Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Significance of Holiday Gifts

     The holidays are fast approaching and I would like to invite you to take a minute, take a breath, and take a seat.  Let's talk about the meaning behind our gift-giving frenzy.

     I was thinking about the original Christmas, as described in the Bible in the second chapter of Matthew (don't worry, I won't preach and I won't pass around the offering plate here).  According to that account, the three Wise Men, or Magi, brought to the newly-born Jesus three gifts:  gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  What is the meaning behind them?

     This week, let's look at gold.  Obviously, gold has monetary value and may have been used to support Mary, Joseph, and the young Jesus when they fled to Egypt to escape King Herod's soldiers who were searching to kill the boy.

     Beside that, gold has the symbolic meaning of royalty or divinity.  In ancient times, gold was a common offering to kings and queens.  So, the Magi were honoring the spiritual royalty within the newborn Jesus.

     As we use our gold, through currency, to buy gifts for the dear ones in our life, let the thought permeate your purchase that we are honoring the spiritual royalty within each person who receives a gift.  Let the habit of seeing others' inner king or queen guide how you treat them in this overly busy time.  Honor the king or queen within yourself as well by taking time to breathe, meditate, and rest.  You deserve to take that time -- you are royal!

(image courtesy of pixabay.com)
 

Saturday, November 23, 2019

It's Meditation Month, Part 4

     In our final meditation technique gleaned from Lawrence LeShan's book, How to Meditate: A Guide to Self-Discovery, I would like to share one that has been around for centuries in different forms in different cultures.  This is the Mantra Meditation.

     One we all are familiar with is the often-satirized "Om" meditation.  Either chanted aloud or mentally generated, one focuses on the syllable "om" or "aum," which is the sound of the universe according to Tibetan tradition.

     Other cultures prefer something a little less abstract.  Some prefer simple phrases such as "We are One," or "I am patient/loving/compassionate," or even one word:  "Peace."  Whatever you choose, make sure it reflects something that you feel that you need to focus on in your life at that time.  What you focus on, you become.

(photo courtesy of pixabay.com)

Saturday, November 16, 2019

It's Meditation Month, Part 3

     We have been exploring different meditation techniques this month, and I found another one that might be useful in Lawrence LeShan's book, How to Meditate: A Guide to Self-Discovery.  Remember how I said it dates from 1974?  I have a fun quote to share in a little bit that reflects those times.

     In this meditation, you can sit or lie down.  Then, without inwardly verbalizing the experience, you focus on some rhythmic occurrence within your body.  An easy one would be to put your hands on your lower abdomen and focus on the sensation of your hands rising and falling with each breath.  What is difficult is to avoid trying to control or modify one's breath while focusing on it.

     OK, here is the quote about a variation on this technique from LeShan, back in groovier times:
One self-generated rhythm that has been used by some people is the pulse rate.  This is observed either in the moving of an artery or the artery is palpated.  I strongly recommend not doing this without the constant supervision of an experienced and medically trained teacher.  It is very difficult in this one to avoid modifying your own pulse rate, and anyone who plays around with his own heartbeat is this fashion needs either a good psychiatrist or a certificate of entry into the nearest home for the feebleminded.
    OK, then!  You have been warned.

(image courtesy of pixabay.com)

Saturday, November 9, 2019

It's Meditation Month, Part 2

     This month we're focusing on different meditation techniques in case you are ever in need of a new one to keep things fresh.  I gleaned several from re-reading Lawrence LeShan's How to Meditate: A Guide to Self-Discovery.

     A good one to have in one's repertoire is the old stand-by, Breath Counting.  Several variations on this technique exist, of course.  One is to count one's breath from one to ten and then start over, and repeat.  However, I find that there are days when I am so scattered or upset that even concentrating to the count of five is really tough for me.  A variation I use on those days is to count to four and repeat that.  If that is too difficult, I might add another variation so I have to focus a bit more.  In this, I count "one" on the inhalation, then think "and" on the exhalation, "two" on the next inhalation, "and" on the next exhalation, and so on up to four, then repeat.  Some people like to focus on the sensation of breathing itself, perhaps focusing on the difference in temperature of the breath in the tip of the nose between the inhalation and exhalation.  I find Breath Counting, whichever variation is used, to help calm me down even when I can't go off by myself.

(image courtesy of pixabay.com)

Saturday, November 2, 2019

It's Meditation Month

     I don't know about you, but sometimes my meditations get a little, well, stale, and I need another technique to keep things fresh.  So, I pulled a really old book off my bookshelf the other day and re-read Lawrence LeShan's How to Meditate: A Guide to Self-Discovery.  It dates from 1974, and some parts reflect those groovier times, but it does provide several meditative techniques which are good to try.  I thought I'd pass on my favorites over the course of this month so you can try them, too.

     I think my all-time favorite meditation technique from this book is the Bubble Meditation.  In this technique, you imagine sitting at the bottom of the ocean or a deep lake, and every time a thought arises (which is inevitable), you imagine it being encased in a bubble and then watch the thought-bubble slowly rise to the surface of the water.  When another thought arises, you repeat the process.  It takes maybe 6-10 seconds for each thought to arise, become encased in the bubble, then rise to the surface.  I find it slows my thoughts down and allows me to view them objectively.  It's very calming.

     A variation on this meditation, especially if you don't like the idea of sitting at the bottom of the ocean, is to imagine sitting on a large rock overlooking a river or stream.  Every time a thought arises, you imagine it sitting on a leaf on the river and floating downstream, left to right.  This one works well also.