Cultivating the Art of Presence


The world we live in has become characterized by a compulsive connectivity, but many of the ways that we connect with people, with our physical environment, even the way that we prepare and consume food have become disconnected from our physical bodies. While it’s not all bad, it can be helpful to make a conscious choice on occasion to engage our physical body in the process of connection, especially in areas where our habits are becoming destructive or dysfunctional. Here are three ways that you can choose to cultivate the art of presence:

Coming Soon: Artist’s Way Creative Cluster

We are excited to announce that we will be facilitating an Artist’s Way creative cluster at Oranga Community Centre in Term 3.

Details are below or you can download a PDF version here: Artist’s way advertisement

When:     Thursdays 8pm, commencing July 24th (Term 3)
Where:   Oranga Community Centre – The Wiberg Room
Facilitator:    Hayley Reffell
Cost:   $25 (13 weeks) / or $2.50 per session (casual rate)

Have something simmering away in your imagination that you haven’t managed to get out?

Want to live your life more creatively?

This group is for you…

The Artist’s Way is a course in exploring and cultivating your creativity.  Using Julia Cameron’s book ‘The Artists Way’ as a guide this creative cluster will meet weekly exploring themes from ‘The Artist’s Way’ and looking at how each impacts our own creative work– or lack of it!  The creative cluster will also aim to provide support, encouragement and accountability for one another as we embark on our own creative projects – whatever they may be.

‘No matter what your age or your life path, whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity.’

Julia Cameron

Whether your aim is to develop work you want to sell or perform, or just to be more creative with your home cooking, there is something in this course for you.

Course Outline:

Introductory Week             Exploring the Basic Tools
Week One                           Recovering a Sense of Safety
Week Two                           Recovering a Sense of Identity
Week Three                        Recovering a Sense of Power and Anger
Week Four                          Recovering a Sense of Integrity
Week Five                           Recovering a Sense of Possibility
Week Six                             Recovering a Sense of Abundance
Week Seven                       Recovering a Sense of Connection
Week Eight                         Recovering a Sense of Power Strength
Week Nine                         Recovering a Sense of Compassion
Week Ten                           Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection
Week Eleven                      Recovering a Sense of Autonomy
Week Twelve                     Recovering a Sense of Faith

For more details contact Hayley:     02102947735   or


Preparing for Lent

The season of Lent is considered a time of preparation and discipline.  While advent prepares us for the birth of Christ, Lent is a time when we prepare ourselves for Easter, the commemoration of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection.

In the early church, the 40 day period of Lent was a time when new converts to Christianity would prepare themselves for their baptism.  This period of preparation was marked by: taking vows of abstinence (choosing not to do something for a period of time) in order to physically discipline the body; devotion to prayer in order to spiritually align oneself with God; and almsgiving, performing acts of charity to demonstrate ones love for God through service.

Over time the tradition evolved to include old converts who would use the celebration of Lent as a means of remembering their own baptism, and re-dedicating themselves to Christ.

Today many Christians continue to observe lent as a way of spiritually realigning themselves by focussing on disciplines of reflection and repentance; and by making ‘vows’ which represent their resolve to live their lives differently.

When setting Lent goals the first thing many people often think of is:  What is something that I can handle giving up for 40 days?  While this can be valuable, it doesn’t quite get to the heart of what celebrating Lent is all about.  While giving things up can be an important part of the process, the real goal is seeing our lives transformed into a greater likeness of Christ.

If you’re considering setting your own goals for Lent, here are some questions that might help guide your process:

What area/aspect of my lifestyle/character do I most want to see change occur in?

What are some steps that I need to take in order to reach this goal?  (These could be things you need to do or things you need to stop doing.)

Which step could I action over the 40 day period of Lent to help me start moving closer to my goal?

How am I going to put this step into action?

Who are the people I need to talk to about my Lent goals so that they are able to help support me and keep me accountable to the decisions I have made?

*This post contains material originally published in the cession|community Lent Preparation Pack.  It is re-published here with the Author’s permission.

Waitangi Day Reflection

Growing up in towns/cities with a mixed Māori/Pakeha heritage I’ve spent periods of my life (depending on where we’ve found ourselves) more engaged with or estranged from my Māori tanga. Still, ours was never a particularly militant whanau. My nan taught us to treat all people regardless of race/religion/etc with respect and grace, if not to agree with every idea they might espouse. Consequently I find myself not apt to dwell heavily on the injustices of the past but rather to focus on positive ways of moving forward as diverse peoples in this land of Aotearoa. This is not to say that I’m unaware of the difficulties some of my friends and wider whanau encounter trying to bridge the various cultural divides we meet day to day but rather that I can’t personally live in a place of anger and distance. This context wraps into my current relationship with Waitangi Day. In one sense I view the day as a holiday to be enjoyed with family and friends; a celebration of and reflection upon ‘nationhood’ for all who consider themselves New Zealanders. But always, in the background, is the itching reminder of the constant struggle we Māori—tangata whenua!—face in defining our place in New Zealand society today and of holding close to our cultural values and heritage, so often at odds with typical ‘Western’ paradigms. Mine might not be the brownest face around, and many of my attitudes pretty enmeshed with a lot of current urban culture, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see or feel the underlying attitudes of a significant number of New Zealanders who don’t see Māori as having any special relevance to the country, who harbour some latent resentment to what they see as unfair ‘positive discrimination’. Despite this, each year it seems to me more and more non-Māori are embracing Māori culture/language/history as part their own identity as New Zealanders: something internationally unique of which they too can have a part and to which they can contribute. Maybe this is a function of the circles—professional, social, faith related—that I find myself in these days but to me this is a great part of the beauty, power, and value that the observance of Waitangi Day offers to all New Zealanders. We can embrace together our diverse cultural histories and respectfully blend them into shared values and stories of the nation we are becoming. My picture of this cultural tapestry holds all viewpoints as valuable and important as we make our way forward; Māori tanga being no more or less important than Pakeha culture or the other newer cultures that make up Aotearoa.  Which brings me back around to the struggle of many Māori: to have our contribution valued equally not just as an acknowledgement of some past significance but as a central part of the ongoing formation of our national story.

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words for 2014

At [pause] last week we spent some time in a collective prayer of examen for Taonga.  We took time to reflect over the events of the past year; to look for God’s fingerprints in our experiences; to celebrate God’s action in us and through us; to grieve over dreams that didn’t come to pass; and to discern God’s vision for our future.

As part of our time together we identified some words which summed up the picture of community we felt God was breathing into us during our time together.

Take a deep breath, inhale each one.  Let it inhabit your senses.



[pause] exploring examen

At [pause] last week we spent some time exploring the ‘Daily Examen’ or ‘Prayer of Examen’, a form of contemplative prayer which has grown out of the writings of Ignatius of Loyola.  If you’re curious to know more about its development and history, you can find some great info here.

There is a great ‘short form’ of the five steps of Examen over at gravity |center for contemplative activism

Below you’ll find a short video featuring Chris Heuertz co-founder of gravity speaking about the practice of Examen.  His explanation fleshes it out beautifully.

If you have your own thoughts and reflections about your journey with Examen, or if you’ve found any other helpful resources we’d love to hear about it.  Feel free to respond in the comments.