage is like. There is something unique and personal to each marriage that defies outsiders to really know what it is all about. But at the same time...it's 'marriage' which is something we all know about.

Does that make any sense?

Worship is like that, too. Reading others' responses, I can say, yeah, I recognize that. But at the same time...I don't know what it's like to be 'inside' that person's worship.


In my church, the "high" is called "consolation." But that is....a side effect ;). It isn't the main event. The main event is "union with God" which is only imperfect during our earthly lives - so this worship is an anticipation of heaven.


But I should reign myself in before I get too theological. I know you didn't ask for what we say worship is. I just...couldn't help myself ;). But now that that's out of the way....


During worship, I am more "alive" or "awake" than I am usually. I also don't care about "other" stuff. I mean...usually, I'm always thinking over what I have to do, etc, and I can worry alot. That part of my brain turns off because that little stuff isn't important right now. I can honestly say that during worship, I do not think about what I am going to do at work or what I am going to post here or when my car needs more gas.
Worship is always about "right now" - it is living in the present experience. I also tend to forget myself a bit. Not really - I mean, I'm still me....but the focus is outward, not inward. That internal monologue shuts up for a brief moment (maybe that's why it's so much fun! You have no idea what I have to put up, listening to myself chatter on every waking moment...oh wait, maybe you do ;)) That experience is so...healing, and freeing. I would not have gotten through the stresses of 4 years of chemical engineering without the release of singing praise and worship songs on Friday nights and going to daily mass (schedule permitting).

My prayers vary, depending on the circumstances. Sometimes, they are mostly praise, recognizing God's holiness and goodness, and just being joyful in his presence. Sometimes, it's a hunger for that holiness, and so my prayer is an emptying of self and begging to be filled with God. Sometimes it is cleansing. Sometimes I kneel, with my head bowed nearly to my knees, tuning out whoever else is nearby. Sometimes I stand with my hands lifted up and sing my heart out, united with the group. Sometimes I sit on my bed and have a (silent) conversation with the crucifix on my wall, all by myself. Sometimes this is intense and life-changing; sometimes it is gentle and peaceful.

There is so much variety, and so many ups and downs in my relationship with Jesus that I really am struggling to put this into words. I can't...sum it up. I know you just wanted me to describe "what it feels like," but even then, I have trouble separating what it felt like from what happened.

There were two events that drove home to me how personal this was.

The first occured during my sophomore year of college. I went on a weekend retreat, and had an amazing experience. It was....well, I had been in a pretty dark mood for the month prior (winter and all), and just had not smiled much. I was pretty nasty to my mother, and didn't say one word to her on an hour long car ride. Then I went on this retreat. When I came back, I was smiling and happy, I chatted with my Dad and had a great conversation with him - it was just, wow! My whole outlook had shifted. I then tried to explain to my boyfriend what had happened. I told him what I did on retreat, but that failed to explain what I experienced. And since he wasn't there....I couldn't explain it to him. I did not know it at the time, but that was the beginning of the end of our relationship - a discovery that we could talk a lot without communicating.

The second occassion was in a discussion with 2 good friends of mine who are fellow Christians, but of different churches. We occassionally talk about religion and explore some of the differences. We were discussing communion. My best friend "knew" that our other friend and I had different views of this, so she asked her, "what do you think about during communion?" She explained that she thought of Jesus' sacrifice and how much he loves us. I enthusiastically nodded and said "Yes!" Then my best friend turned to me and asked, "what do you think about?" I was...tongue-tied. I almost couldn't tell them. It seemed so...personal. I know this sounds really silly, but it was as if she had asked me about my sex life. I did tell them, but that really drove the point home to me that, even among friends, it is hard to just talk about.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 10:24 pm 
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I can’t really explain how I feel worshipping without giving examples that a lot of people might find weird but here goes:

Emotionally, the best prayer/worship I do is during the Holy Week. I pray this pamphlet called the “Way of The Cross” by St. Francis of Assisi. You go through the ritual first, then it has reflections afterwards. When my wife and I first started dating I took her with me at my parish services, so we went through the prayers first then when I started reading the reflections I started crying, cause what was written there struck a chord with me, I felt that I am indeed a sinner, I’m not worthy etc… My wife thought I had this huge problem I haven’t told her cause the tears won’t stop but by the time I finished the pamphlet I felt like I was indeed forgiven, I’m felt light and happy, really difficult to explain. It’s like being “re-born” inside.

If you are deep in prayer, the whole world stops literally. I have friends who complain that they can’t pray when there is crowd or in a plane etc… I told them they do not necessarily have to close their eyes, I find that if I block the world around me and pray as hard as I can (not lip service) the world just stops, I don’t hear anything, see anything, nothing distracts me. A colleague once called me while I was praying in my office during lunch and he said I ignored him, I told him I didn’t hear him, honest! Worship can be anywhere for me.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 11:06 pm 
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After reading your post Lurker it made me remember how I felt on Good Friday, during the stations of the cross. It can be very emotional, yet it's very cleansing.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 11:06 pm 
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I fear that I am like Maria, and when this has been discussed in other places, there is always speculation that some humans are "wired" for "experiencing the divine" and others seem to lack this ability, desire, or what even is the accurate term to call it.

I certainly can rationally speculate about the divine, but it never hits me emotionally, unless it is gazing at my newborn's face for the first time, or seeing something truly uplifting or magnificent within nature itself. But, it is a different type of emotion, not at all overpowering or life changing.

"Worship" is a term that really escapes me personally, not that I deny its power or that people DO experience it.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 3:45 am 
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I am fresh from the Rosh HaShannah and Tashlich services and really looking forward to Yom Kippur. The experience of communal worship is awesome, in the original meaning of the world. Abasement is not a description that ever would have occurred to me, quite the opposite - I find it uplifting, cleansing, inspiring... I can't describe it well. It's a sense of joining with a human community, and together reaching out, re-joining the greater Whole. It's an imperative to reach deeper and higher, to be "more like Frelga". It is giving in to Love that is everlasting and ever patient.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 9:38 am 
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Maria wrote:
But what you folks are describing isn't groveling or fear- but it sounds remarkably like what I feel sometimes when meditating. (...) I just connect and let it flow through me.


No wonder that your feeling during meditation feels so alike to what the religious people experience while praying/worshipping. It has been found out by neurological research that, certain parts of our brain get activated during a spiritual exercise, regardless of what kind of spirituality one is practicing. I read about this in some paper some time ago, and found this article about this research online.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 1:24 pm 
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What a perfect description, Frelga. That is how it feels to me as well.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 2:54 am 
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Absolute immersion in the moment, with nary a comment from the peanut gallery that is internal narrative. I've felt it during (the best) sex, while listening to (the best) music, and occasionally while involved in a zen-like motor activity. Driving the Mini down to Muir Beach, for example, was awfully close. :)

I don't believe I've ever felt it in any sort of religious service. My conscious mind is always very busy during such, making the sense of imminence pretty much impossible. I have felt it during quasi-meditative moments in small groups now and again.

I do believe some people are better wired than others for this sort of thing, but I think...or hope perhaps...that it is a matter of degree and not kind.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 3:23 am 
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Are people here familiar with Gardner's Multiple Intelligences Theory?

He lists 8 (or 9, or 10...) different types of "intelligence", with the understanding that everyone has strengths and weaknesses across the board. Some are the "academic" types, like math and verbal skills, but some are "people" skills (interpersonal [relating to others] and intrapersonal [knowing yourself]). One is "nature"...and the newest one is "spirituality".

Thus, using his theory, we all have it...but some people are mystics and some have a very nascent level.

The cool thing about thinking about our brains using this theory is that you can develop any of these categories (by using them more). Some people are naturally good at categorizing things, and thus "get" thinking about science and organizing the world that way. Others...don't. But, they can learn ;). At least, that's what they teach the teachers!

I don't know if the proposal to list "spirituality" as one of the "intelligences" has gone over well or not, but I think that it is only fair to recognize that there are spiritual "geniuses" (like St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower), and that some of us haven't really had any 'spiritual' experiences. That's just the way it is.

I just....I can't really think that it is impossible for some people, so much as not terribly helpful. The "rush" isn't (in and of itself) all that useful. It just says "something profound has happened" - but profound things can occur in our lives without fanfare. For those who have not experienced something like this...do you feel it as something "missing" in your life, or more just as something bizarre that you wouldn't know what to do with if it were dropped in your lap? I am just curious, and don't mean to pry....


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 2:30 pm 
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My great-grandmother used to write heartfelt devotional poetry. There was a time when I envied the simplicity and straightforwardness of her faith, or rather, the joy it evidently brought her. But to experience that joy, I would need to be like her in a way that I am not, and perhaps never could have been: I would need to live in a universe more certain and more accessible than I do, or would care to.

So yes, I know that to a great extent I am missing something. But by the same token, she too was missing out on things I experience in happy abundance. I believe there are trade-offs we make in life, or in some cases, are made for us when we are young, or even before we are born.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 2:31 pm 
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I haven't heard of Gardner's system, but I have been wondering if different MBTI personality types might be more prone to this sort of thing. For instance, when I asked my husband how it felt to worship (he was raised Catholic) , he couldn't really tell me. When I showed him this thread, he admitted to feeling the excitement of the group activity, but that's pretty much it.

He's an ISTP on the MBTI system. Much concerned with the physical stuff of the world, and not terribly interested in the abstract. He has no talent and no interest in this sort of thing, really.

However, when he was suffering terribly from Lyme disease, he did make an effort to learn how to get into a meditative state and help heal himself with chi energy. It was very hard for him. What came relatively easily to me, was nearly impossible for him. But, with enough coaching from me, he finally was able to help himself and start recovering. He'd been in pain and on antibiotics for 3-4 months and they just weren't working. But, with LOTS of work, he was able to achieve the mental state required to help himself.

So, if he can do it, probably most anyone can- if they can just be brought to care enough. Don't get me wrong, he's a smart man- but feeling things that aren't there ;) is NOT an area that he is gifted in.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 2:59 pm 
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I'm an INTP, Maria, :)

I've been diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis since I was a kid and I stopped taking oral medications for years now since I think it doesn't work. It's very painful at times but I don't want to be addicted to painkillers so I usually use the "power of the mind" and prayer to just ignore the pain and it works. To stay on topic, we were taught in religion class back when I was in HS that if you give your pain to the Lord (like a sacrifice), you will still feel the pain but you wouldn't be all that cranky and upset about it.

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