Meditation is a spiritual practice that can draw us deeply into the heart of God. It's also good for the brain! When we meditate, we concentrate on one thing so that our thoughts aren't racing around pulling us places we don't want to go. So set a timer for 10 – 20 minutes, set your intention toward drawing closer to God, and try one of these five simple ways to practice meditation:
Breathe in for 4 counts and out for 6 – 8 counts.
Concentrate on your breathing. When your mind wanders to something else, gently return to your counted breaths.
Choose a sacred word.
Sit in silence as you breathe quietly and evenly. When your thoughts begin to race, gently return your attention to your sacred word.
Choose one of your senses, such as hearing, to concentrate upon.
Do nothing but listen to the sounds around you. If you start to judge or interpret the sound, simply return to listening. Be fully in the moment, listening.
Imagine your mind is a stage and thoughts are actors who jump on the stage one at a time.
You are the director and have asked for the stage to be empty. When a "thought actor" jumps onstage, gently ask it to move off. Imagine all the actors remaining quietly seated in the audience, meditating with you.
Walk slowly and silently outdoors.
Concentrate on looking at all that is around you without judging or interpreting. When your thoughts start to wander, bring them back to the direct experience of walking, breathing, viewing and sensing.
About the Author
Teresa Blythe is a Tucson-based spiritual director who specializes in vocational discernment. She is a member of First Congregational UCC Tucson. For more information on spiritual direction and vocational discernment, visit www.teresablythe.net.
Music and Misery The high notes of life have so much more appeal and applause than the low notes. And yet, none of our most enduring melodies and symphonies can be supported and sustained by the high notes alone.