Alternate Activity 1: Experiencing Meditation
Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Pillows and cushions for participants' use
- Leader Resource 1: Breathing Meditation
- Optional: Microphone
Preparation for Activity
- Practice reading Leader Resource 1: Breathing Meditation so that you can deliver it calmly and clearly.
Description of ActivityExplain that meditation is one form of personal spiritual practice. It's a spiritual "practice" not only because it's something that we engage in for centering, but also because it truly takes practice to sit still and quiet the mind. Use these or similar words to introduce the meditation:
Nearly all forms of meditation involve paying more attention to your breathing than usual. Even though we breathe in and out more than twenty thousand times per day, most of us go through our lives without being very conscious of our breath. Practitioners of meditation find that in becoming conscious of each in-breath and out-breath, they become more centered and peaceful. If they have practice, they are able to quiet their minds as they focus on their breathing. In many ways, it's the opposite of how we normally think: normally, we pay attention to our thoughts and ignore our breath.
Some Buddhist forms of meditation use this focus on the breath to help the practitioner focus on the present moment, simply being in the here and now. Other forms encourage practitioners to sit and breathe in a certain way so that they transcend the present moment and experience an elevated realm of pure consciousness.
Invite participants to sit in their chairs or move to the floor where they can sit or lie down as they feel comfortable. Make pillows and cushions available to participants who would like them.
Lead the guided meditation in Leader Resource 1: Breathing Meditation. Read slowly and clearly with a calm voice. Pause between sentences so that listeners can visualize each image and action you describe.
When the meditation is through, invite participants to return to the large group for discussion of these questions:
- What did it feel like to meditate in this way?
- What was new for you in this experience? Did anything surprise you?
- How many participants have meditated before? What styles of meditation have you experienced?
- What aspects of this personal spiritual practice do you see as valuable-for yourself, for your community, and for the world?