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What Is Meditation?
A Collection of Meditations and Prayers
Susan Helene Kramer Ė Shuchi
Angel of Love, take my hand, lead me to the Promised Land ~ Shuchi
Contents

Part I.

1. What Is Meditation?

2. Temptation and Self Control Meditation

3. Emotion to Devotion Meditation

4. Soul Over Mind Reflective Meditation

5. Pentecost Meditation

6. Impulse Control Meditation

7. Natural Outdoor Meditation

8. Meditation ― Exploration

9. At What Age Can Kids Begin Sitting Meditation?

10. Water Meditation

11. Developing a Loving Attitude Meditation

12. Meditation ― Self Realization?

Part II.

13. Attracting Bliss Meditation

14. Meditation Is for Everyone

15. Use Meditation to Lift Your Vibration

16. Chores Can Be a Meditation

17. Confirmation Prayers and Meditation

18. Meditate for Answers

19. Guided Fall Meditation

20. All Saints Day Meditation and Invocation

21. Thanksgiving Day Affirmations and Meditation

22. Finding the Heart of Meditation

23. Meditating at Your Computer on Virtuous Living

24. Adapt Your Meditation When Feeling Sick

 

Part III.

25. Become More Positive By Meditating

26. Advent Traditions

27. New Yearís Day Contemplation and Prayer

28. Making Time for Holiday Meditations

29. December Solstice Meditation

30. Prayer and Meditation on Pure Delight

31. Daily Cyber Meditation

32. Informal Meditation for Teens

33. Valentineís Day Meditation on Caring Love

34. Beginning Meditations for Teens

35. Lent Meditation Preparing for Easter

36. Tribute and Prayer for Whitney Houston

Part IV.

37. Beginning Sitting Meditation on the Breath

38. Beginning Meditation ― Deciding Where and When

39. Beginning Preparation for Meditation

40. Beginning Meditation Philosophy

41. Beginning Mantra Meditation

42. Beginning Meditation as the Observer

43. Prayer and Meditation Hand in Hand

44. Easter Week Contemplation

45. Strengthen Your Back for Sitting Meditation

46. Develop Flexibility for Sitting Meditation

47. Sit on a Chair to Meditate if Joints Are Stiff

48. Spiritual Power Points in Ojai, California

 

 

Part I.

1.   What Is Meditation?


What is meditation? Is it the same as prayer? Is it a religious practice? Is meditation for kids and adults? These are questions asked by those curious about meditation.

Meditation is a process of going deeply into the inner self, charging through the layers of mind to find the clear and peaceful place within. Meditation practices are not an end in themselves, they are a means of recovering and finding inner peace, and carrying it into daily interactions.

Prayer can be used to set the tone for meditation, but is part of and not the whole of meditation.

Meditation is not religious as it can be practiced without any religious affiliation or inclination; rather it is a spiritual practice leading to communion with the soul supporting us all.

Simple breathing meditation and guided meditation can be practiced by children as a means of stress release, and learning how to gain control of emotions gone wild. As a child becomes a teen, more formal practices can begin by adding contemplation on virtues, and a period for listening to the inner silence. I began using a rosary at age 8 with the intention of bringing about good for others.

A meditation session can begin with a prayer request or prayer for peace or affirmation of an uplifting trait. This can be followed with a period of inner listening, which means allowing creative and useful thoughts to flow up from the deeper reaches of our quieted mind.

A period of mantra practice, eventually listening to the Holy Vibration leads to communion with our soul. It is this uplifting communion that purifies our mind and makes us fit instruments for receiving the highest information for ourselves; what we need to achieve the ultimate grace of unconditional love.

The photo demonstrates the way to hold your mala for mantra repetition in meditation.

After the period of stillness and taking in new insights, an appreciation for the love we feel in our life can be offered; this sets us on a positive path when leaving quiet time.

To finish a meditation session, take a deep breath and slowly release it. Then carry new insights and peace into the world.

To recap

Meditation is not prayer, but it may contain prayers, it is not a religious practice, it is a spiritual practice.

Meditation practice is not the goal but the means to a goal. It is like the time spent practicing the piano till you learn to make music. By meditating regularly you learn to make music with your life.

Fill your empty moments by practicing meditation and youíre sure to reap spiritual benefits to use in the world: joy, peace, harmony.

Topic by Susan Helene Kramer; photo credit of mantra with mala meditation by Stan Schaap

2.   Temptation and Self Control Meditation


Giving into temptation comes when we lose self-control. Temptation is out in the world in many forms and it takes a strong backbone to resist what we know is not good for us or will hurt others.

Meditation to develop greater self-control

Begin by choosing a quiet spot where you will have privacy, such as a corner of the attic, spare room, or outdoors in suitable weather.
I sit on a bench in the back corner of my garden on the south-facing wall to have as much warmth as possible.

If indoors and you are using a meditation altar light a candle and some incense and place fresh flowers on the altar. Dress in comfortable clothing and keep a shawl or blanket next to you, incase you cool down while sitting still.

Fold your hands in your lap or place them face up or face down on your thighs. If you use a rosary or mala hold it in your lap and move one bead forward for each mantra repetition.

Close your eyes and begin evenly measured breathing such as one count to breathe in and one count to breathe out. At no time hold your breath. Keep up this rhythmic pattern through out your meditation, without actually saying the breath numbers.

Breath is the connection between body and emotion. When you are riled or agitated regular even breathing will help bring you back to your harmonious center of peace and balance so you can again think clearly.

While keeping up the breathing pattern turn you thoughts to temptation and self-control. Think on your greatest temptation. Ask yourself if it harms you or someone else.

One way to replace an unhealthy temptation such as to drugs, alcohol, smoking, is to substitute a better habit when you feel overcome. If you have already told yourself what that healthier activity is you need to follow through when tempted.

Eventually, temptation for what is not healthy or good for you gets replaced by exerting self-control to make the change for a better habit.

Spend some minutes resolving how you can change one temptation by using self-control.

Finish your meditation by feeling the peace and relaxation in these moments and resolving to make a change for the better of all concerned.

Take a deep breath in and slowly release it, open your eyes, stretch out and take some time to write about your new better habit in your journal. This way you can refer back to it occasionally.

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

3.   Emotion to Devotion Meditation


Feeling emotion is part of our nature. It is more than feeling happy and smiling and crying when sad. Emotional feelings of joy bring forth a rush of energy in our body and positive thoughts to mind.

Let's begin a meditation to arouse the emotion of joy and devotion to our Creator and Sustainer.
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Find a comfortable, quiet and solitary space to sit undisturbed for your meditation. It can be in your garden, on a secluded beach, in a forest or indoors. I love outdoor meditations, because I most feel in tune when in nature.

When you've found your place sit upright on a cushion or chair. If on a cushion cross your legs in, and if on a chair place the soles of your feet on the ground to maintain your balance. Fold your hands in your lap or place them palms up or palms down on your thighs.

Close your eyes and begin regular even breathing such as with one count to breathe in and one count to breathe out. Keep up this rhythm throughout your session. Do not hold your breath at any time.

Even breathing helps calm your mind and relaxes your body when you are upset or agitated. No one can see you doing it so it is a good practice to use anywhere.

Feeling emotion can be made joyful by thoughts of appreciation and thanksgiving for the blessings in your life. Spend a minute now thinking of someone who has influenced you in a positive way. Allow yourself to feel positive about this person and send them blessings in return for what they have shared of themselves with you.

By caring about your special person you raise positive energy in yourself, which you can transform into service for others, devotion to the welfare of others, causing a snowball effect of good in the world. The more you energetically give of yourself the more harmonious and joyful your life becomes.

Finish your reflections with a prayer of appreciation to our Creator and Sustainer, then sit quietly feeling the peace and presence in your life.

Take a deep breath in and slowly release it, open your eyes, stretch out and go forward with your day invigorated.

 

Meditation and photo of author by Susan Helene Kramer

4.  Soul Over Mind Reflective Meditation


This verse is for reflection in the quiet portion of your meditation. If you wish, take a few lines at a time in each meditation.
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To start your meditation, sit upright in your quiet space either on a cushion or a chair. Begin even and regular breathing, such as one count to breathe in and one count to breathe out.

Continue this rhythm throughout the meditation. Close your eyes.

If you need to review the portion of the verse you are going to use it is okay to again open your eyes to read and then close them for the contemplative time. Now pick a portion of the verse for this meditation:

Each of us a conscious soul is master of our mind.
We choose to dwell or not on our passing thoughts.
We choose when to use our mind as a creative tool
to come up with solutions.
Every action of our body is response to a thought from mind.
Conscious mind. Cellular mind.
Our bodily systems function as a result of the intelligence
of our cellular mind.
Mind precedes bodily function on all levels.
Mind can change its mind to reshape any function in our body at any time.
As conscious souls we have control over the use of our mind,
which passes on to mind having control
over the actions of our physical body.
All states of mind: our emotions, attitudes, determinations effectively alter the composition of our body moment to moment.
Bliss, the state of mind closest to our conscious soul most effectively balances, heals bodily ills.
Bliss is the reward for making the choice to bring our mind into alignment
with the highest good of the moment.
Bliss is blissful because it is the fullest expression of each moment.
Our mind aligned with our soul by bliss
best blesses our body and everybody.


After spending some moments in reflection quietly bring your attention back to your breath and enjoy the feelings of peace and quiet.

Say an appreciation for someone you love and let your love extend to the world and universe.

Take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Write down new insights in your meditation journal for later review and contemplation. Stretch out and go on with your day.

 

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer; photo of author by Stan Schaap

 

5.     Pentecost Meditation


Pentecost celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles of Jesus Christ.

In art we see the descent represented as tongues or flames of fire above but not touching the heads of the apostles.

I understand the flames as an initiation of awareness of the Holy Spirit, the 3rd person of the Holy Trinity.

God the Father as 1st person of the Holy Trinity; Christ the Son or 2nd person of the Trinity; and for completion of the apostleís work on earth, the descent of the Holy Spirit, the 3rd person of the Holy Trinity. The triune God. Separate roles in one and the same God.

To paraphrase, in the Bible the reference is made that with the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, they were able to speak in the tongues of all peoples of the world as they knew it at that time.

To me, speaking in tongues is speaking the good news to people using language they understand, rather than just saying what now came to mind in a local language.

My intuition tells me how great an event Pentecost was, that allowed all to be able to hear the good news in a way or manner they could receive it.

Meditation for Pentecost

Begin by sitting quietly either with your hands folded in your lap, or resting palms up or palms down on your thighs. Close your eyes and begin regular even breathing and keep this up throughout the meditation.

Say a prayer of appreciation for the loved ones in your life, and send loving thoughts to all the planet and beyond.

Ask God for the gift of the descent of the Holy Spirit in your life.

This could come as awareness of a subtle sound or melody seemingly emanating under the crown of your head. If you hear this melodic vibration, stay with it for the remainder of your meditation.

The Holy Spirit is for all of us to awaken our higher centers of understanding and love so we can make the best use of our time on earth.

Sit in silence for a few minutes, then close your meditation with a deep breath in and slowly release it. Stretch out and write your insights in your journal.

Quiet still meditation
In the bosom of the Holy Spirit
A passport to a world beyond
Lifting us in mind and spirit
Into the heart of God.

 

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

6.   Impulse Control Meditation


When we stoop to act on impulsive negative thoughts we disturb our bodily peace and harmony.

Negativity or nastiness is our own business and not others' fault as we may claim to ourselves. We are the only ones disturbing our peace and upsetting our body. If you find yourself shaking or your body otherwise upset you've lost your balance.

When we let situations escalate to the point we feel upset we're more liable to act negatively to those around us. If we were feeling peaceful and calm in the midst of the same event we would be less likely to blame others.

Instant breathing meditation

This instant meditation is mood and thought changing, with the aim of regaining your peace of mind and center of harmony, before exploding into a volcano of negative words and actions.

You can do this without others even being aware of your secret fix.

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, turn your attention to your breath. Breathe in and out evenly like this: breathe in 2 counts, breathe out 2 counts, breathe in 2 counts and continue for at least half a minute.

This interval of calm and control over your actions breaks the train of negative energy and gives you time to regroup your thoughts.

By regaining your balance you can more easily think through a solution to what you were frustrated about. It is helpful to write out a plan of action in a journal to avoid a future negative scene. It is not healthful to raise your blood pressure with negative or nasty actions.

Some more thoughts: As humans we have developed regions of our brain that are dedicated to creative thinking, planning and problem solving. When we act out on negative emotions we are not using those areas, we are using the lower brain. I've heard the more primitive brain area referred to as our instinctual brain area, controlling the automatic bodily functions.

Everyone wants to be happy and thinks the way they are acting is the way to get to that happiness. But this can be so far from the truth if we resort to impulsive negativity or nastiness with others.

It is by maintaining harmonious relationships that we feel happiness and harmony in our body and peace in our mind. Doing good in the world takes us away from thinking about ourselves for the moment, and we find that therein lies the elusive happiness we all want.

Negativity and nastiness play no part in our peace and happiness. When needed use the instant breathing meditation to calm down and feel good again.

 

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

7.   Natural Outdoor Meditation


Let's take the opportunity to commune in a meditation with nature. We can let the natural sounds be part of the rhythmic pulse of our meditation just like we listen to the regular pattern of our breathing.
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To begin, go for a walk to a secluded area where you will not be disturbed for half an hour or more. It can even be a meditation bench at the back of your yard if you have the privacy.

Another choice that is less private is a public park such as the rose garden at Mission Santa Barbara in the photo. If you sit with your hands folded in your lap and eyes closed, those passing by will think you are resting and not wide awake behind your shut eyes.

If you have a beach nearby sit at water's edge but not so near that a wave will overtake you. Ideally, you've brought a beach towel or blanket along to sit on.

Meditating outdoors requires a little more preparation than staying in the house: include a sun hat, sunscreen, sweater or light jacket, towel or light blanket, water bottle, insect repellant, fruit or granola bar.

For the meditation, if you are sitting on a blanket on the ground bend your legs in and fold your hands in your lap. If you are sitting on a bench plant your feet firmly on the ground to maintain your balance. Fold your hands in your lap or place them palms up or palms down on your thighs. Either way of sitting, close your eyes.

Take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Begin even regular breathing one count to breathe in; one count to breathe out; continue this pattern throughout your meditation.

When your breathing is established listen to the sounds of nature around you. Do you hear birds in the distance. Listen to the rhythm of their songs. It is so much like human poetry or song in its repetitions. This rhythm is soothing to the soul. Paying attention to a bird song takes us on a mini-vacation away from cares of this world into a land of harmony.

It is this natural harmony we are looking to capture and take with us after the period of meditation.

When you are ready to end your meditation take another deep breath in and let it out slowly. Stand and stretch and walk home, feeling the harmony of nature all the way down to your bones.

Coming home, if you've had any new insights during the meditation write them in your journal for future contemplation and review.

 

Meditation and photo of Santa Barbara Mission by Susan Helene Kramer

8.   Meditation - Exploration


Why do we meditate?

I think we all want peace of mind and a harmonious life, which leads us to the search within and trying out meditation.

After all, meditation is purported to do a lot for us: open the doors to the universe of spiritual understanding; calm our mind; rest our body; give us a mini-vacation; harmonize our outer and inner life; develop our consciousness and awareness; tap into unlimited joy; open our hearts to caring love; revitalize our outlook on life. Need I go on?

The benefits are so positive. It is our lucky day when we begin meditation. It takes a daring attitude to try this approach of sitting still and facing the mind.

It could be like going to a movie theater and seeing something completely new and foreign to us. If we haven't taken time before to be still and observe our mind we may be surprised by the thoughts it holds.

It could be that the time of stillness give us a chance to sort out the inner shambles and restore order and harmony when we again begin activities.

Meditation can be a time for problem solving. As with peeling an onion, we can go layer by layer into the core of a problem, to see how to step-by-step find resolution.

Meditation can be a time of instilling the sweetness of spirit into our daily lives. After sitting still for a time the physical body begins to heat up and radiate energy. When we dwell on someone we love the radiant energy spreads through us, revitalizing.

Energized love spreads from person to person. Our circle of dear ones spreads, to include the community and the world family, from one to many.

When beginning to meditate go easy and build up to a longer stretch. Five minutes a day or twice a day is enough to begin. Get used to sitting still. Sink into the feeling slowly. Eventually your body will get comfortable with the awake stillness. Maybe you have only been still when dozing or asleep.

Meditation is somewhat like having your body asleep but your thinking mind awake. You don't lose consciousness. And in this restful state you may discover another dimension of yourself that holds an ocean of bliss.

 

Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer

9.   At What Age Can Kids Begin Sitting Meditation?


The first introductions to meditation can begin when you have a conversation with your child about life. Tell your child that meditation is a part of life we experience while being quiet and still inside. Perhaps by age 2 and a half or 3 a child can understand the difference between dashing around and being still.

First meditation experienc
e

 

Use the models around you for examples of stillness, such as a dog or cat curled up and resting.

Then play a meditation game with your child, but adapt it for humans. You can both sit with your arms and legs curled in like a sleeping cat or dog.

While you are both sitting ask you child to breathe in and out like you do: Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out in a steady even rhythm. Then both close your eyes and practice this for a few rounds.

Take a deep breath and slowly let it out and ask your child to do the same.

That concludes the first meditation experience.

Second meditation experience

Next session while both of you are sitting with your legs and arms curled in, both close your eyes and do 30 seconds of even breathing and then the deep breath in and out. This time add a prayer or statement of appreciation such as "I am thankful for my family." Ask your child to think about that for 10 seconds. This is their first experience of reflection in meditation. Stretch out and go on with your day.

In this way, increment by increment you can add elements of meditation practice to your child's beginning sitting meditation practice.

Summary of sitting meditation

By beginning slowly and making meditation a very brief practice you are most likely to hold your child's attention.

It is better to have many very brief practice sessions than try to have a child sit and begin wiggling. The point is to make meditation seem very natural, like a brief break to rest from active playing or from an emotional upset or squabble between kids.

As the child grows older more philosophy and a longer sitting time can be practiced.

 

Meditations and illustration by Susan Helene Kramer

10.                     Water Meditation


On a hot day there is nothing like a cool dip in the pool or a natural body of water to refresh body, mind and spirit.

Iíve lived near a natural body of water all my life, as a child and young adult on a river and now the sea, so I know firsthand the rejuvenating power of submersion in water.

To begin your meditation take time to immerse yourself. Do stretching exercises or swimming strokes to get the kinks out and use up nervous energy. Your meditation will be the reward.

Ready for the stillness?

Float on your back letting your body go as you would with a deep relaxation on your back on land. Shake out your feet and work your way up your body.

Of course you want to stay conscious so you donít get water in your nostrils.

Extend your arms out to the sides for balance and move them as necessary while your body is being fully supported by the water. The back of your neck and ears will be submersed.

Alternately, lay on your back on a raft or flotation device. If you are in the sun lather on enough sunscreen to protect your skin from radiation.

Now begin a period of even and regular breathing such as one count to inhale and one count to exhale and continue this rhythmic pattern.

Begin listening to the sounds of nature, the repeated chirping of birds, buzzing of bees, whatever is in your environment.

After a few minutes of relative stillness stretch out, roll over on your stomach and swim for a minute before coming out to dry off.

The effects of meditating in water are so refreshing because you almost lose consciousness of your body, you literally take a load off your body and by relaxing bring peace and harmony to mind.

Even in the ocean you can relax into a modified meditation and float up and down on the waves. Also if it is very salty body of water this will aid in supporting you.

Enjoy your time in water meditation, especially during the dog days of summer. It is a mini retreat amidst the hub bub of daily life.

 

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

11.                     Developing a Loving Attitude Meditation


Attitude supersedes thought so we can see how important it is to develop a loving attitude if we wish to have harmonious relationships. And not just with a partner or our family, but with all creation.

A loving attitude is like a doorway that opens us to an expanded feeling and point of view in all situations.

When faced with a situation where choices for the good need to be made, it is a loving attitude that zeros in on the best option or resolution. When all concerned have the attitude to resolve for the best, the right answers float into our consciousness as an ďahaĒ moment.

Meditation to develop a loving attitude

Go to your quiet meditation place and have your journal handy to write out any insights.

Sit on a blanket or cushion with your legs bent in, or sit upright in a chair with the soles of your feet firmly planted on the floor for balance.

Fold your hands in your lap or place them face up or face down on your thighs.

Begin even and regular breathing like this for example: breathe in one count; breathe out one count; breathe in one count and continue this pattern throughout the meditation without actually saying the numbers. Do not hold your breath at any time.

Even, regular breathing is the tie that binds the mind and body in calmness and steadiness. When upset a few minutes of this breathing calm both mind and body, so it is a very useful technique to practice.

Once your breathing is even turn your thoughts to the phrase ďloving attitude.Ē Imagine you are on a sailing ship going through life that is totally controlled by thought. While you are holding a loving attitude the vessel keeps to an even keel and you are invigorated by the ride. But, if you let yourself see the negative sides of an issue repeatedly the keel leans to the side instead of staying upright, and splash, youíre in the water and must struggle to get back onboard.

Reflect that with life being like keeping the ship of your life on an even keel through a loving attitude producing positive thoughts, youíll be able to stay more comfortably dry.

Now, while your eyes are still closed practice feeling loving toward a dear one and extend that thought to the world. Hold onto this feeling when you finish your meditation.

Take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Open your eyes and stretch out. Write any new insights in your meditation journal for future reflection.

For the rest of the day practice holding loving attitudes and gradually let this practice seep into your relationships.

 

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

12.                     Meditation Ė Self Realization?


Maybe you are wondering if the time you spend in meditation will lead to, or open the door to self realization. It is a good question, because it is so important in our journey on earth to make the time to achieve our full human potential.

Meditation clears debris from our thinking; takes us from self-centeredness to self-giving. And, it is when our heart is expanding that we grow into our full human nature which is really part of our divine nature.
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Meditation is an inner journey that has an outer result. We learn more about our expansive nature while meditating and the possibilities to create good, by refining our mind and doing kind works in the world.

When we are fully whole in a caring, kind sense we are realizing our self, our transcendent nature, our godly nature. We could say we are self realized in those moments.

Meditation does even more beyond self realization, though. After sitting still in the quiet and keeping appreciation in our mind repeatedly, we begin to feel uplifted into a more elevated state.

Then our battery is recharged, our body is enlivened by the eternal, internal energy flowing through us that meditation generates.

We are feeling a taste of what the Divine may feel in loving all of us so fully, that we have been given the natural world for a lifetime of use in order to grow and become divinely inspired beings.

Meditation when done with sincerity can lead to self realization. It is a blessing that is our eternal reward to enjoy. And, we can achieve this fulfillment through sincerity of intention, loving thoughts, a quiet time in mind, combined with good and kind actions in the world.

Stick with your goal of self realization through meditation, and then when the special moment comes that God enters your life and fills you with bliss, youíll know that God Realization, the uppermost goal has dawned.

Dear Lord,
Come to me in heart and soul
Fill me with your love
Keep me safe and ever close
From your throne in heaven above.

 

Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer; photo of author by Stan Schaap

 

Part II.

13.                     Attracting Bliss Meditation


Meditating regularly allows an ever widening channel of bliss to flow through our lives. It is not limited to the time spent in sitting but rather, extends outward to encompass more and more aspects of living.

It is like learning to play an instrument. For example, when I was about 9 years old I began piano lessons and it was so difficult to get my fingers to move as the notes were telling me to. It was at least 3 years before I could pick up an easy piece of music and play without practicing.

Then I could play for the joy of it without struggling.

Meditation practice is similar. At first we struggle to hold our body still and maybe deal with pain from holding a position we are not used to. We may get itches or coughing fits or be tempted to get up and grab a drink or snack; anything but sit still in silence.

Then after many practices we notice we can drop into our sitting pose and at once leave body consciousness and feel instead the peace and bliss that is our eternal divine Self having its say; coming forth to replenish and enliven us.

To begin your practice find a quiet and private place to sit with your back held straight. If you are on a cushion on the floor fold your legs in; if sitting on a chair plant the soles of your feet firmly on the floor to maintain your balance.

Fold your hands in your lap or place them palms up or palms down on your thighs.

Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Then begin even and regular breathing for the remainder of your meditation. Breathe in one count; breathe out one count; breathe in one count and continue this rhythmic pattern.

In your mind silently say an appreciation for the opportunity to sit in meditation and open the doorway to the infinite bliss.

Turn your attention to observing the flow of your breath. If your mind strays return it to the task. Be diligent like practicing the scales on the piano. It is the accumulation of practice that results in the outcome of flowing in the stream of bliss.

After a few minutes take another deep breath in and slowly release it, renewed and refreshed to carry on your day. With time and practice youíll reap the reward of being able to choose actions that lead to harmony rather than discord. Then you can say that meditation is well worth the time spent in practice.

 

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

14.                     Meditation Is for Everyone


Meditation is not limited to any group or religion, it is for every one of us. In the photo is my aunt known as Sister Rita, Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart. She left for her heavenly home on January 25, 1970 while sitting in the chapel in her morning meditation.

Different religions may call meditation by different names and use different practices, but the goal is to lead to the same source, which is communion with the Spirit of God in all, which may be called the Holy Spirit, the Holy Comforter, Om, the Amen, Holy Naam, the Holy Vibration, and other names for the same experience.
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Whether it is through sitting while in contemplation on a verse of the day, or saying the prayers of a rosary, mantras with a mala, or listening to the rhythm of the breath, the result is the same, union with our deepest purest Self. The Self that is not dependent on anything of the physical world for sustenance.

For ease of communication I will talk about this experience as the Voice of God.

While sitting quietly and holding loving thoughts the bodily energy continues to circulate, and because you are awake and not moving it will eventually spiral up the spine and enliven the entire body. I sometimes begin perspiring with the increase of heat being generated.

Holding the intention of love truly and sincerely while meditating ripens the increasing energy and opens our awareness to the subtle sound of creation, sometimes described as a rushing river seemingly emanating under the top of the skull.

When this soothing and purifying sound comes into your consciousness, suspend thoughts of contemplation or prayer and just listen. Just listen to this creative and harmonious force that sustains all creation.

Science has already shown us that atoms are full of movement. There is nothing standing still in creation. And by the same reasoning, no matter what your background or still time may be called or include, the goal of meditation practice is the same for everyone: experiencing the Divine energy flowing through all.

Use your time in meditation to align with this fundamental force present in all while keeping an attitude of love, so that youíll fully express your holiness.

Blessed is the Lord in all
I sing praises to his name
Singing will carry me home again
In harmony with the Lord.

Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer; photo from family archives

15.                     Use Meditation to Lift Your Vibration


How can we lift our vibration by meditating? This article will examine some reasons we come to vibrate as we are today, and how we can fine-tune ourselves to shine our best.

It is said that our bodies are what we ingest, and that as we think so we become. Letís add to that and say that our vibration is the composite of what we eat, think, say and do.

To generate a harmonious life it make sense to vibrate as purely as possible. For example: ingest what is nutritious; keep a positive attitude; think of the best solution that benefits the most; refrain from aggression by substituting kindness; speak purely without putting others down; act with compassion. And to lift consciousness, spend time in meditation.
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Meditation is medication for the soul. With the combination of appreciative thoughts, kind actions and the quiet stillness of meditation we lay a foundation for a life with a holy vibration.

The day will come when we fly away from this earth. By achieving a holy vibration in this lifetime we get to enjoy a foretaste of the heavenly realm to come, as well as enjoying inner peace and satisfaction now.

Prepare your meditation spot

Choose a place where you will have privacy. Some ideas include a corner of your bedroom or living room surrounded by a folding screen; a cleared space in the attic; an outdoor balcony if you live in a warm climate; a bench in the garden. Iíve used these examples at one time or another over the years.

Keep your meditation space fresh. Regularly lay out a clean altar cloth to set a candle, plants, incense or crystals upon. Keep your meditation beads, rosary or mala handy, as well as a meditation journal and pen for recording insights. Store your meditation cushion under your altar along with a light shawl as sometimes the body cools down while meditating.

Create a schedule to meditate so that it becomes part of your daily routine. Lifting our vibration through meditation is just as important as a clean diet, positive thinking and kind actions in daily living.

Make the most of living
By caring, sharing, giving
From the highest most peak
Of your being.

 

Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer; photo of author by Stan Schaap

16.                     Chores Can Be a Meditation


Yes, daily chores can seem like a waste of time, because they need to be repeated again and again.

What makes dish washing, laundry and vacuuming tolerable is holding an attitude of acceptance that it needs to be done and there is no way around it. It is part of the dues we pay for living.

Example of a meditation during chores

After a meal scrape and stack dishes in sink that is filled with soapy water. Let dishes soak. Later, lift dishes out to side board leaving cutlery in soapy water.

Begin by taking a deep breath in and slowly releasing it. Immerse hands in soapy water on the next in-breath and while breathing out begin washing each utensil with complete attention. Keep your breath easy and even and keep thinking about cleaning the utensils. After each handful of utensils rinse and stand them up in drain board.

Now lower the glasses and cups into the soapy water, and again while breathing evenly concentrate on swishing around inside and on the rims, then rinse and stand open end down in drain board. Take time to dry and put the cutlery away.

Put the dishes and bowls in the sink and rejoice that youíre probably over the hump. Swish the surfaces, rinse and stand on edge in the drain board to let gravity pull away the stream of water running off each.

Now dry the outsides of the glasses and put away. Dry the dishes and stack for the next use.

Immerse the pots in the water and scrub as needed before rinsing and setting in drain board. While washing, swishing and scrubbing keep up your even breathing.

Youíll find that the regular even breathing actually brings a state and feeling of calm, so that dish washing, rather than being a nasty chore, becomes an opportunity for quiet meditation, reestablishing harmony in the daily routine.

While this at first may seem like a tongue in cheek meditation, it points out that even the most distasteful chores can be transformed into giving a peaceful and harmonious feeling by accepting they need to be done, and breathing evenly, rhythmically, throughout.

This kind of meditation is also known as karma yoga, meditation in action, just because it needs to be done, without a specific reward.

 

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

17.                     Confirmation Prayers and Meditation


Confirmation Prayers

In loving grace
I walk today
Content to follow in Your ways.

***

Choosing the path
That You impart
Brings peace and joy into my heart.


Meditation to prepare for Confirmation

Find a time before the confirmation ceremony to have a quiet meditation, where you can reflect for some minutes on this important event.
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If you have your own bedroom, sit either on the edge of the bed or on a cushion on the floor. If on the bed place the soles of your feet firmly on the floor for balance. And if sitting on the floor on a cushion or folded blanket bend your legs in.

Either way, sit up straight and fold your hands in your lap, or place your palms face up or face down on your thighs. Close your eyes.

Begin even breathing to calm yourself and center your mind. Big events, like a Confirmation can cause excitement; the measured breathing helps restore balance. An example is breathe in 2 counts, breathe out 2 counts, breathe in 2 counts and continue this rhythmic pattern throughout your meditation.

After a minute of counted breathing let the thoughts of counting go and turn your attention to the upcoming event or initiation, whatever term is being used.

When I received Confirmation I was told that the Holy Spirit would be coming into my life to guide my actions for the greatest good. I felt this was right and holy for me.

This is the time to think over how you feel Confirmation will affect your life. Spend a few minutes reflecting.

To finish your meditation say one of the prayers above, then take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Stand and stretch and dress for your ceremony. When you return home, record any insights from the ceremony in your meditation journal for periodic review. May your life be blessed.

Prayer and meditation by Susan Helene Kramer. Photo credit of dove representing the Holy Spirit by Stan Schaap

18.                     Meditate for Answers


One way to find an answer is to relax into a deep meditation. As we sit still the body calms and settles. Then by concentrating on breathing and saying a mantra we free space in the depths below the rambling mind to pull out the answer to a problem.

Meditation

Begin by gathering together a journal and pen to record insights from the meditation.
Choose a place where you will have quiet and privacy. Light your meditation candle and burn incense if you wish. I like to fill the air with the scent of sandalwood because it is clearing to me.

Sit on a cushion on the floor with your legs bent in, or sit on a chair with the soles of your feet firmly planted on the floor for balance. Keep your back straight but not rigid. Fold your hands in your lap or place them face up or face down on your thighs.

Close your eyes and begin even and regular breathing, which means like your everyday breathing. For example, breathe in one count, breathe out one count, breathe in one count and continue this rhythmic pattern throughout your meditation.
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Do not hold your breath at any time in your practice. If your thoughts stray during meditation gently return to following the course of your breaths in and out, in and out.

The photo illustrates the use of mala beads when you use a mantra. Move one bead forward with each mantra repetition. Coordinate saying the syllables of your mantra to fit with the even breathing. If your mantra has 2 syllables breathe in on the first and out on the second syllable. If there are more syllables figure out how to divide them to keep the even breathing pattern.

All of this figuring out will keep your mind busy in a repetitive way to allow the deeper question the space to work itself out and bring the answer you are needing to the forefront in your consciousness.

When the mind is calm and one-pointed, answers have room to swim to the surface of mind without hitting and being delayed by extraneous thoughts.

After watching your breathing for a few minutes and saying your mantra if desired ask the question you wish answered.

Say a few prayers or affirmations of appreciation for new insights that arise to the surface.

Finish your meditation session with a long breath in and a matching exhalation. Open your eyes, stretch out, record your insights in your meditation journal now, while fresh in your mind.

 

Meditation and photo credit Susan Helene Kramer

19.                     Guided Fall Meditation


Fall is the time of year we take to rest from our summer activities. If you live in the northern hemisphere the days are shorter and evening more conducive to indoor activity, in particular Iím thinking of catching up on reading all those recommendations from friends.

To make use of concentrated reading it is the time to dip into your stash of spiritual books or those that carry a strong moral, reading about othersí experiences of what to avoid, especially.
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In this vein here is a guided Fall meditation for reflection

Begin by preparing a spot where you can sit privately and undisturbed. If you use an altar set out a centerpiece of the changing leaves and light an orange or yellow candle.

Burn some incense, I like sandalwood. Then fold your hands in your lap or place them palms up or palms down on your thighs.

Close your eyes and begin even and regular breathing such as one count to breathe in and one count to breathe out. Do not hold your breath at any time. Regulated natural breathing is a way to calm an agitated body or upset mind, it moderates your feelings.

After a minute, let go of counting your breaths, but keep up the rhythmic pattern throughout your meditation.

Imagine you are walking along a well-worn path through an old forest. Pine needles underfoot cushion and quiet your steps until all you hear are birds singing in the top of trees.

The bird songs are harmonious to your ears and you feel at peace and at one with nature.

Occasionally a cluster of leaves gently float by to rest on the forest floor, waiting for winter to come, but for now forming a carpet of color all around. When the chlorophyll retracts from the leaves and back into the tree the real inner color of the leaves is revealed, just as our inner brightness is revealed when we let it shine through caring and compassionate acts.

Along this path nature is leading the way in teaching us how to harmonize our lives both outer and inner: Outer through physical activity and inner through meditation and reflection.

Now the path is opening to a meadow where you have a chance to sit and rest, feeling the sunís warmth, just as we feel warmth through our sunny acts in the world.

Enjoy these feelings before opening your eyes, taking a long breath in and slowly releasing it. Stretch out and go forth with renewed vigor, a bright attitude, a loving heart.

Meditation and photo by Susan Helene Kramer

20.                     All Saints Day Meditation and Invocation


On November first each year we celebrate All Saints Day, to remind us that there are fine examples of godly souls for us to emulate on our path to God realization.

When we read about or meet an enlightened soul in person, we see that it is possible for each of us to adapt our lives to reach the ultimate human goal. And while we struggle to improve ourselves we have the reflection of saints that point the way.

The book Mystics, Masters, Saints, and Sages by Robert Ullman and Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, is full of inspiring stories.
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No matter how much saints have suffered to get where they are, the journey was eventually worth it in more than one way: 1. They reached their eternal home of bliss in the past or if still living they may be blissed out now in their consciousness. 2. Saints serve for a much longer period than their human lifetime, through the recordings of their lives and deeds that survive their deaths.

A meditation

Begin by sitting up straight in a quiet and private place, either on the floor on a cushion with legs folded in, or on a chair with soles of feet firmly planted on the floor for balance. Fold your hands in your lap or place them palms up or palms down on your thighs.

Close your eyes and begin even and measured breathing such as 2 counts to breathe in and 2 counts to breathe out, 2 counts to breathe in, continuing this pattern throughout your meditation without actually saying the numbers.

Regular, rhythmic breathing calms the mind and relaxes the body, letting stress dissolve during your meditation and with enough sessions, reducing stress in your life.

Follow the flow of your regular breathing for a minute and for this meditation adopt an attitude of respect for the saints. Feel their goodness surround you, envelope you during your time of quiet communion.

If you are drawn to the life of a particular saint, think about the qualities they embody and that you wish to emulate. Reflect on how you can incorporate these traits in your daily life.

Now think on at least one loved one or pet in your life and from that point radiate loving and caring feelings out in ever widening circles in undulating pulses of livened energy, aim for encompassing far into the universe.

Finish your meditation by taking a deep breath in and slowly releasing it. Open your eyes, stretch out and move on with your day, but first write any new insights in your meditation journal for later review and reflection.

Invocation for Blessings

May the blessings of the saints
Keep me inspired on my journey home
To the place reflecting
The radiance of my soul.


Meditation and invocation by Susan Helene Kramer

21.                     Thanksgiving Day Affirmations and Meditation


We have this special day each year to concentrate on the blessings that flow through our lives. And we return those blessings to family, friends and the larger community by kind thoughts and acts.

Even keeping a positive attitude blesses others as the feeling is picked up by those crossing our path each day. Letís use Thanksgiving Day as a starting point to show we really are grateful for natureís bounty by conserving our resources for now and future generations. Isnít it our responsibility as earthís stewards to keep what we have in good shape and flourishing for all?

Thanksgiving Affirmations

In thanksgiving for earthís bounty
Iíll do my best to conserve natural resources.

To show thankfulness for blessings of family and friends
Iíll be kind each step along the way.

To grow in thankfulness
Iíll meditate upon the true gifts Iíve received
And contemplate how these treasures can be spread.

By being thankful Iíll be thoughtful
Caring, sharing myself with those in need

I pray to the giver behind all gifts
That I may always be thankful for what I am given.

Thanksgiving Meditation

Decorate your altar for the holiday, perhaps with an orange, golden yellow or cranberry candle. Burn your favorite incense.

Sit up straight and close your eyes and begin even and regular breathing in a measured pattern such as one count to breathe in, one count to breathe out, one count to breathe in, and continuing on with this pattern during your meditation. After establishing your rhythmic breathing, let go of the counting and continue the pattern throughout your meditation.

Contemplate the meaning of Thanksgiving Day in your life. Is this an opportunity to be with family and friends in appreciation for this group of people in your life? How can you show others you care about them? When you feel thankful how does your energy level change? Do you feel inspired and energized?

Take a moment to give an appreciation for the bounty of your family and friends in addition to your special meal.

To finish your meditation take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Open your eyes and write down any new insights in your meditation journal. Stretch out and enthusiastically go on with your day.

Meditation and Affirmations by Susan Helene Kramer

22.                     Finding the Heart of Meditation


Take the energy brought forth from meditation and make change in the world. Carry out the resolves of your heart, do what is best for yourself and those in your life making the world a better place.

To begin, each meditation session can be divided into several sections. I like to think of them as supplication, prayer, contemplation, appreciation, and application. For instance, by including different aspects in your time for meditation in the evening you can do a mental evaluation of the day and plan for the morrow.

You can decide what good came of your actions during the day, and how to change if necessary. It is a good time to fearlessly face the more difficult issues head on in a calm and peaceful manner.
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Beginning each meditation by asking your Higher Self for favors or help with resolving issues leaves room in the rest of the meditation time for ideas to float to the surface on how to take action.

Following a request for help a period of quiet and sincere prayer, perhaps using a rosary or mala for your praying as shown in the photo, purifies the mind and settles the heart into a receptive mode, for easing into the highest resolve to your issues or carrying out a plan that has come to mind.

The period of quiet time that follows prayer is the heart of meditation.

Now is the chance to visit the inner recesses of yourself and enjoy the peace that comes of a receptive mind willing to do what is needed for the greatest good. Contemplation and quiet meditation give you the chance to be still in body while thinking over issues on your deepest level.

Thoughts of appreciation energize our body to carry out the direction from our Source that arises from deep within, accessible during our quiet time of meditation.

And what good is meditation if we donít put the new directives from our cleared mind into action?

If we each listened to the Voice of God within and went forth in that direction weíd really create a heaven on earth right now.

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer; photo of author by Stan Schaap

23.                     Meditating at Your Computer on Virtuous Living


Meditating on virtues is a step toward learning how to lead a virtuous life. We need to understand what we want and its benefits before putting our time and energy into it.

Here is a contemplative meditation to make a beginning on virtuous living:

Begin by choosing a quiet place to contemplate and meditate where you can write out insights in your journal as they come to you. I do this kind of contemplative meditation at my computer desk by setting up a document to write into before I begin. Without a computer write in a notebook or dedicated meditation journal.

Since you will be sitting up, keep the soles of your feet firmly planted on the floor for balance. I support my forearms on the arm rests of my computer chair. Open your document or your journal and date it to begin.

To prepare, close your eyes and begin even, regular breathing. For example, breathe in counts 1, 2; breathe out counts 3,4; breathe in counts 1, 2 and continue this rhythmic pattern without actually saying the counts throughout your session. Regular rhythmic breathing calms the mind and settles the body, as two ends of a ribbon brought together in harmony can form a pretty bow.

Take a few moments to contemplate on the virtue you think will assist you in virtuous living. Some choices could be kindness, caring, sharing, or moderation, forbearance, steadfastness. Choose the path that you feel you can stick to.

Usually, my choice is kindness. Every January it is my New Yearís resolution to be kinder. I find there is always room for improvement in myself in being kind to others. My biggest challenge is replying to a short temper with patience and kindness; maybe the person is feeling ill or suffering in another way, so I make an effort to return kindness by my words and actions.

After some ideas have come to you on how to instill your chosen virtue open your eyes and write them out. This way you can keep track of your progress on a regular basis.

Finish your contemplative meditation with thoughts of appreciation for all you have in your life. Be sure to send loving thoughts to at least one person or a pet. Then take those loving feelings and stretch them out to the world and entire creation. Our home is more than the property we live on, it is the whole universe and who knows what beyond.

Take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Stretch out and go on with your day with the resolve in mind to act with virtue in your interactions and all you do.

 

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

24.                     Adapt Your Meditation When Feeling Sick


Even when we are ill we can adapt meditation to be a useful tool for relaxing and finding our place of peace.

If sitting in a recliner arrange yourself so youíll be okay if you drift into sleep. Perhaps cover yourself with a light shawl or afghan as your body may cool down while being still.

In the background play some gentle music that you like.

Fold your hands in your lap or rest them palms down on the armrests of your chair. Close your eyes.

Begin to breathe evenly such as 2 counts to breathe in and 2 counts to breathe out and continue this rhythmic pattern throughout your meditation. Keep in mind that breath is the tie between body and mind.

When we are emotionally upset a few minutes of regulated even breathing calms our agitation. Even breathing is our every present stress buster. If you are busy counting your breaths in and out you are no longer thinking about a stressful situation.

Continue the even breathing pattern, letting your body relax deeply, but stay awake.

Visualize yourself on a warm beach with a gentle breeze blowing against your face and the smell of the beach in your nostrils.

Feel yourself becoming refreshed by the gifts of mother nature at the beach. Bask quietly in these thoughts and listen to the waves lap the shore and a seagull fly overhead. The creatures at the beach surround and support you in your efforts to rest.

Feel the warm sun gently radiating you with warmth and comfort.

Now, in your thoughts give an appreciation for at least one loving person in your life or a dear pet that gives you unconditional love. Feel yourself giving love and receiving love.

If you wish, say a prayer of appreciation for something positive in your life.

For a few minutes imagine warm life force circulating through your systems as you breathe evenly in and out. Feel your body expand beyond its physical borders and enjoy the peace.

Finish your meditation with a deep breath in and slowly release it. Either drift into sleep or slowly go on with your activities.

A Little Healing Prayer

As my body rests
With each breath in and out
May I take in and expand with love.

Meditation and Healing Prayer by Susan Helene Kramer

 

Part III.

25.                     Become More Positive by Meditating


Meditation is a positive activity, therefore regular meditation contributes to developing a positive personality. Itís a situation of like for like, or so you think, so you become.

In meditation we stand back from the thoughts running through our mind and become as observers in a grandstand, keeping our seat while watching the action out on the field.

Meditation requires us to hold still. And though thoughts may be running by, at least part of our being is resting and rejuvenating.

Add even regular breathing to the mix and emotions that may be stirred up also calm. So then youíre two thirds the way to reclaiming your inborn peace.

It is a challenge to get that last third, the thoughts, to be still, so until you do substitute positive thinking whenever you slip into negativity. Remember, negativity is the opposite of positive and comes when the ego thinks it is a part of your being, but it isnít.

Because we are all one or joined in spirit there is no real ego of separateness. That is a delusion and not a happy dream, either.

Meditation to develop positive thoughts

Choose a quiet place where you will not be disturbed, such as a corner of your bedroom behind a folding screen. If you are sitting on a cushion bend your legs in; if sitting on a chair plant the soles of your feet firmly on the floor for balance.

Fold your hands in your lap or place them palms up or palms down on your thighs. Close your eyes and begin even measured breathing. For example, breathe in one count, breathe out one count, breathe in one count and continue this regular rhythm throughout your meditation without actually saying the numbers.

Breathing is a tie between body, thoughts, emotions. When breathing evenly the body relaxes and the mind becomes peaceful. Let your meditation work for you in that way to assist your positive state of mind even after the meditation time.

Pull your attention to your regular breathing, keep your body still and observe the thoughts traveling by. If a negative thought marches by change it. Yes, it is in your power to substitute the opposite positive thought. If you are thinking negatively about another, instead send them thoughts of kindness.

By practicing concerted kindness in your visualizations your later actualizations will begin to be more positive.

A benefit of positive thinking is an increase in your energy level.

Next in your meditation think of an appreciation for a loved one or pet and stretch it out to the world, to the universe.

Enjoy your feelings of peace and contentment for a few moments.

Take a deep breath in, slowly release it, open your eyes and stretch out. Go on with your day in a positive way. If you notice yourself becoming negative take a few minutes to meditate and recover your positive outlook.

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer; photo of author at Meditation Mount, Ojai, California, by Stan Schaap

26.                     Advent Traditions


Advent is a joyful time to contemplate and get set for the birth of the Holy Babe that we celebrate on Christmas Day.

Creating an advent wreath is a visual way to look forward to the Holy Babe's birth through the symbolism of lighted candles. I find it meditative to light the candles in the evening as soon as dusk falls which here in The Netherlands is by 4pm.

Prayer for meditation: "May the candle light remind me of spiritual light in the world, our pathway to wisdom."

The act of lighting the candles reminds me that the Light of the world to so many never fades and as the weeks pass in expectation of December 24th and 25th more and more light is produced by more candles being lit.

The first Sunday just one candle is lit and each successive Sunday one more is added till all are lit by the 4th Sunday.

As there are four Sundays in Advent you will need 4 candles, one for each of the Sundays, and a 5th candle for Christmas Day.

Another preparation I make this time of year is the holly wreath for the front door. You can intertwine holly and ivy and pine sprigs on a wreath form or make you own by bending a wire clothes hanger into a round shape and tying on the sprigs securely. Then adding decorations such as small balls or tiny pine combs, or shiny red ribbons.

The culmination for me in my preparations is arranging the manger scene in my front window, as seen in the photo. This holy act really is a special time for me to reflect on the eternal message of Christmas.

Article and photo credit Susan Helene Kramer

27.                     New Yearís Day Contemplation and Prayer


New Yearís Day is a time for reflection and contemplation on the personal state of our life. Daily in the news we hear and read about others and their triumphs and tragedies, and concentrating on that, forget we have our own ways to either rejoice in or amend.

By taking a virtue as your New Yearís resolution you have a goal to live up to each day.
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Take time to affirm your chosen virtue during silent meditation. After saying a prayer or thought of appreciation for what youíve been given, move on to thinking about how you can carry out your chosen virtue.

In my morning meditation I usually affirm: I am a kind person. Then I let my forthcoming thoughts and actions confirm kindness. Iíve found it is easiest to be kind when Iím in a caring state of mind.

The secret to adopting any virtue is to manifest it in attitude and thought, then action.

May this coming year serve as an inspiration to realign with the memories of our former home in heaven, and act with true love to all on earth.

We Come to You with Open Heart

We come to You with open heart
May we imbibe what you impart
A year rolls out, another begins
A chance to revamp our lives again.

With goodness in mind we set the scene
We know the best is what we mean
To carry out one virtue pure
Align our life till more like Yours.

With daily practice setting our pace
Our chosen virtue gives a taste
Of heaven on earth made manifest
We know this is a worthwhile quest.

For this is why weíve come to earth
To lift ourselves and show our worth
As citizens, humanityís own
Awake in memories of our heavenly home.

Virtue pure we donít forget
Itís what we brought and what we get
Remembering every New Yearís Day
Your love and light shine bright our way.

 

Prayer by Susan Helene Kramer; photo of author by Stan Schaap

28.                     Making Time for Holiday Meditations


Sometimes we put ourselves in last place when it comes to doing what is best for us. But it is only when we are balanced and energized that we can give others our best.

During the holidays we may get revved up and try to cram more into our daily schedule than we are used to and the result is we lose our peace of mind.

The trick is to schedule in meditation first. Then we can get even more done because we are energized and internally peaceful.

First thing upon waking take a minute to breathe evenly in and out while stretching out and mentally preparing to face the day.

The next opportunity to enjoy personal peace may be in the shower: as the water pours down let any pent up stress wash away. Visualize it swirling down the drain and dissolving away, away, away.

If you are preparing breakfast and lunches for the day you have an opportunity for a standing meditation. I do this every morning year round. I face the kitchen counter with all the ingredients for the meals assembled in front of me.

Then I begin even rhythmic breathing: one count to breathe in, one count to breathe out. I do not rush the process, but instead carefully do one step at a time in assembling and packing up while bread or waffles cook in the toaster.

Off to work or school and another opportunity is walking between classes or the coffee (walking) break. Coordinate your walking by breathing in for two steps and out for two steps. This will calm your mind while the walking energizes your body.

Your lunch time may be taken up with shopping during the holiday season, but you can still maintain your peace by doing rhythmic breathing standing in line at the checkout counter.

When others are vying for your attention look at the overview and take one situation at a time. Sit down and calmly resolve each need that is presented.

Later in the day after dinner and supervising the evening routine excuse yourself to your room for a few minutes. Sit on a cushion by your bed and do some rounds of even breathing and think with appreciation on the blessings of having a lot to do, because it means you are important in othersí lives, and that what itís like to be an integral asset in the circle of humanity.

 

Meditation article by Susan Helene Kramer

29.                     December Solstice Meditation


Solstice is a time for reflecting that all life on earth is cyclical. It is another opportunity to give your prayer and meditation life a regular cycle of its own.

By taking time to regularly reflect, meditate, seek guidance from the quiet within, we can work out many of the problems we face in the active part of our day.
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To begin your meditation choose a quiet place reserved just for meditation; a corner of a room, even a closet can be converted to make space. Sit on a cushion or chair with your back held straight, hands folded in lap, eyes closed.

Take a few moments to read an uplifting writing, or say an affirmation for personal and world peace such as:

Personal peace, one by one
Grows into
A peaceful world home for everyone.


Begin even breathing: Counts 1, 2 breathe in; counts 3, 4 breathe out; counts 5, 6 breathe in; to 50 or another even number.

Stop counting and just continue to breathe evenly. Reflect on the day's events. Decide what to do about a situation that is unresolved. Re-evaluate your goals, if necessary.

Plan the next day's actions to harmonize with the best for all concerned, preserving personal peace of mind in the process.

Finish the meditation with prayers or affirmations for personal and world peace. Stand up and stretch.

Personal peace retained
Planetary peace more easily gained.

 

Meditation and photo by Susan Helene Kramer

30.                     Prayer and Meditation on Pure Delight


Uplift my heart, quench my soul
With humbleness, delight
Natureís blessings all around
Fill, sustain my sight.
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For the sunshineís golden glow
Lighting up a winterís day
For the summerís warming light
Calling children out to play.

Natureís blessings all around
Remind us daily of the way
Of caring, sharing with each other
Today and every day.

Uplift my heart and fill my soul
With abundance and delight
That my life will shine in glory
Reflecting out Your radiant light.

To this earth we all have come
To grow and give in loveís delight
Until one day we find ourselves
Glowing, reflecting, shining bright
Glowing, reflecting, Your pure light.

Use this prayer to set the stage for your winter meditations. In the darkest time of year, bring out the sun that shines within, by acting with radiance and cheer.

To begin your meditation find a quiet spot to sit, where you will not be disturbed. If you are at your meditation altar light a candle and some incense. I like the purifying smell of sandalwood.

Clasp your hands in your lap or rest them palms up or palms down on your thighs. Close your eyes and begin evenly paced breathing without any strain. Breathe in one count, breathe out one count, breathe in one count and continue this rhythmic pattern throughout your meditation.

Say the prayer above or a verse from it to set the mood. Now think with appreciation for what you really have in your life that has meaning such as family and friends and pets. Extend those thoughts to the neighborhood, community and world.

Enjoy the silence for a few minutes by following the flow of your breathing, gently in and out like you are floating on a rolling ocean as in the photo with this meditation.

To finish your meditation take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Open your eyes, stretch out and go on with your day.

 

Prayer and Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer; photo credit Stan Schaap

31.                     Daily Cyber Meditation


The group energy of meditating as one family of humanity is far reaching and all inclusive. It uplifts the meditator and everyone who has contact with that person, because the peaceful vibrations we send out are contagious.

One person meditating spreads a harmonious feeling to others in the spokes of that personís life, and then to all those here on earth. And, I believe our strong meditations spread outward toward infinity.

Here in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, I begin a daily 10 minute cyber meditation each day at 8pm, which would be 7pm UK; 2pm East Coast of America; 1pm Central; noon Mountain; 11am West Coast time.

The cyber meditation intention is three-fold:

- Personal peace
- Planetary peace
- World upliftment

A mini-meditation

With many of us in front of a computer screen during the cyber meditation time here is a mini-meditation you could use:

While sitting up straight in your chair, plant the soles of your feet firmly on the floor, fold your hands in your lap or rest them palms up or palms down on your thighs.

Close your eyes, take a deep breath in and slowly let it out. Then pay attention to regular breathing in and out, for example, one count breathe in, one count breathe out. Continue for at least one minute.

Finish the mini-meditation with another deep breath in and out.

Before opening your eyes think an uplifting affirmation: I am feeling peaceful and I send that peace to all my world family.

And that concludes our world-wide cyber meditation.

I feel really good being part of the solution to bringing peaceful vibrations to our planet. We can all participate in this meditation in accordance with our own location and circumstances.

Personal peace practiced leads to planetary peace mastered.

Be part of the solution.

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

32.                     Informal Meditation for Teens


Informal meditation practice is possible anywhere at any time, without anyone knowing what you are doing. Just begin to breathe in and breathe out regularly. Listen to the breaths if it is quiet, but most importantly breathe in and out evenly. This technique brings balance into the body-mind. If angry or upset begin to practice the even breathing; it calms.

If feeling anxious at school or anywhere practice a few sets of the even breathing. Remember, do not do any breath retention.

If you have the opportunity, take a walk while breathing evenly and rhythmically in and out; swinging your arms back and forth in opposition. That means, when your right foot steps forward, your left arm swings forward. I use this practice myself each day when out for a long walk along the canals in Amsterdam.

Master Sivananda of Rishikesh was a yoga master and a medical doctor. He said that walking briskly circulates the bodily hormones that give one a feeling of well-being.

Biking, running and swimming are additional invigorating opportunities for reflection; meditation. These moving exercises all need increased oxygen and when you breathe deeply and evenly you pull in oxygen and breathe out waste products like carbon dioxide.

It is interesting to note that our carbon dioxide is what plants breathe in to grow; one more example of how humans and the natural world are dependent upon each other.

The active meditations, where there is no way to do multi-tasking, give you a chance to clear your mind and make space for problem solving.

Walking between classes at school while concentrating on even breathing may be just the amount of time you need to solve a minor problem. And no one is seeing how you are making use of your time.

A walk gives a change of scene and makes us let loose of the emotional baggage that may be keeping us from seeing the facts that are really right in front of us.

In summary, use your spare minutes in informal meditation to refresh your point of view by turning your attention inward, making space in your mind for the answer to problems to arise.

Article and Ebook by Susan Helene Kramer

33.                     Valentineís Day Meditation on Caring Love


Love abounds on Valentineís Day. The challenge is to continue loving every day of the year. By bringing attention to and concentrating on expressions of love this one day a year, we have the model to go forward.

Iím referring to the kind of love in relationships that can survive all the ups and downs of life, and that is caring love. When we care we share lovingly; we share the best of ourselves for the best of others.

Caring love is an expression of unconditional love, that which accepts that another is doing the best they can at the moment given their background up to that point.

Unconditional love allows others to follow their path without imposing our point of view or making another feel guilty for not following our choices for them.

Meditation on Caring Love

Go to a quiet place where you will not be disturbed, indoors or outside. Prepare yourself by washing and putting on clean clothes. This ritual before meditation helps clear our mind as well as body, a time of rest from worldly concerns, a mental relaxation.

Sit on a cushion on the floor or on a chair with your back held straight. If sitting on the floor fold your legs in and rest your hands in your lap or place them palms up or palms down on your thighs. If sitting in a chair plant the soles of your feet firmly on the ground for balance.

Drape a cloth or shawl around your shoulders if you tend to cool down while meditating. The cloth or blanket is almost like being in a little pup tent, cozy and secure.

Close your eyes and begin breathing evenly such as one count to breathe in and one count to breathe out. Continue this rhythmic pattern throughout your meditation. Breath is the tie between body and mind. Even breathing can calm emotions and bring clarity to mind.

If you are using a mantra and mala move one bead forward per mantra repetition.

Now that you are still and breathing evenly, say an affirmation for personal and world peace such as: I am feeling my inner peace and carry it into my life.

Listen to the ingoing and outgoing breath and if you hear the inner Holy Spirit Vibration listen to it for a time.

Let your thoughts turn to the love generated on Valentineís Day and make a promise to yourself to extend your love beyond today. See yourself stretching your caring love to your family, friends, and the whole universe, which is really our bigger family.

Conclude your meditation with a deep breath in and slowly release it. Open your eyes, stretch out, go forward into your day with the attitude of real caring, unconditional love.

 

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

34.                     Beginning Meditations for Teens


Teens face special challenges: they are growing and learning to keep their balance while walking the swinging bridge between childhood and adulthood. Here are some meditation techniques to help provide and regain stability.

A Break While at a Desk


Sitting with your back straight in the chair, facing forward; clasp your hands and let them rest in your lap; close your eyes. Breathe easily and evenly, in and out. Silently count each in breath as one count, and each out breath as one count, till 50 counts, or another even number. Listen to your breath as it comes in; listen to your breath as it goes out. Example: count 1: breathe in; count 2: breathe out; count 3: breathe in and continue this pattern. To finish, take a final deep breath in, slowly let it out, open your eyes.

Sitting on the Floor or Outdoors

Sit on the grass or at the beach, or if indoors, then on a carpet, folded blanket, or pillow on the floor with back and head erect; clasp your hands and let them rest in your lap; close your eyes. If desired, sit facing a lit candle or a campfire if outdoors, and let your eyes relax but not shut tight so the candle light can still be viewed. Breathe easily and evenly, in and out. Silently count each in breath as one count, and each out breath as one count, till 50 counts, or another even number. To finish, take a final deep breath in, slowly let it out, open your eyes, stand up, and stretch.

Reclining

Lying on a piece of carpet or a bed, stretch out on your back with your arms slightly away from body, and your legs comfortably apart. Close your eyes and let your body go limp. Lying so still and relaxed, keeping your eyes closed, visualize walking onto a meadow on a warm sunny day. In your mind, just feel yourself standing still for a moment looking around, then seeing a horse galloping along. Watch the regular rhythms of the gallops while breathing evenly in and out. Enjoy the relaxed feeling in your own body that is lying so limply and undisturbed. Feel whole and comfortable in your resting body. After some time, watch the horse gallop away and begin to come back to your everyday active self by taking a deep breath, opening your eyes, stretching out your arms and legs; sitting up.

 

Meditations and Ebook by Susan Helene Kramer

35.                     Lent Meditation Preparing for Easter


The weeks of Lent hold an opportunity to prepare for the glorious celebration of Christís resurrection. We need those weeks for contemplation, for it is out of our normal range of consciousness to envision the radiant body of Christ upon earth.

It takes much meditation and prayer to put ourselves in the spiritual state where we feel and see the body of Christ whole and perfect in resurrected radiance.

We intellectually know that Christ invited doubting Thomas to put his hand into his side Ė the side of his body in physical form. We, too, may be doubting, but in a spiritual state of deep meditation we can experience the oneness of physical and mental states as pure divine energy. For further reading, the book in this photo is an inspiring guide for daily living in accordance with Jesus, and highly recommended as a preparation for deep meditation.
Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: The Yoga of Jesus by Paramahansa Yogananda
Meditation practice leads us to an enlightened state where we can be at one in consciousness with all, whether living or deceased. It is such a comfort to know that our Dear Lord gave us this gift of meditation, through the example of His experience to strive for deep spiritual communion.

Here is a meditation for every day of Lent to prepare for the spiritual experience of Easter:

Go to your quiet and private spot. Lay out your altar with a clean cloth and the setting you like, perhaps a candle, incense, and fresh flowers or a plant. I have a clear crystal that rests on my altar. I lay out my mala for mantra repetition. On the side I lay a journal and pen to record new insights.

Sit up straight, either on a cushion with your legs folded in, or on a chair with the soles of your feet firmly planted on the floor for balance. Place your hands together in your lap or palms up or palms down on your thighs.

Close your eyes and begin regular even breathing, such as one count to breathe in and one count to breathe out. Do not actually say the counts but keep up this rhythmic pattern throughout your meditation. Breath is a tie between body and mind. Even breathing can calm the mind and emotions.

Say a short prayer or affirmation of appreciation for the opportunity to be sitting in meditation.

Bring to mind the thought of Christís resurrection. This is the contemplation for your meditation during Lent. Visualize the radiant wholeness of Christís new body and think how you could work toward purifying your life to merge with this image.

After a minute in contemplation say a prayer of appreciation for the opportunity to love. Extend thoughts of love around the planet and out into the universe.

Finish your Lenten meditation with a deep breath in and slowly release it. Stretch out and go on with your day. Record any new insights in your meditation journal for review and action.

 

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

36.                     Whitney Houston Prayer and Tribute


A prayer and tribute to Whitney Houston. Let's remember how she inspired from her heart through her music.

Prayer

You came into our lives
With words in song so strong and true
Singing forth with inner strength
Young, old, all
In love with you.
Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Whitney Houston: For the Record - Paperback
Now, may your unseen journey hold
Blessings worth far more than gold.
For, who can judge the power beyond
Letís know that life goes on and on Ė
Itís a Greater Love we gain
When finding ourselves
In compassionís domain.

In tribute to Whitney Houston I offer these verses for consolation and remembering:

Golden days come and gone
Cherished thoughts still linger on
Family, friends, those we love
Alive in memories.
Life will guide us, help us learn
Till we, our heavenly home return
But golden times will ever stay
Alive in memories.
From a little child we grew
Till we realized, till we knew
That those we love live ever on
Alive in memories.
The clock of time has no hold
When our hearts hold only gold
For kindness, caring truly stay
Alive in memories.
In looking back, the winding trail
Holds for each a precious tale
And when our sunset blazes bold
We'll live on, in memories.

Prayer and verses by Susan Helene Kramer

Part IV.

37.                     Beginning Sitting Meditation on the Breath


After youíve picked a time and place to sit in meditation youíll probably be thinking how to begin the quiet time. Here is a plan that will get you started and serve as a regular meditation ritual for the long term:

If you are sitting on a cushion facing an altar or just sitting on a cushion anywhere such as the floor or a firm bed or the beach then fold in your legs tailor style. Sit up straight. Clasp your hands in your lap or lay them palms up or palms down on your thighs.
Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: photo credit Stan Schaap; author sitting in meditation
If you are sitting on a chair plant the soles of your feet firmly on the floor, and fold your hands in your lap or lay your palms on your thighs face up or face down.

Do not lean back in the chair, but rather, keep your back straight to facilitate meditative breathing.

Throughout your meditation breathe in a regular and even pattern, such as one count to breathe in and one count to breathe out. Do not hold your breath at any point.

Before going further, silently say a prayer voicing your requests. It is the highest prayer to give thanks for what you have, and request what is for the highest good to flow into your life, rather than request a particular object.

Close your eyes and begin the listening part of your meditation, the quiet time. Pay attention to your rhythmic and even in and out breathing. If your thoughts wander as soon as you realize it bring your attention back to following your breath.

A huge benefit of even breathing and tracking your breath is it calms your body and mind. Cares of the world donít have room to enter and the body relaxes.

After a period of time bring your attention back to the present and think an appreciation for someone or a pet you love. Mentally extend this thought to family, friends, the planet and universe. In the larger sense we are a big family of the world.

To finish your sitting meditation take a deep breath in and slowly release it; stretch out and go on with your day. Now would be a good time to reflect on any changes youíd like to make to improve yourself.

Meditation plan by Susan Helene Kramer; photo credit Stan Schaap: author in sitting meditation position at Meditation Mount, Ojai, California

 

38.                     Beginning Meditation - Deciding Where and When

Beginning meditation is an adventure of inner discovery and expansion into vast reaches and resources of the Self. Therefore, to reap the most out of living on earth it is worth going on the inner journey.

To begin, make time for yourself, for your real Self. It can be any time of day. Traditionally, such as in ashrams, convents, and monasteries, the quiet of dawn or predawn is set aside for personal meditation and reflection.
Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: photo of Sr. Mary Rita
To give you an example, one of my aunts, shown in this picture, called Sister Mary Rita, was a nun with Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart. In her 80s she left this world while sitting in her morning meditation.

Now, that is the way Iíd like to go. Youíll hear other stories of saints leaving while in meditation. At some point in life it could be a natural progression of earthly life to heavenly life, but for us letís talk about getting started and not the mortal end.

The next time of day conducive to a break and taking quiet time is the lunch hour. The urgent business of the morning is behind you and now a well-deserved break is refreshing to recharge for the afternoon.

Also, late in the day is a good time to quietly meditate after reflecting on the highs and lows of your day and plans for the morrow. Whatís nice about the evening meditation is that you can remain quiet the rest of the evening, cares of the world are over for the day.

Moving on to actually planning a time for meditation is creating a private place to sit undisturbed. It can even be a dedicated corner of a room enclosed by a folding screen.

During my working years I would go out to the parking lot and sit in my car with my eyes closed and meditate. Almost like a little cave.

The evening meditation can be sitting on a bench in your garden in warm weather, or if indoors, that corner of the house that you make your own.

When you have a dedicated space just for meditation a little altar is nice to hold objects that inspire you to look inward: a candle, incense, prayer beads, inspirational book.

Dress as comfortably as possible for the situation. If you are meditating on your lunch hour at work you will, of course, be in your work clothes. But at home try for loose pants and over shirt so no parts of your body are constricted.

If you are meditating at the end of a series of hatha yoga postures, wrap yourself in a light blanket or shawl and sit on your mat.

These are the beginning steps to meditation. In another article weíll talk about goals of meditation.

 

Meditation Article by Susan Helene Kramer

39.                     Beginning Preparation for Meditation

Taking time to settle down before sitting in meditation gives us a chance to gradually unwind. It avoids the shock of rushing around, and plopping down expecting to suddenly feel peaceful.

One way to make the transition from daily activities to meditation is to bathe and put on fresh lightweight clothes. I keep a set of yoga whites handy, which are made of cotton and cut full; loose pants and an over shirt. Sometimes I wear a full skirt and over blouse, because Iím from the generation where women wore skirts most of the time.

After getting changed set up your meditation altar. Freshen the flowers; burn incense, I like sandalwood; light a candle; place a crystal if you like; lay out an inspirational book alongside the altar.

Now itís time to sit on a cushion or on a chair with your back straight. If on a cushion fold your legs in and place your hands in your lap or palms face up or face down on your thighs. If sitting in a chair hold your hands the same way, but firmly plant the soles of your feet on the floor for balance.

Begin by saying a prayer for personal and world peace, or read a verse from the book by your altar.

Close your eyes and begin even regular breathing, such as one count to breathe in and one count to breathe out, one count to breathe in. Continue this rhythmic pattern throughout your meditation. Do not hold your breath at any time.

Breath is the tie between the body and mind. Calm, even breathing settles the emotions and relaxes the body. You can use this when you are stressed during the day to regain control of your thoughts and feelings and to give yourself a little rest from rushing here and there.

While sitting in your meditation pose and breathing evenly take time to watch your thoughts come and go. You are the observer and not the doer while sitting there. When confronted by a problem we can always stand back in our mind as the observer and think it through, using our thought process to come up with a solution for the best resolve of the situation.

Come back to the present and send thoughts of love to someone or a pet. Now extend that rainbow of love to everyone in the world and the whole universe, our true universal home.

Take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Open your eyes, stretch out, go on with your day, refreshed and energized in body and mind.

As you go
Bless
To be your best.


Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer

40.                     Beginning Meditation Philosophy


Meditation is a means to an end, a journey to commune with our inner Self, experienced as harmony, peace, bliss.

As we approach meditation the first few times we may be preoccupied getting our routine set to what works for us: Time, place, dress, equipment, those things that give us a comfortable setup for sitting quietly, being still.

After settling into a meditation routine we may wonder why we are doing it. What are the benefits? Why has the practice survived over eons?

The quiet time of meditation is like the steering wheel of the ship of our life, it has the power to keep us on a steady path of balance when faced with the turmoil of rough seas of relationships and events.

Meditation time is a period of quiet listening to the wise voice within us all. It is a time of listening so we can take the advice and solve our life dilemmas most easily.

Meditation is practical spirituality. It gives us the coaching needed to get through our personal obstacle course.

Meditation is a way to go deeply through the layers of mind which cover the view of our eternal Self.

Meditation open us to a wider view of seeing many possibilities laying before us by letting us pierce the ego, burst its bubble, releasing a shower of insight into what is going on in your life, and how to reign in whatís important to daily harmony in living.

Meditation leaves us with a feeling we are part of the family of humanity. When in deep meditation bodily sensation leaves us, we donít feel physical separation. Rather, we feel our own consciousness, yet are aware we are close and intertwined with the consciousness of all, animate and inanimate both.

Meditation is a means to an end, and the end is expansion into the bliss of realizing we are expansive and harmonious behind all the barriers we see in the physical and mental worlds.

Meditation reveals an island of heaven on earth. And the more we meditate the more time we spend on harmony and bliss in our daily life in the world.

Meditation
The doorway through which
Inner and outer harmony are viewed, enjoyed
As One.

 

Meditation Article by Susan Helene Kramer

41.                     Beginning Mantra Meditation


One of the basic ways to meditate is by using a mantra, prayer, or sound vibration. A short phrase or several syllables is good to use in the beginning. You want to be able to remember your mantra and repeat it with devotion, so that it takes you into a meditative state when you sit quietly.

Choose a mantra that you are comfortable with. If you have a short prayer in your religion, that would be appropriate. For example, I was raised Catholic and used to say 'Jesus, Mary, Joseph' repeatedly with an attitude of devotion. If you do not have a religious bent then a universal peace mantra might be your choice, such as Om Shanti, or Om.
Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: photo credit Susan Kramer; Portrait of an Old Woman by Barthel Bruyn de oude, 1524
The important point is to use the mantra with which you feel most comfortable, and that uplifts your thoughts and feelings.

Iíve included this photo, because I see the woman portrayed in a peaceful meditative state.

Coordinate the repetition on the syllables of the mantra with your breath. If you are using Om Shanti, breathe in on ĎOmí, and breathe out on ĎShantií.

It is not necessary to have an in or out breath with each individual syllable.

Mantra repetition is most often a silent practice as part of your meditation. You neednít actually say the syllables out loud. Again, coordinating with the breath is important to achieve harmony.

Mantra repetition serves more than one purpose: It uplifts your thoughts, and slows down the racing of thoughts through your mind.

Perfecting the recitation of a mantra is not the end in itself. It is a means to experiencing yourself as transcendent peace and bliss.

After mentally reciting your mantra for a period of time you may begin to hear the inner sound seeming to emanate from under the crown of your head. At this point stop repeating the mantra and instead listen to the soothing internal sound, sometimes referred to as the celestial music, music of the spheres, and in religions as The Holy Spirit, Om, Naam, Amen, The Word.

However you understand the essence of your mantra, it will eventually lead to the spiritual experience of bliss and harmony, and what could be more useful in daily life than that Ė becoming one with the peace that passeth all understanding.

Article by Susan Helene Kramer; photo credit Susan Kramer: Portrait of an Old Woman by Barthel Bruyn de oude, 1524; Kroeller-Mueller Museum, The Netherlands

42.                     Beginning Meditation as the Observer


One of the ways to meditate effectively is to take the position of the observer. In meditation practice the mind remains awake, even when the body is as still as in deep sleep.

Begin your meditation by sitting up straight. If on the floor on a cushion sit with your legs crossed in. If sitting on a chair plant the soles of your feet firmly on the floor for balance.

Close your eyes and begin rhythmic breathing. For example, breathe in one count, and breathe out one count. Maintain this pattern throughout your session. Breath is the tie between the body and mind. When we keep up even breathing we can calm emotions.

After a minute pretend you are seated at the sidelines on a parade route. Your incoming thoughts are the floats going by in front of you. You stay still, but the floats, your thoughts that are ever changing, march by.

The person watching the parade without moving or responding is your permanent self, and the floats are like your changeable mind. If a thought passes before you that you donít like, then change it to a pleasant scene.

Know that you have the power and choice to change your thoughts whenever you wish. You have the choice to adopt a positive attitude.

Keep up your even breathing and after a while feel the peace that passeth understanding descend. Your thoughts may slow down for a time, but they never end.

What you are meant to discover is that peace is behind your thoughts, ever there for enjoying in meditation, and then taking into your daily life.

To conclude your meditation, take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Stretch out and go on with your day. Come back to a quiet meditation as the observer whenever you feel the need to be centered.

To recap, meditating as the observer is an effective method of discovering that your eternal nature is beyond the world of thoughts. What is changeable is not part of your permanent self.

We grow in patience and compassion when we realize that we have control of our thought processes.

Reclaim your contact with eternal peace by meditating as the observer.

Meditation Article by Susan Helene Kramer

43.                     Prayer and Meditation, Hand in Hand


The combination of prayer and meditation is a way to ask for help and listen for answers. When we sit quietly we have a chance to dive within to the source of our being.

For example, you go up to a house and knock on the door, then stand there for a while waiting for someone to answer. Finally someone opens the door.

Thatís like prayer and meditation working together. Prayer is the knocking on the door; meditation is the waiting time for someone to answer. The Divine answers the dooor.

Pick a place and time to sit where you will not be disturbed. Early morning, the lunch hour, dusk, and before retiring are traditional times for prayer and meditation.

When I was growing up I spent a half hour before going to sleep saying a rosary, then listening to the silence that followed. I was praying that the soul in purgatory that needed prayers the most would receive mine; I felt very good, even at 9 years old, being quietly useful.

A traditional method to combine prayer and meditation is to sit in a meditation pose, either on a cushion on the floor, or seated on a chair. If you are going to read a prayer, have the verse handy, or make your request in your own words.

Prayer can be for a specific request or for the highest good, the best resolve of a situation. When we ask for help for the highest good, we open the way for a Divine resolve.

But, either way, praying for a specific purpose or help as the Divine sees fit, we can then sit in the quiet portion of our session and be receptive for any directives that come to mind. The listening for Godís or the Divineís words is the 2nd part of your session.

The combination of asking for help, and listening for the directive, is prayer and meditation in action.

When inspired direction comes to mind, write out the plan in your journal. I keep my notebook next to my meditation seat so I donít have to get up to record new insights.

The time you spend in silence listening for the voice of God can vary. Ten minutes is enough to relax your mind to be receptive to new direction, new insight, previously unseen ideas.

Finish your prayer and meditation session with positive affirmations, and send thoughts out in a radiant stream for universal peace and harmony. It feels uplifting to end on a high note.

After your peaceful time slowly rise and review your journal notes; think how you can put new ideas into practice.

 

Meditation Article by Susan Helene Kramer

44.                     Easter Week Contemplation


Easter week is upon us and if you are like me, youíre starting to feel the excitement. This is my favorite time of year, I feel overwhelmed with joy every Easter, because I dwell on the resurrection rather than the crucifixion.

Contemplate and meditate each day of this holy week to align with the joy of the coming resurrection.

The Last Supper, celebrated on the Thursday before Easter Sunday, is full of symbolism that has been carried right through history till today. The meal is a time of nourishment, just as the word of our Lord is the kind of sustenance we need to lead a right and just life.

And when we excel in goodness and kindness, guess what, we are filled with harmony and joy. One leads to the other.

The very sad crucifixion of Friday is a time for remorse for our wayward actions; a time to repent and try to improve ourselves so that we can lead really helpful and happy lives.

On Saturday we have the quiet space of contemplation and meditation to evaluate our lives and actions and make plans to improve, come into alignment with virtue.

And what a glorious Sunday awaits us with the celebration that our dear Lord did not die after all. We can rejoice in the hope that through our personal reformation we too will share joy throughout eternity.

All the work and sacrifice we go through while living on earth is our time to shape and reshape our souls to align with the glorious souls we can be.

Easter blessings to all!

May the Lord arise within our hearts
May the Lord be ever in our thoughts.
May the Lord be ever close at hand
Extending Love through every land.

Meditation Article by Susan Helene Kramer

45.                     Strengthen Your Back for Sitting Meditation


Make time to take care of your back and prepare for deep and joyful meditation.

We have these bodies to get done what is needed for our mission in life, and that means making the effort to maintain body and mind. Meditation is for our mind and soul, but needs the cooperation of our body to get the job done.

This sequence strengthens the lower back and the abdominal muscles through a series of stretching, contracting, holding, relaxing repetitions as follows. Be very careful not to strain while exercising.

Part 1.

Preparation:

Lie on back, bend knees, wrap arms around knees and pull knees toward body, hold for a breath in and a breath out. Release arms and stretch out in corpse pose (as in photo of boy ).

To begin:

You can do the Preparation first or begin here:

Lie on back. Stretch legs out, then, flex knees with soles of feet firmly planted on floor. Rest arms alongside of body on floor (as in the photo with flexed knees).

Press lower spine below waist to floor or firm surface.

Bending the knees allows this position.

Allow upper back to remain relaxed.

Holding this position, take a deep breath and slowly release it.

Then breathe in your natural rhythmic pattern.

Part 2.

Contract (suck in) abdominal muscles while pressing the lower back into the floor.
Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: photo credit Stan Schaap; back strengthening
Hold position a few seconds, then relax muscles for a few seconds.

Breathe in while contracting abdominal muscles and breathe out when relaxing.

Repeat entire sequence.

 

Article by Susan Helene Kramer

46.                     Develop Flexibility for Sitting Meditation


Keep an introspective attitude while practicing poses; move smoothly and gently. Remember that the point of these poses is to help prepare your body for a comfortable sitting meditation. Do not strain or over-exert yourself. These poses are for kids and adults, as shown in the photos.

Curled Leaf Pose

This pose is for developing hip and back flexibility.

Begin by sitting on floor, back straight, eyes looking forward, knees bent, and falling gently to the side in line with the shoulders.

Soles of feet are pressed together and pulled close to body.

Take a deep breath and slowly release it, then breathe in your natural rhythmic pattern during the pose.

Holding ankles with hands, gently round back, and let head fall towards lap.

Let the weight of body and gravity stretch the spine.

Hold position for one minute or as long as comfortable.

Gently return to upright position by unfolding from base of spine to top of head, eyes looking forward again.

Straight Leaf Pose

This pose is for developing hip flexibility and balance.
Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: photo credit S. Schaap; straight leaf pose
Begin by sitting on floor, back straight, eyes looking forward, knees bent and falling gently to the side in line with the shoulders.

Soles of feet are pressed together and pulled close to body.

Take in a deep breath and slowly release it, then breathe in your natural rhythmic pattern during the pose.

Holding ankles with hands, slowly look upward, straightening back from the lower end to the top.

Hold position for one minute or as long as comfortable.

Gently return to looking forward.

 

Meditation Article by Susan Helene Kramer

47.                     Sit on a Chair to Meditate If Joints Are Stiff


One way to meditate is by sitting on a chair. Following, I describe some simple ways to make this meditation position more comfortable, while maintaining a steady upright posture:
Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: photo credit S. Schaap; meditation while sitting on a chair
Sit on a chair that is the right height to plant the soles of your feet firmly on the floor, to maintain balance when your eyes are closed or relaxed.

Place a small cushion at your lower back, so rather than leaning on the chair backrest you are propped up against the pillow. This allows you to keep your upper back free to stretch up, rather than slump.

Rest your lower arms on the top front of your thighs next to your body. This allows you the choice of using a rosary or mala, or folding your hands together. In this photo I am using a 108 bead mala to repeat my mantra.

Note that even though my eyes are closed I am not letting my head fall forward and cut off the free flow of my in and out breaths.

Keep up your even breathing throughout your meditation in a pattern such as one count to breathe in, and one count to breathe out. Do not hold your breath at any time.

Even rhythmic breathing can calm your emotions. By concentrating on a regular pattern you are distracting your mind from negative or troublesome thoughts. When your mind is calmed down, you may find that creative solutions flow up to your consciousness. This is one of the benefits of meditation practice.

After some time your body may feel like it is floating in water. Enjoy this freedom of physical sensation. For me, I feel the physical dissolve below my neck. I use this time to generate thoughts of peace and love and stretch my feelings of joy out to the world.

When you are ready to end your meditation session take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Open your eyes. Take time to write any new thoughts in your meditation journal for further review. Feeling refreshed, go on with your day.

In summary, sitting on a chair and using a pillow for lower back support is a way to meditate, particularly if your joints are too stiff to fold your legs in while sitting on a cushion on the floor.

You are not a failure at meditation by using this method. Remember my story about my great aunt, Sister Mary Rita, of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart. She was sitting on a church pew in morning meditation when she passed on.

 

Meditation by Susan Helene Kramer; photo credit of author by Stan Schaap

 

48.                     Spiritual Power Points in Ojai

The Ojai Valley holds several spiritually uplifting sights worth visiting. The smell of sage permeates the air and reminds me that there are points on our planet that uplift and give a boost to making meditation a daily living experience.
Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: downtown Ojai; photo credit Stan Schaap
The Krotona Institute of Theosophy is at 2 Krotona Road which is just south of the eleven mile inland city of Ojai. It is across from the Ojai Valley Inn Golf Course off N. Ventura Avenue. I had a magical experience in discovering this glorious place. I came upon the complex by seeing the small entrance sign on the main road into town. It is situated on a small hill with parking and lovely grounds. I bought several volumes at their bookstore, then visited the main house and toured the library rooms with a docent. The public are invited and welcome to visit Tuesday through Friday 10:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M., and Saturday and Sunday 1:00 - 5:00 P.M.

The Krishnamurti Library is a lovely homelike structure just 4 miles past Ojai at 1098 McAndrew Road. My husband and I discovered it on one of our trips to Meditation Mount. We sat in the circular rose garden out front and enjoyed the smells from the citrus orchards permeating the air. The atmosphere was so peaceful that we easily slipped into deep meditations. The visiting hours are Thursday and Friday 1-5 P.M., and Saturday and Sunday 10 A.M. - 5 P.M.

To reach Meditation Mount drive east through Ojai and turn left at Bocalli's Restaurant onto Reeves Road. Follow this road even after it turns to a dirt and gravel path to 10340 Reeves Rd. Wind your way up the little foothill that is the Mount and park at the crest. Meditation Mount is open 10 A.M. to sunset. Once again, like the other places in this article, it is a day retreat site with a large glassed meeting room and a chapel. Outside are walking trails and fantastic views of the surrounding hills and mountains. Every time I've visited I've sat on one of the outdoor benches and imbibed the qualities of warm winds, bird calls, open expanse of sky that only can be seen from a high perch, as the mount is. I've made time to visit there often and highly recommend it. Out of the three places described in this article it is my favorite.

None of these destinations serve meals but there are a variety of restaurants in downtown Ojai. Ventura City, on the Pacific Ocean, is just eleven miles to the south for overnight accomodations. And it is an easy day trip from Santa Barbara.

Article by Susan Helene Kramer; photo of downtown Ojai, California, by Stan Schaap. The main street, running through town, holds its own charms with small restaurants, shops, and an eclectic mix of locals and visitors strolling by.

 

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Copyright 2011―2014 Susan Helene Kramer

Photo at top of page is a ceiling in Le Louvre, Paris, France; photo credit S.H. Kramer

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