Below are two mindful meditative exercises I used during staff week of the new school year with our executive leadership and whole staff teams. So much of our work in schools involves the head, it is important to pause and take time to connect with the heart and centre ourselves before we connect with students. The aim of these exercises is that movement from the head to the heart.
This morning I have two mindful meditative exercises we will experience which are based on words from Psalm 139. One of these exercises is for the head and the other one is for the heart. But first, let’s FOFBOC. Feet On Floor, Back On Chair.
Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when
I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. (Psalm 139:1-2)
When you are still and comfortable, imagine you are sitting or lying on a grassy hill looking up at a clear blue sky. You might like to imagine Christ is there with you, silent beside you, accompanying you as your friend. As you sit there you look at the sky and every now and then clouds pass by.
In this exercise, focus on the sky and let the clouds pass. You will notice that, from time to time, thoughts will come into your head. It might be about the things you have to do today, the people you need to talk to, the emails to respond to. It might be about what you are going to eat for morning tea or lunch, or a worry or a memory you have.
When this happens, place these thoughts onto one of the passing clouds. Do not try to control these thoughts. Rather each time they occur, simply place them on a cloud and let it pass by you, through the sky.
Always redirect your attention to observing the sky. In this way you are not controlling or interacting with your thoughts, you are simply noticing them and letting them pass by.
Continue this task for a couple of minutes.
(Katherine Thompson, Christ Centred Mindfulness, p.138)
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. (Psalm 139:23)
Debrief; How did you find that? Are you someone who can visualize imagery and think in pictures? If you’re not that’s OK. How did you go with what the Buddhists call the monkey mind? Did you tame the wild elephant? We can’t block our thoughts or stop them from entering our minds but what we can choose to do is to not listen to them or be controlled by them. With a mindful activity like this and the help of the Holy Spirit through God’s Word we can instead befriend our thoughts.
In this second activity, the silent meditation, we are moving from our heads to our hearts. It might only be about 40cm from our head to our hearts but it can be longest and most difficult journey we ever take. One of the ways people have done this journey of connecting the head to the heart is through breathing.
In this exercise I invite you to choose a mantra, a short phrase, that you will repeat silently as you take a breath in and then breathe out. The mantra I might suggest to you from yesterday’s service is; “I am a loved…child of God”. So, to connect it to your breath, you would say to yourself as you take one breath in “I am a loved”. And then as you take that breath out and exhale “child of God”. We will try doing this during five minutes of silence. I have a chime for the start and the end of the five minutes. (You can also use a meditation app on your phone that has a timer). By saying over and over the words we choose, with our breaths in and out, we will hopefully be moving from those restless thoughts in the head down to the heart, where the Holy Spirit can centre us in Jesus.
You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb… Search me, God, and know my heart; (Psalm 139:13,23)
Sound a chime or use a chime on a meditation app to signal the start of the five minutes of silence. Then at the end of the time sound the chime again. And as people open their eyes repeat verses twenty-three of Psalm 139 again.
Search me, God, and know my heart; (Psalm 139:23)
Debrief; How did people find that meditation experience? Were people able to get out of their heads and focus on their breathing and chosen words?
Prayer: Thank you God for moments of stillness and silence and we commit this day into your hands. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
About this site
"Meditations & Musings" is my humble attempt to share what I have found useful in ministry in an Australian Lutheran School setting. It contains chapels, devotions and other resources I have written, used and adapted in my K-12 school context. If you would like to also share your ideas, resources or start a conversation about mission and ministry in your church- school location, feel free to contact me.
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