Essential Practices

Singing Stones- Community of Mindful Living-Essential Practices

“Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present.   It is the continuous practice of touching deeply in every moment.  Practicing mindfulness does not require that we go anywhere different.  We can do very much the same things we always do – walking, sitting, working, eating, and talking – except we do them with an awareness of what we are doing.”  To be mindful is be really alive, fully aware of your body and mind and of our surroundings in the present moment. Moving more slowly and calmly allows us to give more time and attention to ourselves and to life.

Every day and every hour, one should practice mindfulness," says Thich Nhat Hanh. "That's easy to say, but to carry it out in practice is not. That's why I suggest... that each person should try hard to reserve one day out of the week to devote entirely to their practice of mindfulness."

Mindful Breathing-Taking Refuge.  Our breathing is the solid, stable ground in which we can take refuge. Regarding of our internal weather-our thoughts, emotions and perceptions, our breathing is always with us as a faithful friend. Whenever we feel overwhelmed, carried away, or sunk in deep emotions, scattered in worries or projects, we return to our breathing to collect and anchor our mind... Mindful breathing is the key to uniting body and mind and bringing the energy of mindfulness into each moment of our daily life
Bells of Mindfulness-Stopping,   In the meditation group the bell is an invitation to mindfulness. When we hear it we relax our body and mind, becoming aware of our breathing.  This is the practice of stopping; we stop talking, moving and thinking and go back to our breathing, naturally and with ease. In our daily routine, it can be the sound of the telephone, a sound of a car horn or siren. Church bells, the cry of a child Listen, listen. This wonderful sound brings me back to my true home.
With three mindful breaths we can return to a cool and clear state of being.
Sitting Meditation- Stillness Sitting meditation is returning home to give full attention to care for ourselves. In sitting we can radiate peace and stability. We sit upright with serenity, giving full attention to our breathing. We are able to maintain a relaxed and upright position when our posture is stable. We bring our full attention to what is within an around us. We open the spaces of our mind and allow our heart to become soft and kind. Sitting meditation is healing. We can just be with whatever is within us-our pain, anger or resentment, or our joy, love and peace. We observe the thoughts and images of our minds with acceptance, love and compassion...
Silent Meal-Gratitude. This is a great happiness which we sometimes forget. When we take time to sit and enjoy every morsel of are food, we know we are very fortunate to be nourished and embraced by the whole universe. Reflection upon the Five Contemplations assists us in strengthening our gratitude.
This food is the gift of the whole Universe earth, the sky, numerous living beings and much hand and loving work May we eat in mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive it
. May we recognize and transform our unskillful states of mind and learn to eat in moderation May we take only foods that keep us healthy
We accept this food to realize the path of understanding and love

Upon finishing our meal we take a few moments to be aware that we have finished, our plate is now empty, and our hunger is satisfied. Gratitude nurtures us as we maintain awareness of how fortunate we are to have had this food to eat, supporting us on the path of love and understanding.

Receiving Teachings-Nourishing and letting go. Listening deeply we do not engage our intellect while listening. We empty our mind of thoughts, ideas, perceptions, agreements, disagreements, comparisons so that we can allow the rain to water our deep inner soils and seeds, allowing the soil and seeds of our inner consciousness to its work
Walking meditation- arriving It has been said that the miracle is not to walk on water or on burning coals but to walk on the Earth. Every step is on the land of reality. With each step, we arrive in the here and now, becoming solid and free. Whether walking outside, in our home or in a meditation center, we coordinate our steps and breathing as we walk... Three steps with each in breath and three steps with each out breath. Just as in sitting meditation, while walking, we allow our breathing to be natural, not forcing it. We are aware of the contact between our feet and the earth. From time to time, we may stop to enjoy and be nourished by Nature. Look around and see how vast life is, the trees, the white clouds, and the limitless sky. Listen to the birds. Feel the Fresh breeze. Life is all around us. We are aware that we are alive, healthy and capable of walking in peace.
Teaching Discussion –Collective Wisdom Discussions or sharing are opportunities to learn from one another our experience of the practice. It is an opportunity for us to share concretely things that are truly in our heart. We also practice listening deeply with respect to others, without judging, reacting or advice, and by maintaining awareness of our breathing and feeling. Listening deeply and sharing mindfully enables us to touch the richness in ourselves and others and to develop understanding and compassion.
Noble Silence-Healing Silence is essential for deep transformation. It allows the practice of conscious breathing to become deep and effective. Like still water that reflects things as they are the calming silence helps us to see things more clearly, and therefore to be in deeper contact with ourselves and those around us. Times of Noble Silence can be observed on retreat or even at other times in your daily routine... Turning off the phone, Television. Get creative at claiming and practicing Noble silence for your healing time.
Taking refuge in the Sangha-Being together (the community of mindful practice) Being with the Community can heal our feeling of isolation and separation... we practice together, share a room together, share food together. The community is a garden, full of many varieties of three and flower. One flower may bloom early in the spring while another flower may bloom in the late summer. One tree may bear much fruit while another tree may off cool shade. No one plant is greater, lesser than, or the same as any other plant in the garden. Each member of the Community also has unique gifts to offer to the community. We each have areas that need the attention of watering and nourishing. When we can appreciate each member’s contribution and see our edges as potential for growth, we can learn to live in peace and harmony, empowering each other by our love and compassion. There is healing and transforming  power in being present together.