Resources

Contents:

  1. Two minute Thriveotional
  2. Ten Mindfulness practices

Two Minute Thriveotional

  • One minute to read about it.
  • One minute to do it.

Each Thriveotional project includes:

  • A One Minute Project you can do right now.
  • The Science Connection with research findings on the project.
  • Connecting with God with verses or stories from the Christian faith.Projects are designed to increase our ability to thrive and to increase our connection with God.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Install Some Joy

The Project

For one minute:

Think of what brings you joy, delight.

  • Imagine it in full detail. Sights, sounds, smells, . . .
  • Hang on to the imagination for several seconds
  • Add emotion, if you can.

The Science Connection: What did you just do?

You structurally changed your brain and increased your capacity to be joyful.

Why do we need to make an effort to install joy?

Bad things, the dangers in life install quickly and easily in our brains.

This useful function helps us avoid the bad and stay alive.

Good things, the joys of life do not install as easily.

Good needs a few more seconds of focus to strongly install in our brains.

Connecting with God:

Paul’s instructions for us from a Roman prison.

  • Rejoice in the Lord, always. I repeat, Rejoice. Philippians 4: 4

Wisdom from Solomon:

  • I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; also that it is God’s gift to people that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their work. Ecclesiastes 2: 12-13.

What we pay attention to changes our brain

and therefore changes our life.

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Get Expansive

The Project

  • Take on an expansive posture: use arms and legs to take up a lot of room.
  • Continue taking up space for one minute.

The Science Connection: What did you just do?

  • You changed the hormones in your body to increase testosterone and decrease cortisol.

Testosterone is associated with feelings of confidence

Cortisol is associated with feelings of negative stress.

  • Your posture also changes the perceptions that others have about you.

Connecting with God

A bent-over women slowly entered the room. It had been 18 years since she had stood-up straight.; 18 years of looking down, feeling small and powerless.

Jesus saw her and called her to come to Him.

Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” He touched her.

Her back uncurled and she stood up straight and tall, praising God. Full story in Luke 14:10-17

Our posture affects our:

moods, identity, actions, and relationship with others.

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Mono-tasking in the  Now

The Project

Do one thing with your full attention for one minute. Clean, stretch, exercise, . . .

The Science Connection: What did you just do?

You were:

  • up to 40% more productive
  • exhibiting a higher IQ
  • 50% more accurate
  • faster
  • less brain strained
  • happier

than if you had multi-tasked.

Connecting with God:

It is not necessary to have great things to do. I turn my little omelet in the pan for the love of God.”

Lawrence’s spiritual practice was simply to do all of his daily tasks for the love of God and in the company of God. He practiced God’s presence in the kitchen, in town as he ran errands, and later in life as a shoe repair man.

Lawrence found that of all the Christian practices, the habit of doing all our tasks for and with God was the ‘shortest and easiest way’ to connect to God.

Lawrence says, to Practice God’s Presence we must focus our attention on the task at hand and quiet all thoughts that are unrelated to that task.

The skill of monotasking was an essential part of Lawrence’s practice.

Brother Lawrence, French Lay Brother AD 1600’s.

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Flash Care/Prayer

The Project

For one minute think of people you know and express a word or phrase of care or prayer for them.

Ex. Fill ______ with hope/joy/peace today.

The Science Connection: What did you just do?

A few benefits of compassionate action:

  • Brings positive emotion
  • Increases life satisfaction
  • Lowers depression
  • Benefits immune system
  • Benefits cardio-vascular system
  • Increases social connection and its host of health benefits
  • Decreases negative effects of stress
  • Promotes longevity.
  • Compassionate acts are socially contagious.
  • Watching acts of compassion boosts our mood.
  • Even thinking about compassionate action promotes brain health.

Connecting with God:

As Frank Laubach walked in crowds, or rode buses, or attended meetings he made a habit of flashing prayers for individuals around him.

Laubach noticed positive reactions to his prayers and felt the atmosphere of meetings change when he played this game.

Dr. Frank Laubach: Presbyterian missionary renowned for his work in raising literacy worldwide and his work in staying connected to God.

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Discover

The Present Moment

The Project

For one minute: S.T.O.P.

  • Stop what you doing
  • Take a breath
  • Observe what is in the now -including God’s presence
  • Proceed with what you are doing

The Science Connection: What did you just do?

Focused your mind on the present.

When we are focused on the present moment:

  • We will increase our odds of being happy.

When we mind wander:

  • we decrease our odds of being happy.

Mind-wandering actually causes the decreased rate of happiness.

We are happier when our mind is on our present moment than when it is wandering to the past or imagined future.

Connecting with God

Orthodox Archbishop Anthony Bloom believed that we encounter God in the present moment.

So the best way to connect with God is to “establish ourselves in the present moment.”

The problem he saw in himself and others was that we barely know the present exits.

So Bloom’s first step in helping us connect to God was to “do exercises in stopping time and standing in the present”.

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Get Moving

The Project

For one minute move with energy.

The Science Connection: What did you just do?

Movement is:

Good for our brain

  • Increased clarity of thought because of increased blood flow to the prefrontal cortex.
  • Children who are more physically active do better on academic testing. Adults,too.
  • Brains can work 7% better when we stand rather than sit
  • Significantly increases our rate of new brain cells produced in the Hippocampus.

Good for our emotions and over all sense of well-being

  • Immediate release of neurotransmitters that increase our well-being/happiness (dopamine and serotonin).
  • Increases Hypothalamus enabling us to be slower to ‘stress out’.

Lowers Depression

  • Exercise therapy is just as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy or using antidepressants.
  • Exercise releases the same neurotransmitters as medication much faster and with no side effects.

Connecting with God:

Movement and dance enrich our connection with God.

  • Join St. Dominic (AD 1170- 1221) in his practice of praying while he took a walk.
  • Join the psalmist:

Praise the Lord. Praise Him with timbrel and DANCE. Psalm 150: 4a.

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Gratitude

The project

For one minute think of what you are grateful for.

The Science Connection: What did you just do?

Gratitude:

  • Promotes higher levels of positive emotion (joy, happiness, life satisfaction, love)
  • Promotes better sleep
  • Increases connection with others
  • Make us more stress resilient
  • Decreases greed, envy, and resentment
  • Decreases pain
  • Gratitude is a foundational practice in living a happy life

Connecting with God:

Expressing gratitude to God and one another is a foundational Christian practice.

  • As you received Christ so live in Him,. . . abounding in thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7
  • We give thanks to God always for you all. 1 Thessalonians 1:2

  • Enter His gates with thanksgiving

give thanks to Him, bless His Name. Psalm 100:4

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Take a Breath

The Project

For one minute take easy, deep, slow breaths. Linger with your exhale.

The Science Connection: What did you just do?

  • You used the internal pharmacy that God has built into us.

  • The deep and slow intentional breath usually turns on our parasympathetic nervous system which helps us feel at ease.

Intentional Breathing Methods can:

Lower:

  • Inflammation, heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety, depression, pain, negative effects of stress, sleep difficulties, heartburn.

Help us manage:

  • Emotions, addictions, panic attacks, post traumatic stress, brain waves, our sympathetic (action) system and our parasympathetic (at ease) system.

Increases

  • Athletic and mental performance, energy, memory, blood flow, digestion, attention, lung function, positive mood.

Connecting with God: A Breath Bible Study

In both Hebrew and Greek the words we use to translate breath and Spirit are often the same words.

  • In the very beginning (Gen 1:2) the roo’akh (spirit/ breath/wind) is moving over the surface of the waters.

  • God formed Adam from “the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath (nesh-aw-maw) of life”. Gen 2:7

  • God continues gives life and breath to all living things. Acts 17:25

  • The host of heaven was created by the breath of God’s mouth Ps. 33:6

  • Enemies are destroyed by the breath of God’s mouth 2 Sam. 22:16.

  • When Jesus came to visit his disciples after his resurrection he gave them his peace and then breathing on the disciples he said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:22

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Think It Again

The Project

  • Think of a word or phrase that feels true and helpful.
  • Repeat that word/phrase silently or out loud for one minute.
  • This can be combined with the rhythm of breath

The Science Connection: What did you just do?

You took control of your thinking.

  • Our minds are built to think and predict.
  • Our thinking feels constant and sometimes feels out of our control.
  • Our minds can get stuck with thoughts that are not helpful or true.
  • Our bodies believe the stories our minds tell, whether they are true or not.
  • Repetitive thoughts that feel helpful and true can help us take control of our mind.

Connecting with God:

St. Paul’s suggested list of topics to think about:

  • Whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent, worthy of praise, – think about these things. Philippians 4:8 paraphrase

Scripture is commonly used for the helpful and true phrase, such as the Eastern Orthodox use of the Jesus Prayer.

Mark 10:47 and Luke 18:13

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Create Art

The Project

For one minute create art.

Ideas:

Use this page to draw on, sing, dance, make a poem, create a story, become an actor and do a drama moment …

The Science Connection: What did you just do?

Art therapy

  • Art therapy has successfully helped people with anxiety, depression, addictions, PTSD, chronic pain, cancer, high blood pressure, bipolar disorder, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and more.

  • The beneficial effects of creating aren’t dependent on our skill or talent.

    It’s the process, not the product that matters the most.

Connecting with God:

Our Judeo-Christian tradition sees people as created in the image of a God who is infinitely creative. We are created to be creative.

And God saw everything that He had made

and behold it was very beautiful. Genesis 1: 31

In Hebrew and Greek the word for ‘good’ can also be translated ‘beautiful’.

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Habit Power

The Science Connection: What are you about to do?

Create a Tiny Habit

Goal: Dr. BJ Fogg (Stanford) wanted to lose weight.

He succeeded with this tiny habit.

1. Trigger reminds you do do the habit: leaving the bathroom

2. Action: Do two push-ups

3. Reward: give a thumbs-up

How did this tiny action work for weight loss?

  • The consistency of push-ups triggered by daily bathroom trips.
  • BJ often did more than two push-ups once he got started.
  • Many tiny actions added up to real change.

Why not just depend on will-power and motivation?

  • Will-power is designed for a sprint, not a marathon.

Motivation is a wave.

  • Catch it when you can, but it won’t stay.

The Project:

For one minute design a Tiny Habit:

  1. Think of something you want to do more. Example: study, exercise, pray, play, feel grateful, dance . . . __________
  2. Pick a very tiny action to move you in the right direction
  3. Think of something that will trigger you to remember. ________________
  4. Pick an easy reward. Thumbs -up, or celebration dance, or chocolate chip . . . ________________

Test Drive and Redesign

Try out your Tiny Habit today.

  • Remember to remain playful with the design.
  • If it doesn’t work today it is not a will-power problem, it is a design flaw. Pick a new action that is easier, pick a new trigger or reward.
  • Keep playing until you design the perfect fit.

Connecting with God:

Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10. Creating habits that promote healthy thriving is part of our participation in this abundance

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Play

The Project:

For one minute: Play

The Science Connection: What did you just do?

  • Developed emotional maturity by stimulating nerve growth in the brain.
  • Developed decision-making ability
  • Stimulated creativity

Two studies:

  • A Stanford long term research study of gifted-children (begun in the 1920’s) discovered that those who played the most lived the longest.
  • A study of inmates found that lack of play in childhood is a predictor of criminal behavior in adulthood.

Connecting with God

In the animal kingdom the more complex the brain the more a creature plays. We have the most complex brains of all.

We are built to play.

And it is not just children who have been built for play. Humans continue to play into adulthood more than any of God’s creations.

Play is our genetic birthright. When God created our complex brains he designed them to operate best when our lives include play.

Two translations of Psalm 104:26/7

  • And there is that Leviathan which you have made for the sport of it. Book of Common Prayer
  • The ships are moving there and the monsters you made to play with. Grail Translation

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10 Mindfulness Practices for My Friends

Practices:

  1. Centering Prayer
  2. Senses Awareness
  3. S.T.O.P.
  4. Pleasure Bites
  5. Attention to Routine
  6. Walking
  7. Breath
  8. Haiku
  9. Welcoming Prayer
  10. Antony Bloom Coffee Break

Mindfulness is:

Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.                                                            Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness is a type of brain exercise. Just as physical training helps us to gain new strength, control and skills, brain training gives our brain new strength, control and skills.

Benefits: Overview of benefits of mindfulness that have been found in research studies:

  • Mindfulness gives individuals an increased ability to control thoughts.
  • Mindfulness assists individuals in the discovery of pleasures in human activity.
  • Mindfulness has a byproduct of the ability to observe the nature of thoughts without necessarily getting caught up into their content. (Detach)
  • Mindfulness helps people to disengage from ruminative thought patterns. (Depression)
  • Mindfulness training develops the ability to disidentify or reperceive one’s experience, which directly and indirectly mediates change.
  • Mindfulness has been shown to bring greater clarity, objectivity and equanimity, as well as helping self-regulation, values clarification, and cognitive and emotional flexibility.
  • Mindfulness increases approach, decreases avoidance brain patterns.
  • Mindfulness is a state that can become a trait.
  • Mindfulness increases brain coherence
  • Some types of mindfulness exercises develop synchronicity. Synchronicity of firing in the brain creates a sense of well-being. (Happiness, peace)
  • Mindfulness exercises vary just as physical work-outs vary in what aspects of the brain are developed.
  • We can change our gene patterns through mindfulness.
  • Mindfulness is a key element in over coming addictive behavior.
  • Mindfulness increases emotional intelligence. Relational skills.
  • Mindfulness strengthens immune system.
  • Mindfulness can help regulate pain.
  • We can change our gene patterns through mindfulness.

One of the key practical lessons of modern neuroscience is that the power to direct our attention has within it the power to shape our brain’s firing patterns, as well as the power to shape the architecture of the brain itself.” (Mindsight pg 39) Our chosen mental activities can stimulate brain firings which can change our brain structure. The simple attention in mindfulness is a power tool for change.

The PracticesOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Practice One: Centering Prayer

Centering prayer was my introduction into mindfulness. After using this method for about a month I discovered the mental mute button; the ability to quiet my mind from the endless chatter of my left-brain.

A prayer method developed by Fr. Thomas Keating and fellow monks about 50 yrs ago that is based on much older Christian prayer practices.

The Basics:

  1. Select a word to express your intention to be in God’s presence and have Him work inside you.
  2. Sit
  3. Open your heart towards God
  4. When ever a thought comes up, say your selected word to remind yourself of your intention and let the thought go. (Repeat this step 1,000 times. Gently.)
  5. After 20 minutes get up.

Thoughts that distract:

1. Superficial

2. Stronger emotional thoughts/feelings

3. Insights, breakthroughs,

4. Self-reflection and evaluating

5. Inner purification God’s psycho- therapy “undigested material of a life time is gradually evacuated.”

In all cases of distracting thoughts: Let the thought go.

Remember: the letting go of thoughts is just a valuable as the time in quiet. You only ‘fail’ if you fail to try.

This is a difficult prayer practice. The fruit of Centering Prayer is seen in your daily life as well as in the 20 minutes of prayer. You need to practice for 20 minutes a day for two weeks to a month before you see ‘results’(fruits). Practicing twice a day will bring quicker ‘results’ (fruits).

Optional beginning: Read Scripture

Optional ending: Lord’s prayer

Practice Two: Senses AwarenessOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This second practice is one I “made-up” when I was in high school. I would ride my bike to an over-look of the Spokane River in a remote undeveloped section of a cemetery near my house. Then I would sit with God and do this senses exercise. I began by closing my eyes and listening to everything around. Then I would open my eyes and plug my ears and observe the world though my eyes. Then I would close my eyes and plug my ears and observe the world with my other senses.

When I began to study mindfulness it occurred that this practice of long ago would make a good mindfulness practice. Then when I visited the local mental health center in preparation for the class I discover this very exercise in their manual. I have added an additional sense to make it more complete. Since I believe in a Spiritual world I also take time to observe the presence of God. This is usually perceived by faith rather than sensory feeling; just a simple act of faith.

Senses Awareness:

Option One: Set aside a specific 5-10 minutes for this exercise. Take 1 or 2 minutes to focus on each sense. You can provide items (food is a good one) for all senses or just use what is right before you.

Option Two: 30 second method. Through out the day I stop for about 30 seconds and pay attention to each sense for a few seconds. Quick as this is I have found it effective to bring me back to awareness of the present moment.

Practice Three: S.T.O.P.

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Busy day mindfulness alignment practice

This practice can take less than a minute, so if you are busy or rushed you can still take the time to S.T.O.P.. I find that it is difficult for me to want to break ‘flow’ when I am working. ‘Flow’ is a great state of mind, but it is not mindfulness. I find my life is richer when I include a significant dose of mindfulness within my days of flow. This S.T.O.P method feels less invasive to my flow than many mindfulness practices so it is easier to choose to do.

In the midst of your day, stop for a minute (more or less) with the following method.

Stop what you are doing. Take a breath. Then observe your outer and or inner world. How do you feel? Do you need to adjust your posture? Are you thirsty? What is your emotional state? What is happening around you? What is curious, beautiful . . . . After observing as long as you find appropriate then proceed with your activity.

S-stop

T-take a breath

O-observe (external world around you and internal world of thoughts and physical world of your body)

P– proceed

Practice Four: Pleasure BitesOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Whether, then, you eat or drink or what ever you do, do all to the Glory of God. 1 Cor. 10:31

I love to eat. But a great deal of the food I have consumed in my life time has been eaten mindlessly. Paying attention to the process of eating is full of pleasures, but difficult to choose. It requires slowing down and choosing not to multi-task. When I choose to eat mindfully I find more satisfaction in the meal and I sense my body benefits as well.

God built us to enjoy our food. Cephalic Phase Digestive Response is our experience of the taste, aroma, satisfaction, and over all pleasure of a meal. This Response effects from 20-80% (depending on the study) of calorie burning, digestive power, and the assimilation of specific nutrients. When we eat mindlessly we significantly diminish metabolism, digestive and calorie burning power.

When we eat with stress we create a digestive shutdown. When we are stressed our body does not consider digestion a priority so it shuts down. When we are stressed enzymes in our saliva that breakdown food are reduced and blood flow to the small intestine is decreased by up to 4 times. This creates poor assimilation of nutrients.

So, when we mindlessly eat while watching a movie, the news, or in a stressful conversation, we compromise our digestion and ability to burn calories.

Exercise in mindful eating:

          • Select food
          • View as new
          • Take time
          • Smell, feel, appreciate
          • Consider history of food
          • Express gratitude, give thanks to God and others
          • Eat SLOWLY
          • Notice as much as possible

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Practice Five: Attention to Routine

In this practice you transform a mindless routine into a mindful action. Doing dishes is a common example. I come to the sink and notice my posture. I turn on the water and notice the sound of it hitting the sink. I feel the heat change and smell the soap. I notice the beauty of the bubbles. My mind wanders and I note the content of the wandering and return to the dishes. I feel the weight of the plate and note the change of pitch in the sink of water. I stack the plate carefully on the rack. I am present with the process of doing dishes.

Mindful routine introduces the possibility of discovering the novel in the ordinary. Beauty in the common. This discovery can be deeply satisfying.

Routine ideas: Walking, biking, bathing, dressing, laundry, dishes, typing, or any activity you do on a regular basis.

Attention to a routine:

Select a routine that you do regularly and then give your full attention to that routine. Mind wandering, which is what we usually do during a routine, will be common. When you find your mind wandering, just bring your thoughts back to the routine. Some mindfulness practices suggest that you can briefly observe the thought and even give it a name (planning, worrying . . .) before you let it go.

Practice Six: Walking

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Movement

Mindful attention to movement expands a mindfulness practice beyond the sitting practices. Walking meditation is the most well-known.

Walking meditation

1. Select a route (across a room, down a path. . . )

2. Giving attention to every detail of movement, slowly walk your route.

The walking meditation has no destination and is purely for the purpose of meditation practice. Walking meditations can also be done when you are in the midst of your day, walking slowly or even quickly to an intended location.

I often use walking to the garden as a mindfulness exercise. As I walk I notice the feel of the rock surface on my feet, I become aware of my posture, the feel of air on my face, the speed of my movement past the trees and sagebrush. Some people do a walking meditation as they travel on foot from a parking lot to a work location. They claim that they arrive at work in a much better frame of mind.

Beyond walking, all movement can be done mindfully. Stretching is a favorite for me. When I do yoga-ish stretching I do it slowly and pay attention. Dancing, gardening, fencing and more can become effective mindfulness exercises as well.

Practice Seven: BreathOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A Little Bible Study

Breath has two main Hebrew words nesh-aw-maw’ (puff) roo’-akh (wind) and two main N.T. words e-mi-phu-saw and ph-ne-o. These are usually translated “spirit’ in N.T.

In the very beginning (Gen 1:2) the roo’akh (spirit/ breath/wind) is moving over the surface of the waters. In Gen 2:7 God formed Adam from “the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life”. It is God who continues gives life and breath to all living things (Acts 17:25). The breath of God is powerful; creative power and destructive power. The host of heaven was created by the breath of God’s mouth (Ps. 33:6) and the enemy was destroyed by the breath of God’s mouth (2 Sam. 22:16). It was breath that brought the Holy Spirit to the disciples in a whole new way. In John 20:22 when Jesus came to visit his disciples after his resurrection he gave them his peace and then breathing on the disciples he said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” In both Hebrew and Greek the words we use to translate breath and Spirit are often the same words.

Breath is the most common focal point in Mindfulness exercises. ‘Breath’ is a useful topic for our focus for several reasons.

  • Breath is handy; always with us and available for focus. We can be lying in bed or running a marathon, alone or in a crowd, thrilled or frustrated. Where ever we are, what ever our state of mind, we are breathing.
  • Breathing is easy to focus on. Anyone from age two on up can learn to become aware of their breath.
  • The physical nature of breathing grounds us in the here and now; a frequent goal of mindfulness.
  • The need and satisfaction cycle of inhaling and exhaling may have neurological benefits beyond the supply of oxygen. This benefit is still under investigation.
  • A side benefit of breath is that as we become aware of our breathing we often naturally deepen our breath, taking in more oxygen. This increase in oxygen brings its own health benefits.

A few of the many benefits of intentional breathing practices:

  • Relates to lowering heart rate and blood pressure
  • Move from fight or flight response to rest and digest response
  • Reduce physical and psychological effects of stress
  • Lower anxiety
  • Better sleep
  • Heart burn
  • Panic attacks
  • Asthma
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Boost energy
  • Change your brain wave states especially to alpha and theta states
  • It is also a big assistance to help us become quiet and open to the heart of God.

There are a lot of different ways of breathing and they will vary in the affects they achieve. Here are two ways to use breath in mindfulness practices.

1. In the first practice you simply pay attention to the way you are already breathing. You do not need to change it just watch it. (I find that I usually alter my breath to become deeper, from my diaphragm, and slower as a pay attention. But no change is suggested.)

In this practice you pay attention to your in-breath, your out-breath and the space in between. You begin by becoming aware of your breath somewhere in your body. For some it is your nostrils, for others your chest or diaphragm. Then you pay attention to one breath. Then you pay attention to a second breath, then adding a third. When your mind wanders you just note the wandering and return to attending to the next breath.

The simple practice of paying attention to your breath is a helpful tool for many in Centering Prayer. It sends your mind and body a message to simmer down and focus.

2. A second set of ways to use breath in prayer:

The idea of breath is rich with meaning for Christians and our breath is a natural tool to assist in prayers. Here are a few ideas for using breath in prayer.

When I was in a high school Campus Crusade group we were taught spiritual breathing as a way to apply 1 John 1:9; confess your sins and God will forgive you and clean you up. In the practice of spiritual breathing as soon as we became aware of a sin we were to exhale our confession of sin and inhale God’s cleansing forgiveness. It was an effective way to stay clean and right before God.

Here are some more images that you can try:

  • As you inhale think of breathing in God’s gift, the breath of life, as you exhale think of giving yourself to God.
  • Inhaling, ask for the filling with the Holy Spirit and as you exhale ask to be living out the fruits of the Spirit.
  • Silently say a prayer phrase with each inhale and exhale. Such as inhale, ‘thank-you Lord’, exhale, ‘have mercy on me.’
  • Recite a portion of Scripture with each breath. Such as inhale, ‘let every thing that has breath’ exhale ‘praise the Lord’ Ps. 150:6. Or inhale, ‘don’t worry about anything’, exhale, ‘pray about everything’ Phil 4:6.

Practice Eight: Haiku

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A few years ago I began to use haiku as a mindfulness practice. I began by giving myself permission to write bad poetry and then selected the quickest easiest form I could think of, haiku. The simple structure of 5-7-5 syllables is easy to remember and fast to achieve. I have been surprised how helpful this little practice is for bringing me into the wonder of the present moment.

To do this practice just:

  • select any moment
  • stop and observe the outside world or the internal world
  • come up with three lines of 5-7-5 syllables that capture your observations

Other arts such as painting, dance, and music can also make great mindfulness practices helping you to “be here now”.

Practice Nine: Welcoming Prayer

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from Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, Cynthia Bourgeault

Welcoming prayer is a mindfulness practice to help us relate to our emotions. Negative emotions are usually difficult to welcome. Bourgeault sees a common pattern in negative emotions and provides a tool to regulate these emotions. The pattern begins with a trigger such as a troubling event or thought. This trigger leads to a feeling of frustration. Then afflictive emotions set in and we start in on internal dialogue. This dialogue usually feeds negative emotions and encourages more negative internal dialogue, which in turn promotes more negative emotion.

As soon as we note frustration we can introduce welcoming prayer and break the cycle.

Triggering event —– FRUSTRATION ——    place where the cycle can be broken    ——- afflictive emotion——–internal dialogue

Welcoming Prayer uses the power of approach rather than our usual method of avoidance to deal with negative emotions. It also the ‘name it to tame it’ effect. This is when you use a left-brain linguistic skill to calm the emotional centers of limbic firing.

The first step in the welcoming prayer: Become a Curious Scientist

A. Welcoming physical pain. When pain comes knocking at the door invite it in. Get to know it in detail. Approach pain with curiosity, linger with it. What exactly is it like, burning, stabbing, fiery, clenching? What does your reaction to this pain feel like? Knot in your stomach, other sensations? “Pain is inevitable. But the biggest difficulty in working with pain is not the pain itself; it is how we react to it.”

Note: this is not welcoming the cause of the emotions. (Not welcoming the disease or negative event, just welcoming the feelings about it.)

B. Welcoming the afflictive emotion. It is knocking at the door. “If you ignore it, it will keep knocking, if you let it in, it often goes away.” Welcome/ approach negative emotions with curiosity. Get to know the emotion in detail. How does it feel in your body? Linger with this step.

Why do we want to get acquainted? Because this is a frequent visitor and the better you know them the better you can manage their visits. Next time they come you will recognize them more quickly and know how to best send them on their way. When you approach negative visitors rather than avoid them, you have more control over them.

After you have examined you negative visitor a thoroughly as you can, you can move to

The second step of welcoming prayer

Let go of your feeling (emotional or physical), sending it to Jesus. Just hand it over to Jesus. If it boomerangs back to you begin the process again. Welcome the feeling, get to know the boomerang version and then let it go to Jesus. Put it in His willing hands. “Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares about you” Your feelings matter to Him. 1Pet. 5:7

Summary

1. Approach/ welcome/study in detail physical or emotional pains

2. Let feelings go. Give them over to Jesus.

Practice Ten: Bloom Coffee Break

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Anthony Bloom was an orthodox Archbishop born in the early 1900’s. His father was a Russian diplomat and his family was kicked out of Russia in the Russian Revolution. He grew up all over Europe and eventually be came a French citizen. When he was a teenager he had no interest in the church or belief in God but while reading the Gospel of Mark in order to disprove it He “suddenly became aware that on the other side of my desk there was a presence. And the certainty that is was Christ standing there has never left me.” He later became a medical doctor and then a priest. In 1949 he moved to Britain to become chaplain in the Anglican-orthodox fellowship of St. Alban and Sergius. Eventually he became an Archbishop. As I read about him and read his writings I find him to be a man of great integrity.

Bloom feels that this present moment is where we encounter God. But we are not naturally skilled at being in the present moment so he suggests we do exercises in stopping time and standing in the present where we can find God. These exercises are similar to S.T.O.P. but they specialize in noticing that God is with us in this present moment.

The following story tells about another Bloom Mindfulness practice. I have renamed it ‘Bloom Coffee break’. Knitting or other portable crafts work well for this practice, but a cup of something to drink can be just as effective for this practice.

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