Mindfulness and Mediation

Dear Fellow Journalers,

I first heard about this practice when I taught a fifth grade religion class at my church. I had a rather rambunctious group that year and it took a lot of energy and wasted time to settle them down each morning. Several weeks into that school year, I was invited to a teachers’ conference and was introduced to one of the books that would change my life. It was written primarily for teachers of Religious Middle Schoolers and featured scripture stories and meditations.

I have to admit, I was skeptical at first. I read through the book and adapted one of the stories and meditations for my next class. The reaction was amazing. Several students didn’t want to stop and “come back to earth.” Even the most mischievous of the group was calmer. I decided to try the experiment once a month, but after the second month, the students asked if we could meditate every week! In time, I grew confident enough to script my own stories (based on the lesson) and meditations and found myself meditating as well. This practice continued throughout the rest of the school year until I “retired” some 10 years later.

Along the way, I was formally introduced to Mindfulness Meditation at Holy Family Retreat Center in West Hartford CT. The workshop has become the highlight of my yearly retreat. I learned that this practice has no specific goal except awareness and acceptance in your life. There are many types of meditations – some focus on a word or a phrase, some on a particular image or visualization. You look at your thoughts and feelings as though you were looking at a different person, without analyzing those thoughts or feelings.

Some of the mediations are breath, common concerns, body scan, walking, emotions, night, smile, laughing, loving, difficult people, self-criticism, positive feelings, anxiety, stress, insomnia, gratitude, and peace.

The following is a brief synopsis of how to practice mediation. If you have a book or better yet, an audio of meditation, please refer to that resource.

  1. Find an environment where you can be free from distractions for a short period of time. A peaceful view of the ocean or a picture will help you create this space. Some people light candles or create an altar of found objects like shells or stones.

  2. Choose a chair where you can sit up straight with your feet touching the floor. You can close your eyes completely or just gaze downward.

  3. Pick a time for practice every day that will be non-evasive on your schedule. You can even make an appointment with yourself, if you wish. The duration is up to you. Some people start with 10 minutes a day and build from there.

  4. Pick an anchor. Those pesky thoughts may intrude and distracted thought is not constructive to meditation so it helps to re-focus from time to time. The anchor can be one of the objects in your room, part of your body (like a hand), or word or phrase. My practice has always included the breath as an anchor. There are many books, audio and even apps that can help you in your practice. Mindfulness meditation requires practice not perfection.

  5. Follow your breath. Begin by taking 3-4 breaths. Be aware that you are breathing. Feel your breath traveling from your mouth or nose to your lungs, chest and abdomen. If your mind wanders go back to the breath. After your timer goes off, reconnect to the world around you and process the meditation by writing in your journal.

‘Til next time,

~Sallie

 

Advertisements

Labrynth

Dear Fellow Journalers,

The labyrinth is an ancient circular pattern that leads the walker on a path to its center. It is not a maze, as there is only one way in and one way out and no dead ends that would make the seeker choose directions.

Many people see a labyrinth as a metaphor for life’s journeys offering lessons as they walk their path.

“Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient oaths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it and you will find rest for your souls.”      Jeremiah 6:16

How do you use a labyrinth? The following comes from Holy Family Retreat House.

Labyrinth page

WALKING THE LABYRINTH

There is no single correct way of walking the labyrinth as a spiritual practice.
Feel free to walk in a way that expresses your unique relationship with the divine.

At the Entrance

Begin in silence. Walk slowly with an open mind and heart. Become aware of your breath and let go of thoughts, judgments, and internal commentaries. Allow yourself to find the pace your body wants to go. Just be here in the present moment.

Three Stages of the Walk

I. Purgation (Emptying) ~ Walk slowly and breathe mind fully. Empty yourself of thoughts, burdens, and distractions. This is the time to open your heart and quiet your mind. Become empty like the great circle at the labyrinth’s center. Remember God is breathing with you and through you.

II. Illumination (Receiving) ~ When you reach the center, breathe mind fully and stay there as long as you like. This is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive from God what is there for you to receive. Imagine yourself as an empty vessel being filled with God’s love and peace. Remember that God lives at the center of your being.

III. Union (Returning)
~ As you leave, breathe mind fully and follow the same path out of the center as you came in. In your departing, you are joining God and God’s healing power at work in the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work you feel your soul reaching for.

The labyrinth is open daily to the public and is accessible by wheelchair

Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center

303 Tunxis Road – West Hartford, CT 06107-3119
Phone: 860.521.0440 | Fax: 860.521.1929
info@holyfamilyretreat.org

Copyright © 2016 Passionist Fathers of Connecticut, Inc.

‘Til next time,

Sallie

 

Prayer Journal

Dear Fellow Journalers,

One of my favorite books is “The Bridge” by Karen Kingsbury. It is a story about the relationship of people with a bookstore. Metaphorically speaking, it’s also about the connection (bridge) we cross toward the acceptance of ourselves and our creative and spiritual life. “The Bridge gives people a path to worlds they wouldn’t otherwise experience.” (Chapter 3)

A Prayer Journal’s purpose, like many other journals, is to express what is bothering you, what your gripes are, the big issues in your life, your fears. The journal gives you the opportunity to reveal your true self – not the one that hides behind the proverbial “I’m fine” saying you tell others. As you write, you delve into the deepest part of yourself. Some days you must stop and evaluate. Some days you feel yourself so overwhelmed with really strong emotions. On those days, stop, breathe, evaluate and then continue writing.

Prayer journaling is an ongoing conversation with God. Be sure to listen for that still, small voice.”

‘Til next time,

~Sallie

P.S.

If you find yourself in need of faith renewal, check out my “second home” link below:

http://www.wfsb.com/story/31047813/holy-family-retreat-and-conference-center

http://www.holyfamilyretreat.org/

 

 

 

Calendar

October 2017
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  
Heartfelt Creations

Uniquely Yours Cards~ Celebrating all occasions with a handcrafted touch ~

A Part of Me to Share

a writer's blog

Life Vest Inside

Listening to my heart, one journal step at a time.

kelleysdiy

Where Creativity and Imagination Creates Wonderful Ideas for Your Home!

Awaken Everyday

The Copper Beech Institute Blog

Novelty Revisions

Putting ideas into words.

Real as the Streets

Faithfully Authentic

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

Audrey Pettit Designs

Listening to my heart, one journal step at a time.

%d bloggers like this: