Using a Word to Focus our Intentions as a way to come to Deep Rest

As we said for the last writing prompt, being willing to rest, to stop seeking to control the situation is a simple process but it is not necessarily easy. And our culture and the popular mindset can often misguide us.

How to simply learn to trust and be open to a deepening silence? How to stay focused when one’s mind seems to be caught in spinning unhelpful stories and your mind acts like an echo chamber?

There are an infinite number of ways and there aren’t any one-size fits all templates. We each have to find our own way. But if one is a beginner, or one wishes to have a set practice they can use to help in times when it is tough sitting in patient waiting, a common practice of setting one’s intention to be at rest and open can help.

Preparing for this practice:

Take some time thinking about your intentions here. No practice is neutral. We all come from a point of view. To access this part of our mind, we have to let go of normal ways of experience and thinking and just rest. The only way of directing one’s mind toward the proper sort of attention is to set one’s intention. We did that with the last practice where we focused on shifting to benefactors or places we felt at home and at rest. Another way is to find a word that captures our intention. That word could be as simple as Open, Rest, Home, Safe, Love, Peace, or Yes. It could be a religious word like God, Jesus, Mary, Spirit. The point of the word is to direct our intention: that we wish to come to the profound Truth of our life. The place where we are fully ourselves and we don’t have to wear a mask or play a role or act in any way. The word should act like a lighthouse that guides us if we are lost and need to find our way home.

The Meditation/Practice Itself

Once you have your word, you will sit in a relaxed way. You will come to rest gently. You will turn your attention to the word and say it over and over slowly in your mind as you breathe. Time saying the word mentally with your breathing. At some point, let the word drop away. Just sit in attention. Quietly resting as if you are open to the moment. If you find your mind begins to think, immediately say the word with complete attention and think about how you want to have some moments of just resting and being open and aware. You don’t want to think anything or imagine anything. Again, after a bit drop the word again. Rest in openness. Sit in quiet attention breathing deeply and slowly. Drop all frames of reference. Just enjoy being at rest. As described in class, you may experience a period of time goes by – seconds or maybe minutes – where you aren’t sure if you fell asleep or not. This is completely fine and in fact may point to you actually entering into this new state of attention.

Writing Prompt

After listening to Podcast Four: A Journey Within, spend some time in quiet. You need not be alone but it has to be a quiet space, unplugged from phone, TV, laptop, radio. Silence the phone for the length of this exercise so as not to be distracted. Don’t engage others at all. Spend 5-10 minutes in a comfortable position and return to how the podcast ended. Try to limit movement, let go of control and tightness in the body and do not engage the thinking patterns that arise. Let go of thoughts, cutting the kite string of thought and just sitting at rest.

In a 500 word response, double spaced in Times New Roman and 12 pt font and remembering the rubric, write a response to  only  ONE  of the following:

1) Describe your experience of the podcast. Be detailed and explain. To help you get started, here are a list of questions that may get you to think about how to describe what happened. Feel free to answer these or come up with questions of your own. You can answer in whatever way you feel will allow you to describe with depth: Could you do the practice well? Were you able to pay attention without your mind wandering? Did you feel a shift in attention while listening to the podcast from having to stay in control and directing your body, breath, mind to a space where you were no longer in control but still very much awake? Were you relaxed or anxious? Why? Did you feel like the sacred space in the woods was a bit more real with the quiet repetition of the word? If you were distracted and got lost in thoughts, what specific things kept tugging at you? What does this help you understand about how your own mind works? What word did you choose? Why did you choose that word? Etc.

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