Enjoy these Meditations and Contemplative Practices Week-by-Week
This meditation accompanies the last week of the cycle of Memory.
How can seated practice and listening to sounds feel like a dance with all life?
Watch this short instructional video and try a "murmuration meditation" for yourself and all beings.
"Body Mapping Meditation"
Consider the maps this week you've been drawing, both creatively and contemplatively of your own physical body.
1. Use the instructional video above to settle the body. For this practice, you can lie in constructive rest rather than a seated position. Constructional rest means lying in a horizontal position that is awake, mindful and present. 2. Find the still point in the body, a place where movement originates. Often this "still point" can't be locate in a specific physical location per se but in a meeting point between gentle awakened attention and physical presence. 3. When you sense the body is still, awake and present, slowly roll to the right and lift the body off of the ground. 4. How do you move from that still point in the body? 5. Spend 10-20 minutes exploring moving from stillness rather than reactivity, gentle awake attention rather than unconscious mapping. 6. Note in your notebook the shifts in the ways you conceive and perceive your body after this meditation.
"The Buddha is Sitting; The Buddha is Listening"
This brief guided meditation for beginners or seasoned sitters allows you to sit with the support of the listening Buddha beside you. This is practice inspired by and integrating the words of one of my teachers, Tich Nhat Hahn.
This is a 22 minute guided meditation is in two parts. The first part meditates with feeling a sense of belonging within a group, like a flock of birds. Part two meditates on the flow experience of feelings of the child and the adult.
Below is an artful invocation of The Bodhisattva, Green Tara.
Her name means, "star," or "she who ferries across." Tara steps from her lotus throne to offer service or compassion in action.
When I was walking in Ireland and writing poems based on walking, I began to notice the flowers fighting their graceful way through the cracks or grykes in the rock. For a couple of years, I returned to The Burren, which is a karst landscape in the West of Ireland where some of my mother's ancestors are buried.
I reconfigured the words of the Green Tara chant, or mantra, into poem. The Sanskrit word for "mantra" is very close to Sanskrit word for "mind" or "memory." Ideally, you memorize mantras. They are sets of syllables that have multiple layers of meaning, like poems.
When people sing mantras, some practitioners can feel the sounds in different parts of their body. But they are sung with the whole body.
Remember that "mind" in Sanskrit and in the Indian and Buddhist world view is not separate from the body.
The mantra Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha comes from Tibet. The mantra embodies a loving play on the Bodhisattva of Protection, Tara. Tare means protection from danger. When you sing this mantra, you invoke Tara, who is sometimes considered the Bodhisattva of Compassion in Action. She protects us from the poisons of greed, hatred and delusion. You might see that this chant as one that invokes your own ability to protect the world and yourself rom the poisons of greed, hatred and delusion.
Ture means to walk a path that strives to deliver all from suffering. According to wildmind.org: "We are all potentially Tara. We can all become Tara." Svaha means to bless or to hail.
Listen to this chant and meditate to it. You can visualize it as Tara herself. Or you can, in the name of the Muse of Memory, invoked in Cycle 2 of the course Amuse: Contemplative Creativity, use this mantra in a ritualistic sense in your own life. Or sing it yourself!
What rituals can you do - every day or every week - to invoke the Green Tara of Compassion in Action? What forms does she take?
Can you be an eco-Bodhisattva? Can you invoke Tara to protect the wildflowers, the green Buddha-nature of plants? Those Buddhas in the flowers protect us from harm. Many remedies come from flowers. And they serve us simply in their beauty.
Don't you think they deserve a little invocation of protection? You can listen to this when walking. Sing along. Make up your own mantra. Whatever the words happen to be, whatever the pronunciation, allow the sounds to purify the heart of things.