According to the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society loving kindness meditation is a method for developing compassion. Compassion for self, for others, and for the world. There are no conditions, its an inclusive love that is not measured but is deserving of everyone, even if you don't think so.
It is known as a metta prayer which is wishing good will and intentions upon yourself and others. Often we self-criticize or self-loathe creating an unhealthy picture of who we are. Loving kindness meditation helps us accept who we are as we are.
If meditation isn't really your thing and you want more factual information about how something like this is beneficial. Please check out the "18 Science-Backed Reasons to Try Loving Kindness Meditation" by Emma Seppala. You will find various research explaining increased health benefits, better social emotional regulation, and increased brain activation.
1. Get in a comfortable position, relax your body and close your eyes
2. For a few minutes breath deeply focusing on your breath moving in and out letting go of any other preoccupations
3. Recite these phrases about your well being internally or out loud to yourself (you can identify phrases that work for you).
May I be filled with loving kindness
May I be free from inner and outer harm
May I be healthy and whole in body and mind
May I be happy and at ease
4. Listen and internalize the meaning of the words, think of the kindness you have shown to others. Picture yourself being loved. Feel free to recite the words multiple times.
5. Next think of someone in your life that you care for or love. Someone you have a relationship with and recite these words.
May you be filled with loving kindness
May you be free from inner and outer harm
May you be healthy and whole in body and mind
May you be happy and at ease
6. Allow your images and feelings for the person to come forth and be free as you imagine these words to support the individual. See loving kindness in them.
7. At this time you can refocus to your breath or choose another individual to repeat steps 5 and 6 before ending your meditation.
Tips For Practice
It's important to set aside a time to practice the meditation every day. Start with a short amount of time like 2 minutes and create a timer on your phone. Sometimes it can be difficult to say or imagine ourselves with loving kindness. However it is important that you say these words to yourself even if you do not believe them. Think of the intentions behind them. Once your comfortable with the meditation you can focus on those individuals whom you may not be getting along with.
If you need some guidance check out this short youtube video below which leads you through a loving kindness meditation.
Spiritual practices are essential to our ongoing walk of faith. If you have a spiritual practice that's important for you please share it with us. Visit our contact us page and let us know.
This week take a few minutes to do this loving kindness meditation.
As our social distancing and self quarantining continues fear continues to be prevalent among us. It’s a scary time right now. Our routines have been dismantled. Anxiousness fills our minds. Fear about our loved ones and day to day lives moving forward stays on the forefront of our brains.
So how do we focus on hope when fear abounds in our daily life? It’s important to note that we are not the first ones to have a life changed and occupied by fear. There have many historical events that changed peoples lives. They have all brought an opportunity to identify what really matters to people.
Often in times of great struggle or uncertainty people turn to find God. This is because our relationship with God is more important then we usually tend to acknowledge. Our daily lives get overrun with responsibilities and obligations. In this time we each have this opportunity to seek God in the midst of chaos.
So what do we do with this fear? How do we seek God during this time? How do we deeply connect with the divine? Let’s explore further.
Acknowledge Your Stress, Worry, and Fear
This chaotic time is something we have not known. But most likely you are feeling some level of stress, worry, or fear. Often we may not even recognize our stress. Other times we run from it and eventually get to the point where it is too much. Stress can come out in many ways.
Here are some things to look for:
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Change in eating and sleep patterns
- Constant fear and worry (checking phone for new updates constantly)
- Increase use of alcohol, drugs, etc.
- Health problems worsen or unexplained headaches, etc.
- Irritability, anger, short tempered
Know you do not have to bear these emotions or the emotions of your household alone. Take this opportunity to sit with your feelings and start on a path of resilience. Be vulnerable and acknowledge your feelings. This will not only help provide some relief for you but give others opportunities to support you as well as share their own. Being real with ourselves in these moments puts us on the journey to figuring out how to manage them. With any loss of life there is a natural grieving process we go through. This in particular is challenging because we are a part from the people we connect with on a daily basis.
Its important you take care of yourself during this time. There are many ways to do this. It's important you connect with others through text, phone, or video interface, exercise and take care of your body, and talk with others about the facts. Faith can also be a major resiliency factor in these times. Faith provides hope in times of uncertainty and calms our fears. There are some ideas of how you can find your faith during this time below.
NAMI provides some wonderful ideas of taking care of your mental health in this article "Mental Health Coping Strategies." You can also check out the CDC's recommendations for "Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event." Hang in there we are all in this together.
Remember fear only has a hold on us if we allow it to. Lets end this section with a famous quote from a Kansan.
“I am not afraid of tomorrow,
for I have seen yesterday and I love today.”
- William Allen White
Avenues for Faith
People are using unique ways to connect their faith groups. I have seen virtual worship's, a car drive up worship, family church time, or even neighborhood get togethers (with distance). Now is exactly the time to try something different! Some people are anxious and stressed and need the comfort of knowing God is in their lives.
Online Worship - There are various churches providing online worships through interfaces like zoom, skype, Facebook Live, or live streaming services. I encourage you to check out these options. This last week Midlands Mission Center hosted a Thursday night connection group via zoom to worship and dialogue together. If you are interested in joining next week go to our contact us page and submit a request and I will get the information to you. You can also check out Community of Christ Online Ministries for more options.
Spiritual Practices - I have heard many people say this last week has really helped them draw away to spend time with God. Finding a spiritual practice that works for you is essential. Spiritual practices are acts that help us connect with the divine in a deeper way. Check out our past blog posts on spiritual practices for more insight. Practicing kindness, prayer, exercise, meditation, silence, music, knitting, scripture study, etc. can all be forms of spiritual practices. Find one that works for you and do it.
Out of the Box Ideas - Be creative in expressing your faith. People are sewing face masks for hospital staff. Others are creating scavenger hunts in neighborhoods and cities you can do in your car. Some are asking elderly neighbors to get groceries for them to ensure the most vulnerable are isolated and safe. Faith in action is using love to think of others. Use your creativity!
Connecting to God
Connecting to God is about searching your heart and seeking something greater than yourself. Holding the understanding the gospel is not about me. When we move out of the way and focus on God and others we see with different eyes. I encourage you find a quiet place, close your eyes, and search your heart and mind for God in this moment. God's spirit is all around us and through us. God is in our suffering in these dark hours. God's spirit breathes in you! Allow love to come forth and there you will find God. There you will find hope amidst the fear.
This is a challenging time. I pray we will be led by our faith and that fear will be wiped away with hope. May you all stay healthy and well.
Find time to connect with God this week in whatever form you see fit.
You just might have heard schools are closed, march madness was cancelled, and the NBA season is suspended. As a response some of you might have already started taking notes on The Walking Dead, I am Legend, or Planet of the Apes in preparation for the coming days. While many of you may be wondering when will all this hogwash will be done and over with. No matter what camp you are in its important to follow the guidelines of the CDC, WHO, and your local health department so that we can maintain the greatest amount of safety for all people.
One recommendation is social distancing. This refers to actions taken by the public to slow or stop the spread of a contagious disease. This can be cancelling events, avoiding mass gatherings, maintaining distance from others, and closing businesses, etc. These measures may seem extensive however taking extra safety measures counters the unknown of a contagious disease such as Covid-19.
Community of Christ has suspended all church gatherings for 3 weeks as part of this preventative measure to ensure safety of all people. However we do offer online worship groups if you are interested. Please visit Community of Christ Online Ministries.
12 Ways to Connect During Social Distancing
It’s important we maintain connection and community during social distancing. So how do that when we are isolating in our homes. Here are some community building ideas to maintain connection with others in these trying times. Remember there are people that live by themselves that will need connection now more than ever.
1. Video Interface/ Phone calls - Technology rocks! We have ample ways to stay connected to others through Skype, FaceTime, Facebook live, Zoom, etc. Schedule bedtime stories with grandparents, coffee time, kids play dates, or just time to chat with friends.
2. Text Messaging - Though it does not have the same effect it does keep us in communication. Text often! Check in on people. Those close to you and those you haven’t talked with in years. Think about those by themselves and reach out.
3. Social Media - When used appropriately, aka not arguing, pushing political agendas, or sharing inaccurate information, social media can be a way to stay connected. The key is to be personal with others responding to posts or just checking in on people you haven’t seen for awhile.
4. Spiritual Practices - Times like this can deepen our spiritual journey if we focus on it. Take time daily to engage in a spiritual practice. Allow yourself to find God as we need to make that connection. Unsure what to do? Check out all the spiritual practices we have blogged about.
5. Write a letter/ card - Everyone loves getting something personal in the mail or through email. In a time like this we need to share our thoughts and feelings with others. There are tons of websites to help with virtual cards and anyone can send an email or direct message through Twitter, Facebook, Snap Chat or other social media form.
6. Video Games - Gaming actually provides a network for people to do something in common together online. It can be a great device to stay entertained and make some fun moments while conquering a planet or overcoming a legendary boss.
7. Car Coffee - Brew your own coffee and then drive to meet your friend at a location. Each can remain in there car with the windows down if not comfortable getting out at a place in nature.
8. Virtual Book Club/ Film Study - Create a virtual book club or film review group to meet regularly to talk and socialize. It gives you a good reason to finish that book or movie you have been wanting to watch.
9. Cook and Share - This is great time to cook those chocolate blueberry muffins you have been wanting to bake. Make sure you are using good hygiene practices when cooking to ensure cleanliness. This means wash your hands and fight off the temptation to stick your finger in the batter to sample it. If you can be clean in the cooking and packaging process share them with your neighbor or a friend who is on their own. Place it on their porch and leave a little note.
10. Sing with Others - You May have seen videos from Italy and others where people began singing together on their balconies. Music can unite us and bring joy to our souls. If you find yourself in a similar situation maybe your singing or music will start the connection with others.
11. Be in Nature - This is great opportunity to become connected to the sacredness of creation. Go walk, hike, climb, or run. Open your eyes and observe the beauty. Listen to the cacophony of sounds. Identify yourself as just a piece of the larger creation. Connect to creation.
12. Donate - There are many great causes out there needing to push through during this time. Find one important cause to you and give money.
Remember we are in this together! I hope these suggestions may help you and others you know stay connected during this social distancing.
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This week reach out to someone and let them know you are thinking about them.
Craig Hidy like the majority of ministers in Community of Christ is a bi-vocational, self sustaining ordained minister. He is a member of the Midlands Mission Center Emporia Team and an ordained Seventy. He and his family, live in Topeka, Kansas.
The mission of the Seventy
“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” Luke 10:1-3 NRSV
What is a Seventy?
The Seventy carry out missionary work for the church in close association with other missionary leaders. They represent Christ primarily as ministers of evangelism through witnessing, inviting, and church planting.
They especially proclaim and promote Jesus Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship through vibrant witness, and train individuals and congregations in witness and invitation.
They particularly minister with seekers, individually and in groups, to share the gospel in relevant ways and to invite response.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.
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