July 23, 2015

Christ-centered Meditation

Anyone think meditation is totally foreign and weird and wonder why we need it? Well, there is a good book that explains how many people value and participate in meditation already, without realizing it is meditation. Here's the book and my notes and thoughts...

CHRIST_CENTERED MEDITATION, by Pam BlackwellI love in this book that she talks about what meditation is...

  • Seeing God's Hand in all things: awareness of truth and goodness--of God
  • Being Present: fully aware ourselves, those around us and our surroundings and situations
  • Paying Attention/Focus: paying attention to the little things and having a love and respect for them
  • Observation: using our senses to the fullest and noticing the sound of a bird or bee
  • Gratitude: the result of seeing and acknowledging of God's miracles in everyday things
  • Stillness: seeing greatness in small and simple things
  • Scripture Study: coming unto Christ and his truths
  • Being "with" a person: fully being/talking with the person you are with
  • Purposeful: knowing the purpose and meaning behind things you do or stuff you have. living more deliberately and having priorities aligned.
And then there's what meditation is not...
  • Ignoring/Checked-out: tuning out to things or people
  • Irresponsibility: not being responsible for the effects of your actions
  • Ignorance: lack of noticing God's little miracles
  • Ingratitude: lack of appreciation and acknowledgement of God's hand
  • Rushing/panic: frantic accomplishments of tasks just to get things done, without enjoying the journey or noticing details

This graphic from the book isn't the greatest quality, but it compares the "levels" and chakras to physical structure of the temple and courts. Super interesting.

here is a graphic I made to represent part of her graphic, but compared to our physical body

The book suggests a 30-Day Meditation to Come Closer to Christ. (The is a book called "Becoming His" by Emily Freeman which kind of does her version of this) But I love the idea of just setting the intention to Come Unto Him and setting our own goal and timeframe. I think you can accomplish the same thing. But her "meditations" include a question, thought to ponder and a scripture. 

In a scripture study class in College we were told to get a journal and start each study session with a question and prayer and even song if we liked. And I did that every day of the semester and it was amazing how often times I would find either a direct answer, or at least further direction in my ponderings. Questions are powerful when accompanied by sincere desire to come closer to Him and His truths.

Taking time to more fully love and be with each other is a great "family meditation." She talks about two types of meditation: passive (stillness and letting thoughts go) and active (creating with your imagination). Here are some ideas for those two areas:
  • Passive--Breath counting together (we do this count to 8 before yoga sometimes)
  • Passive--Walking Meditation (think about your step as you lift foot, then as you move foot, then as you place foot, then as you press down. Break the process down and take sllllooooow steps around the yard together. Talk about what you noticed. This can be adapted to any process or nature observation)
  • Active--Visualization Exercise (imagine how you will feel when you see Christ)
  • Active--Family Circle (invite Christ into the family circle and imagine energy through your hands as you join them together)
  • Active--I Am poem

I thought of a few ways to boost what I'm already doing with my family to be more still/purposeful...
  • Lunch: sitting and eating with my kids, asking them to use their senses to more fully be aware of what they are eating (colors, shapes, textures, sizes, smells, tastes, etc.)
  • Nature time: asking them to observe the shapes, light/shadows, distance of things. Drawing once a week has helped me!
  • Family Dinner: We sometimes use a candle to help it be peaceful. WE also play the "ungame" (?'s in a jar) to get to know each other better). And we have map placemats (that I hope to put family history fan chart/pedigree photo charts on--thanks Sally!) that we use to discuss things about the world and where we've lived or travelled or about things we are learning in homeschool. 
  • Sunday Gratitude Prayers: we only say things we are grateful for and make it a "popcorn" style prayer, so we all take turns acting as voice. This helps us be more aware of our week and to celebrate God's hand in our family's life.
  • FHE: We are trying to decide what is really important to us and plan in things we really want and need for Family Home evening. One focus we are doing this year if Family History, so there will be a regular Family History Moment/focus (at least once a month) where we share a story of an ancestor and have an object that goes with it to help kids remember. I will keep them in my special Temple Box that sits on the shelf.
  • Family Journal: Emily and Tiffany mention family journaling. I think it would be great to write one line in a family journal each night as we gather. Then we will have a record and build a journalling habit of reflection, gratitude and record-keeping.
  • What do you already do as a family that you can just add greater meaning and purpose to? (That could be your meditaion--way of creating greater awareness, intention and stillness)
She has an awesome Mandala (fancy word for a visual used for meditation in Tibetan Buddhism of a square within the circle). Hers looks like the temple. I love it!

July 19, 2015

A Day Set-Apart: Sunday Box

We love Sunday's. So peaceful and slow. We don't have to go anywhere or do anything in particular. 
What makes it so special? Well, we have a few things we do...

A Sunday Box
Saturday night we try to remember to get out our Sunday Box. This is a box that we put special Sunday activities in for the kids. Since some are more destructive than others we have now graduated to both a Sunday Box and a Sunday Shelf only the older kids can reach. We actually have lots of Sunday things, but I rotate through them so they only have a few options in the box at a time. They get so happy to reacquaint themselves with their toys as I keep things changing.
In the box is Noah's ark type animal toys and simple homemade Popsicle stick puzzles they made using church magazine pictures or family photos. There are also a few churchy board books, seek and finds and a coloring book or two.

On the shelf are the older books, some church magazines and scissors to make collages, and a few puzzles and games.

Then there is an adult Sunday Shelf. I keep on it Church books that I want to read, along with my journal or family history journals, and other appropriate things. Other helpful items would be Patriarchal Blessing, Preqch My Gospel Manual and scriptures, etc.

Classics Hour
We have church early, so we have the whole afternoon and evening. This means time to kill. This has been great, because we have been able to do a "classics hour" or family read-aloud time. This is done every Sunday 6-7pm in our Great Room. Kids sit with mama on the floor and Dad reads our classic book. It is currently Charlotte's Web. The kids don't need pictures and we learn to be more still and together. Love it. (Last year we finished church at four, so instead we had it in the morning from 9:30-10am and just listened to Music and the Spoken Word together on the radio. It was nice and quiet and forced me to slow down before church.

Gratitude Prayer
Every Sunday evening we close together as a family in prayer, but this prayer is different. We only say things we are thankful for. And, we do it popcorn style. The kids love it. To make it go more reverently we always have Dad start it and it goes in order of age normally two or three rounds. Then Dad closes it too. It's nice to remember that prayers are to help us acknowledge God and .his goodness in his life, and not always just to ask for things we need. And the feeling of unity is great.

Family Nature Walk
We are better at this in the afternoons when it is sunny. Just a little half hour walk sometime before or after dinner, since we normally eat an early dinner when we have early church. It's so nice to get together outside. And we typically run into neighbors, since we like to just stay in our neighborhood. We just switch the routes/destinations.

Saturday Night Prep
Well, sometimes our weekends sure get busy, but when I remember to prep Saturday night for Sunday, it makes the morning great. I love knowing what outfit I'll wear the next day because it sure makes my job easier. And I just saw the Church article about someone's mom always having their polished shoes sitting on a windowsill to air out, and how great a reminder that was to her son. 
So now I'd like to keep our church shoes (even if I don't get the outfits out) in a line by the front door Saturday night. (It has been helpful having them in the closet with their Sunday outfits, away from their other shoes, so they keep them nice and clean).
And of course Saturday night bath time is what I see to remember most from growing up. Seriously...even if I didn't bath during the while week as a dirty little kid, I do remember cleaning up Saturday. I can always picture my mom curled up on the couch doing her nails Saturday evenings before bed, in her night gown.

Quiet Time
We do quiet time every day from 12-2, but on Sundays I use it do either practice music, do something from my Sunday shelf or spend some time doing family history or write a letter (I'm not really good at the last one, but it is one of my options). 

I don't always do all of these. And even when I do, they aren't always free of interruptions, but just having thought through them and having a plan sure helps me be prepared enough to pull on them and use them when I can. These ideas have brought greater peace of mind and unity to my family. And helped me grow and find enjoyment i many areas I wouldn't have explored (or my kids wouldn't have), had I not thought through these options.

Does one sound fun for you to try? Pick one and try it for next Sunday.