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.
Jesus was the son of a carpenter and thus learned how to work with wood and fix things with his hands. I tend to believe learning how to be a carpenter formed Jesus into the patient, understanding, and future oriented person he was. So today we look closer at the spiritual practice of woodworking.
There is something magical about taking a piece of wood and forming it into a beautiful structure. This act of creating is an experience. It provides intrinsic meaning beyond just the physical morphing of material but one that resides in the soul. Woodworking allows are hands and body to act while creating something spiritual in nature that represents part of who we are. Just seeing the grains and lay of the wood, deciding the cut, and envisioning how it can become more vibrant with the various stains or oils connects us. We are able to be present in the moment letting go of any conflicts, desires, challenges, etc. that are at play in our life. This spiritual practice in essence centers us while we physically work to create something inspiring, useful, or meaningful.
Let's look further at the lessons we learn from the spiritual practice.
5 Life Lessons From Woodworking
1. Understand the Grain of the Wood - When you are woodworking it is necessary to know the grain of the wood. Sometimes we have to go with the grain and work with it to form what we need. Other times we have to cut across it to get our desired result. This translates to us to always assess our situations to determine what is best for the results we want. Many times with our faith that will be going against the grain of society and sticking to our morals and principles.
2. Envision what could be - It takes a vision to really see what something could be. Amazing pieces can be created with just a little envisioning. We are the same way. We need to envision what a spiritual relationship could be and work toward it. The mere act of seeing and believing propels us to who we want to be.
3. Imperfections are learning opportunities - When working with wood flaws will ultimately happen. But most of the time those flaws do not deflect the natural beauty and usefulness of the product. Those imperfections teach us the best ways to work with them and what positives qualities they bring in the material. This principle is also true in us. We all have our own imperfections but those do not take away from our natural beauty and worth.
4. Take your time - Woodworking is a process! It takes time and patience is required. Cutting, planing, joining, and finishing all are pieces that take time to create the product we want. This tells us to not be in a hurry but be patient with our life. Enjoy the moments we have and take the time necessary to create who you want to be.
5. Finish what you started - Choosing the type of finish for your wood is important. We must look at the colors and select the best oil or stain. Finishing the wood makes it pop with color, showing all the amazing qualities of the grain and the quality of the work. This lesson applies to us as well. When we finish the challenges or things put before us we also pop with the color of pride and satisfaction. The act empowers us to be the best person we can and moves us forward to our next task.
Woodworking can be a great skill and activity to enjoy. But in the right mindset can also be a very freeing spiritual practice to partake in. Using these lessons above and others when we work with wood can help us connect with the divine in our life. I encourage you to learn, utilize and practice this skill.
Thank you for all those who join with the Community of Christ as a piece of the greater Christian community striving to do good in this world and bring worth to people.
This week find a piece of furniture or object created out of wood. Feel it, envision what it was before it was formed, think about the imprint the creator put on it, and thank the universe for its creation. Now do the same for yourself!
This year we are continuing our focus on a spiritual practice the last week of each month. This week we will look at how music an be used as a spiritual practice connecting us with the divine.
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind,
flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” – Plato
Music has a way of connecting to our inner being much like silence. It moves us beyond words and expressions to feel and communicate something that ultimately cannot otherwise be stated. Our bodies begin to move and sway to the beat without even thinking as a natural rhythmic way of connecting. We are transported to a higher dimension of connection with ourselves and God.
Even with my inabilities in making harmonious melodies and constantly fumbling on rhythm, I'm still enlivened at the sound and feeling I get when something connects with me. It makes me aware of the spirit that is moving within me at all times. Often I have a joyful response to the sound I hear, while other times it causes me to introspectively think and search my innermost thoughts and feelings. Both responses open me up to understanding how God is moving in my life in ways I may not have experienced before. Let's examine closer ways music can be used as a spiritual practice.
Ways to Use Music as a Spiritual Practice
The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.” - 2 Chronicles 5:13
There are many ways to use music to help you connect spiritually with the divine. Here are a few ways that might be beneficial to you and your spiritual journey.
1. Freeing and Healing - If we allow ourselves to experience music it can be cathartic. We can have a physical and emotional response. This alone can cause us to release tension, stress, and emotional baggage that has built up over life's overwhelming circumstances. There have been many study's which show the healing power of music, aka "Mozart Effect". So allow yourself to hear the music and move your body in whatever way it is speaking to you.
2. Introspection/ Meditation - Music can be an incredible way for us to become aware of our true feelings and thoughts. The music can carry us to our own sacred place away from the hustle and bustle of the world. We can let go of the noises around us and the constant jib jab in our head to focus on the sound and the stillness within. Find yourself a slower tempo song which will decrease your brain activity and create more calming effects. You can utilize many meditations on youtube, or sounds that relax you.
3. Playing/ Creating/ Developing - Playing music can also bring about spiritual connection. Sometimes this is through connecting with others they play with. Sometimes its about giving the talent so others can connect deeper with the divine. The act itself can be balancing and allow musicians spirit to speak. Playing ultimately can lead to creating something original that speaks about you and your God. If you haven't played for awhile pick up your instrument and allow yourself to play. If you don't know how I suggest you start taking lessons to develop a new skill.
4. Praying -The lyrics we sing can be our prayers we carry to the world. So when we speak of justice, love, and peace we send our voices out to God. Allow yourself to see this time as a way of praying to God with the words that are before you.
Let's end today with a praise song which really is a prayer to God!
Thank you to all those who continue to support this blog and share it with people they know.
This week use music to connect deeper with God.
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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