Tag Archives: meditation

Solstice & Advent, Day 4

Below is the audio track you can use for today’s exercise:

In the comment section below, I hope you will leave some thoughts and observations about these first four days of this campaign.

 

Contemplation and Pseudo-Contemplation

There are so many things competing for our attention.

The makers of our devices are engaged in a kind-of arms race.  Instead of creating weapons of destruction, instead of having a goal of militaristic conquest, they are creating weapons of distraction.  The goal is not conquest, it is mindlessness.  But it is still an arms race.

They are very good at what they do.  And the goods and services they provide are not bad things in moderation.

But make no mistake: endlessly scrolling through a facebook feed only feels like meditation.

(And please, feel no judgement or shame here!  I am writing as much to myself as I am to you, dear reader!  These struggles are real!)

Further, meditating but being willing to be distracted…  Engaging in a spiritual exercise while having my facebook page open, so that I can take a little break if I get that endorphin-producing ‘ping’….  that is not really meditation.  That is wasting time while I am hoping that something interesting is going to happen on my social media feeds.

Part of the growth promised by these spiritual exercises is in facing down boredom.  More than just filling my time, the important thing is that I stop running from my fears about myself and the world.  This is why it is so valuable to commit to a length of time each day.  So much good will result when I don’t offer myself easy retreats out of this sometimes difficult work.

Let’s make a deal with each other, and with outselves.  Let’s agree that we might choose to engage in distractions: music to fill up the air, games as candy for our eyes, social media as a venue for our monkey mind to do a little dance.  But let’s be honest about it.  If we are going to do it, let’s make the conscious decision to do these things.  They are o.k. in moderation.  But let’s not pretend that we are meditating while really we are just looking for an excuse to engage those activities.

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

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  • 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.
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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.

Exercise 18: Who am I? Who are you?

Background: It is said that St. Francis past an entire night asking 2 simple questions: “Who am I, God?”  and “Who are you, God?”  It is not known what his method was; the correlation of the two questions to the two parts of breath is purely speculation on my part.

The Exercise

  1. Sit up as straight as you comfortably can.  Release your worries and obligations for the duration of your spiritual exercises today.
  2. As you inhale, ask the question, “Who are you God?”
  3. With your next inhale, ask the question, “Who am I God?”
  4. Continue this pattern.  When other thoughts or concerns arise, release them by returning to these questions and your breath.
  5. When your time is nearing completion, dismiss the questions.  Enjoy a time of wordless communion.
  6. When you are ready, explore your feelings about the questions and consider whether or not you have anything that looks like answers to these two important questions.

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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.
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Exercise 12: Constant Repetition

Background: Any word, repeated enough, begins to sound like nonsense.

It seems to me that when we use a word only once or twice, we have an easy time mistaking the letter-sounds for the thing those letters stand for.  But as we repeat the word, we come face-to-face with the fact that the sounds are arbitrary.  For example, when we say the word ‘cat’ once, we get a picture in our mind.  But when we say the word repeatedly, we are reminded there is nothing inherent to those letters that actually connects them to the animal.  It is merely an agreement that more-or-less randomly assigned these particularly sounds.

Saying a word over and over, creates a sort-of white noise, for me.  It begins with the meaning of the word.  But slowly even this fades into the background, leaving me in a state beyond words.

Exercise

  1. Place your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Choose your sacred word.
  3. Say the word.  Out loud, if possible.  Say it with out ceasing.  Say it a calm, measured rate; say it as many times as you can with each exhale.  Think it, or mouth it as many times as you can with each inhale.
  4. If you find yourself distracted by thoughts or feelings, return your attention to the saying of that single word.

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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, 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.

 

Exercise 6A and 6B: 3 Part Phrases

Background: A certain phrase paired with an exhale has a slightly different feel than that same phrase paired with an inhale.  When we have a 3 phrase cycle, one approach is to simply rotate through all 3 sentences.  The result of this is that each phrase gets connected to both inhales and exhales.  We can experience, therefore, what those phrases are like.

In the exercises that follow, I have chosen two of my favorite 3-sentence cycles.  They are rather Christo-centric.  You can, of course, replace them with something more to your liking.

Exercise 6A:

  1.  Place your feet flat on the floor.  
  2. Breathe a cleansing breath.
  3. With your next inhale, say “Christ was born”
  4. With your next exhale, “Christ has died.”
  5. With your next inhale, “Christ will come again.”
  6. Continue this pattern, working your way through the entire cycle: Christ was born/ Christ has died/ Christ will come again.
  7.   When you are ready, release the phrases.  
  8. Wordlessly, enjoy some time with God.

Spend some time, when your practice is done, considering the omnipresence of God.  God is here and not here; present and not-yet.

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Background: Breath does not have to be a 2-part process.  We can create a 3-count in our breath by pausing for a moment; holding the breath as we consider a phrase.

Holding the breath is an interesting thing.  It creates, in me, a distant and  deeply submerged sort-of terror.  Simultaneously, it is also like a micro-fast.  Breathing, like eating, is a requirement.  To abstain for a time from either one is to confront our physical limitations and our animal nature.

I suspect that some of this emotional intensity rubs itself off on to the feelings associated with the phrases.

Exercise:

  1. Find a bit of calm.  Place your feet flat on the floor.  Breathe slowly.
  2. With your next inhale, think “Here I am, God.”
  3. As you exhale, think, “Here you are God.”
  4. Holding your breath, think, “Here we are, together.”
  5.  Repeat the process: With the inhale, “Here I am God.”  With the exhale: “Here you are God.”  Holding the Breath, “Here we are, together.”
  6. Give most of the time in your practice today to these 3 steps.
  7.   When you are ready, release these words.  Resume a normal 2-part breathing pattern with out holding the breath.

Through out your day, know that you are here, and God is here, and you are here, together.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

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, 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.

 

Exercises #4A, 4B, and 4C: A Time of Silence, A Time for Words

Background:  There are many ways that words can become a gateway to silence.  At it’s most fundamental, it is really only the possibility of speaking that gives the possibility of choosing silence any kind of meaning.  If we could not speak, then silence would be our default condition.

Additionally, there are some times that we want a moment to reflect on the words we are attempting to internalize.  In the first exercise (4A) below, you will find that the space is created with the in-breath.    If there is a sentence or phrase that seems more relevant to you, by all means, explore this one.

Exerercise 4A

1.  Find an upright, comfortable position.  Place your feet flat on the floor,  As best you can, release your worries for the duration of this practice.

2.  Find your breath.  You may wish to consciously slow it.  Perhaps, today, you will simply observe it where it is.

3.  With your next inhalation, experience the breath as cleansing.  It is creating an open space within.

4.  With the next exhale, say to yourself– out loud if you can– “God is Love.”

5.  Let your next inhale create an empty space.  Sit in the aftermath of that thought: “God is Love.”

6.  With your next exhale, think again, “God is Love.”

7.  With your next exhale, enjoy the silence and emptiness.

8.  Continue this pattern, for most of the time you have remaining: ‘God is Love’ with the inhale; empty openness with the exhale.

9.  As your time nears it’s completion, let go of the mantra.  Widen your time of emptiness to both parts of the breath.

Through out your day today, experience the reality of ‘God is Love.’  And then, try to live in the space of quiet which transcends even those words.

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Background to exercise 4B:  In the exercise that follows, explore the difference between the in-breath and the out-breath.  Some authors describe these breath parts as “Breathing up” and “Breathing Down.”  or “Breathing in” and “Breathing out.”  Try each of these on for size.

If you tried exercise 4A, I recomend sticking with whatever mantra you used, so that you can isolate and therefore experience a single difference: Repeating your sacred words on the inhale, rather than the exhale.

Exercise 4B

1.  Sit as straight as you comfortably can.  Breathe for a few minutes and give yourself permission to relax.

2.  With your next inhalation, think, “God is Love.”

3.  Breathe out your thoughts, words and emotions.  Use your out-breath to cleanse yourself of everything but the silence.

4.  With your next inhalation, again, think “God is Love.”

5.  As you breathe out, release even your reflections on those 3 words.  Exhale your thoughts about this sacred phrase.

6.  Continue this pattern for the majority of the time you have given to your spiritual practice today.

7.  As you approach the end of the time, release your sacred phrase.  Use this time to enjoy wordless communion.  Or discuss with God what you learned today.  Or simply have a conversation with God about where you are and how things are going.

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Exercise 4C

Background:  Here is a thing worth exploring: How much of the empty space should you spend continuing to reflect on your sacred words, and for how much of it should you simply inhabit the silence?

This is particularly true when the sacred words are comprised of a list that you are cycling through.  As the sacred words change, they invite a different sort of reflection than repetetion.

The list I am suggesting today comes from Ecclesiastes 3.  Unfortunately for most of is, it can be challening to meditate on these truths with out bringing to mind the old song.

1.  Find your center: place your feet on the floor and relax.

2.  Inhale.  Say to yourself “There is a time to be born.”  

3.  Exhale.

4.  Inhale.  Say to yourself  “There is a time to die.”

5.  Exhale.

6.  Inhale.  Say to yourself, “There is a time to plant.”

7.  Exhale.

8.  Inhale.  Say to yourself “There is a time to kill.”

9.  Exhale.

10.  Inhale.  Say to yourself, “There is a time to heal.”

11.  Exhale.

12.  Inhale.  Say to yourself, “There is a time to tear down.”

13.  Exhale. 

14.  Inhale.  Say to yourself, “There is a time to build.”  

15.  Exhale.

16.  Inhale.  Say to yourself “There is a time to weep.”

17.  Exhale.

18.  Inhale.  Say to yourself “There is a time to laugh.”

19.  Exhale.  

20.  Inhale.  Say to yourself, “There is a time to mourn.”

21.  Exhale.

22.  Inhale.  Say to yourself, “There is a time to dance.”

23.  Exhale.

24.  Inhale.  Say to yourself, “There is a time to scatter stones.”

25.  Exhale. 

26.  Inhale.  Say to yourself, “There is a time to gather stones.”

27.  Exhale.

28.  Inhale.  Say to yourself, “There is a time to embrace.”

29.  Exhale.

30.  Inhale.  Say to yourself, “There is a time to refrain from embracing.”  

31.  Exhale.

32.  Inhale.  Say to yourself, “There is a time to search.”

33.  Exhale.  

34.  Inhale.  Say to yourself, “There is a time to give up.”

35.  Exhale.

36.  Inhale.  Say to yourself, “There is a time to keep.”

37.  Exhale. 

38.  Inhale.  Say to yourself, “There is a time to throw away.”

39.  Exhale.

40.  Inhale.  Say to yourself “There is a time to tear.”

41.  Exhale.  

42.  Inhale.  Say to yourself, “There is a time to mend.”

43.  Exhale.

44.  Inhale.  Say to yourself “There is a time to be silent.”

45.  Exhale.

46.  Inhale.  Say to yourself, “There is a time to speak.”

47.  Exhale.

48.  Inhale.  Say to yourself, “There is a time to love.”

49.  Exhale.

50.  Inhale.  Say to yourself, “There is a time to hate.”

51.  Exhale.

52.  Inhale.  Say to yourself “There is a time for war.”

53.  Exhale.  

54.  Inhale.  Say to yourself “There is a time for peace.”

55.  As you release the individual words, look back on how you felt about each of these.  Are there any that you struggle with?  Any that come easy?

You might, as you go about your day, assign the various joys and challenges of your life a part from this poem.  When entering into a conflict, you could think, for example “This is a time for war.”  When tempted to say something unwise, you might tell yourself, “This is a time for silence.”

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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, 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.