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This is my attempt to pounce on and then shape the words I breathe.

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

PART TWO: What A Difference Meditating in Amanda Kemp's 30-day Challenge Makes

PART ONE is 2 posts earlier than this one.

Amanda's Voice is so Bright!  

"Hey, everybody!  It's Day 15 of our 30 Day Challenge.
Have you noticed any differences within yourself?
Just for fun start a list of 3 things/incidents where you noticed a change."

  1. Getting milk or bread and doing laundry ceased being urgent "do now" affairs.  I need help to get the laundry downstairs, but can wait for when a friend has time.
  2. I did not lose my temper when a truck delivering meat products blocked me in my parking spot.  I felt the urge and the impatience but did not let them infect the interaction with the driver.
  3. I am making time to meditate and exploring the resources.  I am doing this daily even when I cannot, and not judging myself.  So the doing is more important than perfection.


9/12/2015:  I wrote in the 30-day challenge:  Restless again today, but I have hope.  I'm spending the morning in Marcelle Martin's "Doors to God: A course to explore the many doorways to our relationship with God" at Swarthmore Meeting House.  First I tried this from Richard Rohr's daily meditation:  

Practice The Four Limitless Qualities

Buddhism identifies Four Limitless Qualities: loving kindness (maitri), compassion, joy, and equanimity. Loving kindness and compassion may appear to be the same, but there are subtle differences. In Buddhism, compassion includes a willingness to identify so fully with someone that you would be willing to carry a little of their suffering. Equanimity may be close to what Christians mean by peace. These four qualities are limitless in that they increase with practice and use. If you don't choose daily and deliberately to practice loving kindness, it is unlikely that a year from now you will be any more loving. The qualities are also limitless because they are already within you--which beautifully parallels the Christian theology of the Holy Spirit. There is a place in you that is already kind, compassionate, joyful, and equanimous.
Last week's practice, Tonglen, focused on holding the suffering of self and others. Today I will paraphrase Pema Chödrön's practice for loving kindness, maitri. I invite you to set aside a quiet period to go through these simple steps with intention and openness.

  1. Recognize the place of loving kindness inside yourself. It is there. Honor it, awaken it, and actively draw upon it. 
  1. Drawing upon the source of loving kindness within, bring to mind someone for whom you feel sincere goodwill and tenderness, someone you love very much. From your source, send loving kindness toward this person and bless them. 
  1. Awaken loving kindness for someone who is a casual friend or associate--someone not in your inner circle, but a bit further removed, someone you admire or appreciate. Send love to that individual. 
  1. Now send loving kindness to someone about whom you feel neutral or indifferent--for example, a gas station attendant or a cashier. Send your blessing to this person. 
  1. Think of someone who has hurt you, who has talked evil of you, whom you find it difficult to like or you don't enjoy being around. Bless them; send this would-be enemy your love. 
  1. Bring all of the first five individuals into the stream of flowing love, including yourself. Hold them here for a few moments. 
  1. Finally, extend this love to embrace all beings in the universe. It is one piece of love, one love toward all, regardless of religion, race, culture, or likability. 
This practice can help you know--in your mind, heart, and body--that love is not determined by the worthiness of the object. Love is determined by the giver of the love. These steps can be repeated for the other three limitless qualities. Remember, spiritual gifts increase with use. Love, compassion, joy, and equanimity will grow as you let them flow. You are simply an instrument, a conduit for the inflow and outflow of the gifts of the Spirit. You are "inter-are."

And I had a GREAT time, but I am not more mindful in the here and now.

(Later) 9/12/2015  I wrote to Amanda:  
I did a 20 minute walking mindfulness meditation which brought me great joy.
And that was the "I am here" prayer, which along with the other--Gratitude and Help-- brought me in and out of the present.  Marcelle added to that a body prayer and a breath prayer and an invocation and a holy accompaniment.  All of these left me present and also aching from 3 hours of retreat.  I spent time at the end with Barbara Benton from CPMM, and we may get together.  She's depressed, sadly.  And the Small Group Sharing session from the "I am Here" was so intense that I think the three of us--Sally and TRISH?--will be in touch. Jennifer stayed for half before she discerned she had other priorities, that she knew this in and out.  Helene was there until the end and so we had a hug.   This was a good and mindful day.  

Is there a way to be mindful day long without feeling the expenditure of energy? During meditation it feels so relaxing!

9/13/2015  Woke at 5 am.  I'm beginning to like the early waking, even if I only get 4 or 5 hours sleep because of what they allow me a leisure reading time in prep for a 7 am meditation.  Today I listened to "We are Here " at the suggestion of Amanda Kemp.  

Then I turned to "Self-Compassion Guided Meditations and Exercises" by Dr. Kristen Neff--again suggested by Amanda Kemp, and started with her
"Self-Compassion Break [7 minutes]"--then ate and came back at 8:30 to do her "Compassionate Body Scan [24 minutes]." I had previously done one by her called "Affectionate Breathing."   Good stuff.  I was able to come back again and again to her voice with the help of my breathing.

9/13, 9/14--Yesterday I did a deeper self-meditation than usual, just counting breaths for a little over 10 minutes.  I was surprised it worked, as my nerve-damaged hand knocked over coffee in teh middle of making it and the grounds and liquid covered the rug in the kitchen and everything.  I felt the anxiety rise but I didn't lose it --except for one little thing--I reached down to grab up the rug and rush it out to the deck.  This little thing hurt my back bid time.  Percoset then prevented me from driving to meeting.  I missed meeting and business meeting, but my kitchen floor is clean.  FAIL!

Today I tried self meditation again and managed only 5 minutes while my mind leapt everywhere, but one very fine thing evolved:  I used Amanda's affirmations and went with changes that happened during my meditation.

May I be well--> May I be part of Wellness; Wellness.
May I be happy--> May I be part of Happiness; Happiness.
May I be free from suffering-->  May I be free from suffering; Freedom.

9/15  I lay down to rest from an over exertion and immediately felt so at one with myself that I decided to extend it into meditation.  The above affirmations changed again, each phrase with a breath--first half in, 2nd half out:
May I be well; may you be well. May I be happy; may all be happy.May I be free from pain; may all be free from pain.
And I'm sure I breathed at least 6 times and then I don't remember.  I didn't sleep, but found myself sitting here to attend to appointments and shopping lists and lightening my purse so I could go shopping more easily. My mind is full now, but it was mindful for a few minutes.  I am sure of it.  I think I'd like to take a class that I actually get up and go to.

9/16 and 9/17  Both days I did "I am here, Here I am, God is here"  and scanned my body to release tension.  And both days, I fell fast asleep!  I needed to nap.

9/18  I've been oversleeping, but I am going to meditate now.
And this one was highly successful!  I started with an Alexander technique laying down alignment and moved right into breath awareness without struggle.  Counting breaths, I kept pulling myself back with a focus on taking in and giving back healing.