Category Archives: Spiritual Practices
(1) From “Zen” from youmeworks reminds us–“Mindfulness meditation is somewhat different. There is no particular focus. It is a process of paying attention to your ongoing experience, whatever it may be at the moment. If you have a pain in your knee and that happens to be prominent in your awareness right now, you pay attention to that — not trying to concentrate, but simply noticing it and letting it be there. You don’t try to make it different. You don’t try to hold onto it. You just notice it as fully as you can, including what is going through your mind about it.”
(2) “How to do Mindfulness Meditation” by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche includes this:
“In mindfulness, or shamatha, meditation, we are trying to achieve a mind that is stable and calm. What we begin to discover is that this calmness or harmony is a natural aspect of the mind. Through mindfulness practice we are just developing and strengthening it, and eventually we are able to remain peacefully in our mind without struggling. Our mind naturally feels content.”
“Learning to bring one’s attention back to the present moment, including the ever-present process of breathing, over and over again, involves learning to catch oneself entering into habitual patterns that prevent clear awareness of the present moment. With continued practice and increasing development of mindfulness, one becomes increasingly able to notice those habitual reactions – to unwanted and wanted but unhealthy experiences and emotions – that prevent one from responding consciously and constructively.”
“For example, instead of realizing 5-10 minutes later that you’ve been lost in bad memories or fantasies of revenge, you can catch yourself after only 30-60 seconds. Better yet, you can learn to catch yourself in the process of getting lost in a memory or fantasy. In time, you can increasingly observe these habitual responses as they arise, and choose to respond in other, more skillful ways.”
To gain inner peace for greatest stability, do the following visualization to strengthen your intuition. Begin with deep breathing. In a comfortable sitting or standing position, expel the air from deep in your lungs. Repeat the deep breathing several times. When you feel energized, you are ready to begin the exercise.
- Lie down on the floor or on the ground and turn over to lie on your stomach. Brooke Medicine Eagle suggests lying there for 15 minutes while picturing a golden cord running from your belly into the heart of the Earth. Afterward, turn over on your back for the same period of time and experience the wind and sunshine passing through your belly.
- While on your stomach, you may reconnect with the feeling of being supported by the Earth. While on your back, you may recall your relationship to the Eternal. If you practice these on a weekly basis, you will feel a need to recommit to preserving your ecosystem.
- Basic warm-up for getting in touch with your intuition: Sit in a chair with your feet on the floor and with your eyes closed. As you breathe, let all thoughts drop away. Concentrate on your breathing to shut down the mind chatter. Notice how your chest expands as the air flows in and out of your diaphragm. Count the inhaling and the exhaling as one cycle. Notice how the different parts of your body react as you relax and shut down. To keep your mind in the now, practice counting the breaths. If you aren’t relaxed at the end of a goal of 50-100 breaths, make the goal longer each time until you reach your optimum length of breaths.
- The inner pilot: Choose a problem that has been bothering you lately. Choose one that is of a minor nature. Write a simple statement that describes the problem. Choose a room that is quiet and has little direct light or sun. If necessary, lie on a blanket on the floor. Don’t wear anything that might be restrictive such as a watch, eyeglasses, shoes, or socks. Lie face up and shut your eyes. Focus on the problem that you’ve selected.
Run through all the arguments pro and con. Examine them in all their possible dimensions. Consider all the nuances of the problem and mentally follow through the possible consequences of every solution. Go into the basic warm up and allow all directed thought to slip away. Concentrate on your breathing and pay close attention to how you feel as images come into your mind.
Nothing is my life is as important as the time I spend with God. Does that mean I make it a top priority? No. I’m getting better but hours sometimes go by with not one of my thoughts reaching out to the Fountain of Life. I suffer for these lapses. I have to make my seeking into habits before each is automatic. One of my latest ones is to ask for the gift of gratitude before I get out of bed. If I don’t start there and then, hours can go by. Today i am including others’ thoughts about our mediation time and how we spend it.
1. From Cheri (Glass House Ministries): “All or Nothing: Don’t Settle for Twinkies”:
Ideally, I like to have my mornings uninterrupted, my time with God unhindered. In a perfect world, I can get up at my leisure, have my coffee, and spend a good hour or more with the Lord. I read the Word. I write in my journal. I pray. I feel grounded. But it’s not a perfect world and life seldom plays out that way. I treasure the times that it does. And since returning to the workforce a year and a half ago, it’s definitely a rare occasion.
So what’s the solution? Skip my time with God … or learn to squeeze it into the time I have available? The answer is obvious; I know from experience, the day goes better when I start it with Him … even if we don’t get as much time together as I’d like. It’s the difference between skipping breakfast altogether, or choosing to eat a quick, healthy bowl of oatmeal on those days I don’t have time to cook bacon and eggs.
But the learning curve has been a challenge for me. I’ve struggled with this personality quirk all my life. The sad truth is that sometimes I settle for Twinkies. Twinkies are sugary fluff that provide no nutritional value, much like all my personal “wisdom” and planning apart from God (when I just don’t have enough time to squeeze Him into my day or into my plans), while a wiser choice can provide the substance that nourishes my body for growth and service, like the Holy Spirit can equip my spirit for what lies ahead in the day to come.
Getting my quiet time with God isn’t the only thing that is a challenge with my type of personality. I find that when I have an approaching event or engagement, I expend tons of energy toward that end, like life will be over the morning after. And when that day comes … the morning after … I find myself bobbing on the Lost Sea. What now? I don’t have that all-consuming deadline hanging over my head, and I’m at a loss as to what to do. Depression comes knocking. I question my purpose in life. Until the next event or deadline comes along ..
2. From Grace (Letting Go-Finding Hope through Al-Anon): “Spiritual Warfare-Step Three”:
I know I am not the only one to have this experience. In my spiritual quest I have read many books by many authors following different spiritual paths experiencing same thing. Just before a breakthrough something pushes them down and then it passes.
What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. I think that your mind resist progress. It is so comfortable to live with what is familiar even if that is the pain of your own story. A rut dug over time going round and round is easier that doing what needs to be done climbing out. What is out there might not be better than the rut and truthfully for a time it isn’t. Growth is uncomfortable for a time until the new rut is well established.
Sitting in meditation with the sadness and frustration going on in my right life now I realized I have reached that place again. I am climbing out of the rut and it is uncomfortable and lonely. I am being asked to question my own thinking and the way I have been approaching my life. This is really is hard and a blow to my ego.
In the darkness I asked God to help. The third step came to my mind instantly. Made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand him. Really is it that simple? I heard was do nothing. Let go and so I back to the theme of this blog. God doesn’t really need my help and he would prefer if in the very least I would just stay out of his way.
3. From Annie (Just for today): “Happiness”:
Fred Luskin, instructor of the Stanford happiness class, said that the simplest definition of happiness is “wanting what you have.” Conversely, the simplest definition of stress is “wanting something to be different.”
Below are five techniques Luskin teaches for reducing stress and increasing happiness.
– Keep a daily gratitude journal, listing items for which you feel grateful.
– Perform a meditation practice, or simply a few minutes of deep breathing and quiet reflection on something that made you happy. Consider what you can do to achieve that happiness again.
– Make a habit of sharing the highlights of your day with someone close to you.
– Practice forgiveness routinely.
– Construct a list of all activities and experiences that relax and rejuvenate you. Use items from this list to manage your daily stress.