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You Are Welcome Here.

The goal of The Faith-ing Project is to enrich your spiritual life.   Our hope is that this  might be a gymnasium for the soul; a library for the spirit; and a toy store for the psyche.

To take a look at specific descriptions of spiritual practice, scroll to the bottom of this page.  If you’re interested in my books, you might take a look at Discovering the Essence: How to Build a Spiritual Practice When Your Religion is Cracking Apart.  

The premiere run of Discussing the Essence is finishing up now.  Every two weeks, a group of spiritual misfit-adventurers have gathered on zoom to explore deconstruction, engage spiritual practice, and learn to love ourselves and each other.   It has exceeded all expectations.  The next cohort will begin in summer, 2021.  To sign up for more information, click the contact link above or email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com

 To explore some audio presentations from the book, click here.    For more information on ‘Discovering the Essence’ Click here.   

If you’re interested in books more focused on spiritual practice without the exploration of deconstruction, take a look at the faith-ing project guides.  Samples of some of the Faith-ing Project guides can be found here.  If you would like to go straight to ordering the books at amazon, click here.

Mystic's JourneyG

You can find general information about building a spiritual practice here.

I am eagerly awaiting the premiere of the ‘Be Still’ app.  In the meantime, I was quite impressed by their how-to page.

We have just released episode number 2 of ‘The Open a Hand: A Faith-ing Project Podcast.”  Listen to that here.

Work has been temporarily suspended on the upcoming Faith-ing Project Guide on spiritual practices specific to the nine Enneagram types.  Samples of spiritual practices assigned to each of the nine types can be foundhere.

Our  audiofiles have been supplemented with videos.  Click here to see our audio file page. 

 

Spiritual Exercises By Category

If you do not find what you are looking for here, click this link.  Many of our resources, including audio files, strategies for bringing the practices home, contemplations built around the work of famous authors, and contemporary traditions can be found there.

Spiritual Exercises Listed Individually

Exercise 1: God’s Name   (written and audio)

Exercise 2: Breathing With God (written and audio)

Exercise 3: A split-Breath Prayer

Exercise 4: A Time for Silence, A Time for Speaking (written and audio)

Exercise 5: Lectio Divina (written and audio)

Exercise 6: 3-phrase Cycles

Exercise 7: More Lectio (written and audio)

Exercise 8: Sacred Writing with an Unconscious Focus

Exercise 9: Sacred Writing With a Deliberative Focus

Exercise 10: Centering Prayer

Exercise 11: The Word We Need the Most

Exercise 12: Constant Repetition

Exercise 13: Apophatic Meditation  (written and audio)

Exercise 14: Candles, Clouds & Waves

Exercise 15: The Riverside Meditations

Exercise 16: Apophatic Meditation with Variable Phrasing

Exercise 17: Emphasizing a different word within a phrase

Exercise 18: Who am I, God?  Who are you, God?

Exercise 19: A Second Riverside Meditation (A related audio accompanies this practice)

Exercise 20: Tonglen

Exercise 21: Listening to God Listen to You

Exercise 22: Slowly Honing in Via Lectio

Exercise 23: The 5 Remembrances

Exercise 24: A Walk with Jesus

Exercise 25: Padres

Exercise 26: Nature Adoration

Exercise 27: The Examen

Exercise 28: The Jesus Prayer

Exercise 29: A Prayer for…

Exercise 30: The Five Senses

Exercise 31: Adoration

Exercise 32: 7-11 Breathing

Exercise 33: Through a Verse, One Word at a Time

Exercise 34: The Examen with Multiple Questions

Exercise 35: Loving-Kindness and Grattitude

Exercise 36: A Welcoming Prayer  (Written and audio)

Exercise 37: Apaphatic Prayer focused on Trinity

Exercise 38: The Countdown

Exercise 39: Emptiness, And Fullness (A related audio file accompanies this practice)

Exercise 40: Mirroring

Exercise 41: Mindful Walking

Exercise 42: Another approach to Lectio Divina

Exercise 43: Be Still.

Exercise 44: An alternative Examen

Exercise 45: The Eye Through which…

Exercise 46: Apophatic Meditation with an Emphasis on Breathing

Exercise 47: Oneness Within a Network of Living Things

Exercise 48: A Second Oneness Meditation

Exercise 49: Observing the Breath

Exercise 50: Mantra Meditation Revisited

Exercise 51: A Body Scan (Written and audio)

Exercise 52: Metta (Loving-Kindness) Meditation II

Exercise 53: You are Closer Than Our Breath

Exercise 54: Labeling Thoughts

Exercise 55: Advent Meditations

Exercise 56: Advent Visualizations

Exercise 57: In God’s Womb

Exercise 58: God’s Breath, God’s Name.

Exercise 59: Breathing This breath with God.

Exercise 60: Beginning the Journey

Exercise 61: All Shall Be Well

Exercise 62: Embraced by the Silence

Exercise 63: And Now!

Exercise 64: St. John of the Cross and God’s Breath

Exercise 65: Hand washing as a Spiritual Practice

Exercise 66: Mindful Eating

Exercise 67: Tonglen for Times of Strife and Discord

Exercise 68: Three approaches to Sati (mindfulness meditation)

Exercise 69: Box Breathing

Exercise 70: Greeting and naming (ideal for contemplative walks)

Exercise 71: Finding Hope

Exercise 72: Oneness on a Winter Night

Exercise 73: Whole Body Mystical Awakening

Evercise 74: Welcoming With a Bow

Exercise 75: The Possibility of Resurrection

If you are interested in taking a look at some brief meditation prompts like the one below, click here.

” we can actually change our reality by being grateful first; not as a response but as an innate way of being.” – –Cynthia Bourgeault (1)

Audio files from ‘Discovering the Essence: How to Build a Spirtual Practice When Your Religion is Cracking Apart’

Each of the audio files below features a spiritual practice and a related reading from ‘Discovering the Essence.’

Recording #1 From ‘Dsicovering the Essence’ Just Sitting

For free readings from ‘Discoring the Essence’ Click here.

Practice number 2: Following the breath
Practice number 3: A Breath Prayer
Practice number 4: Centering Prayer
Practice number 5: A Welcoming Prayer

For information on ordering the book, click here. When you do read the book, I’d love an honest Amazon review to help others determine if the book is right for them.

Summer 2021 will see our first cohort of ‘Discussing the Essence.’ If you’d like information about joining this pay-what-you-can, zoom-based exploration of deconstruction click the contact link or email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com. It is not necesarry to purchase or read the book to join us for this time. For more information, click ‘here.

Exercise 74: Welcoming Whatever is Next With a Bow

Silhouette of a businessman bowinghttp://www.twodozendesign.info/i/1.png

There’s an excellent discussion of the spiritual power of bowing here. Two of the main take-aways from that excellent podcast are:

#1) Bowing is a supple, flexible, living reaction. This posture conveys an heir of willingness to respond to whatever comes next.

#2) There is an element of release and surrender in a bow; an heir of recognition that we stand before something that we may not fully comprehend.

As I listened to that podcast and pondered the end of 2020, it struck me as a rather timely response to this place we find ourselves in: we are saying good-bye to the strangest year in recent memory; we made it through the darkest time of the year. Residents (like myself) of the USA are in wondering if this next president will steer us away from the dangers we had been barelling toward.

The temptation can be to simply imagine a motion like bowing. The body is the doorway to so much that is good. Including it in rituals and practices is incredibly powerful. It is good to physically bow from whereever you are. It would be even better to stand solemnly and bow from a standing, respectful position.

I’ve presented a few different combinations of a bow with versions of the welcoming prayer in the space below. The first (74A) is one keyed to life changes. It might, for example, be used on New Year’s Eve. The second and third practices (74B and 74C) are practices which incorporate a bow into traditional approaches to the welcoming prayer. These are most often used to make peace with uncomfortable emotional realities.

As always, I hope you will play and explore with these practices as you construct something which will work best for you.

74A: Bowing and Welcoming the New Year (or other new transitions)

  1. Find yourself in this moment suddenly, with the finality of a snap of the fingers.
  2. Review in your mind the realities that you had been living in. As best you can, experience this past in your body and through your senses. Take your time to fully relive this.
  3. Bow to this reality that you have lived through.
  4. Welcome your feelings, thoughts, and emotions about this reality that is passing. Name and welcome them, out loud if possible. “Welcome, sadness.” “Welcome, regret.” “Welcome joy.” Etc. Bow to each of the feelings you have about this time and place.
  5. Inhale.
  6. Exhale.
  7. Bring to mind the new reality that is coming. Consider the things you know and the things you hope. Be open to the aspects you know about and the mysteries that you do not. Just as before, experience this in your body, through your senses as much as possible.
  8. Bow to this new reality.
  9. Identify and name your feelings about this new thing that is coming. Welcome each of these with words, “Welcome, excitement.” “Welcome, anxiety.” Bow to each of these feelings.
  10. Inhale.
  11. Exhale.
  12. Check in with your heart, body, and mind. What are you feeling? How are you carrying it. Bow, too, to your bodies reactions to this practice and the feelings you are carrying now.
  13. If you’d like, as best as you can, exhale these feelings and sit in a time of wordlessness.

Exercise 74B: One approach to Bowing and Welcoming Emotions

The Exercise:

  1.  Create a safe, quiet environment for yourself.  Turn down your phone and consider lighting a candle.
  2. Breathe deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth.
  3. Take a mental inventory of where you are, right now.  List the feelings you are experiencing.  Do your best to engage this with a nonjudgemental attitude.  Your feelings are neither good nor bad.  They simply are.  
  4. Choose the feeling which seems to be the most impactful.  Bow to this thought or emotion.
  5. Think, or say “Welcome ___________”  (E.G. ‘Welcome, Fear.  Welcome, sadness.  Welcome, anxiety.  Etc.)
  6. Say, or think, ‘I let go of my desire to change this feeling.’  or ‘I let go of my ___________’  or ‘God, I give you my _____________’
  7. You might wish to bow again, this time to whoever or whatever is taking up this emotion.
  8. Progress on to the next emotion, repeating steps 4 and 5.
  9. When you have worked through these emotions, spend a moment doing a mental inventory, assessing whether you feel differently.

Exercise 74C: A Second Approach to Welcoming Emotions with a Bow

  1. Create a safe, quiet environment for yourself.  Turn down your phone and consider lighting a candle.
  2. Breathe deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth.
  3. Take a mental inventory of where you are, right now.  List the feelings you are experiencing.  Do your best to engage this with a nonjudgemental attitude.  Your feelings are neither good nor bad.  They simply are.  
  4. Choose the feeling which seems to be the most impactful.  Think, or say “Welcome ___________”  (E.G. ‘Welcome, Fear.  Welcome, sadness.  Welcome, anxiety.  Etc.)
  5. Breathe once.
  6. Say, or think “I let go of my desire for security and survival.’
  7. Bow and breathe again.
  8. Say, or think, ‘I let go of my desire for esteem and affection.’
  9. Bow and breathe again.
  10. Say, or think ‘I let go of my desire for power and control.’
  11. Bow and breathe.
  12. Say, or think, ‘I let go of my desire to change the situation.’
  13. If you wish, you can repeat this process for a second, troubling emotion.

If you’d like to participate in ‘Discussing the Essence’ fill out a contact form at the top of this page or email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com

Discussing the Essence

Fill out a contact form above, or email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com to recieve the link. ‘Discussing the Essence’ will meet on alternate weeks. Here is the general routine:

5-10 minute icebreaker (yes, introverts. It will be optional.)

5-10 minute reading from ‘Discovering the Essence

5-10 minute reflection from guests (There might be some weeks without a guest.)

15-20 minute guided spiritual practice

20-30 minute general discussion

We’ll use ‘Discovering the Essence‘ as a sort-of blue print, borrowing the topics from the chapters in order. This means that the first week will cover the introduction’s theme of ‘You will be ok’ and ‘Why Spiritual Practice?’ The next session, meeting January 28 will explore the question ‘What do I believe now?’ February 11’s topic will be ‘Who is left in my life now?’ and Feb 25 will cover the question ‘My God, why have you forsaken me?’ (This is an exploration of the sense of estrangement and isolation from God.)

I believe firmly that there are millions of us who might benefit from an opporutnity to process and discuss our spiritual transition. However, some might require more intensive support than this program can offer. Religious trauma is a real and often destructive force. I wish to be clear that I am a deconstructed, Christ-centered mystic with good intentions. I am not a trained therapist. While it’ll be nice to see lots of friendly faces on zoom, it’s much more important that people take care of themselves. If you would benefit from professional mental health support I strongly encourage you to seek this out.

Exercise 73: Whole Body Mystical Awakening

Background: Today marks something new for the Faith-ing Project. This the first spiritual practice on the site which I am merely reposting. None of this description came from me. My hope for 2021 is that this becomes an increasingly frequent practice here. A first step for a contemplative is to take a brisk jog through the sorts of practices that are out there. But I hope that you have the oppurtunity to take a deeper dive into traditions, practices, and communities. I am beginning with this practice because I have deeply benefited from Intergral Christian Newtork‘s WeSpace Groups, Sunday Services, and free standing meditations. I think you will too.

This meditation was written by Paul Smith. You can find his excellent ‘Intergral Chistianity: The Spirit’s Call to Evolve’ on Amazon.

This practice can take from a few minutes to an hour or more. You can do one part or several, or all of it. I (Paul) often take about twenty minutes to do it all.

Set your intention to open to the four goals of Whole-Body Mystical Awakening:

(1) expanded heart consciousness,
(2) mystical oneness,
(3) the spiritual beings present with you,
(4)  windows of spiritual knowing.

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1.      Start with your Heart

Move your awareness from your head to your heart. This is not being aware of your heart but being aware from your heart. To help, you can tap on your head, then tap on down your temple, jaw, neck, and chest. Continue tapping on your chest until you sense you have moved to your heart space. You can also place your hands on your heart which can increase the energy there. Your heart space includes your chest, back, arms, and hands. You may also think of someone you love to help activate the love flowing from your heart.

Deep in your heart center is an inexhaustible flow of love which is always there, ready to radiate outward. You may feel warmth flowing from your heart and bliss flooding your being.

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2.     Treat your Feet

Move your attention to your feet, making sure your feet are planted firmly on the floor. You may want to stamp your feet or wiggle your toes to help your consciousness move there. Think of roots growing from your feet deep into the earth, anchoring you in your body and your body to the earth, even the whole material cosmos itself.  Draw up energy from this grounding and centering that comes these spiritual roots which connect you with the transcendent oneness of all divine material reality.

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3.     Chummy with your Tummy.

Draw that grounding energy on up to your gut, your spiritual womb. Residing here is our intuitive self, with the ability to understand or know something without conscious reasoning.

This is the home of your core self, your divine identity, which is accessed not by conceptualizing or thinking, but by intuition and sensation. Rest in your spiritual womb by simply being. Be aware of anything that emerges from this area of deep spiritual knowing.

Jesus said from here flows living water or the awakened consciousness of our divine identity (John 7:37-38). The gut deepens into transcendence as we experience not only our own divine identity, but that this identity is the one divine identity of all.

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4.     Spread to your Head

On the way up to your head, pause in your heart space to soak in your heart’s radiating love. Then move up into your head space. You may notice your mind is unusually calm as your carrying the grounding energy of your feet and womb and the radiant love of your heart with you into you head space. Rest in the cleared stillness there are long as you wish. If you wish, you can move up out of your head space, spreading into the vast, spaciousness there. This is the transcendence of pure consciousness that is the mystical realm of the infinite divine.

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5.      Impart your Heart

Move back down into your heart space, this time becoming aware of the spiritual presences that are with you. This can be the motherly-fatherly presence of God, the Living Jesus, and other spiritual companions such as Mary or other saintly presences who are there to comfort, encourage, and strengthen you. Let them hold you and touch your heart. You can sense their presence, converse with them, and receive from them.

Then let your heart flow out to others that come to your mind, sending the energy field of love out to them as healing, light, and blessing. Finally, let your heart expand to transcendent awareness as it enlarges and moves to hold all sentient beings in its blissful, loving embrace

EXTENEDED FINAL.jpg

6.     Devotion in Motion

Finish with devotion in motion by reaching down to your feet with both hands and feel the energy move up through your body like a flowing geyser until your hands are raised high in the air. You are a geyser of love and healing shooting up through and from you. It flows out to the world and universe becoming a part of the Kosmic groove you and others are cutting in fabric of the cosmos, co-creating with God new pathways to the continuing evolution of creation.

AND RIVERS OF LIVING WATER SHALL FLOW FROM THEIR INNER SELF.   — JESUS


Body Centers of Spiritual Knowing

Whole Body Awakening
Whole Body Awakening

The deep feelings of the HEART are retrieved through our awareness moving into the heart center with the chest, arms, and hands in contact with one another.

Our body energy field is accessed with our awareness sinking down to our legs and FEET, grounding and drawing energy up from the earth.

Our intuition and core identity are accessed with our awareness resting in our gut and contact with our hands on our lower abdomen or SPIRITUAL WOMB.

The impressions, images, and words that come to the MIND are accessed through contact with the head and forehead.

These physical areas are entryways into the depths of being present and their associated ways of spiritual knowing.

For ICN’s audio file recording of this practice, click here.

Practice 72: Oneness on a Winter Night

Background: Today’s practice is a visualization which builds on some on oneness practices. For examples of more oneness practices, click here and here.

It will be helpful, before practicing to bring to have choosen a small group of people whom you feel very safe and comfortable around.

The Practice:

  1. Find a relaxing pose. If you can comfortably manage it, feet flat on the floot and spine upright are ideal.
  2. Release your worries, stresses and concerns with your next exhales.
  3. Inhale all the way down into your hips.
  4. Exhale feeling your belly draw closer to your spine.
  5. Close your eyes.
  6. See yourself– and your friends– in a clearing on a cold winter’s night. Your breath comes out in clouds and a light dusting of snow covers the ground. You are dressed warmly, comfortably. There is a single towering pine tree in the center of the clearing. The outskirts of the clearing is defined by smaller trees and shrubbery. It is a ways beyond you. The moon is so bright! It illuminates the clouds which a gentle wind keeps slowly creeping across the sky.
  7. Form a circle around that central tree. Take your friends hands. Someone squeezes, and that squeeze comes around the circuit like a pulse. See yourselves and your friends. Their are smiles here.
  8. As you breathe, breathe with your friends. Feel the way you are inhaling together. Feel the cold, invigorating you in the quiet. Feel the way you are exhaling together. This is a connection.
  9. Connect for a while, just this. Feeling the closeness on the winter night. Seeing your breath.
  10. Now, connect to the great tree in the middle. Your exhales are the trees inhales. Perhaps the cloud from someone’s breath even lands on a pine needle. there is a symmetry here. Breathing with your friends.
  11. Give most of the time you have remaining to this connection. When you are ready, gently squeeze the hands on your left and your right.

Discovering the Essence: How to Build a Spiritual Practice is coming in November. Click the link for a free preview and more information.

Exercise 71: Find your hope

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Background: Today’s practice is deeply inspired by Resmaa Menakem’sMy Grandmother’s Hands.‘  I am including it here because  this important book is something that everyone should be reading right now.  It is explores questions of race, white supremacy, and trauma by exploring where these things live in our bodies.  It is not easy work for an old white guy like me; but it is important work.  Contemplatives and those who love spiritual practice might find this approach to be a powerful one.  Each chapter features practices like this one.

To be honest, I am a little hesitant about sharing this practice here.  I think that this practice could have lots of positives not related to exploring racial trauma and white body supremacy.  And this is my concern: I would not want to co-opt and distract from this important work.  I am also aware and sensetive to the issues around white people stealing the work of black people without approprite credit and attibution.  The best I know how to do in this regard it to state again, emphatically, that regardless of your background or history Resmaa Menakem’s excellent ‘My Grandmother’s Hands’ should be on your reading list.

The Practice

  1.  Place your feet flat on the floor.  Wiggle your toes.
  2. Become aware of your skin.  Note where it is sitting under cloth and where it is exposed to the air.  Feel the textures and the temperatures, the moisture and movement of air.
  3. Note where you are sitting.  Feel the pull of gravity pulling you down and the support of your chair, cushion, or floor supporting you upward.  Note the softness or hardness of the places where you are back, butt, and legs touch whatever you are sitting on.
  4. Can you sense hope in your body?  Where is that hope living right now, at this moment?  Does it move or change with your breath?  Is there excitement living with your hope?  Anxiety?
  5. What specific desires come with finding this hope in your body: what is it that you are hoping for?  Healing?   Success?  Do you have hopes around racial trauma and moving past the hurts you have recieved or the hurt your actions have caused?
  6. Can you find any fear in your body?  Where is it?  Does it move or spread?  Does it feel growing and alive or dead and cut off?  Sit with your fear, for a moment.
  7. Explore the specifics of this fear to the extent that it is safe, wise, and kind to yourself to do so.  What is it that you are afraid of?  Does this fear imply anything about your relationship to future events?
  8.   Hold the hope and the fear.  Experience them both fully in your body.  Take your time with this step.  This is a microcosm for the experience of what it is to be human.
  9. Return to checking in with your body.  Notice the way your breath feels.  If you would like to continue but need a moment, take that moment, and then take another.  You can return to a focus on your body by checking in with your sensory experiences that are happening now: listen, for example, for three sounds in your environment.  Look around and name for things.  Take a deep breath and smell the air.  Inquire into your taste buds and see if there is a taste in your mouth.
  10. If you would like to continue, you can hold search for and hold other dualities.  Begin by choosing one item from the pairings listed below; (or, of course choose something not listed.)  Some pairings you might try: love/apathy; acceptance/anxiety; like/ dislike; joy/sorrow; admiration/disdain.
  11. To the extent you can, find where that first element lives in your body.
  12. Explore how it feels and moves within.
  13.  Identify some of the  specific ways that this might pop up in your life.
  14. Find the opposite in your body.
  15. Explore how the opposite feels and moves within.
  16.  Identify some of the specific ways that this might pop up in your life.
  17. Spend a moment just holding the both of these oppposites together.
  18.  If you wish, hold this pair as you return to an earlier pair, such as hope and fear.

 

Exercise 70: Naming (best as a contemplative walk)

Background-   this practice could be connected with a wide array of inspirations.

  • Mindfulness and many other Buddhist practice speak about the importance of noting the specifics of the situation we find ourselves in as noted by our senses. Sometimes this is described as noting the ‘thisness and thusness’ of where we find ourselves.
  • In the book of Genesis, Adam was given the task of naming things in the Garden of Eden.
  • Francis is known to have described the living and nonliving things around him with familial titles: for example ‘sister moon’ and ‘brother sun.’

 

This practice is ideally done as a contemplative walk.  A good contemplative walk carries a tension within it.  Of course safety is ultimately important.  Therefore, diverting some attention to an awareness of how to get home and ensuring that we don’t walk into an unsafe situation are very important.  Walking into an unsafe situation might be failing to look both ways before we cross a street.  It also might be making sure we don’t wander into neighborhood that is unsafe for us.

However, being too planful takes some of the power out of a contemplative practice.  I believe in something larger than us that will guide our steps when we are willing to cede control of our destination.  Even if I am wrong on that, it is clear that being too strategic and logical ends up giving over a certain measure of headspace over to the logical, planning side of our brain.  As a result, we end up not being as fully contemplative as we might have hoped for.

If a walk does not make sense for you right now, much of this practice can be applied to a more sedentary approach.   A practitioner might find value in applying this practice to a place they think they know very well.  It can be surprising the things we discover when we look at familiar surroundings with fresh eyes.  Alternatively, Finding a seat with unfamiliar surroundings can also bring new discoveries.

Before beginning the practice description, I would like to own and name the reality that this practice can feel a bit silly.  The internal monologue would look rather amusing if viewed out of context.  I believe that a little silliness if quite a powerful thing.  Most of us (including me) are entirely too grim and somber about our spiritual practice.

The Practice

1.  Begin a walk with a cultivated sense of purposelessness.

2.  Identify something in your field of vision.  Greet and name it.  (e.g. ‘hello tree with yellow leaves on the north side.’  or ‘Hi, fire hydrant with a rusty chain.’)  work at noticing and naming in a way that identifies the uniqueness of this one particular thing you are seeing.

3.  Note, name, and greet the next thing in your field of vision as you continue your walk.  The goal is to produce a nearly nonstop litany of the things you encounter.  If someone were to hear your thoughts, it might almost sound like a guided tour of the walk.

4.  As you continue the walk, see if you can apply it to sounds or smells.

5.  You can similarly greet feelings, thoughts and memories as they come up for you.

 

Exercise 69: Box Breathing

Background for 69A: Box breathing is a mindfullness practice.  It begins by identifying 4 points:  the inhale, the pause after the inhale, the exhale, and the pause after the exhale.  Practioners are invited to imagine a box and circle their attention around each side with each of the four parts of the breath.

Mindfulness offers up many tools.   I find these tools very useful in enhancing my experiences of other types of spiritual practice.  One of the most basic principles of mindfulness is to anchor ourselves in this present moment  with the information the 5 senses provide.  One of the challenges with this sensory data is to receive it in  a manner which is as concept-free as possible.

Thus, in mindfulness, it is  good start to notice the feeling of the breeze on my hand.  It is better to disengage my knowledge that it is a breeze and to simply tune in to the feeling on my hand.  It is even better than that to release my concept knowledge that I have a hand: the goal is to simply experience that sensation as something that is occuring.

It is powerful to attend to the breath for as long as we are able.  Perhaps that is just for a part of the inhale.  Perhaps we are able to stay fully in our breath for all 4 “sides” of the “box.”

Two versions of this practice are presented here.  It is worth being reflective on how the two different prescriptions for breath-lengths leave you feeling.

Practice 69A

  1.  Place the feet flat on the floor.  Find your breath.
  2. Inhale for a count of four.
  3. Pause for a count of four.
  4. Exhale for a count of four.  
  5. Pause for a count of four.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5.  This time, stay with the breath for as long as you can.  
  7. Repeat steps 2-5, imagining that each 4-count takes a finger to the end of a side of a box.  As you move on to the next corner of the box, you have entered a new part of the breath.
  8. Continue this 4-part 4 -count, either staying in the breath or imagining the box.  Note how this leaves you feeling.  After this reflection, you may wish to move on to practice 69B.

Background to 69B

It might be helpful to recall the shape of a trapezoid from your last geometry class.   download

For this practice, it’s helpful to envision a box of the shape shown above.  We could imagine that this box had legs of 3 feet.  We could imagine the smaller, upper base was 4 feet, and we could imagine that the lower, longer base was 5 feet.

Practice 69B:

  1.  Place the feet flat on the floor.  Find your breath.
  2. Inhale for a count of four.
  3. Pause for a count of  three.
  4. Exhale for a count of  five.  
  5. Pause for a count of three.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5.  This time, stay with the breath for as long as you can.  
  7. Repeat steps 2-5, imagining that each breath part covers the time it takes a finger to the end of a side of a box.  As you move on to the next corner of the box, you have entered a new part of the breath.
  8. Continue this pattern, either staying in the breath or imagining the box.  Note how this leaves you feeling.  This is your practice.  Please consider changing the lengths for a duration which is more comfortable.  One important thing is the regularity: choosing numbers and sticking with them.  Another important thing is the mere presence to the breath and attention to how that feels in the rest of the body.

Exercise 68: Sati/ Mindfulness meditation

Background:  This spiritual practice will introduce a few different approaches to staying present.  The overaching idea with mindfulness is to meditate by locating ourself in the present. One of the way that this is done is through recognizing when we are having having intrusive thoughts or sensations by simply and gently witnessing these: watching them come and go.  I find this powerful because identifying their coming and leaving is a way to remind myself that I am not the same as these thoughts, and as I do this I am shown that this is what the mind does– it thinks and feels things.

A second major feature of this practice is to locate the self with the physical sensations we are noticing now.  Most often these are the sensations of breath.

There are some related spiritual practices listed at this website.  I am sharing this practice to introduce a handful of new possibilities.  A few different possibilities are featured in each of the practices below.  I suggest trying each of them and then picking and choosing your favorite aspects of each of the practices below.

 

Practice 68A

  1.  Sit up in a way that is straight and comfortable.  See yourself as sitting on a seat between heaven and Earth.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Find your breath.  Pay attention to the abdomen: feel it pushing out with the inhales, and moving in, toward the spine, with the exhales.  
  4. Listen for a noise in your environment, when it comes up, notice how you can’t control it’s coming or coming.
  5. Return to your abdominal breathing.
  6. As thoughts or perceptions arise, gently notice these.  Observe how they are like the noises: they come and go.
  7. Return to noticing how the breath feels in your body.  
  8. Continue this process for the time you had alotted.

 

Practice 68B

  1.  Sit up in a way that is straight and comfortable.  
  2. Close your eyes.  Be aware that even with your eyes closed, you can still observe differences in the visual field.  Your eyes work even with the lids down.  Center yourself in this present moment by seeing what you see with the eyes closed.
  3. Find your breath.  
  4. As thoughts or perceptions arise, gently notice these.  
  5. Return to noticing how the breath feels in your body, or to that darkened visual field.
  6. Continue this process.

 

Practice 68C

  1.  Sit up in a way that is straight and comfortable.  See yourself as sitting on a seat between heaven and Earth.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Find your breath.  Pay attention to the place where the air comes in and out of the nostrils.  Feel the change in temperature and pressure as it comes in and out.
  4. How long can you be fully present, with no wandering of mind: the length of an inhale?  The length of the whole breath?
  5. As thoughts or perceptions arise, gently notice these.  Then return to being aware of the breath in the nostril.
  6. When the time you had set aside for this practice is complete, know that you can retun to this state, even for just a minute or two, through out the day.

Practice 68D

  1.  Sit up in a way that is straight and comfortable.  
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Find your breath.  Pay attention to the subtle movement in the middle/side of the very lowest ribs.  Feel their slow movement as the lungs fill and empty.
  4. Listen for a noise in your environment, when it comes up, notice how you can’t control it’s coming or coming.
  5. With your next inhale, simply think ‘in.’  If you wish, in your mind’s gentle voice, you can hear this sound for the full length of the inhale: ‘iiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnn’
  6. With your next exhale, simply think ‘out.’  If you wish, in your mind’s gentle voice you can hear this for the full length of the exhale: ‘oooouuuuutttttt.’
  7. As distractions arise– and they will– notice the distraction as it comes and goes, and then return to the naming of the inhales and the exhales.  
  8. Continue this process for the length of time you had decided on today.
  9.   When stressful and difficult moments through out your day arrive, return to being fully present for the breath.