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


 

Gratitude Meditation by Joaquín

Gratitude meditation is a type of meditation which, as the name suggests, focuses on gratitude.

This article will define gratitude meditation, discuss some of its benefits, and relate it to mindfulness. It also includes a few guided gratitude meditations, so you can start your practice today.

 

What is Gratitude Meditation?

Gratitude meditation is a type of meditation that focuses on expressing gratitude for the things in your life. According to Jack Kornfield:

“Buddhist monks begin each day with a chant of gratitude for the blessings of their life. Native American elders begin each ceremony with grateful prayers to mother earth and father sky, to the four directions, to the animal, plant, and mineral brothers and sisters who share our earth and support our life. In Tibet, the monks and nuns even offer prayers of gratitude for the suffering they have been given”

These examples show that gratitude meditation is neither new nor restricted to one spiritual or religious movement.

While some people might think of meditation along the lines of sitting in a dark room and clearing your mind, gratitude meditation can be practiced in many different settings. One might practice gratitude meditation while they wait for their morning coffee to brew, for example. According to Be Happy Yoga & Salt Cave, gratitude meditation is

“a simple way to meditate” because at its core, all you have to do is just “reflect on all the people and things you are grateful for”

It is important to note that gratitude is not just about being thankful for the good things in your life, but it is about being thankful for everything in your life. There are things in your life which might initially seem bad, but upon further reflection actually, give you an opportunity to learn and grow. Part of gratitude is recognizing these blessings in all things. As Jack Kornfield says in the above link:

“open the meditation to include neutral people, difficult people, and even enemies- until you extend sympathetic joy to all beings everywhere, young and old, near and far”

Some gratitude meditation practices also include keeping a gratitude journal. This is simply a journal where you write down things you are grateful for, or even where you write letters to people you are grateful for. Gratitude journals are not a necessary part of a gratitude meditation practice, but they are an easy way to stay grateful throughout the day without losing sight of what is important.

What are the Benefits of Gratitude Meditation?

Now that we have established that gratitude meditation is how some Buddhist monks and Native American elders begin their days and ceremonies (as mentioned above), you might be interested in starting your day in a similar manner. So what are the benefits of gratitude meditation? Well, there is a lot of overlap between the benefits of gratitude meditation and the benefits of general feelings of gratitude itself.

For example, one study (Rao, 2016: Online Training in Specific Meditation Practices Improves Gratitude, Well-Being, Self-Compassion, and Confidence in Providing Compassionate Care Among Health Professionals) found that gratitude meditation can reliably increase feelings of gratitude. This might seem like a silly or obvious finding, but it is important to verify that gratitude meditation leads to increased feelings of gratitude rather than just assume it does because it seems like a given.

This study is also interesting because participants were briefly trained in gratitude meditation online, practiced gratitude meditation just one time, and then immediately saw results. While many of us understand the importance of gratitude, that does not necessarily mean we practice feeling gratitude as often as we should.

This finding that practicing gratitude meditation just once can instantly increase our feelings of gratitude and lead us to all of gratitude’s benefits is an exciting one.

It also tells us that since gratitude meditation leads to higher levels of gratitude, any benefits that come with gratitude should also come from practicing gratitude meditation. Feelings of gratitude come with all sorts of benefits:

  • Decreased levels of depression(Sirois, 2017: Gratitude Uniquely Predicts Lower Depression in Chronic Illness Populations)
  • Higher levels of well-being (Nezlek, 2017: A daily diary study of relationships between feelings of gratitude and well-being)
  • Trust in strangers (Drążkowski, 2017: Gratitude pays: A weekly gratitude intervention influences monetary decisions, physiological responses, and emotional experiences during a trust-related social interaction)
  • And even increased sleep quality (Jackowska, 2016: The impact of a brief gratitude intervention on subjective well-being, biology, and sleep)

What are the Benefits of Gratitude Meditation?

On top of that, all of these benefits were found with relatively brief gratitude interventions, meaning that even practicing gratitude for a short amount of time can lead to higher levels of well-being.

Gratitude can also be a protective factor in certain situations. For example, gratitude has been shown to lead to positive outcomes following traumatic events such as campus shootings (Vieselmeyer, 2017: The Role of Resilience and Gratitude in Posttraumatic Stress and Growth Following a Campus Shooting) or destructive earthquakes (Lies, 2014: Gratitude and personal functioning among earthquake survivors in Indonesia), as well as following negative life experiences such as substance misuse (Chen, 2017: Does gratitude promote recovery from substance misuse?).

In fact, one study looking at African-American adolescents (Ma, 2013: Gratitude is associated with greater levels of protective factors and lower levels of risks in African American adolescents) even found that gratitude was a protective factor that was associated with several different aspects of adolescence, such as higher levels of academic interest, engagement, and performance. That same study also found that higher levels of gratitude led to lower levels of drug use and early-adolescent sexual behavior.

Two other studies – Kleiman, 2013: Grateful individuals are not suicidal: Buffering risks associated with hopelessness and depressive symptoms – and – Stockton, 2016: How does gratitude affect the relationship between positive humor styles and suicide-related outcomes? –  show that high levels of gratitude have even been associated with lower levels of suicidal ideation in some cases. This shows the importance of having high baseline levels of gratitude in general along with the potential value of gratitude interventions.

As for the benefits of gratitude meditation specifically, one study (O’Leary, 2015: The Effects of Two Novel Gratitude and Mindfulness Interventions on Well-Being) found that practicing gratitude meditation four times a week for three weeks (along with keeping a gratitude diary) led to reduced levels of stress and depression, as well as increased levWhat are the Benefits of Gratitude Meditation?els of happiness. Anybody can incorporate this intervention into their lives with minimal cost and effort, making that finding extremely promising. This specific intervention’s schedule of four times a week for three weeks could also easily be incorporated in schools, prisons, and other situations.

These findings taken together indicate that starting a gratitude meditation practice yields near-immediate benefits that lead to increased levels of well-being. Having a gratitude meditation practice will also increase your levels of gratitude, which can serve as a protective factor in the face of certain traumatic events, as well as a protective factor against risky behaviors.

On top of that, the Rao & Kemper (2016) study shows that teaching people gratitude meditation can be done very quickly and that it can be done online. This means that just about anyone in the world can quickly learn about gratitude and gratitude meditation and start using it to their own benefit.

 

A Guided Gratitude Meditation Video (Youtube)

Now that you know what gratitude meditation is and some of the benefits it can lead to, you probably want to try it. Here are a few guided gratitude meditation videos to get your practice started. One of these is a quick, short introduction to gratitude meditation, one is a bit longer, and one is only for people who are ready to commit to a long video.

Guided Meditation on Gratitude with Deepak Chopra:

 

 

This is a very short (shorter than seven minutes) guided meditation from Deepak Chopra, focusing on gratitude. Chopra also focuses on forgiveness in this session. Its length makes it an excellent choice for beginners, as it should be easy to find some time to fit this guided meditation into.

Gratitude Meditation:

 

This is a slightly longer but still short (coming in at just over 10 minutes) guided video which will walk you through a gratitude meditation session. Even absolute beginners can enjoy this video, as the speaker will guide you through every aspect of the meditation. If you really like it, the video can be downloaded from a link in the details section of the video.

Gratitude and Appreciation ~ A guided meditation:

Finally, this is a guided gratitude meditation which is just about half an hour long. It is a good choice for anyone looking for a long gratitude meditation session they can be guided through. While it is longer, it is still guided, so anybody who wants to try it is welcome, even beginners.

If you are familiar with mindfulness and mindfulness meditation, you might be noticing some similarities between mindfulness and gratitude at this poin

How Are Gratitude And Mindfulness Related?

So what is the relationship between gratitude and mindfulness? There is clearly some sort of relationship between mindful awareness and feeling grateful for things in your life.

One recent paper (Rosenzweig: The sisters of mindfulness) even went so far as to call gratitude a “sister” of mindfulness (2013). This article was actually an introductory article for that issue of the Journal for Clinical Psychology which was focusing on these “sisters of mindfulness” and included the article ‘Gratitude as a Psychotherapeutic Intervention’ by leading gratitude researcher Robert Emmons.

In the piece, Rosenzweig suggests that gratitude is one of a few “sisters” of mindfulness because it is a core tenet of Buddhism, and highlights the fact that the Dalai Lama was even able to show gratitude towards the Chinese who were occupying his nation.

How exactly are gratitude and mindfulness related to each other, though?

One study (O’Leary, 2015: The Effects of Two Novel Gratitude and Mindfulness Interventions on Well-Being) comparing gratitude interventions and mindfulness interventions found that they both led to similar outcomes, particularly when it comes to well-being. That is, gratitude interventions and mindfulness interventions both similarly lead to increased levels of well-being.

Gratitude and mindfulness are related in other ways as well. For example, according to a study focusing on pregnant women (O’Leary, 2016: Positive prenatal well-being: conceptualizing and measuring mindfulness and gratitude in pregnancy), mindfulness and gratitude were both found to be positively correlated with levels of positive affect. Another study (Loo, 2014: Gratitude, pregnant woman - gratitude meditation pregnancy Hope, Mindfulness and Personal-Growth Initiative: Buffers or Risk Factors for Problem Gambling?) found that both gratitude and mindfulness were negatively correlated with future instances of problem gambling in young men.

In the pregnancy study, however, gratitude and mindfulness had different effects on negative affect, while the gambling study showed that gratitude and mindfulness had different effects on gambling urges in young men. These findings indicate that gratitude and mindfulness are closely related, but not identical in every way. It seems that gratitude and mindfulness have generally similar effects on well-being, but do not affect well-being in exactly the same way.

As mentioned near the beginning of this article, gratitude is an important aspect of Buddhist and Native American culture. According to one paper (Emmons, 2000: Gratitude as a human strength: Appraising the evidence), gratitude is also an important aspect of some different religious movements. Another paper (Trousellard, 2014: The history of Mindfulness put to the test of current scientific data: Unresolved questions) notes that like gratitude, mindfulness is also an important aspect of many of these same religious and spiritual movements. This shared importance shows the cultural significance of both gratitude and mindfulness.

Taken together, the above points indicate that gratitude and mindfulness serve similarly important roles in society, and recent research suggests that they have similar effects on individuals. Again, gratitude and mindfulness are not interchangeable, but they are two closely related aspects of human psychology. Any gratitude practice should include mindfulness, and any mindfulness practice can easily incorporate gratitude. Calling gratitude a “sister” of mindfulness as Rosenzweig (2013) did seem to be justifiable.

A Take Home Message

At its most basic, gratitude meditation is all about taking time to reflect on the blessings in your life, as well as the things which do not necessarily seem good but are still a part of who you are.

Gratitude meditation sessions can range in length from very short to around a half hour (and longer indeed), as the included guided videos show.

Gratitude meditation has several benefits, many of which overlap with the benefits of gratitude in general, such as increased levels of well-being. While gratitude interventions have been proven effective in many different situations within a wide range of populations, having higher baseline levels of gratitude is also beneficial, so it is never too early to start practicing gratitude in your own life.

Finally, gratitude and mindfulness are two key aspects of human life (and have been for a long time) that complement each other nicely. If you are currently practicing one but not the other, it should be easy and beneficial for you to start incorporating both in your meditation practice.

We hope that this article helped you understand gratitude more, as well as why it is a good idea to start a gratitude meditation practice. After all, research shows that even a single gratitude meditation session can start improving your life immediately (Rao & Kemper, 2016).

 
About the Author

Joaquín is a writer who was first introduced to psychology through behavioral neuroscience research. This research experience was focused on addiction with the hopes of ultimately helping people change their habits. Joaquín was born in Nicaragua, now lives in the United States, and believes positive psychology teachings can improve people’s lives in both countries.

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432 Hz HEALING MUSIC || Ultra Positive Vibrations byMeditative Mind & youtube.com

Published on Oct 17, 2018

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432 Hz Frequency of Nature’s Music. The frequency with which our body naturally resonates. The music tuned to 432Hz automatically becomes more calm and soothing. Those positive vibrations and healing energy for 432Hz music helps in aligning our energy, our vibrations to that of earth and nature. We have created this music 3 Hours long, so that it can be used for Meditation as well as background for sleep, as sleep music. We hope this healing music will help. Many Blessings and Peace all the way. #432HzMusic Copyright ⓒ 2018 Meditative Mind. All Rights Reserved. http://www.meditativemind.org
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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.

 

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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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