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Thankfulness: Day 2

Below, please find the text from today’s email.

I hope that you will take this opportunity to share what your experience was like of this practice.

Hello.
Yesterday we laid the ground work.  Today we enter into practices of Thanksgiving.  Today’s practice is a very general one, proclaiming positivity and thankfulness.  It comes from Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh.  He originally shared this practice as a walking meditation.  It is described here as a sitting one but engaging this while taking a stroll comes highly recommended.
Today’s practice is a stark contrast to yesterday’s: it is deceptively simple.  Just a few steps.
I would like to encourage you to decide, in advance, just how long you are going to engage your practice.  I am learning that when I sit until I am ready to get up, inevitably I end my practice before any real growth happens.  When I have committed to myself a length of time (perhaps between 10 and 30 minutes) I work my way through  my discomfort.  This, I think, is where the real growth happens.
Tomorrow’s email will feature the last of our breath prayers.  After that, we will continue to explore grattitude and thankfulness through different contemplative lenses.
Wishing you peace & joy,
Jeff

Spiritual Exercise:
1.  Breathe calmly, in through the nose and out from the mouth.
2.  After a few cleansing breaths– and when you are ready– with the next inhale, think, “Yes!  Yes!   Yes!”
3.  With the next exhale, think, “Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!”
4.  Continue this pattern through the time you alotted for your spiritual practice today: “Yes, yes, yes” with the inhale and “Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!”
5.  As your time near is it’s end, release the words and enjoy a time of wordless relaxation.  You might experience this as union with God; you might use it as a time of reflections on the things you might be thankful for.

Periodically, through out your day, you might re-enter this practice for a breath or two.

Thankfulness: Day 1

Here is the audio file from Day 1 of the Thankfulness Email Campaign:

If you would like to receive a daily email, featuring exercises intended to build gratitude and thankfulness, email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com

If you prefer a written description to the audio file:

Hi.  And Welcome to the faith-ing project.  This is the first of our exercise of grattitude-building email campaign.  Most of of the exercises over the next couple weeks will be simply written down.  Today is special for a couple of reasons.

The first is that there is a lot of material to contend with.  It can feel a little clunky to handle this much information written down.

The second is that today is really intended to lay the ground work.  The idea is that today gets us to the doorway of grattitude. Tomorrow, we can go inside.

A little prep work is necessary because some times there are some things we have to work through.  If you are anything like me, it might be that you are tempted to wait, before you feel ready to be greatful  . The struggles and stresses of life can sometimes steal all of our attention. But the truth is, those stresses will always be there.  It is simply not realistic to expect that we are going to get past these things. I suspect that the best we can do is to recognize the world is a multi-faceted place, filled with lots of different experiences.  If there is a better recognition of the different kinds of things that life is full of than Eccliastes 3, I don’t know where that is.

Today’s exercises is, in short, an attempt to really grapple with a part of this chapter of the bible… So,

 

With no further ado, let’s begin.

Find a calm space.  Dim the lights, turn off your phone, and try and make sure you wont be disturbed for the duration of the time you have set aside for this spiritual practice.

 

Place your feet flat on the floor.

 

Release your stresses and obligations.

Breathe deeply.  In through the nose….

Out through your mouth.

 

And, again.  Filling up your lungs beginning at the bottom, filling them, all the way up.

Exhaling them, thoroughly, and with the next breath, on the inhale, focusing on the words:

 

There is a time for everything,

As you exhale, considering this:

   There is  a season for every activity under the heavens:

As you inhale, consider that there is a

2     a time to be born

As you exhale, realize that there is a time to die,

 

With your next inhale, hold the words There is

   a time to plant

With your exhale: there is a time to uproot,

 

Inhale: There is     a time to kill

Exhale: There is a time to heal,

 

Inhale: There is a time to tear down

Exhale: There is a time to build,

 

Inhale: There is a time to weep

Exhale: There is  a time to laugh,

 

Inhale: There is a time to mourn

Exhale: there is a time to dance,

 

Inhale: There is a time to scatter stones

Exhale: There is a time to gather them,

 

Inhale: There is a time to embrace

Exhale: There is a time to refrain from embracing

   

Inhale: There is    a time to search

Exhale: There is a time to give up,

 

Inhale: There is a time to keep

Exhale: There is a time to throw away

   

Inhale: There is a time to tear

Exhale: There is a time to mend

 

Inhale: There is a time to be silent

Exhale: There is a time to speak

 

Inhale: There is a time to love

Exhale: There is a time to hate

 

Inhale: There is a time for war

Exhale: There is a time for peace

Now, continue these slow, peaceful breaths.  And spend a moment consider that there is a time to be thankful, even as we continue to struggle with whatever we struggle with.

 

And as this audio file comes to an end, move into a time of thankfulness for all the rich and varied experiences available to us.  

This is Jeff from the Faith-ing Project.  Thanks for joining us today!

If you are participating in the campaign, via email or just by reading daily on the website, please leave a comment below!  I would love to hear about how the experience was for you.

You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

  • Access exclusive content and help The Faithing Project share spiritual practices with a world in desperate need.  Become a  Patron.
  • follow @faithingproject on twitter.

 

Exercise 32: 7-11 Breathing

Background: One of the values of mindfulness practice is that it simply brings a focus to the breath.   On one level, the specifics of the breathing count is not the most important thing.  The most important thing is to note the reaction that different lengths of inhales and exhales take.

However, there has been significant research done.  It seems that breathing in for a count of 7 and breathing out for a count of 11 is the best timing to maintain an alert awareness.  First responders, are in fact, taught 7-11 breathing as a way to be calm in the fact of panic.

The Exercise:

  1.  Find your center by placing your feet flat on the floor.
  2. As you breathe in, keep a steady internal count of 7.
  3. As you breathe out, keep a steep internal count of 11.
  4. As your mind wanders, return to the breath.

You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

  • Share your thoughts, feelings, and criticism below in the comments.
  • email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com to share something directly with the Project’s Director, to join our next email campaign, or to ask to be placed on the mailing list.
  • Access exclusive content and help The Faithing Project share spiritual practices with a world in desperate need.  Become a  Patron.
  • follow @faithingproject on twitter.

Exercise 30A & 30B: The Five Senses

Background: Experts, today, debate the precise number of senses that we actually have.  Most agree that it is, in fact, more than 5.

However, the traditionally identified 5 senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste) are a good place to begin.

Like many mindfulness activities, this one is at its best when we try to discover something new though our sensations.  Work at not phoning it in; be present to what is actually around you!

Spiritual Exercise 30A

  1.  Breathe in slowly through the nose, and out through the mouth.  Place your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Begin by noticing what you can see by being aware of what you are looking at now.  Tune in, as fully as you can, to your vision.  When you are ready, look around.  Try to discover something new.  
  3. Now, pay attention to the things you can hear.  Listen for sounds you were unaware of.  If their are sounds you often hear, listen deeply to them.  Make an attempt to find something new in the characteristics of these common sounds.
  4. Now, pay attention to your sense of touch.  Note how your body connects to wherever you are sitting.  Tune into the feeling of the clothes as they hang on your body.  Notice the temperature your neck is registering.  Explore the textures of where your hands are with your finger tips.
  5. Breathe deeply in.  Try and find scents in the air.
  6. Now, pay attention to the taste in your mouth.  
  7. If you like, cycle through each of your senses again.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Background: The exercise that follows is a variation on the one above.  This is a great thing to bring with you into the world.  When seeking calm from invasions like panic attacks, this can be a very calming thing.

Spiritual Exercise 30B

  1.  Notice 5 things you can see.  Name each one.
  2. Notice 4 things you can hear.  Wait for them to happen if there are not 4 things right away.  Name each.
  1. Notice 3 sensations you can feel.  Identify each one.
  2. Notice 2 smells in the air.
  3. Find one taste on your tongue.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

  • Share your thoughts, feelings, and criticism below in the comments.
  • email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com to share something directly with the Project’s Director, to join our next email campaign, or to ask to be placed on the mailing list.
  • Access exclusive content and help The Faithing Project share spiritual practices with a world in desperate need.  Become a  Patron.
  • follow @faithingproject on twitter.

Exercise 27: The Examen

Background: St. Ignatius is closely tied to the Catholic Tradition.  His work still guides many spiritual retreats.

One of his practices is an exploration of those things which bring us closer to God– consolations, and those things which bring us further from God– desolations.

It should be noted that The Examen might be written or practiced by thinking and saying the words.

Spiritual Exercise:

  1.  Find your center by placing your feet flat on the floor.  
  2. Breathe and relax, as best you can.
  3. When you are ready, bring the last 24 hours to your mind.  Continue to breathe slowly, in through the nose and out through the mouth.  Begin by reliving where you were 24 hours ago.  Gradually, bring yourself through the last day of your life.  Do your best to deeply engage your senses as you relive this day; feel the events on your skin, hear them, taste them, even recall the smells.
  4. Consider your desolations:
    1. What are you least thankful for?
    2. Where can’t you see God?
    3. What seems to be moving you away from God?
  5. Release your desolations by breathing slowly and calmly.
  6. Consider your consolations.
    1. What are you most thankful for?
    2. Where can you see God?
    3. What seems to be moving you toward God?
  7. Release your consolations by breathing slowly and carefully.
  8. As you consider the last 24 hours in their fullness, are there any things you would like to consider: was God, perhaps moving in things you initially labelled ‘desolations?’  Is it possible that God was not present in things you initially labelled ‘Consolations’?
  9. Release the word-based part of the practice.  Enjoy a moment with God.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

  • Share your thoughts, feelings, and criticism below in the comments.
  • email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com to share something directly with the Project’s Director, to join our next email campaign, or to ask to be placed on the mailing list.
  • Access exclusive content and help The Faithing Project share spiritual practices with a world in desperate need.  Become a  Patron.
  • follow @faithingproject on twitter.

Exercise 25: Pardes

Background: There are many approaches to reading scripture.  Some of these arise within a specific tradition.  It can be interesting to explore these practices’ interelations.  For example, the Jewish practice of Pardes has interesting paralells to Christian Lection Divina.

Before beginning this exercise, you will want to have preselected a text.  Most often, this would be a work of holy scripture.  In my experience, a passage between 1 paragraph and 2 pages works best.

Spiritual Exercise

  1.  Breathe.  Release your obligations and responsibilities for the time being.
  2.  Read the passage once through.  On this reading, in your mind, explore the literal meaning of the words you read.
  3. Breathe slowly in through the nose and out the mouth.
  4. Reread the passage.  Explore the allegorical, symbolic meaning of the words in the passage.
  5. Breathe slowly in through the nose and out the mouth.
  6. Read the passage again.  This time, look for a precedent.  Consider the occurrences that this reminds you of.  These related events might be other passages in the same text; it might be other things you have read.  It might be reminders from other aspects of your life.
  7. Look for a hidden and new meaning to the text.  This might be a result of considering the 3 levels of meaning at the same time.  It might result from God’s action in your heart as you attempt to go deeper.
  8. Spend some time with God, thanking God for this new understanding.

You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

  • Share your thoughts, feelings, and criticism below in the comments.
  • email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com to share something directly with the Project’s Director, to join our next email campaign, or to ask to be placed on the mailing list.
  • Access exclusive content and help The Faithing Project continue to deliver this conetent to a world in need: become a Patron.
  • follow @faithingproject on twitter.

Spiritual Exercise 22: Slowly Honing in Via Lectio

Background: Lectio Divina is a practice which invites us to hear the divine as we read a sacred text.  Ordinarily we pre-select a passage and read the whole thing several times, looking for a phrase that connects with us.

Sometimes this process of searching for that sacred phrase is the most difficult part.  Sometimes, that difficulty might be a good thing.  Today’s practice side-steps that difficulty, though.

The idea is to read a passage several times, but each time to re-read a progressively smaller portion, honing in something by cutting out aspect of the reading that are not speaking to you.

Spiritual Exercise

  1. Choose a passage to focus your reading on.  The total reading might be around 3 pages.  
  2. Sit with your back straight, and relax.  Breathe.
  3. When you are ready pick up your selection.  Read it, be aware of the feelings the reading stirs within you.  Be on the look out for the portion (approximately half) of the reading that connects most intimately with you.
  4. If you get to the end and are unclear about what portion you want to return to, then re-read the whole thing.
  5. When you have chosen a section of the reading (About half of the original) to re-read, take a few cleansing breaths.  Then re-read this chosen selection from your original reading.  Again, be on the look out for a section, of your reading that speaks most directly to you.  The selection you choose now might be somewhere between 1 page and 1/2 page.
  6. Be on the look out for the paragraph, within this selection, that speaks the most to you.  Choose that paragraph.
  7. Breathe, again.
  8. Now, find a sentence in that paragraph.
  9. If the sentence is too long to hold easily in your mind, consider shortening it.
  10. Transition away from your reading material, now.  Say the sacred phrase with each breath.  Consider assigning a portion to the exhale and a portion to the inhale.
  11. Continue this meditation on the single phrase for a while.
  12. When you are ready, release the phrase.  Enjoy a time of wordless communion.
  13. If you like, enjoy a conversation with God about your new understanding.

You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

  • Share your thoughts, feelings, and criticism below in the comments.
  • email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com to share something directly with the Project’s Director, to join our next email campaign, or to ask to be placed on the mailing list.
  • Access exclusive content and help The Faithing Project continue to deliver this conetent to a world in need: become a Patron.
  • follow @faithingproject on twitter.