A World of Meditation: Contemplative Practices From Many Faiths

 

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MEDITATION MENU


The labyrinth walk is a metaphoric journey. The path is your pilgrimage. And the path keeps you focused on your next step. You can find large, walk-able reproductions of the famous 14th century eleven-circuit labyrinth from Chartres Cathedral in many places today; large inner-city cathedrals and other Christian places of worship tend to provide the walk to visitors, though the actual labyrinth concept is said to pre-date Christianity. You can also purchase canvas labyrinth walks for your back yard, smaller "finger" labyrinths for your home or desk, or better still—with planning, you can mow a labyrinth in your back yard or a field by carving a simplified walkway out of the grass, or outlining a path with stones. Many people who make their own labyrinths find the act of creating a path to walk a wonderful part of the whole experience. The walk to the labyrinth’s center has its twists and turns—even moments that feel like failure, for the path sometimes seems to be taking you in the opposite direction of where you feel you ought to go. But that’s a nice part of the mystery. There are no mistakes. You will get to where you need to be. The thoughts drop away as you walk and focus inward.

Featured Links
  • Online Finger Meditation Tool (Grace Cathedral)
  • Virtual Labyrinth (The Labyrinth Society)
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  • Labyrinths for Wedding Ceremonies


    The goal of lovingkindness, or metta meditation, is to cultivate compassion. Metta comes from the Theravada Buddhist tradition of Southeast Asia, and means friendship, good will, love, or as meditation instructor Sharon Salzberg puts it, "The ability to embrace all parts of ourselves, as well as parts of the world."
    Listen
    Opening the Heart
    by Sharon Salzberg
    In this practice, you acknowledge the interconnectedness of all beings and open your heart to the suffering of others. Beginning with a loving acceptance of the self, your compassion then radiates to loved ones, and ultimately, all sentient beings. You can repeat a single word like "lovingkindness," or concentrate on an internal mantra, like "May all beings be happy." This warmheartedness grows with practice, and provides the foundation for insight meditation.


    There is a strong contemplative tradition in Islam, beginning with the Prophet Muhammad himself, who went to Mt. Hirah (outside of Mecca, Saudi Arabia) to meditate every day.
    Listen
    Prayers from the Qur'an
    Read by Camille Helminski and Mahmoud Mostafa from "The Melvevi Wird," courtesy of Threshold Books.
    Even ritual prayers are not considered valid, he believed, if they are practiced without "presence of heart," or mindfulness. Although the daily prayers all Muslims say can have a contemplative quality, it is especially the Sufis (Islamic mystics) who are known for specific meditation techniques in Islam, including chanting and ecstatic dance (whirling). The Mevlevi Wird, the daily litany of prayers that has been recited by Mevlevi dervishes for hundreds of years, is an example of how one mystical lineage uses the Qur'an for contemplation. In the accompanying audio clip, an Arabic recitation follows the English.

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  • The Sufi-Rumi Connection
  • Listen to Rumi poetry
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  • Sufism.org


    In the increasingly popular method called Insight or Vipassana (which literally translates to "clear seeing"), the practitioner works systematically to calm the mind, concentrate on the breath, and heighten awareness of the present moment. The mind—with all its distractions—is something to watch during meditation without judgment or reaction.
    Listen

    Listen
    Insight meditation
    From "Complete Vipassana Meditation Instructions," by Joseph Goldstein, courtesy of Dharma Seed.
    The method repeatedly nudges the participant into just paying attention and staying present in the moment, which frees one from past and future conditioning (also known as karma). While sitting, students work to recognize sounds and other sensations, then let them fall from mind without attachment. Students of Insight alternate sitting meditations with walking meditations, and a variety of postures are permissible as long as the back is basically straight. In regard to time and frequency of practice, Insight teachers Arinna Weisman and Jean Smith say that once or twice a day is ideal, but "do not judge yourself if you cannot sit this often, because punishing yourself is not part of this practice."


    Transcendental Meditation®, or TM®, was the world's most talked-about meditation method during the 1960s and 1970s. Its founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was George Harrison's teacher when the late Beatle convinced the rest of the group to meditate with the master in India. Today, both the practice and the swami are alive and kicking, but with the rise in other meditative trainings, some of the TM® organization's protectiveness about the content of its training sessions seems unnecessary in today's meditation marketplace. Nevertheless, the method retains its relevance, and no one can deny that it has done wonders for millions (TM® claims that five million folks are practicing the method today). The worldwide organization continues on its peaceful mission in some 1,200 centers in 108 countries. Though the act of repeating the holy sound of the mantra is a practice that Hindus believe will bring you closer to the deities, TM® is essentially non-religious. Two 20-minute sessions, one in the morning and one in the evening, while seated with eyes closed are recommended.

    Featured Links
  • TM.org
  • Maharishi Open University


    MEDITATION MENU

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