Category Archives: Exercise Progressions & Email Campaigns

Solstice & Advent: Day 2

This is a space to  share any reactions, thoughts, or comments from the 2nd day of the email campaign.  If you would like to join us for the remaining 12 days of this campaign (free of charge) fill out the contact form above, or email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com  A few questions that come to my mind right now:

#1) What was today’s practice like for you?  What were some similarities and some differences between Day 1 and Day 2 for you?

#2) Do you feel like you have much of an answer to the questions you have been asking?  Can you put this answer into words?

#3) Is there a benefit to asking questions that don’t have easy answers?

#4)  What kinds of things are you struggling with on these practices?  What is going well?  Is anything surprising you?

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Solstice & Advent: As We Begin

For more information on The Faith-ing Project’s  December campaign, click here.

In the comments below, I hope you will share some thoughts and reactions to the following questions– especially if you will be participating in the campaign.

  1. How did you feel about the day 1 activities?
  2.  What general things would you like to share about yourself?
  3. Have solstice or advent had any significance in your past?
  4. Do solstice or advent have any significance in your present?
  5. What is your experience and opinion around spiritual exercises?
  6. What are your hopes and fears for this campaign?
  7. What sorts of traditions, prayers, meditations, and contemplative activities do you find helpful and powerful?  (Especially as related to solstice or advent?)

Day 11: A Visualization

Visualizations often work best as as an audio file.  My reccomendation is that you listen to the following:

If you prefer to read, you can view the transcript of the audio below.  One way to approach this is to read a paragraph at a time, and then envision what is described.

The aim of today’s visualization is to explore all the gifts that have been given to you.  We will build a sense of gratitude by exploring the many amazing things we have recieved and given to and  from others.

 

Imagine you are sitting in a warm room.  There is a window behind you. It is frosted with cold and snow is falling gently onto a white landscape.  You have nowhere to go. On an end table next to you is a mug of something warm and sweet. Imagine your favorite drink in there.  Pick it up. Take a sip. It warms, on the way down.

Now, turn your attention to your surroundings.  On your lap is a stereotypical Christmas stocking.  It is filled with small, wrapped boxes. There is a stack of gifts on thje floor next to you.  These are also nicely wrapped in bright colors. they are decked out with ribbons and gift tags, too.     

Begin, as you should, with the stocking.   Notice how garishly your name is written down it’s length. The stocking is filled with some of your favorite things.  The mere fact that these favorites exist, is of course, a gift. Opening these little packages will be the first step in becoming aware of how much we have to be thankful for.

The first little box you pull out of the stocking is about the size of a lip balm container.  When you tear through the paper and open the box, this scent gently wafts out of it. This gift is your favorite smell.  It fills the room, just strong enough to bolster you up. Take a slow and deep breath, and breathe in your favorite smell.

Take the next small box out.    Unwrap the bright paper. See that inside is a bite of your favorite food.  Impossibly, it is just the temperature it should be, even though it has been sitting there in the stocking.  Take a bite, now. Relish how the thing tastes. Feel the texture between your tongue and teeth. Put this box aside: it is magical.  If you would like, you could return to it in a few minutes. You will find that the box has replenished itself. Another bite will be here, waiting for you.

The next small box brings you about half way into the stocking.  It is a disk-shaped box. When you open it, your favorite sound comes out of it.  Perhaps it is a song you forgot you loved. Maybe it is a type of music or a just a few perfect notes, platyed softly.  Perhaps it is the laughter of someone you love very much. Whenever you close the box, the sound goes away. Put the box off to the side.  Put the cover on, if you wish. You can fill the room with this sound, at just the right volume, whenever you wanting it.

In the toe of the stocking is an envelope.  Pull it out. See that it has been sealed with wax.  You can break that seal, if you want. This is a letter inside from someone you love very much.  Perhaps you have not seen them in some time. Maybe it has some words that you would really like to hear from them.  In a moment, it will be time to dig into the larger gifts. But now, you can spend a moment with the things you pulled out of the stocking.  Will you read the letter? Unleash the sound again? Perhaps take another bite of your favorite food? Spend a few minutes now with these wonderful gifts.

If you want some more time with those gifts, pause this recording.

There is a stirring in the house now.  And there are some chairs, in front of you:   There might be 3. I am not really sure. In a few minutes you will have some company.  But for now, it is time to take a look at the first gift.

This rectangle is wrapped in a forest green.  As you peel away the paper you see it is the kind of  box sized for a folded shirt. When you take the top off the box you see that this gift is the gift of the friends and coworkers who have stood beside you.   Let the memories wash over you, of the people in your life now, and from years past. Consider the ways that they have helped you grow, the things they have taught you, the good times you have had.  As you recieve this gift you might bring to mind a friend from the past, and a colleauge from the present.

The next box is bright red.  It is a cube. Wrapped in tissue paper.  Untie the giant bow, and rip into the paper.  Open the top of the box, and know that inside are your gifts and talents.  The things you are good at are in here. The natural talent you were born with.  The discipline you harnessed to leverage this into something bigger. As you recieve this gift, name a thing that you are good at.

There is laughter coming with footsteps down the stairs.  There are people who are coming for presents in a few minutes.  But right now is still your time.

The next gift is wrapped in Newspaper.  It is, I think, the comic strips from a Sunday paper, filled with bright colors.  Rip away the newspaper and get into the box beneath. This is the gifts of those that have looked up to you.  Children, nephews, nieces, students of every sort. People who looked up to you. People who learned from you.  There are people who knew you for years, and there are people who watched you for just a few minutes. Being their  inspiration brought you gifts. As you recieve this gift, think about someone who has learned from you.

Your visitors are just outside the door.  It sounds like about 3 people. You are starting to develop a feeling about who it is.

 

The last of the gifts on the left of your chair is wrapped in irridiscent paper.  The shine dances on the present.. It seems a shame to rip this paper; you open it gently along the seems where it was taped.

The rectangle box might have once held shoes.  Ease the lid off the box. And find, inside, the gift of those who you learned from.  Parent-figures and literal parents, models of who to be and how to be;grandparents, uncles, aunts, mentors,  people who taught you to think, and to feel, people who taught you practical things, people who taught you theoretical things.  This box bears the gift of the people who poured their lives into you. Spend a moment, now, and drink this in.

 

The dear friends smile as they walk into the room.  It is perhaps 3 people. Their is a comofrtable seat for each of them.  These are the most important people in your life.

Perhaps they were there all along.  Maybe they just appeared. Whatever it is, their is now a stack of gifts to the right of your chair.  These are not gifts for you.

Bring the first gift to your first friend.  See them in your mind’s eye. Hand them the gift.  Enjoy them enjoying this present, which is all the things this friend has recieved from you.  

When you are ready, turn your attention to your next friend.  See the clothes they would be wearing on a day like this. Grab the next present from the stack.  Hug them, if you would like. As they open up this present, appreciate all the things you have been able to share with them.

Though the recording is going to stop here, you can continue this for as long as you wish.  Deliver these gifts to all of the people who arrived. Then Feel free to extend this visualization, enjoying the night with these friends.

Day 6/7:Lectio I

Sorry for the confusing title above.

It seems that I have a little trouble with advanced math skills like counting.  I had listed 2 days in a row as day 5.  Therefore, the first Lectio Divina practice is actually day 7.  However, it is listed on the emails as day 6.  Sorry about that!

Here is the message from Lectio:

Hello-

I hope you can bear with me.  This is going to seem like a lot.  It really isn’t though.  This could be the best practice yet.  
There are a category of Spiritual Exercises around reading and writing.  One of the most well known is Lectio Divina.  We will look at a few different forms of Lectio, over the next three days.  One way to approach Lectio is described in the next section.  A natural question, when we think about reading practice is “OK.  Just what am I going to be reading?”  Traditionally, this practice would be applied to the Christian Bible.  There are exciting applications outside of the bible, too, though.
I have curated a list of readings in 4 categories.  Each category has 3 readings.  Therefore, you could stay inside “New Testament Bible Readings” for all 3 days.  You could even keep at the same reading all 3 days; my sense is that you would get something new each day.  However, I hope that you will push yourself out of your comfort zone and try a few different categories.  
To be clear: This list that follows will appear on each of the next 3 days, though the background remarks before it will vary.  Before you begin today’s exercise, you should choose which selection you are going to go with today.  You won”t need to read it in detail yet.  For now, it’s enough that you have chosen one.
One thing to consider, as you decide which reading to choose is how clear the theme of ‘Thanksgiving’ is in the reading.  I chose these reading specifically because they do have a connection with the topic.  However, how direct and obvious that connection is will vary.  The 3rd category– Modern Poems– is probably the most subtle connection to the topic of thanksgiving.

Category 1: Hebrew Scriptures (AKA Old Testament) 
 

1 Chronicles 16
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Chronicles+16&version=NIV

Psalm 100

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm+100&version=NIV

Genesis 2
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+2&version=NIV

Category 2: New Testament
1 Thessalonions 5
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Thessalonians+5&version=NIV

Luke 1
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+1&version=NIV

Luke 22
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=luke+22&version=NIV

Category 3: Some contemporary Poets
The Copper Beech by Maria Howe
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48561/the-copper-beech-56d229e5d8134

The Lanyard by Billy Collins

http://poetry-fromthehart.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-lanyard-billy-collins.html

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

https://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/133.html

Category 4: Mostly Secular Prose on Thankfulness

Ted Talk on Thankfulness
https://www.ted.com/talks/louie_schwartzberg_nature_beauty_gratitude/transcript

(Note: This link should bring you to both the streaming video and the transcript.  You might watch the video once, for the initial run through,  After this, it is strongly recomended that you focus on the written transcript.)

Brene Brown on thankfulness:
https://www.eomega.org/article/gratitude-is-the-key-to-a-joyful-life

9 ways to cultivate thankfulness:
https://www.unstuck.com/gratitude/

 

Today’s Exercise:
1. Take a dew deep breaths: in through the nose, out through the mouth.  Try and fill the lungs thoroughly on the inhale.  Try and empty them completely on the exhale.
2. Consider the idea of thankfulness.  If prayer is meaningful, say a little prayer that God might speak to you about thankfulness through the passage you are about to read.  If praying is not your thing, state your intention to learn something new through the reading.
3.  Read the passage all the way through.  Be aware of sections that seem extra meaningful to you, phrases or sentences which trigger an emotional reaction or seem to be something new.
4.  If you get to the end of the passage and nothing jumps out at you, read it again, continuing to look for something impactful,
5.  If something did jump out at you, spend some time focusing on that phrase.  Turn it into a breath prayer, as we did the first few days of this campaign.  Assign the first half of the phrase to your exhale.  Assign the second half of the phrase to your inhale.
6.  Now, meditate on this phrase: the first half with you exhale, the second half with your inhale. Let this take a significant portion (perhaps half) of the total time you had set aside for your practice today.
7.  When you are ready, release these words.  Take a few cleansing breaths.
8.  Consider if you have learned or experienced anything new about gratitude through today’s practice.