The Mandala Center

Mandala Center Walk Meditations

A special invite...

The Mandala Walk at the Mandala Center is now a reality. We have created a path for you to follow around the property. It is not just a hiking trail. It is a journey for you to take and reflect on your own life journey. It is a physical way to renew your mind, spirit and body. It is an opportunity for you to be in our special, spirit filled place. Come, hike for an hour or two, spend a day or longer on a self-guided retreat

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Today’s Meditation - HOPE

For many of us in a liturgical Christian tradition this is the first week of Advent. Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Each week has a theme attached to it as a way of preparing for the Christmas celebration. This week’s theme is hope. No matter what our tradition or faith, I think hope has a special place in our lives.

There is a book which has been part of my life ever since it first came out in 1972. It is called: hope for the flowers - A tale, partly about life, partly about revolution, and lots about hope. For adults and others (including caterpillars who can read.)

Let me share with you a little summary of the story without spoiling it for you. It all begins with a cute little fuzzy caterpillar who hatches from his egg on a leaf and meets the world for the first time.

It follows his journey all through his first days... until he discovers something very, very curious. Many other caterpillars have also discovered it, and they all want to find out more, but the path they have chosen to get there is not making sense. The black and white caterpillar, Stripe, by a twist of fate meets Yellow. Their relationship becomes very special, a love you will connect with deep in your soul. Stripe and Yellow experience love, loss, joy, frustration, depression, confusion, excitement, discovery, and so many more life illustrations as they crawl and climb together. At one point, Stripe and Yellow decide to take separate paths that they have struggled internally about, and it is very difficult for them both. They are both searching hard for the meaning of life, one goes through darkness, the other through light, until the mysterious discovery finally sparkles with clarity.

While it is a great book for kids, it is really for all of us. And not just a onetime read but can and should be read over and over. It will encourage you to be persistent, to keep moving forward, to overcome against all odds, and to know that there is still Hope. (Adapted from Laney in the Mommy Dialogues, 2013)

hope for the flowers - A tale, partly about life, partly about revolution, and lots about hope. For adults and others (including caterpillars who can read.)

Twice a day, stop, take a breath, calm, clear, and focus your mind, see the ideals that you want to light your way. Let them give you the courage to face life cheerfully, heal your ignorance and negative emotions and cultivate wisdom and compassion for all.

Today’s Meditation

As we find ourselves in the midst of the holiday season and all of its hustle and bustle, I want to share a reminder to slow down, pay attention, and enjoy the walk.

A Japanese Version of the 23rd Psalm

The Lord is my pace-setter
I shall not rush.
He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals;
Which restore my serenity.
He leads me in ways of efficiency,
Through calmness of mind,
And his guidance of peace.

Even though I have a great many things to
Accomplish each day
I will not fret,
For His presence is here,
His timelessness, His all-importance
Will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal
In the midst of my activity
By anointing my mind
With His oils of tranquility;
My cup of joyous energy overflows.

Surely harmony and effectiveness
Shall be the fruits of my hours,
For I shall walk in the pace of my Lord
And dwell in His house forever.

A translation of the Japanese version By Toki Miyashina from Psalm 23, Copyright by K.H. Strange, 1969, published By The St. Andrews Press, Edinburgh

Twice a day, stop, take a breath, calm, clear, and focus your mind, see the ideals that you want to light your way. Let them give you the courage to face life cheerfully, heal your ignorance and negative emotions and cultivate wisdom and compassion for all.

Today’s meditation is on “Gratitude”

With tomorrow being Thanksgiving Day, it seems appropriate to turn our attention to giving thanks, gratitude.

In her book Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks, Diana Butler Bass writes: “English essayist Samuel Johnson once said, "Gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation." The Christian scriptures liken gratitude to joy, a "fruit of the spirit." Gratitude is not only an emotion; it is something we do. It is like tending a garden. It takes planting and watering and weeding. It takes time and attention. It takes learning. It takes routine. But, eventually, the ground yields, shoots come forth, and thanksgiving blooms.”

May this Thanksgiving be for you and yours both a blossoming of thankfulness and a beginning of tending your garden of thankful living.

Today's meditation is on "Love"

Alice Walker is an American novelist, short story writer, poet, and activist. She wrote the novel The Color Purple. She also wrote, Anything We Love Can Be Saved. In it she says... “Our last five minutes on earth are running out. We can spend those minutes in meanness, exclusivity, and self-righteous disparagement of those who are different from us; or we can spend them consciously embracing every glowing soul who wanders within our reach—those who, without our caring, would find the vibrant, exhilarating path of life just another sad and forsaken road.”

The New Testament, (1 John 4:7), says it this way: "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God, and those who love are born of God and know God. Those who do not love do not know God. Why? For God is love."

There's power in love. There's power in love to help and heal when nothing else can.
There's power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will.
There's power in love to show us the way to live.

Love is a choice.

We get to choose how we respond to life, to the people we encounter, to how we live.

My favorite quote comes from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin; “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”

Let us begin today to discover the fire of love in ourselves, our neighbors, and the world around us!

Centering Prayer

This past week Fr. Thomas Keating, died. Fr. Keating was an American monk and priest of the Cistercian order. Keating was known as one of the principal developers of Centering Prayer, a contemporary method of contemplative prayer that emerged from St. Joseph's Abbey, Spencer, Massachusetts.

I got to spend a week with him some 14 years ago learning about and practicing Centering Prayer. It made a huge difference in my prayer life. Contemplative prayer has been referred to as “Christianity’s best kept secret.”

I must admit that the idea of silent prayer was something new to me. Yes, I had heard about it, but it had never become a part of my prayer life. But as I practiced, I felt this immense peace settle into my body and spirit. It quickly became my “go to style.” So, today, I want to share the simple steps to begin the practice of Centering Prayer:

1. Choose a sacred word or phrase as the symbol to consent to God’s presence. It can be something like Love or Jesus or Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me or Be still and Know. Mine was and is Come Holy Spirit.

2. Breathe – In, counting to 4 – Out, counting to 4 - Focus on your breathing – Don’t worry if your mind wanders, just focus on breathing until you feel settled.

3. Silently introduce the sacred word or phrase. Let your focus be on that word or phrase.

4. When you become aware of thoughts return ever so gentle to the word or phrase.

5. At the end of your prayer period remain in silence for a couple of minutes as you return to the present moment.

It is amazing to me that no matter if I am feeling close to God or far away, if life is flowing well or it seems like I am being overwhelmed, somehow practicing centering prayer always seems to settle and focus me.

Breath in four counts. Breath out four counts.
Come Holy Spirit.

Sounds simple, right? But as with anything we have to practice. I invite you, begin today.

Twice a day take the time and practice.

Halloween

Today is Halloween/ All Hallows Eve, since there is a variety of opinions about this celebration, I want to share with you an article by Tamara Lechner, a certified meditation instructor with the Chopra Center, that might be a good reminder of how to best take advantage of this celebration.


Why We Love Halloween—And It's Not the Candy
As the fall leaves begin to change color and the nights become a little brisker, the back-to-school season quickly swings to the Halloween season at our home. I have four children who all agree Halloween is their favorite holiday. What is it about dressing up and trick-or-treating that makes this holiday so beloved?


Historical Halloween
Straddling fall and winter, Halloween is a time of celebration as well as superstition. It's believed to have originated in an ancient Celtic festival where villagers would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a day to honor saints and martyrs. Very quickly the evening before this became known as All Hallows Eve and later Halloween. 
Over time Halloween evolved into a community-based, child-friendly, trick-or-treating extravaganza that happens across cultures in many parts of the world. From a witch hunt to a community connector, Halloween brings joy to those who love it.

Here are some reasons why Halloween is so great. 

1. Allows You to Express Your Creativity
Halloween inspires creativity and there seems to be no limits or boundaries to what or whom you can become. On Halloween there's no script, there's no plan; you can choose an identity that feels exciting and new. Whether you make your own costume starting months in advance or you purchase one the day before, there is creativity involved in make believing you are someone different than your normal everyday persona.

2. Encourages You to Play with Your Archetypes
Archetypes are mythical stories involving heroes and heroines. They have themes that reside at the level of the collective soul. Archetypes demonstrate traits we admire and that inspire us. Their stories resonate with us at a genetic level and the universal theme of their tales is known across cultures. Anytime a person is expressing themselves as bigger than life, you are seeing their archetype come alive. 
You can probably think of someone in your social sphere who loves and connects to nature in a “mother nature” kind of way or someone who exudes the childish wonder, purity, and wisdom of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. The hero, the explorer, the rebel, and the healer are just a few more common archetypes. 
Every human has some type of connection to an archetype—and in costume form on Halloween, you are allowed to play out your dreams, your aspirations, and your archetype fantasy.

3. Strengthens Community Involvement
Life can be very busy and, quite often, you take the car from the garage, to work, to the grocery store, to the school pickup, to soccer, and back to the garage without really feeling connected to your neighbors or your neighborhood. Halloween is a time where we come together outside regardless of the weather and spend time walking together. Halloween isn't stopped by rain, snow, wind, or hail. Spending time together and feeling like a community strengthens us.

4. Promotes Getting Outside
If you are like many Americans, the majority of your life is spent inside. Many spend eight hours each day sitting at a desk with unnatural lighting and staring at a computer. When you do get outside, it is often in a frenzy of hurried activity like “going for a quick run.” Trick-or-treating allows for a slow walk outdoors where you have no goal other than to enjoy the evening. Take notice of the sounds and smells as you enjoy time outside as a family.

5. Encourages Giving and Receiving
When your little ghouls and goblins stumble up the stairs to say “trick or treat” to an elderly neighbor, they bring with them the vitality of youth, which is contagious and all too often missing from seniors’ lives. Then the little ones receive a treat to reward their effort, bringing to mind the Law of Giving and Receiving, which is always great to put into practice.

6. And of Course, the TREATS
When the trick or treating is done, the fun of tallying the candy and seeing what appears from the loot bags is always a special part of the night. Over my 20 years as a parent, I have explored letting the kids trade their candy in for a small toy, encouraging them to choose pieces and donate the rest to a woman’s shelter or just letting them have at it. 
In the end, just remember not to make your parenting feel like policing of their loot. Teaching them to learn their own healthy habits is more empowering than having them strictly follow your candy rules. And talking about it opens great dialogue about health and balance.
A night of costumes, candy, and children doesn’t have to be a nightmare. It is all in your perspective.

The Blessings of Being in Nature

Science writer Kevin Loria summarizes wide-ranging inquiry into our relations with nature and why it is important to our ways of life. As he sees it, both physical and mental health are benefited by spending time in natural environments. Here are 4 reasons why it can be important.

1. Walking in nature improves short term memory.

Several studies show that nature walks have memory-promoting effects that other walks don't. In one study, University of Michigan students were given a brief memory test, then divided into two groups. One group took a walk around an arboretum, and the other took a walk down a city street. When the participants returned and did the test again, those who had walked among the trees did almost 20% percent better than they had first time. The people who had taken in city sights did not consistently improve.

A similar study on depressed individuals found that walks in nature boosted working memory much more than walks in urban environments.

2. Being outdoors has a demonstrated de-stressing effect.

Being outside changes the physical expression of stress in the body. One study found that students who were chosen to spend two nights in a forest had lower levels of cortisol — a hormone often used as a marker for stress — than those chosen to spend that time in a city. In another study, researchers found a decrease in both the heart rates and levels of cortisol of participants who spent time in the forest compared to those in the city. "Stressful states can be relieved by forest therapy," the researchers concluded. Among office workers, even a view of nature out a window is associated with lower stress and higher job satisfaction.

3. Spending time outside reduces inflammation.

In one study, students who spent time in the forest had lower levels of inflammation than those who spent time in the city. In another, elderly patients who had been sent on a week-long trip into the forest showed reduced signs of inflammation. There were some indications that the woodsy jaunt had a positive effect on those patients' hypertension levels as well.

4. Outdoor experiences may help fight depression and anxiety.

Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues may all be eased by spending time in nature — especially when that's combined with exercise. One study found that walks in the forest were associated with decreased levels of anxiety and bad moods, and another found that outdoor walks could be "useful clinically as a supplement to existing treatments" for major depressive disorder. An analysis of 10 earlier studies found that so-called "green exercise” improved both self-esteem and mood. The presence of water made the positive effects even stronger, the findings suggested.

From: Spending Time Outdoors by Kevin Loria, Business Insider, June, 2018

Come enjoy TMC... 3 or 4 hours, a day, overnight, a weekend, or longer!
A time to reflect, renew, rejoice. Walk with us on your life’s journey!

Today’s meditation, “Service”

You might have heard this short story before. Once a lady asked a Christian priest, 'Father, what does service mean?' The priest replied, 'My dear, say you see an old lady trying to cross a busy road all by herself. Then helping her to cross the road safely is service'.

So when someone heard this, they went out on the streets to look for such people who were trying to cross the road. But they did something quite opposite. They would approach elderly people and ask them, ‘Do you wish to cross the street?’ Though they said, 'No', these people forcefully held their hands and took them to the other end of the road. When the elderly person moved a little ahead, another person approached her and asked the same thing, ‘Do you wish to cross the street?’ When she again said ‘No’, he said, ‘No no! You have to cross the street. I wish to do some service’.

I believe that being of service is one of our highest ideals in life. But as our story says, the best of intentions does not always produce the best results. So, in our quest to serve we must always seek to do so with compassion, peace, and wisdom.

Compassion is the combination of listening and empathy. Colossians 3:12 – Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Peace in Hebrew is “Shalom.” It is taken from the root word shalam, which means, “to be safe in mind, body, or estate.” It speaks of completeness, fullness, or a type of wholeness that encourages you to give back — to generously re-pay something in some way.

It is in this sense that Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” – Matthew 5:9

Wisdom - the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment. Solomon didn’t ask the Lord for wealth or riches. He asked for wisdom and the Lord gave him a wise and discerning heart. Seek this kind of wisdom.

Twice a day stop and ask yourself, “Am I serving those around me with compassion, peace and wisdom.

Today’s meditation, “The Road Best Traveled”

I want to share with you this morning an excerpt from Dennis Waitley’s book “Empires of the Mind.” Waitley writes, “The road best traveled was inspired by “The Road Not Taken,” a well-known poem by Robert Frost.

To visualize the road best traveled, you must understand that it’s not what you have that counts – not your money, stocks, IRAs, CDs, cars, position, or real estate. What counts is what you now do with what you have. No one can reasonably claim that the choices are easy. I trust I’ll never forget M. Scott Peck’s great The Road Less Traveled, whose opening line consists of three words: “Life is difficult.”

No doubt it has always been difficult in various ways, but some stretches are more difficult than others, and America has known far easier, happier periods. In some respects, our nation is spinning out of control…

Our society’s current condition reminds me of another first line, this one by Charles Dickens. The famous: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” which opens A Tale of Two Cities, could easily summarize our own times.”

Waitley’s book was published in 1995.

Whether it is the worst of times or the best of times, the road best traveled is made up of those ideals that determine the direction of our life. For me they are, truth, love, and adventure.

I challenge you to take the time to consider your highest ideals for your life, write them down, post them where you can be reminded of which road you are travelling, refer to them often. Let them give you the courage to face life cheerfully, heal your ignorance and negative emotions and cultivate wisdom and compassion for all.

What will you now do with what you have?

Today’s meditation is on the “Fall Season”

Since October 4th is the feast of St. Francis and many of us will participate in the Blessing of the Animals, I thought a story about St. Francis might be in order:

“St. Francis and the Ttaming of the Wolf”

The story is told of the little town of Gubbio in the Italian hills that was being ravaged by a ferocious wolf. It was eating livestock and people alike.
The townspeople were terrified, huddled behind the safety of the town walls.
Then Francis of Assisi arrived, and heard what was happening and took pity on the people and the wolf, and decided to go out and talk to the wolf.
“No! No!” they shouted. “He’ll destroy you!”
But he went anyway.
And he hadn’t been out long, when this enormous wolf charged out of the bushes – growling and snapping his teeth. But Francis, eyes filled with pity and determination, made the sign of the cross over the charging wolf and said, "Come to me brother Wolf. I wish you no harm."
And the wolf knelt at his feet, meek as a lamb.
Then Francis spoke again to him, and got a little upset:
"Brother Wolf, what you’ve been doing is sin. You shouldn’t be killing people. So stop it. I want to make peace between you and the people of Gubbio. They’re not going to hurt you. But you can’t hurt them either. Do you understand?"
Then the wolf looked up at him with sorrowful eyes and nodded his head with understanding and remorse. And he lifted up his paw and put it in Francis’ hands.
"Good. All your past sins are forgiven."
And Francis said, "Come on. Come with me. We’ve got some work to do."
And the wolf followed Francis into the town. And the people were amazed. And Francis spoke on behalf of the wolf. He explained what had happened and that the wolf was repentant, but then said...
Will you forgive him? And will you promise to feed him?
And the whole town agreed and made peace with him. And, just to show that the wolf understood, he again lifted his paw and placed it in Francis’ hand as a sign of his pledge. And from then on, the wolf lived in the village and walked from house to house and the people gave him food. Not even the dogs barked at him. He was just another member of the town of Gubbio. And he lived amongst them for another two years, until he died in peace.

What the story of Francis and the wolf reveals to us is that Saint Francis is helping to bring about peace and reconciliation in this world. This peace, harmony and reconciliation is not only meant to exist between God and humans, but also between God and the whole family of creation! We, too, can be instruments of this peace.

Take time twice a day and ask yourself are you being an instrument of peace?

Today’s meditation is on the “Fall Season”

It is pretty evident that we have transitioned into Fall. The weather is beginning to be cooler - although we will still get those occasional days when it will seem as though summer is hanging on.

The leaves are beginning to change. We are looking for those places where we can observe, maybe even longing for a trip to see the even more vibrant colors.

For some it is a sad transition. It is the loss of summer and its freedoms, perceived and real. Moving back into the routines.

But Fall can also be a time of renewal and discovery.

Today consider the “I’s” of Fall:

  • Initiate – chose to take the time to
  • Inquire – look within and
  • Imagine – the possibilities that are within you and all around you – see them as an opportunity to
  • Innovate – be creative – open your heart and mind to tackle the problems and seize new possibilities so that you might
  • Inspire – yourself and others Implement – Do It!
Take time twice a day and discover the “I’s” of Fall.

“The Parable of the Pebbles” ...Author Unknown

I don’t remember when I first heard this parable, but it has stuck with me over the years and occasionally I am drawn back to it. May it bless you as it has me.

It was a beautiful day and the young man was walking along the path admiring the wonderful scenery. He was on his way to the rich city that lay beyond the three valleys. Many people in his village had talked about this city but none of those who had ventured to it had ever returned to confirm the stories of its greatness.

The first valley was a picture to behold and the grass was so green compared to his old village, which was now a day’s walk away. The valley had a small stream running through it and there were many flowers along its banks. They were small and pretty flowers, bright pinks and reds, with a fantastic scent.

He sat and took some bread and cheese from his small knapsack and enjoyed his simple lunch in these beautiful surroundings. While he ate he let his mind wonder about the rich city. After lunch he continued his long journey.

As night fell he reached the edge of the second valley but it was too dark for him to appreciate its beauty. He opened his knapsack and took out his blanket and settled down for the night. He dreamed about the rich city and how much better his life would be for moving there; it was a long and good dream.

As the sun rose the next morning the dawn chorus of birds in nearby hedges and trees awoke him. The young man stretched and put away his bedding and let his eyes drink in the splendor of the second valley, which was far more fertile and colorful than the previous valley.

He walked to edge of the small river and saw that there were fish in it so he set about catching one for his breakfast. Having cooked and eaten the fish the young man walked across the river and continued his journey.

After a few miles he saw an old man asleep at the side of the path. He asked the man if he needed any help. The old man was very weak, and his reply was short - “I am beyond help but thank you. I will give you some advice though – Collect as many stones and pebbles as you can before you cross the next river.” The young man was puzzled and asked “Why?” but could not get an answer, the old man had gone back into a deep sleep. The young man continued walking.

Why should he collect stones? As he thought of possible reasons he noticed two or three little pebbles in the path, so he picked them up and put them in his pocket. This was a long road and every now and then he picked up a few more pebbles. His pocket was beginning to get heavy and he had no idea how much further he would have to walk. He decided that one pocketful of stones would be enough as he would tire himself too much if carried more.

Hours later he reached the third valley that was very lush and had a wide river running through it. The river was not very deep, perhaps waist high, but the current looked strong. The young man braced himself and crossed the river. He struggled against the current and almost slipped on two occasions when he would surely have been washed down river and perhaps drowned. He finally clambered up the other bank.

He rested and then carried on with his journey. After an hour or so he put his hand in his pocket and realized that he still had his pebbles. He pulled them from his pocket and could not believe his eyes – they had all turned into jewels!

The young man wished he had filled all of his pockets and his knapsack with stones and pebbles, imagine how rich he would be now! It was pointless to go all the way back to cross the river again, he would waste too much time and he could even drown if he tried to cross the river again.

He carried on to the rich city only to find that most people were poor, as they too had failed to heed the advice given by the old man.

Listening and learning is like collecting pebbles; it may seem worthless at the time but who knows when they will turn into precious gems or golden nuggets.

Twice a day, pause, ask yourself, “how many pebbles have I collected today?”

Service

In our weekly time together, I have tried to encourage you to twice a day take time to pause and think about one thing. And to allow that one thing to begin to shape who you are becoming.

Today’s focus on service, I believe, is the key to life, your life, becoming all you hope for.

Albert Schweitzer said it best; "I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."

Twice a day, pause, ask yourself, “how am I serving – myself and others?”

Silence

I recently read an article about how in 2011 the Finish Tourist Board ran a campaign that sought to encourage people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. Their slogan was, “Silence, Please.” “No talking but action.” The campaign manager said, “We decided instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing.”

As strange as that sounds the Finns seem to have embraced what studies are showing, that silence is much more important to us than we think.

When the brain is silent it can generate new cells. The brain literally grows.

Herman Melville wrote, “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.” When you are not distracted by noise or tasks, you can enter that quiet time that allows your conscious brain to process things. The brain has the freedom to help you discover your place in the world within and around you.

Did you know that noise causes stress? Silence relives stress and tension and calms your soul. It has the direct opposite effect from noise. An unknow author wrote, “Silence isn’t empty, it’s full of answers.”

You don’t have to go to Finland to find your silence space. What you do have to do is take the time, look for “your” space and make it a habit to visit regularly.

Allow yourself to embrace the silence.

A quote from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross; “Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.”

Mandala

While some of you may have heard the story of how The Mandala Center got its name I think it is worth repeating in an abbreviated form.

Tish Hewitt, the then owner of the property, had an idea that she wanted to create a space for herself where she could have some peace and quiet to reflect, refresh and renew her own spirit. As she began to design she became distraught over the size and fact that it was made up of circles. She called her daughter Anna and told her of her concerns. Anna at the time was taking courses at Georgetown University and one was on Carl Jung’s work on making the concept of the mandala relevant to the spiritual and psychological work in the west. In 1973 Jung wrote that, “a mandala is the psychological expression of the totality of the self.” Anna told her mom that she was creating her own mandala. Thus, the place became The Mandala Center.

In our radio ad for The Mandala Center I define mandala as the circle that does not exclude but contains. It does not separate but protects and holds opposing forces in such a way that they can be transmuted and transformed. Mandala represents wholeness, transformation, integration, and balance. The mandala is a universal image found over and over again in nature itself and, in some form, in all cultures.

Jung’s attempt to unlock the power of the mandala for the western world was important to Tish and Anna. I think it is important to all of us and each of us should continue this creative work.

So, I encourage you this week to take the time and practice creating your own mandala. It’s not hard, but it does require intention. Twice a day take the time to just draw whatever comes to your mind. Draw a circle on a piece of paper and within that circle draw what is in your mind. Don’t think or try to make it perfect. Just put it down. Just a few minutes. Then in the next few minutes look at it and reflect on what it says to you. Where are the connections, the disconnections? How does the circle hold them in tension?

Twice a day create your own mandala.

Wisdom

Since ancient times, people everywhere have been on a personal quest for wisdom. If you take a moment and ask yourself, I believe you would agree that there are many times when you have wished you were wiser.

I’m not talking about just being smarter. Wisdom has to do with discovering the meaning and purpose of our life.

According to Abraham Ibn Ezra, one of the most distinguished Jewish biblical commentators and philosophers of the Middle Ages, “wisdom is to the soul as food is to the body.”

The seeds of wisdom can be found in everything that life brings our way. The good, the bad, & the ugly. Our failures as well as our successes. All our relationships. But we must keep our eyes open and our hearts and minds responsive to her comings.

Meditation is the pathway to wisdom. And meditation, at it’s best, is when we take the time to stop, look and listen. Another way to say it is, Learning (wisdom) comes from reflecting on our experiences.

There are many meditation techniques. Each gives us the opportunity to draw from the great teachers, sages and exemplars. Many of you listening do practice meditation regularly. I encourage you to continue in your practice. And for those who don’t meditate, for whatever reason, I encourage you that it is important enough for you to simply begin by taking 20 minutes, 10 minutes, 2minutes, where ever you can begin, twice a day, and allow yourself to sit quietly and pay attention to who you are becoming.

Meditation is an inner state of being where the mind is clear, relaxed, and inwardly focused. When the mind is silent and no longer distracts you, meditation deepens, wisdom occurs.

I leave you with a quote that for many years helped me to get started;
“Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?” – Tao Te Chang

Practice becoming wise.

Breathe

Yesterday I was at the eye doctor’s office for a follow up and of course they run some tests on the eye. While checking the pressure the tech kept saying, “breathe naturally.” I joked with her about how easy it was for her to say, she wasn’t getting something poked in her eye. We laughed.

In thinking about it though, isn’t it true that something we do without thought all the time, we would die if we didn’t, suddenly becomes something we need to be reminded to do especially when we are under stress. “Remember to breathe. It is after all, the secret to life.” Gregory Maguire

By concentrating on our breathing, we calm, clear, and focus our minds.

From Genesis 2:7, paraphrased, – “God formed [us] out of dirt from the ground and blew into [our] nostrils the breath of life. [We] came alive – a living soul!”

Take time twice a day and discover the power of breath in your life. Stop, clear your mind and focus on the air which comes into you when you inhale. Where does it go in your body? Exhale, slowly… feel how you have calmed… how your mind has cleared … Repeat three times!

Consider how the air which comes into you brings you alive. Be intentional and practice. Allow this very natural, vital process to take you deeper in your spiritual life.

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Remember to Breathe!

Love

This past weekend there was a royal wedding of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle. You may have seen it. You may have heard the preacher was Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, leader of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church. Bishop Curry spoke passionately for 13 minutes about the power of love.

Because I think it is a powerful message, I wish to share part of it with you.

Bishop Curry started with the quote from the late Dr. Martin Luther King: "‘We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love, and when we do that we will make of this old world a new world. For love is the only way."

He went on to say, “There’s power in love. Do not underestimate it. Anyone who has ever fallen in love, knows what I mean. But think about love in any form or experience of it. It actually feels good to be loved, and to express love. There is something right about it. And there’s a reason.

Love, love is the only way. There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate. Don’t even over sentimentalize it. There’s power in love. If you don’t believe me, think about a time when you first fell in love, the whole world seemed to center around you and your beloved. There’s power in love, not in just its romantic form, but any form, in any shape of love, there’s a certain sense that when you are loved, and you know it, when someone cares for you and you know it. When you love, and you show it, it actually feels right, there’s something right about it. And there’s a reason for it. The reason has to do with the source, we were made by a power of love and our lives were meant and are meant to be lived in that love. That’s why we are here.

Ultimately, the source of love is God himself. Where true love is found, God himself is there. … There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will, there’s power in love to show us the way to live."

Take time twice a day and discover the power of love, for you and for others.

Transformation

A few thoughts for us – you – to contemplate: “The thing that screws us up the most is the picture in our minds of how it is supposed to be. You see, it comes down to this: Everything changes, it is all unfolding as it should, so, relax, pay attention and be creative. Typically, we react to change with resistance and insistence; resisting the way our lives are unfolding and insisting that it should be otherwise, according to our plan.” Thomas Roberts the presenter for our workshop, “Embrace the change.”

From my engineering background: Newton's first law of motion is often stated as An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced [outside] force.

Transformation implies a marked change in your life, but you can practice it by making simple changes. Start by doing something different – walk to work by a new route; answer the telephone with your other than usual hand. Break a habit, any habit. Signal [the] Spirit that you are willing to accept change in your life and to be an agent of change in the world. With transformation comes healing and wholeness. It’s as if they had been waiting in the wings all along, until you made room for them on stage.” – From Spirituality & Practice

I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails – Jimmy Dean, singer, actor, the sausage guru

Twice a day this week stop, take the time to adjust your sails.

This meditation is based on the fourth step in practicing InterSpiritual meditation –

“May We Be Loving and Compassionate”

For those who live in misery
I engage in active empathy.

To help all creatures to be free,
I place their joy in front of me.

With love’s compassionate intent,
I strive for pure enlightenment.

The only true pain prevention
is my compassionate intention.

Dr. Ed Bastian, InterSpiritual Meditation

Twice a day this week stop, take the time to intentionally bring Love and Compassion into each moment of our life

This meditation is based on the third step in practicing InterSpiritual meditation –

“May We Be Awakened and Transformed”

In Paul’s letter to the Romans (12:2) he writes, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (NIV)

What does it mean to be transformed? The word “transformation,” according to The Oxford Dictionary is, “a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.”

Change? Does that mean we clean up our act, change our behavior or live by a new set of rules and regulations? Certainly, worthy goals but, if we are honest we know that trying to change is difficult and hard work.

Stanley Hauerwas in his book, Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir, writes: “When you are trying to change the questions, you have to realize that many people are quite resistant to such a change. They like the answers they have.”

I want to suggest that transformation is a more natural process that we need to learn to pay attention to. We need to stop and look at the answers we are giving ourselves about our self.

In the original Greek language of the New Testament, the word used for transformation is metamorphosis. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, metamorphosis is, “a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism, as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the adult butterfly.”

A caterpillar is born to become a butterfly. It doesn’t put on a butterfly costume or strive to act like a butterfly. As long as it eats, its metabolism takes the nutrients it consumes, assimilates them into the caterpillar, and causes it to grow, so that eventually, the caterpillar changes and becomes a real, genuine butterfly. The change comes from within.

Twice a day this week stop, take the time to focus on becoming the butterfly you are meant to be.

This meditation is based on the second step in practicing InterSpiritual meditation –

“May We Be Grateful”

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.” ~ A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

“While four out of five Americans have told pollsters they feel gratitude in their daily lives, cultural commentator and religion expert Diana Butler Bass, in her new book “Grateful: The transformative power of giving thanks”, finds that claim to be at odds with the discontent that permeates modern society. There is a gap, she argues, between our desire to be grateful and our ability to behave gratefully—a divide that influences our understanding of morality, worship, and institutional religion itself.”

As I look at the world around us I think that I agree with her assessment. I feel like Piglet, grateful for so much in my life. But often not expressing it to those around me.

It is great to feel that you are grateful for the many blessings of and in your life. However, it is in expressing your gratitude that can lead you to a greater connection with God, our world, our neighbor, and our own souls.

So, let’s focus on the who, what, and why we feel grateful.

Twice a day this week stop, take the time to focus on being grateful.

Say to yourself, “For this person, this act done for me, this beauty I see…I am grateful because ___________, and I will do (_____) because I am grateful.”

Over the next few weeks I will be introducing you to InterSpiritual Meditation and the work of Dr. Ed Bastian.

“May We Be Happy and Healthy”

In all the world
I cannot find
The source of peace
Outside my mind.

Neither play, nor drink,
Nor sex, nor food,
Can cause a constant
Blissful mood.

The things I see,
Touch, smell, taste, hear,
Cause both joy and pain,
Hope and fear.

Meditation relieves
My mind of stress,
Leading me to health
And happiness.

InterSpiritual Meditation – Edward W. Bastian, Ph.D.

Twice a day this week stop, take the time to focus on your health and happiness.

THE MANDALA
The Meaning behind the Name

The Mandala

The Mandala represents wholeness, transformation, integration, and balance. The Mandala, as used here, is seen as a universal image found over and over again in nature itself and, in some form, in all cultures. It is a circle that does not exclude but contains. It does not separate, but protects and holds opposing forces in such a way that it can be transmuted and transformed. We believe The Mandala is the perfect symbol for the Center. It is a sanctuary for “holding space” for our quests, healing work, pilgrimages, educational learning, and creative expressions.