Meet Adam and Emily, a San Francisco couple who created a tool to help them manage their passages.
One of the great things about being married to a fellow passage meditator is that we can learn from and support each other on the spiritual path. This post's goal is to share an idea that came out of our discussions about a frequent problem we encounter, each in our own way: how to keep track of our passages.
Emily: As a pretty new meditator, I found it difficult to find time to thoughtfully prepare which passages I'd use in morning meditation. My typical routine was to roll out of bed, head to our meditation room, and open randomly to one of the tabbed pages in my copy of God Makes the Rivers to Flow. Most often if I landed on one I didn't know well, I'd change passages mid-meditation to one I knew better (ah, St. Francis!), and those old friends started to get stale. I felt frustrated because I wasn't practicing many of the passages I'd spent time learning but didn't know as well. And on a number of occasions I lost a tab in my book and altogether forgot about a passage I knew.
Adam: And for me, I've been meditating for a number of years, and tend to be a pretty systematic guy. I generally go through my passages in the order they're listed in the book, making exceptions anytime I feel a special need for the day. I've tried a bunch of systems, from marking my book's table of contents to bookmarking the passages on a Kindle. And those helped me a lot, but left me wanting more: for example, I wanted to know which passages I'd learned recently or knew least well, so I could give them extra practice.
Adam and Emily (center), in their meditation room with fellow San Francisco YAs.
Even though we have very different approaches for choosing our passages, we both felt it could help to have some better way to manage them. We started brainstorming and Emily had the idea of a personalized list with just your own passages. And since we had different systems for how to go through them, the list would need to be flexible – you should be able to sort it however you want or highlight the ones most important to you right now. Oh, and wouldn't it be great if it could make it easier to spot the passages you know that are recommended for specific situations, like changing procrastination, or building patience or courage? (These recommended passages for specific situations are listed at the back of the most recent edition of God Makes the Rivers to Flow).
With that inspiration, we designed this tool that we call the passage portfolio. We made the video below to introduce it and show how it works, so here we'll just highlight a couple of reasons why we think it's cool:
1. It's flexible, so it can help manage your passages no matter what your style
- Emily: For me, it's been really nice having all my passages on one page. It makes it easy to quickly scan the passages I know so I can thoughtfully select one for the morning.
- Adam: I print out 2 copies – one sorted in the book's order and one sorted by how recently I learned them. It supports my system of going through the book in order and helps me remember to give extra practice to the ones I'm still learning.
Adam and Emily print paper copies of their passage porfolios to keep with their passage books in their meditation room.
2. It helps you celebrate your successes and keep growing
- Emily: I was amazed and proud that after only one year I already knew nearly 15 passages. Seeing them all together inspired me to keep working, drive them deeper, and learn more.
- Adam & Emily: It's great to look back at the list and see all the wisdom we’ve worked so hard to internalize. We can see how long we've known our passages, all the different mystics they come from, which ones we know best, and which we want to learn even better.
We've had a lot of fun creating and using this tool and found that it continues to help us deepen our practice. So that's why we want to share it with you!
But it's important to point out that Easwaran never gave a particular system for managing passages, and this project isn't sponsored by the BMCM. One of the great things about passage meditation is that you can be creative and approach it your own way. We hope that even if you don't use the passage portfolio, it may give you inspiration and ideas for how to sharpen the passages in your repertoire. We'd love to hear how you manage your passages in the comments below!
Start experimenting with the passage portfolio by downloading it and watching the video:
(Note: the files below have been updated in 2016 based on suggestions from users within the BMCM community who have been using the passage portfolio.)
- Blank Template - Download this to get started with your own passage portfolio.
- Example Portfolio - Download this to see the example portfolio from the video.
Note: The passage portfolio works on both Windows and Mac computers, but requires Microsoft Excel 2007 or later.
Learn more about the passage portfolio through this video: