Activity time: 7 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Music player
- Recording of a meditative chant such as "om." One such recording is Om Namaha Shivaya by Robert Gass and On Wings of Song. (See Find Out More.)
- Optional: Pillows to sit on
Preparation for Activity
- Consider sharing your own meditative practice.
- Have the chant cued.
Description of Activity
Remind the group, if appropriate, of the spiritual moment in music from Session 9, Spirituality and Me. Say that the group will try meditation in this session's spiritual moment.
Say that meditation and spirituality are related to right and wrong in several ways. As the youth know, making the right decision can be difficult sometimes.
Spiritual moments are those times when you feel connected to something bigger than yourself, something outside yourself-like the universe, like the great mystery, like what some people call God. Such moments are wonderful because they help us to know who we are and how we fit in. They help us to sense the great truths of life. When we do that, we begin to know how to live better, and how to do things that are right, not wrong.
Sometimes it is difficult to have spiritual moments because we are all so busy. Our minds are so preoccupied that we cannot open ourselves to things outside our daily lives. That is why it is important to create spiritual moments for ourselves; one way to do that is to meditate.
There are many ways to meditate. One is to sit in silence, breathe deeply, and concentrate on your breath. Another is to listen deeply to special sounds. Today we are going to try meditating to a sound. You can try silent meditation on your own sometime, maybe tonight, when you can be alone in a room and your surroundings are quiet.
Explain that meditation is a way of opening yourself to the universe. It requires emptying your mind of all the daily thoughts that can get in the way, or at least not paying attention to those thoughts. Oddly enough, one way to empty the mind is to fill it with something else. Some people use a mantra: a sound they repeat over and over. Some people focus on a single word; others may gaze at a candle or something else and let that image fill her/his mind. Today you will hear the sound of monks chanting the word "om" as a way to occupy the mind and meditate. In some eastern religions, "om" is a sacred sound; some people use it at the beginning of all their prayers. (The cover of the Robert Gass recording, listed under Find Out More, states, "The sacred Sanskrit syllable Om is said to create the seed or essence of universal consciousness.")
Ask the group to prepare for meditation. Youth might sit or lie on the floor, or on cushions if you have them. They can remain in their chairs. Wherever they are, they should make themselves comfortable and relax. If they want, they can turn away from the others so they will not distract one another. Once all are prepared, play a recording of the "om" chant for several minutes. Youth may be startled by the sound at first, and some may react with a comment or a giggle. Keep the sound going and model sitting in silence. You can hope that the group will then become quiet and attentive to the sound. (See also the note about spiritual experiences in Activity 2 of Session 9, Spirituality and Me.)
When the sound ends, give the youth a moment to reenter the group, then ask how the meditation was for them. Did they get into the spirit? Or did they remain conscious of the room and people around them? Do they like the idea of meditation? Do they ever find themselves meditating when they had not intended to do it? Do they ever plan to meditate? Do other members of their family practice meditation?
Ask the youth how such meditation might help them make difficult ethical decisions. Explain that thinking carefully and deeply about a problem is important, but it is not meditation. The idea of meditation is to open your mind, which can help you think more clearly about problems when you come back to them.
If your group experienced a spiritual moment in music in Activity 2 of Session 9, ask how that experience differed from this one. When most people listen to music, they do not try consciously to let go of daily thoughts, as they do in meditation. And with music, people generally respond to melody and rhythm quite differently from how they experience a meditative chant.
Encourage youth to try meditating however they like on their own. Mention that people meditate in many different ways, some in silence and some to music, some in private and some in groups, some while walking and some while sitting very still. Say that you will try more spiritual moments in other sessions and move on.
Including All Participants
If you have participants who will be unable to sit on the floor, do not use the pillows option. If you have youth with very limited hearing ability, consider instead meditating on a visual object, perhaps the flame of your chalice.