Tapestry of Faith: Exploring Our Values Through Poetry : A Program for High School Youth
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Activity 2: A Sensory Meditation

Activity time: 40 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint and markers, at least one sheet and marker for each participant
  • Journals and pens or pencils

Preparation for Activity

  • Make sure each participant has a comfortable place to sit.

Description of Activity

Participants will use their senses to meditate on or experience the natural world.

Distribute a sheet of newsprint and marker to each participant. Have participants put these items aside for the moment. Guide them through the following observation experience. It is written as a meditation and can be done indoors. If you prefer, you may take participants outdoors for this activity. If you do, instead of imagining a place, lead youth to an area where they can walk about and explore while still within range of your voice.

For the meditation, ask participants to close their eyes. Let them know you will lead them in the following guided meditation. Use a voice that is calm, but not too quiet.

Say,

Close your eyes and bring to mind a spot in the natural world that you love and know very well.

Wait about thirty seconds. Then say,

When you have a place in mind, picture yourself fully there, if you have not done so already. Imagine that you are walking around slowly. Notice how your feet feel on the ground.

Wait about fifteen seconds. Then say,

Now find a spot in your imagined place to sit or stand. Settle in.

Take a deep breath in... and out. You have arrived, safely and calmly, in this beautiful place you know so well.

Wait about fifteen seconds. Then say,

Look around. What do you see?

Wait about thirty seconds. Then say,

Look closely at something that catches your eye, perhaps something you've never looked so closely at before... Touch it gently if you can and if you want to, or just observe it keenly and closely.

Pause. Then say,

What is its shape? Its texture? How does it function in its surroundings?

Pause. Then say,

Once again, inhale deeply... and exhale. When you inhale again, gently notice any scents, strong or subtle.

Wait about fifteen seconds. Then say,

Continue to breathe... and continue to notice elements of your surroundings. What does your body feel like in this place? Do you feel warmth or cold on your face? Wet or dry? Wind or stillness? Are you relaxed?

Allow another minute or two to pass. Then guide the youth out of the meditation by saying,

On your next breath, begin to come back to the here and now. In a minute, we will open our eyes while keeping our special place firmly in our mind's eye and in our senses.

Wait about thirty seconds. Then say,

Open your eyes gently.

As participants open their eyes, say,

On your newsprint, complete the statements I am about to give you about the place you visited in the meditation. Do not write the sentence starter itself.

Slowly read the sentence starters to the group, allowing time after each for participants to think and write.

  • Around me I see...
  • It looks...
  • When I inhale deeply, I smell...
  • On my body and on my face, I feel...
  • When I stand or sit still, I hear...
  • When I listen very closely, I hear...
  • This place makes me feel...
  • (And, once again), around me, I see...

Direct participants to read the lines they wrote, silently to themselves. Ask them to evaluate whether the lines capture the magic this particular place holds for them.

Invite volunteers to read aloud the lines on their newsprint, in order. Volunteers may wish to name the place afterward, or other participants may wish to guess.

Explain to participants that poets are often keen observers who use all of their senses, as the group has just done in the guided meditation. A person can use poetry to communicate a place, a feeling, a moment, or a sensory experience to another person. The sensory observations that participants gathered in meditation and wrote on their newsprint might sound like a raw kind of poetry.

Use these questions to lead a discussion:

  • Which of the lines from your raw poems are most important? Which of the senses you expressed are most important?
  • Would you describe yourself as a keen observer of nature? If not, what keeps you from being one?
  • If you are a keen observer, how would you explain to someone else how to be one?

Invite participants, now or independently, to continue crafting their raw poems into finished poems. Suggest that they copy the raw poems into their journals.