Meditation

“The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self.

Our task must be to free ourselves; by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

 Albert Einstein, 1954

 

Meditation can move us closer to promoting compassion within ourselves and those that we touch.

Through meditation we become more responsible.  This responsibility lies in the balance we discover by unlocking the synergy of our mind….. our heart….. and our inner spirit. We propose that through a continued and ongoing dedication to a personal meditation practice, great strides are possible for ourselves, our relationships, our family, and our society.  It allows us to subdue the self.  It allows us to “just let go”.  In doing so, a remarkable thing happens.  We do not cease to be.  We do not lose control.  We do not lose self; instead we liberate it.  We find a beautiful place of peace, harmony, and balance.  We now frame the self within a much purer form of loving and nurturing energy.  We begin to see a clearer picture of the world and our place in it.  We learn the art of alchemy in converting passion into compassion.  Our decision making process then incorporates a powerful and far reaching wisdom.  We are in tune within a rhythm of life, our surroundings, and those we touch.

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”

 Dalai Lama

A great soul once responded when asked the question, “What is the most important time?” 

The response went somewhat as follows, “The most important time is this present moment.  It is the only time that we will ever have control of.  It is what we do in this present moment that determines the direction of our lives.”

We can use this time wisely and responsibly or we can diminish its value.  Remember this; the value of this present moment is colored by our deepest feelings and subsequent thoughts and desires.  Any decision in life will have their imprint.

 

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

John Lennon

 

Ask yourself these questions:

Who am I?

Where am I going?

How will I get there?

Who am I?  Where am I going?  How will I get there?

These very important questions take on a very different response when we open our heart to discover its secrets.  Through the act of quieting the mind, we allow the content resting deep within the heart to awaken.  When we contemplate our awareness and again ask these same questions after cultivating the heart, our responses are altered and given a much deeper meaning and significance.

 


 

 

 “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”

Lao Tzu

 A “loving kindness” meditation

After a long day, including some difficult personal encounters we tend to build stress within our bodies and our mind.  Our mind keeps going over the situations reviewing the negative pictures and the emotions attached.

Take the time to brew yourself a cup of tea, preferably green or herbal, sit down in a comfortable and quiet setting, alone by yourself.   

Sip your tea and inhale, filling the lungs while lowering the diaphragm with breath, enjoying the beverage.  Review the day, the good and the bad.  Continue enjoying the tea and the review.  After a few minutes…..close the eyelids…..

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “listen” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “observe” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “value” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “embrace” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the inhale…..say the word “I”….. then say the word “love” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

“I…….Listen”

“I…….Observe”

“I…….Value”

“I…….Embrace”

“I…….Love

Repeat the above, quietly feeling the impression of each word, surrendering to the emotional impact of each word and each breath.

After a few rounds, just say the word, “I” on the inhale and “love” on the exhale, surrendering to the ebb and flow of the breath.  Start to let the breath find its own rhythm without any personal effort.  Allow the breath to breathe you.  Surrender to its mastery of the moment itself.  Now is when the meditation begins.  Now is when we listen to the breath…..we listen to the awakened heart.  Do not be concerned when you find the mind begin to wander.  This is normal.  It’s what the mind does.  Gently bring the attention of the mind back to the breath, back to the mantra.  The mind is like a young excited child.  Be loving, kind, and gentle with it.  The words on the inhale and the exhale help to still and calm our mind.  The relationship between our awareness and our breath is our goal.  This relationship unlocks the secrets of our heart.  It is only when we subdue the mind can we discover what the heart has to say.  It is as if the mind is a like a pond that has stones cast into it relentlessly.  It is only when the stones are stopped that the surface of the pond finds its calm.  It is then that we can see the beauty hidden beneath its surface.  The breath will guide us.  The heart beckons us upon our journey.  We just need to listen, then observe, then value, and finally surrender and embrace what we find.  In this moment we are open to the very magic of the heart.  Rediscover, in the solitude of your being, the very private and special tenderness that goes before no other soul.  Let this place and this moment embrace you with its wonder.  Let the Love and Grace found within your being expand to every cell, every breath, and every moment.  Breathe Love – Be Love.   Let it last as long as you will.

Upon completion of this meditation, revisit the problems of the day with this affirmation:  “I let go….. I listen….. I love….. I forgive…..  My heart – My love, extends to all that I meet in loving kindness.” 

 What do we hear when opening our heart?

…..Listen to the silence.

What do we see when opening our heart?

…..Observe the stillness. 

What do we find when opening our heart?

…..Value the fullness of this moment.

What do we do when opening our heart?

…..Embrace this moment with the compassion of loving kindness.

Listen to the silence of a loving heart, observe the stillness of a loving heart, value the fullness of a loving heart, and then, embrace this special moment in time with compassionate courage, generosity, and humility born from loving kindness.

 I listen, I observe, I value, I embrace…….I am…….I love…….In thee, I am…….In thee, I love.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

The act of meditation has not the goal of gaining anything.  The purpose of meditation is to surrender, to release, to “let go”; to just listen and observe.  We then value and embrace what remains.

What do we find when we still our mind?

…..Love

 

“Our knowledge of God is perfected by gratitude: we are thankful and rejoice in the experience of the truth that He is love.”

Thomas Merton

When do you recall ever having taken the time to explore the depths of your own heart?

Will the discovery of the secrets lying dormant within your heart alter the direction of your life’s journey?  Have you ever wondered which fork in the road to take?  Have you done all the necessary preparation to make the choice valid?

May we extend this invitation to self examination.  

We are all given gifts at birth.  Discover them for yourself and their ultimate power for personal transformation.  Explore how their cultivation can add meaning to your life and the lives of those you touch.

“I always begin my prayer in silence, for it is in the silence of the heart that God speaks.  God is the friend of silence–we need to listen to God because it is not what we say but what He says to us and through us that matters.”

Mother Teresa


 

Meditations on Thankfulness by Amy Jenkins & edelements.com

Meditations on Thankfulness

 

By: Amy Jenkins on November 21st, 2017

Meditations on Thankfulness

EDUCATION ELEMENTS  |  LEADERS

Lately I have been meditating. It is only somewhat by choice – we are doing a company-wide meditation challenge and I am usually up for competitions, especially when they get me out of my comfort zone. Within the course of a few days of the challenge I discovered that just sitting and breathing doesn’t work for me – I have one of those brains that doesn’t turn off. It is not always full of important things, thoughts range from how to support a certain school to what I should get at the grocery store to if it’s going to be hot or cold tomorrow but you get the point, focus can be a challenge. So I started to do themed meditations and have recently been enjoying seven days of focusing on gratitude. Because while December may be the season of giving, November is the season of being grateful.

Truth be told, I have written our Thanksgiving blog post before and in years past I have used this post to talk about some of the things for which I am grateful. I have mentioned the leaders and educators in the schools we work with as well as schools everywhere – I remain grateful to each and every one of you for dedicating so much time, energy, passion and love to your students. I have talked about the Ed Elements team and I remain grateful to each of them too for always innovating, iterating, and supporting both the districts we work with as well as each other. And I have mentioned my family – for supporting me as I support my team which then supports our schools which support their students.

But it occurs to me that this year rather than listing what I am grateful for perhaps I could make some suggestions for what you might be grateful for, and share some ideas on how to experience and show that gratitude (ideas cribbed from my meditations of course).  


A short and abbreviated list of things everyone in K-12 should be grateful for:

  • The leaders and educators who are also learners, and doers, and try-and-try-againers
  • The parents who despite life and jobs and challenges push us as educators to support their children
  • The students who show up ready to learn, or who show up not exactly ready but still give it their all, and even those who just show up and let us show them the way
  • The policy-makers who listen and try to put in place things that make K-12 better or remove the barriers that get in our way
  • The funders who use their dollars to support K-12 needs
  • The bands who make football more fun (and those band leaders and teachers and coaches who must hear a lot of off notes before all the practicing makes the music sound so good)
  • The athletes who compete with all their hearts
  • The drama students, musicians, singers and artists who show us who they are on the inside through their creativity
  • The new buildings or technology or tools we sometimes get, or the ways in which even when nothing is new and shiny teachers can still make things bright and beautiful and inspiring
  • The opportunity we are all given to shape the future through supporting our students today


An even shorter list of how to experience that gratitude and show it:

  • Breathe deep
  • Be present and notice what is around you
  • Pause and reflect
  • Write it down or say it out loud
  • Let it in. We focus so much on letting things out. Let that gratitude and those warm feelings in
  • Smile and look people in the eye
  • Celebrate and share
  • Say thank you

In my house we talk about an “attitude of gratitude” but it is easy to forget sometimes to live this way. It is one thing to go around the Thanksgiving table and say one thing you are grateful for, one time, and quite another to do it every day. We all have so much to be thankful for, it seems silly to reserve it only for the 4th Thursday of November. So join me, not in meditation, but in looking around and thinking, “yep, this world is awesome, what I get to do in it and the type of impact I have is amazing and I’m thankful for yesterday, today and especially for what tomorrow may bring.”

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

personalized-learning-summit-11_22-blog

About Amy Jenkins

Amy is a Managing Partner, COO and optimist. A former teacher, she wants to help every student, teacher and district succeed.

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Christian Meditation by Sam Storms

10 Things You Should Know about Christian Meditation

  • Sam Storms, samstorms.com
  • 201729Sept.

10 Things You Should Know about Christian Meditation

 

The word “meditation” has developed something of a bad reputation in certain Christian circles. In this article I want to reclaim it as one of the essential spiritual disciplines for all believers.

1. Meditation begins, but by no means ends, with thinking on Scripture.

To meditate properly our souls must reflect upon what our minds have ingested and our hearts must rejoice in what our souls have grasped. We have truly meditated when we slowly read, prayerfully imbibe and humbly rely upon what God has revealed to us in his Word. All of this, of course, in conscious dependence on the internal, energizing work of the Spirit.

2. Meditation, then, is being attentive to God.

It is one way we “keep seeking the things above where Christ is” (Col. 3:1). It is a conscious, continuous engagement of the mind with God. This renewing of the mind (Rom. 12:1-2) is part of the process by which the word of God penetrates the soul and spirit with the light of illumination and the power of transformation.

3. Meditation on Scripture is essential to Christian living. Just consider a handful of texts that make this clear.

“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:1-2).

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11).

“I will meditate on your precepts, and fix my eyes on your ways” (Ps. 119:15).

In addition, consider numerous other exhortations and examples of meditation on God’s word from Psalm 119:23, 48, 78, 97, 99, 103, 148.

4. We should also train our souls to meditate on the glory and majesty of God as revealed in natural creation.

Jonathan Edwards describes the impact of one particular encounter with the power and wonder of creation:

“And as I walking there [in his father’s pasture], and looked up on the sky and clouds; there came into my mind, a sweet sense of the glorious majesty and grace of God, that I know not how to express. . . . The appearance of everything was altered: there seemed to be, as it were, a calm, sweet cast, or appearance of divine glory, in almost everything. God’s excellency, his wisdom, his purity and love, seemed to appear in everything; in the sun, moon and stars; in the clouds, and blue sky; in the grass, flowers, trees; in the water, and all nature; which used greatly to fix my mind. I often used to sit and view the moon, for a long time; and so in the day time, spent much time in viewing the clouds and sky, to behold the sweet glory of God in these things: in the mean time, singing forth with a low voice, my contemplations of the Creator and Redeemer. And scarce any thing, among all the works of nature, was so sweet to me as thunder and lightning. Formerly, nothing had been so terrible to me. I used to be a person uncommonly terrified with thunder: and it used to strike me with terror, when I saw a thunder-storm rising. But now, on the contrary, it rejoiced me. I felt God at the first appearance of a thunder-storm. And used to take the opportunity at such times to fix myself to view the clouds, and see the lightnings play, and hear the majestic and awful voice of God’s thunder: which often times was exceeding entertaining, leading me to sweet contemplations of my great and glorious God. And while I viewed, used to spend my time, as it always seemed natural to me, to sing or chant forth my meditations; to speak my thoughts in soliloquies, and speak with a singing voice” (Extractions from his Private Diary, 27-28).

5. We should also regularly reflect and meditate on God himself and his many works.

“One thing I have asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire [meditate, NASB] in his temple” (Ps. 27:4).

“when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night” (Ps. 63:6).

“I consider the days of old, the years long ago. I said, ‘Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart. Then my spirit made a diligent search. . . . I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder [meditate] all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds” (Ps. 77:5-6, 11-12; see also Psalm 111:2; 119:27; 143:5; 145:5).

6. Christian meditation must be distinguished from the sort that we find in eastern religions or more recent new age fads.

For example, unlike eastern meditation, which advocates emptying the mind, Christian meditation calls on us to fill our mind with God and his truth. Nowhere in the Bible is the “mind”, per se, described as evil or unworthy of being the means by which God communicates with us. What the Bible does denounce is intellectual pride, but not the intellect itself. It is humility that we need, not ignorance. I stand opposed to arrogant and cynical intellectualism. But that is not the same thing as using the mind God has given us, with the help of the Holy Spirit and the instruction of Scripture, to evaluate and discern and critically assess what is happening in both the church and the world.

Thus, unlike eastern meditation, which advocates mental passivity, Christian meditation calls on us to actively exert our mental energy. This is nowhere better stated than by Paul in Philippians 4:8. Here he encourages us to “let our minds dwell on” whatever is “true,” “honorable,” “right,” “pure,” “lovely,” and of “good repute.” Those things that are “excellent” and “worthy of praise” are to be the targets of our mental aim. It isn’t enough merely to acknowledge that things and ideas of moral and mental excellence are important. Merely affirming such truths and virtues will avail little in a time of testing. We must energetically reckon, take into account, and give deliberative weight to these things. Our minds must be captivated by them in such a way that the tawdry, sleazy, fictitious, and fanciful fluff of the world loses its appeal.

Unlike eastern meditation, which advocates detachment from the world, Christian meditation calls for attachment to God. If the believer disengages from the distractions and allurements of the world, it is in order that he/she might engage with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Unlike eastern meditation, which advocates visualization in order to create one’s own reality, Christian meditation calls for visualization of the reality already created by God. Unlike eastern meditation, which advocates metaphysical union with ‘god’, Christian meditation calls for spiritual communion with God. Unlike eastern meditation, which advocates an inner journey to find the center of one’s being, Christian meditation calls for an outward focus on the objective revelation of God in Scripture and creation. Unlike eastern meditation, which advocates mystical transport as the goal of one’s efforts, Christian meditation calls for moral transformation as the goal of one’s efforts.

7. So how should the Christian go about developing the discipline of meditation?

The first step is to rehearse in one’s mind the presence of God. Perhaps reading and reflecting on Psalm 139:1-10will help. Focus your attention on the inescapable presence, the intimate nearness of God. Issues of posture, time, and place are secondary, but not unimportant. The only rule would be: do whatever is most conducive to concentration. If a posture is uncomfortable, change it. If a particular time of day or night is inconvenient, change it. If the place you have chosen exposes you to repeated interruptions and distractions, move it. I enjoy watching football on TV as much as the next guy, but trying to engage with God’s Word during the huddle is hardly an effective way to experience its power!

8. The second step is to peruse. By this I mean read, repeat the reading, write it out, then re-write it.

We must keep in mind the difference between informative reading of the Scriptures and formative reading. The former focuses on the gathering of information, the increase of knowledge, the collection and memorization of data. The purpose of the latter is to be formed or shaped by the text, through the work of the Holy Spirit. With informative reading, I am in control of the text. With formative reading, the text controls me

9. It also helps to apply your imagination and senses to the truth of the text.

Envision yourself personally engaged in the relationship or encounter or experience of which the text speaks. Hear the words as they are spoken. Feel the touch of Jesus on a diseased body. Taste and smell the fish and bread as they are served to the multitudes. See the truths that God has revealed by mentally recreating the scene with yourself present. There is nothing magical or mysterious in this. The purpose of the imagination is not, as some have argued, to create our own reality. Our imagination is a function of our minds whereby we experience more intimately and powerfully the reality God has created. As you are doing so, reflect on the truth of the Word; brood over the truth of the text; absorb it, soak in it, as you turn it over and over in your mind.

10. The final steps can be summarized in four words: pray, personalize, praise, and practice.

It is difficult to know when meditation moves into prayer. It isn’t really that important. But at some point, take the truth as the Holy Spirit has illumined it and pray it back to God, whether in petition, thanksgiving, or intercession. In other words, take Scripture and turn it into dialogue with God.

Where possible, and according to sound principles of biblical interpretation, replace proper names and personal pronouns with your own name. God never intended for his Word to float aimlessly in impersonal abstractions. He designed it for you and for me.

Then worship the Lord for who he is and what he has done and how it has been revealed in Scripture. Meditation ought always to lead us into adoration and celebration of God.

Finally, practice. Commit yourself to doing what the Word commands. The aim of meditation is moral transformation. The aim of contemplation is obedience. And in obedience is joy inexpressible and full of glory.

This article originally appeared on SamStorms.com. Used with permission. 

Sam Storms is an Amillennial, Calvinistic, charismatic, credo-baptistic, complementarian, Christian Hedonist who loves his wife of 44 years, his two daughters, his four grandchildren, books, baseball, movies, and all things Oklahoma University. In 2008 Sam became Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sam is on the Board of Directors of both Desiring God and Bethlehem College & Seminary, and also serves as a member of the Council of The Gospel Coalition. Sam is President-Elect of the Evangelical Theological Society.

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Meditation in the Morning by Light Watkins & mindbodygreen.com

10 Amazing Benefits Of Meditating Every Morning

Light Watkins

My morning routine has been the same for years: I wake up at around 6 a.m. in eager anticipation of my first meditation of the day. I start by freshening up in the bathroom, then I go back to my bed and sit with my eyes closed for 20 minutes before getting ready for work. I’ve been following this routine each day for more than a decade.

Ironically, I don’t consider myself to be a particularly disciplined person. Like many people, I don’t look forward to doing things that don’t provide me with some type of immediate gratification. But I stick to my morning meditation routine because it not only leaves me with a tangible feeling of clarity to start my day, but the ripple effects of meditating extend throughout other important areas of my day and life.

Surely you’ve heard about all the scientific benefits of how meditation changes your brain and rests the body. But here are 10 practical, unexpected benefits that occur as a direct result of a consistent morning meditation routine:

1. It’ll be easier for you to switch on “beast mode.”

For men, meditation can cause our testosterone levels to increase, which results in bigger, stronger muscles, and more energy while working out. Plus, your workout will seem much more enticing when you’re more rested and less stressed — a by-product of your morning meditation.

2. You will last longer in bed.

Men might not talk about it, but we all want to be the greatest lovers on the planet. That means not only having strong muscles but also having a healthy libido. Again, as testosterone increases, our ability to last longer in bed increases. So if morning sex is an option, you may find that in addition to having more stamina, meditating provides you with more patience and sensitivity when it comes to being present with your partner.

3. You don’t need coffee.

Meditation activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which triggers a deep state of relaxation during the practice. So even though you may wake up from sleep still tired, after meditating for 20 minutes, you’ll get energy-boosting endorphins that’ll help you spring to life without having to rely solely on caffeine.

4. You turn on your mental “spam” filter.

The “busy mind” syndrome occurs because you don’t have your mental spam filter activated. Imagine if your email didn’t have a spam filter, and for every relevant message, you had to sift through hundreds of messages related to money scams, Viagra, and inkjet printer cartridges. Meditating helps filter out the internal and external “noise” and negative self-talk that can sabotage our otherwise sharp, clear perceptual acuity.

5. You can handle whatever the day brings.

You’ll find that meditation allows you to more easily drop into a “flow state” in which you become supremely adaptable to change. Unexpected traffic jam? No problem. Someone blows their horn at you in a parking lot? All good.

6. You counteract stress.

Meditation is like kryptonite to stress, with the primary side effects being increased happiness, better sleep, and more creativity. If there ever was a perfect solution to dissolving stress, it would be daily meditation.

7. You eat cleaner.

Numerous studies have found that when you’re stressed or sleep-deprived, you reach for bad-for-you foods. After building up momentum from your morning meditations, you may discover that cravings for doughnuts, fried foods, or lollipops also dissipate and get replaced by a craving for healthier, cleaner foods that the body will have an easier time digesting and turning into fuel for you to operate at a higher level.

8. You become a better driver.

People who have difficulty multitasking tend to be more accident-prone, especially while driving. Meditation has been shown to increase your ability to multitask, and coincidentally it makes you a safer driver.

9. You have fewer headaches.

Although meditation is not a substitute for medical treatment, it has been shown to reduce pain associated with headaches, making it an ideal complement to more traditional approaches to health and wellness. I had daily headaches in my early 20s, and they didn’t go away until I changed my diet and began meditating.

10. Your circle of influence grows.

Because daily meditation helps to release stress, it can make you more compassionate — and in the process, you become less judgmental and critical of others.

Here are some techniques to kick off your morning meditation routine:

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