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Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

 

Developing a mindset for presence is difficult in these busy fall days.  I am adjusting slowly to the shifting of gears three times a day as I travel from school to school.  I use the car ride to reflect on the last class and prepare for the next.  I’ve got the time down so that I’m not rushing.  I’ve noticed on the sign-in sheets at my schools that my time is the same every day even without my paying much attention to it.

 

EnneaThought® for the Day

Type Two EnneaThought® for November 11th

How can you fully experience your Presence here and now? Observe the many thoughts that pass through your awareness without becoming attached to any of them. (The Wisdom of the Enneagram, 47)

 

This week I’ve been practicing mindfulness and meditation with my morning group of kids.  They looked forward to this.  But Friday was Friday and their little busy minds just would not relax.  Eyes were opening, mouths were smiling, feet were fidgety.   So after the timer dinged, I asked my students to open their journals to free write about the word ripple.  I selected the word from the mindfulness card that said to imagine dropping a stone into the water and watch the ripples.  Adding this layer to the meditation practice brought my students to a vulnerable place.  I’m learning that when we open up our classrooms to the experience of mindfulness and safety, emotions can arise.  We have to be ready to treat them with gentleness and kindness.

Focus on nothing
everything becomes clearer
morning mindfulness

 

 

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

At the SCBWI conference in New Orleans, I met Whitney Stewart.  She is a nonfiction writer.  I bought her book, Meditation is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids.  Whitney has practiced meditation throughout her life, but only recently turned this love into a picture book and mindfulness teaching. 

 

Earlier this week I used her book as our read aloud.  I found meditation music online, turned out the lights, gathered pillows, and asked my students to settle down for meditation.  This was easier for some more than others.  One student opted to sit in his desk and put his head down.  Another opted to continue writing a slice. But a few sat cross-legged on pillows, closed their eyes, and listened to the meditation prompt from the book.

 

There was movement.  There were giggles.  Meditation was a new idea, an awkward idea.  This may take a while to get the hang of.

 

I read two of the meditation exercises.  The second one, Protection Circle, asked the students to imagine a glowing ball of white light between their eyebrows.  “Breathe out and send the light out of your forehead to surround your body.” Then we moved on to a red light in your throat and a blue light inside your heart.  Each ball of light was breathed out to encircle you with light.

 

Following the meditation, Kaiden said to me, “I imagined the three balls of color were fear, anger, and sadness.  But when they left my body, they looked like balls of fire.”

This morning, two of my students came into my room before school asking if they could meditate.  Again they sat on pillows on the floor with lights out.  I read another meditation from Whitney’s book.  They said they felt calmer and more prepared to start their day.  

Whitney’s meditation book is illustrated with child-like images of an elephant and a monkey. While reading aloud, the illustrations don’t matter.  What matters is the space to clear the mind.

I don’t know if I’ll keep this up, but I wanted to try it.  My students are especially stressed because they just completed 10 days of practice testing, and the actual state testing starts in two weeks.  Meditation works for me.  I’m glad to have a resource for passing it on to my students.

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

sky writing

During an exercise class, the instructor says, “Don’t forget to breathe,” as if you could actually forget. This seems like a silly instruction, but nine times out of ten, I realize at the moment she says it, I am holding my breath.

In yoga, I am learning breath is the most important thing. The teacher says, “Get in tune with the rhythm of your yoga breath.” I place my hands on my belly and feel it rise. Deep breathing relieves the tensions of my day.

Breath control is used to alleviate pain. I had a procedure done recently that required an IV (no worries, I am fine), and the nurse had a hard time finding a vein. That is so painful. I was using my Lamaze breath. The nurse noticed. It’s been almost 25 years since my youngest child was born, but I still remember how to breathe through pain.

In church, we sing a hymn, “Breathe on me, breath of God. Fill me with life anew. That I may love what Thou dost loved, and do what thou wouldst do.”

I believe in the power of breathing. The calm healing that oxygen brings in. Breath moves within me as the spirit moves. Taking in, I call God, “Abba.” Letting go, I say, “Amen.”

Focusing on a mantra, breathing the words that recall God to me, I can be fully present with whatever the stress may be.

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

“In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

― Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

Ah, the silence of summer. Days full of nothing. The older I get the more I appreciate silence. Sometimes silence is awkward, so we try to fill it up with sound. We turn on the TV or radio. We make a phone call. In the car, I rarely ride without the radio on. At home, I turn on the TV.

Over and over I am reminded that God comes in silence. When I take the time to turn off the devices and just listen, I hear joy in the songs of the birds. I hear the whisper of wind. I hear the quiet voice of God.

I took a walk to the park and did not take my phone. I walked alone. I was amazed at the noisiness of the birds, especially the mockingbird. I recorded one high in a tree. During the recording you can hear me say good morning to another walker. Listen and count the number of tunes the mockingbird sings.

When you are most at ease with another person, silence isn’t awkward. We stop trying to fill the open void with chatter. Notice this with your closest loved ones. With them, silence is golden. That’s how it is with God. Quiet moments given to prayer and meditation. Don’t chatter. Let your thoughts flit away like a moth. Ride the silent wave to an ultimate closeness with your creator.

Silence is a source of great strength

Silence is a source of great strength

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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

This week started with a celebration. My daughter, Maggie, is turning 30 this month. She created her own party to celebrate on Monday, Lundi Gras, in New Orleans. Friends and family came and enjoyed meeting each other. The greatest gift for me was having all three of my daughters together and happy.

HBday Maggie

Mardi Gras has a reputation for being quite the wild party. I hung out with my sister and her family. (See Slice of Life post from Tuesday.) We found a spot on St. Charles where families gathered. Everyone around was considerate while cheering for a happy celebration. My daughter’s boyfriend saw a prized LED mask fall at his feet. He knew my nephew would love it, but when he picked it up, he saw this girl atop her father’s shoulders. He handed her the mask. She put it on and wore it for the rest of the night. Practice random acts of kindness.

light up mask

Nephew Jack sports a celebration mohawk and dangles beads in his father's face.  All part of the fun.

Nephew Jack sports a celebration mohawk and dangles beads in his father’s face. All part of the fun.

Lent has now begun. I had the traditional ash cross smudged on my head. I am preparing to celebrate a holy Lent, 40 days of reflection and meditation. A quiet celebration.

meditation candle

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Slice of Life Day 13.  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Slice of Life Day 13. Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

I want to stay here
in deep meditation
focusing on one word,
letting light dance in my eyes,
letting go of stress.
Let me stay a little longer.

I want to stay here
in this warm shower
with scents of fresh herbs, a hint of rose
rubbing my itching scalp.
Steam wraps me in comfort.
Let me stay a little longer.

I want to stay here
reading in my teacher chair
while kids are spotted all around
with noses in their books.
I stop to read a favorite line.
Can I stay here a little longer?

I want to stay here
in shavasana, toes pointing to heaven,
holding my color focal point
melting away the day,
bowing in namaste,
Please let me stay.

photo by Pierce Martin, labeled for reuse on Flickr

photo by Pierce Martin, labeled for reuse on Flickr

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A new button for the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge!

A new button for the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge!

My journal "visual note-taking" at the workshop.

My journal “visual note-taking” at the workshop.

You will know that I am in the Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
–John 14:20

As I continue to try to practice Openness (my OLW) in 2014, I signed up to attend a Centering Prayer workshop on Saturday at my church, The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany. I have heard of meditation and the benefits of such a practice, and Centering Prayer is much like this, with a Christian emphasis. The above image shows my journal page as I listened to the presenter, Alan Prater, from Contemplative Outreach.

Alan spoke about friendship and the levels of relationship from acquaintance to intimacy. He said that our relationship with God is like those stages of relationship with others. I realized that my relationship with God has been at the friendliness level. I am comfortable in reflective prayer. I’ve tried to move to the friend level where responsiveness happens- opening my heart, feelings, and emotions fully. At this level, prayer is real and spontaneous, not rote. I asked myself if I was ready for(or even capable of) contemplative prayer, a level of intimacy. Could I open myself up to a pure gift of God’s presence, rest with God, and be totally comfortable in the beloved’s presence?

I was reminded that God does not want a wave on the street from me. God wants more. So I am committing myself to try 30 days of Centering Prayer, sitting in total silence for 20 minutes. I’ve chosen my place, a chair in the loft upstairs away from the household traffic flow. I downloaded the app “Insight Timer.” I’ve chosen a sacred word, “Abba.” One of the best gifts of the app is a journal button that comes up after the bell rings. This way I write immediately after my meditation. The words flow.

Here is my first journal entry:

Open
Abba
Sometimes
Flying
Angel lights
twinkle
sparkle
waves of purple
water
Abba
Father
Here
I
am…

Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, Throne of St. Peter, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican) Wikimedia Commons

Gian Lorenzo Bernini – Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, Throne of St. Peter, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican) Wikimedia Commons

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