Archive for the ‘spiritual practices’ Category

Guided Meditation on Loving Yourself   Leave a comment

I wrote a guided meditation back in February for a gathering at my church, and I thought I’d put it up to share with anyone who might be interested in guided meditations. I used to create these on the fly back in college, but this is the first one I’ve written in many years. I hope that it gives you what you need.


 

Make sure you are seated comfortably, with your head supported.
Sit back, close your eyes, feel your body supported by the seat and cushions beneath you.

Take a deep breath and release; feel your breath filling your entire body.
Continue taking deep breaths;
With each exhalation let go of some tension, stress, or tightness held in your body.

Feel your body become more relaxed with each breath.
Let yourself sink into the cushions supporting you.
With no tension in your body, let your body go limp, melting into the seat.

Continue feeling each breath fill your body, and now let each breath make you lighter
You gradually become lighter and lighter, becoming light as a bubble
Eventually you start to float, carefree and relaxed.

A door opens and in the eddies of wind you float outside.
Like a bubble carried on the breeze you rise up above the day-to-day world
The moon beckons you and fills your bubble self with light.
The light of the moon fills your senses, fills your mind.

As your vision clears you find you are now resting on a low tree branch.
You are no longer a bubble, but your normal body.
Looking around, you see that the tree branch you are on is just a few feet above a stream.
Gently, you push off of the branch and step into the stream
Walking slowly downstream out from under the shade of the tree
You feel the the water flowing around your ankles offering a gentle caress,
You feel the sun warming your back,
And hear the birdsong providing a relaxing melody in the background.

“Love is patient”

As you walk down the stream, you encounter a spot with a still pool on the side of the stream.
There are leaves swirling on the surface of this pool.
If you have felt frustrated or impatient with yourself recently, pick up a leaf from the pool,
Put your frustration or impatience on the leaf, and put it down in the stream to be washed away.
Release as many leaves to float away in the stream as you have frustrations,
Let go of whatever makes you impatient with yourself, or those that you love.
When there are no more leaves to release, you continue walking down the stream.

“Love is kind”

Further down the stream you find a deep pool of spring water spilling into the stream.
The spring has a smooth surface and when you approach you can see your reflection in the water.
Your reflection smiles up at you, beckons you into the pool,
and offers an apology to you for any unkindnesses you have said or done to yourself recently.
You step into the warm pool and soak in that apology to yourself.

“Love is not jealous”

After you have been soaking for a while a bunch of butterflies flutters nearby
The butterflies land on the rim of the pool and on your head and arms.
You can look at the butterflies up close, marveling at their fragile beauty.
The butterflies absorb any jealousy that you have been harboring towards anyone else,
and any lack of contentedness with yourself.
One by one they lift off and all fly away, taking your jealousy and discontent away with them.

“Love is not pompous nor inflated”

Eventually you get out of the pool and continue walking down the stream.
A warm rain starts to fall, gentle at first and gaining in intensity.
Each droplet of rain massages your head and body.
Any facade that you wear to face the outside world is softened by the rain, and maybe even washed away.

After the refreshing rain shower passes on, the sun comes out.
You notice a large flat rock near the stream and you lie down on it to dry off in the sun.
As the steam rises off of your hair and clothes,
let any other stresses, grudges, or criticisms that you hold evaporate with the water.
Feel the sun warming you like an I-love-you from God.

When dry and warm, relaxed and contented you start to feel lighter and lighter.
You become a feather lying on the rock.
A gentle breeze comes by and picks you up,
Lifting you higher and higher.
As the breeze carries you through the sky the day turns to evening, and then night.

You realize that you are no longer a feather dancing in the sky but are flying like a bird.
Feel the glorious wind rustling your feathers as you fly above the earth, surrounded by star light.
Look down and you can see the lights of the city below you.
You fly lower, feeling drawn towards something.
You see a building with an open door with light spilling out of the door.
You fly towards the light and then into the building.

You alight on a seat and settle your body into the cushion.
As you do so you gradually become aware of your arms, legs, and body resting comfortably in the seat.

When you are ready you open your eyes, refreshed and renewed.

 

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

4Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous,
Love is not pompous, it is not inflated.
5It is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered,
it does not brood over injury,
6it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
7It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

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Posted March 30, 2014 by mayakey in breathing, centering, spiritual practices

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The Togetherness of The Community   Leave a comment

“To be alive means to find one’s identity in the togetherness of the community. To be alive means to reveal with varying levels of fulfillment one’s surrounding community in every action, feeling, or idea one experiences.”

Brian Swimme & Thomas Berry. The Universe Story. (p.134)

I am currently reading this book that is, to attempt to summarize, creating a new mythology based on current human experience. With our scientific discoveries and cultural advances, our understanding of the world around us is very different than that of ancient cultures, and yet there is so much that is still mystery. I’m only about halfway through the book, but this quote above epitomizes why I chose to read the book: it provides a scientific and cultural argument for the belief “All Is One”. That’s the belief that we are all one with each other and with the universe as a whole on a very deep level. All species, all parts of life are connected to each other in some way. We don’t function in a vacuum but rather in the vibrant community of the universe. Our decisions are affected by the people, things, and conditions around us; and our decisions affect the people, things, and conditions around us. The book makes the fascinating point that literally at the beginning of the universe all matter was one, and that our current human experience is based on previous creations through human, primeval, and unversal history. The creative forces of the universe are amazing. This book is not an easy read, there should be a side version for the non-scientist, but it is so very spiritually fulfilling.

Posted September 8, 2012 by mayakey in quotes, spiritual practices

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Litany of a Hopeful Mother   Leave a comment

Do you pray for things? We’re always told not to pray for wants. So I don’t, and haven’t for years. Instead I pray for internal peace, I pray for other people, I pray for situations around the world. The interesting thing about this is that after a couple decades of being insistent about not praying for things that I want meant that I couldn’t do it. Not even for a baby. The closest that I could come was to pray for everyone who was trying to grow a family through pregnancy or adoption. At least for the first year of trying. Then I realized that praying for a baby was a form of letting go, an existential acknowledgement that I can’t DO anything to make it happen but that it is all up to the universe. It seems both intuitive and counter-intuitive at the same time (is that counter-intuitive?). Praying for something can be a way of trying to control life, but praying for something acknowledges our powerlessness and accepts that powerlessness at the same time.

So I started trying to pray for a baby. Really hard to do after a couple decades of not praying for things. Other than adjusting my personal no-words, feelings-based form of prayer, I figured that the easiest way was to create a litany. That way I have help. It’s one of the parts of Catholicism that I’ve always liked but never been able to practice. The idea of asking the saints to pray with you is so magical, and intimidating. I started by searching for patron saints of hopeful mothers. That was a mistake. I do not understand how some of the canonized saints got that way, and I am completely baffled by some of patronages. One of the patron saints of hopeful mothers that I found was accused by a pregnant woman of being the father of her child, until she recanted after he hid in the church for a while. And so somebody decided this would be a good person to pray to when hoping for a baby???? Not only are some of the canonized saints ridiculous to me, but I just feel so silly asking a random dead person to pray for me with no connection to them. So I decided to go with what I know (the popular parent saints), and let it grow as I get more comfortable.

Here’s my starter litany, in which the “us” is my husband and I.

Our Lady, Mother of Jesus, pray for us

St Joseph, stepfather of Jesus, pray for us

St Anne, mother of Mary, pray for us

St Elizabeth, mother of John, pray for us

St Zachariah, father of John, pray for us

All parents of the world, pray for us

That’s as far as I’ve gotten and I’m still trying to get the comfort up to add my grandma to the list, and a friend’s mother. Saints don’t just include those who’ve been formally canonized, after all. It’s just that I feel presumptive asking someone to pray for me (somehow the “famous” saints are different). Although, I suppose my grandma would probably not have any objections. Maybe I’ll add her tonight.

Posted April 27, 2012 by mayakey in pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, spiritual practices

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Our Perspective   Leave a comment

What we choose to emphasize will determine our perspective.

Howard Zinn

Posted March 28, 2012 by mayakey in conscious living, musings, quotes, spiritual practices

Beautiful Blue Eggs From Red Cabbage   Leave a comment

Despite the snow/blizzards that some parts of the country experienced this past week/weekend obscuring the start of spring, this is the week of the vernal equinox. Every year it’s my chance to have fun dying Ostara eggs. Since my (Catholic) JustFaith prayer formation group met today, I brought my Ostara eggs to share with everyone. Yes, I’m a new age Catholic, and proud of it. I love celebrating Mother Earth and her cycles, life and death, light and dark.

Yellow, blue, and dark pinkish brown eggs

Yellow (turmeric), blue (red cabbage), and pinkish-brown (beet) Ostara eggs.

Anyway, back to the eggs. This year I did beets, red cabbage, and turmeric. Just like last year, the turmeric makes for beautiful bright yellow eggs. Believe it or not the beautiful blue eggs are dyed in red cabbage. The beets had the most disappointing results. I can’t remember if I’ve ever dyed eggs with beets before, but I guess the trick is to not rinse them off when you take them out of the dye bath (see the comparison of the rinsed and unrinsed pink eggs in the photos). They are both a brownish pink, but the rinsed ones are more brown with a light tracery of pink while the unrinsed ones are a little more obviously dark pink. Too late for me to get a picture I learned that while the eggSHELL didn’t turn so pink, the egg INSIDE is a beautiful light pink. Maybe that’s an even better lesson for girlie-girls: the pink egg is more beautiful on the inside. 🙂

Pinkish-brown eggs

Rinsed and Unrinsed beet-dyed eggs

Usually when I’ve dyed eggs in the past I threw the raw eggs and the dye material in the pot and boil it together, then let it sit to cool off. This year I boiled thedye material the night before, and then strained it into jars where I soaked the eggs for several hours. It works much better that way. This technique would theoretically also allow you to gently crack the hard boiled eggs before dying them so that some you get a dyed network on the egg inside. I’ve yet to do this on purpose, but there are always a couple eggs that crack while boiling and they end up with a beautiful under-shell dye job. Since I’m using food-based dyes instead of synthetic dyes I have no problems eating them.  Now, however, I have a couple jars of beet juice and cabbage juice that I just can’t bring myself to throw down the sink (or on the compost). I wish I had more eggs to dye.

Posted March 21, 2012 by mayakey in food, spiritual practices

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Fasting In Solidarity   Leave a comment

It’s that time of year again, Lent, the time for 40 days of fasting. Fasting means many things, and of course includes eating less especially on Fridays. But not being someone who is keen on doing something just because “I’m supposed to”, “it’s tradition”, or because I’m told to, I’ve struggled some with the Friday fasting/abstinence. As a kid I really looked forward to being old enough to participate in these rituals. As a conscious adult my attempts at fasting usually fell flat, though, in large part because there’s no real impetus, no reason. Then I met my husband who absolutely disdains the practice of abstaining from meat as a holdover from medieval days when that practice was supposedly instituted on the peasants (but not necessarily the nobility or those who could give a contribution to the church). In any case, I had never encountered a good reason for the practice of abstaining from meat. I understand the spiritual tradition of fasting, and while in part I can buy in, when I’m hungry, shaky, and grumpy fasting doesn’t seem like such a good spiritual practice. Then several years ago when doing JustFaith, I first heard the proposition to fast in solidarity with the poor around the world. I immediately latched onto that, it made so much sense and really just felt like the right thing to do!

So back in 2007 I decided that fasting in solidarity with the poor would be a Lenten practice of mine. Yeah. It’s 2012 now and I still haven’t figured out exactly what that means. For the first few years I just interpreted it as small simple meals (no fancy ingredients and no/limited expensive animal products), with no high-calorie processed snacks in between. That’s fine, but it doesn’t involve doing anything different from normal, and for the last few years I’ve been restless. Normal for us is vegetarian stir fry, rice and beans, meatless dinner salads, basic pasta, potato/onion/egg, etc. Mostly simple meals. Last year I discovered that Catholic Relief Services includes recipes from various third world countries in their Operation Rice Bowl packet, and I thought that would be a better way to make this a specific practice. But I got lazy and didn’t go hunting for recipes. This year I went to the CRS website to get the recipes and discovered that several of them are dishes I can’t cook right now in season. Tomatoes and bell peppers may be in season in the global south right now, but not in the global north. And I don’t see how eating produce shipped from the other side of the world is solidarity with people who don’t have that luxury. I’ll stick with this theory of simple meals on Fridays in Lent, but just acknowledge that it still feels somewhat hollow of a commitment.

I’m back to the idea of fasting as reduced quantity of food, in solidarity with people around the world who cannot afford multiple filling meals each day. So far I’m 0-for-3 on eating fewer than three meals, but at least they are small not-filling meals. Unfortunately, that is also normal for me as I usually eat to no-longer-hungry as opposed to eating until full. And again, I have no self discipline and tend to give in and eat something when my stomach growls at me and my legs feel shaky. How Muslims get through Ramadan is beyond me! I’ve been trying to get down to 2 meals this year, and I’ll keep trying. Since this is a spiritual practice it is the thought, thoughts, prayers, and intentions that count, right?

Posted March 2, 2012 by mayakey in spiritual practices

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Celebrating All Forms of Love   Leave a comment

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. Of course I have the unique perspective that it’s the day after my birthday, and as a kid it was essentially “birthday, day 2”. As a result of that perspective, though, Valentine’s Day has never been a romantic holiday for me but a day to celebrate friendships. I still don’t celebrate it as a romantic holiday, and as an adult there are less opportunities for the easy celebrations with friends, so it is kind of a wistful holiday now. As I type this, though, I realize that that need not be the case. Is there any particular reason not to reach out to friends and say “thanks for being my friend, thanks for being in my life and making it so much richer? We have all kinds of “appreciation days” on the greeting-card-holiday calendar, but I don’t think there is a Friendship Day. Romantic love gets to be celebrated on anniversaries, but what about a day to celebrate the friendship love of the many other people that brighten your life? How often do we take our friendships for granted? One of the things that has been repeated many times in the JustFaith Engaging Spirituality program is the importance of gratitude and thankfulness in our spiritual lives, the importance of recognizing the blessings and gifts that we have received in our lives. I can testify that life has an extra shine on it when gratitude is regularly practiced in some way.

So I hereby pledge that starting this year, I’ll celebrate Valentine’s Day again my way: as Friend’s Day. And I think Facebook will make a convenient adult “Valentine mailbox”. Hey, I’m lazy.

Posted February 14, 2012 by mayakey in musings, spiritual practices

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