This class will be offered by Zoom.
Please email EMT@unitydallas.org to get your invitation and instructions on how to join the class from your smart phone, tablet or computer.
Meditation and Me wants you to experience meditation in all its forms – from Buddhist to Hindu to All-American; from guided to silent, from contemplative to active, there is a meditation style that you can embrace and make your own.
Meditation has proven to be one of the best stress-relievers available. Let’s face it, you experience stress every day, you think negative thoughts every day, and your inner critic shows up daily to talk about your “should ofs”,” could ofs”, and “would ofs.” Taking a break to meditate gives you the opportunity to release stress, to remember who you are, and to give yourself the gift of peace and stillness.
Maybe you tried meditation in the past and decided that it just wasn’t for you. You didn’t know if you were doing it right (you were!). You were physically uncomfortable (Not necessary, let’s be as comfortable as possible!). You could not stop thinking. (Because you are a human and, when given the opportunity, our minds chatter.)
These classes begin with a 15-20-minute discussion of meditation under consideration, maybe a bit of history and an explanation of the practice. Then we get physically comfortable, do some breathing exercises, and go inside to practice the style of the month.
February 12 – Tonglen Meditation Tonglen Meditation is known as the practice of “sending and taking.” On the in breath, we visualize taking in the pain and suffering of others, while on the out breath, we send them whatever benefits them: love, peace, compassion, understanding, wisdom. With this practice, we release selfishness and begin to feel love for those who suffer as we recognize that the suffering of another is our own suffering as well. It is said that the Dalai Lama practices Tonglen daily. In our practice of Tonglen, we begin with a focus on the common man – a person just like us. We usually look away from the suffering of others as their pain brings up our personal fears of suffering. As we do Tonglen for people just like ourselves- people who wish to be compassionate but are fearful – people who wish to be brave but are cowardly – people who want to love but fear getting hurt. Then we shift to a personal situation – the suffering of a loved one, a beloved friend, a precious companion. Finally, we expand the Tonglen to every being experiencing the same suffering.
March 11 – Chakras and Mantras and Mudras, Oh, my! A Chakra, which is translated as wheel or disc, is represented as a spinning wheel of energy used by yogis through the ages as a meditative focus. A Chakra meditation brings our focus and attention to our energy body, specifically to the seven major chakras located on the shushuma, the major energy channel that runs along our spine. Each chakra has a set of characteristics associated with it and in this meditation, we will use the color, the mudra, and the mantra to celebrate and experience our chakras. Chakra meditation is an energy meditation and is associated with the Kundalini energy located at the base of your spine. Come prepared to experience the energy body and feel the energy move up and down your body.
April 8 – Focused Concentration vs. Open Awareness – What Kind of Meditation is this Anyway? Meditation can be divided into two broad types – Focused Concentration and Open Awareness. Focused concentration is exemplified by Mindfulness Meditation – the act of paying attention to something, on purpose, without judgement, right now. This act of paying attention allows us to turn off our “autopilot” and knee-jerk, habitual reactions and begin observing and reacting appropriately in the present moment. Open Awareness is also called Open Monitoring or Non-Directive meditation. Imagine that you are looking at a wide blue sky and suddenly a flock of birds come into view. You do not know where the birds came from, nor do you know where the birds are going. You watch, they appeared, and they disappear, without your comment or consideration. Your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and sensations are the birds in the sky – they show up, they leave – all on their own volition. Open Awareness allows you the opportunity to be the sky, to note the birds, then be the sky again. We let go of the need to focus on the foreground and allow the background to remain unfocused, diffuse, and soft. To enjoy and appreciate the differences between Focused Concentration and Open Awareness, we are going to alternate between the two in three-minute segments. We will use the image of the sky to expand our non-focus during the Open-Awareness segments and an image of the moon when practicing Focused Concentration.
May 13– Zazen – Zen meditation Zazen is a meditation practiced in Zen Buddhism. When practicing Zazen, we do not try to stop our thinking. We allow it to stop by itself. When a thought, feeling, or emotion presents itself for consideration, we allow it to come in and then we allow it to leave. The leaving occurs naturally as thoughts, feeling, and emotions are like birds in a clear blue sky – we do not know where they came from, we do not know where they are going – they pass overhead, we notice them, perhaps apply a label (birds…) and soon they are gone from sight. We don’t worry, wonder, or concern ourselves with the birds, we see them as simply there, then not there. And so, it is with Zazen – the thoughts are there, then not there. Trying to control or squelch thoughts is like putting out fire with gasoline. Fighting and grasping gives them more dignity that they deserve. The less you allow them to bother you, the shorter their tenure becomes. Come and discover how truly simple it is to be calm and soft.
June 10– Object Meditation – Meditating on the Elements The Elements – fire, air, earth, ether, water – are said to form everything. Each element has a set of characteristics which we will connect with during our meditation. These qualities include:
· Earth – Stability, Belonging & Centering
· Water – Feeling, Potential & Balancing
· Fire – Transformation, Radiance & Devotion
· Air – Inspiration, Vitality & Letting Go
· Space – Possibility, Freedom & Belief
Join Meditation and Me for a guided meditation across the elements and all their possibilities. Before beginning, we will create an affirmation for each element to use as a mantra while focusing on the characteristics of the elements we want to embody.