Labyrinth Walking

Len, Willa, and I are currently in Big Sky Country—Montana. One of our stops is Redsun Labyrinth, located near the spectacular Bitterroot Mountains outside Victor, Montana.

Labyrinth walking is an ancient practice used by many spiritual traditions for the purpose of centering, contemplation, and prayer. 

Contrary to popular belief, a labyrinth isn’t a maze. It has one path to the center and back—that path is a unicursal (meaning one line). A labyrinth doesn’t have blind alleys or dead ends. The path twists and turns back on itself many times before reaching the center. Once the center is reached, there’s only one way back out—the same way one arrives.

A labyrinth symbolizes a journey to a predetermined destination (such as a pilgrimage to a holy site), or the journey through life from birth to death.

A labyrinth walk is done slowly, with deliberate and thoughtful steps. Many times a person begins a labyrinth walk with a prayer or spiritual question to contemplate during their journey to the center. 

When the center is reached, the person pauses to reflect, pray, and listen for an answer, or for an even deeper revelation. On the return journey, the person continues to pray and reflect. Most people find labyrinth walking to be a calm and clarifying experience. 

Even if the walk isn’t tied to anything spiritual in nature, the slow, intentional walk is a quiet place on a set path with a level of focus that’s hard to come by elsewhere. 

Due to travel, I’ve turned comments off this week. If I were here, though, this week’s internal inventory question would be: 

What question or prayer would you contemplate on a labyrinth walk? Click To Tweet

“What question or prayer would you contemplate on a labyrinth walk?”

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

Peace Meditation

I just returned from St. Paul, MN, where I had the pleasure of speaking with the Board of World Citizen (a nonprofit organization for everyone who values a safe and respectful world) about peace.

With that event fresh in my mind, I thought, “This is a great time to share my peace meditation.” 

I use a mala. If you’re not familiar, think of it as a Buddhist rosary. Typically a mala has 108 beads, plus the “Guru” bead (usually a bit larger) to indicate the place to begin and end. 

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My mantra is:
“Peace within. Peace without. Peace in me. Peace in the world.” 

Here’s How It’s Done
Starting at the bead on one side of the “Guru” bead, I hold the mala bead between my thumb and middle finger. While holding that bead I: 

Inhale and mentally say — “Peace within.”
Exhale and mentally say — “Peace without.”
Inhale and mentally say — “Peace in me.”
Exhale and mentally — “Peace in the world.”

With this mantra, each bead takes two full breath cycles. After I finish a bead, I move to the next one.

When I make it all the way around and reach the Guru bead, I know that I’ve completed 108 repetitions. If I’m going to continue, I turn the mala around and go back the way I came. 

Do you have a peace practice? Click To Tweet

Do you have a peace practice?

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

The Gift of Tonglen

At times we may feel small, insignificant, and unable to help when people are suffering, or there’s a catastrophe in another part of the world. But there is something we can do.

Tonglen—Tibetan for giving and receiving—is an active practice of loving-kindness; a simple act of compassion that anyone can do. Here’s how it’s done:

  • Sit or lie quietly in your own “inner sanctuary” and imagine someone that you want to help.
  • Inhale the heaviness of their energy. Breathe in the condition, emotion, or suffering of another to make space for healing and comfort within.
  • Exhale whatever you feel will fill them relief. Breathe out hope, strength, joy, peace of mind, love, or ease.

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I took this photograph at the Boise Botanical Garden. In my mind’s eye, this is how I imagine my inner sanctuary.

Tonglen is a soothing and calming meditation that can be done by people of any spiritual tradition, or none at all. It’s a simple, non-denominational practice that acknowledges we’re all connected no matter who we are, or where we come from.

“There is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there’s a seamlessness in you, and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you, and I think the intention of prayer and spirituality and love is now and again to visit that inner kind of sanctuary.” —John O’Donohue

What does your inner sanctuary look like?

© Laurie Buchanan

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Can You Hear Me Now?

This post is coming to you “live” from the road as we journey 1,700 miles — white knuckled through a torrential downpour — toward our destination in the Pacific Northwest.

The landscape is dotted with cell towers. These tall structures house antennas, transmitters, receivers — a myriad of electronic equipment — that support cell phones, computers, GPS systems, and other technological advancements.

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With a strong signal, our electronics maintain contact with the mother ship’s energy (so to speak) on a consistent basis.

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Personally, I enjoy sustained contact with source energy — divinity. Because I prefer a strong uninterrupted signal, it requires regular maintenance on my end of things.

When was the last time you “phoned home?”

© Laurie Buchanan 2014

Find me on Twitter @HolEssence
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Recharging the Tiger in Your Tank

Recently I received a portable, external power source for my cell phone. Now if I run low on juice and there’s no electricity to tap into — or we have another 3-day power outage like last year — then I simply plug into the source and recharge my phone’s battery.

Mentally — many of us recharge by doing crossword puzzles, using a game App like Dots, play chess, or exercise our brains online with programs like Lumosity or Happify.

Spiritually — many of us recharge in the sanctuary of nature, in a brick-and-mortar house of worship, or we meditate/pray in the comfort of our own home, or wherever we happen to be.

Physically — many of us recharge our bodies with a healthy combination of exercise and being mindful of the foods we use to fuel it.

Body, mind, or spirit — what’s your favorite method of “plugging in” and recharging?

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are  choosing.” — Laurie Buchanan

The Book — Discovering the Seven Selves
The Experience — Life Harmony

© Laurie Buchanan 2014

Find me on Twitter @HolEssence
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Zipped in the Pod!

Zipped in the Pod by Laurie Buchanan

Zipped in the Pod by Laurie Buchanan

Green is my favorite color. I associate it with sacred space—space for transformation to occur; space to find a new direction. When people ask me to pray for them or their loved ones, I explain that I’d be happy to hold HeartLight—sacred space—for them.

When was the last time you were zipped in the pod? Click To Tweet

The visualization I use is a sugar snap pea. In my mind’s eye, I unzip the pod, scoop out the peas, and place the person inside. Carefully, I re-zip the pod and envision it as a “station,” somewhat like an incubator, of vivid green, pulsing with vital energy that’s working for the person’s highest and best good—body, mind, and spirit.

When was the last time you were zipped in the pod?

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

Collect Call for God

Call Box by Laurie Buchanan

Call Box by Laurie Buchanan

Regardless of the religious tradition or spiritual path, at least one basic ingredient is shared; prayer and/or meditation. I’m often asked if prayer and meditation are the same things. In my experience, they’re similar, yet different. I think of prayer as talking with Divine Love and meditation as listening to Divine Love. Most of us have the talking part down pat. Many of us struggle with the listening part. As one of my clients says, “Even though it’s simple, it’s not always easy.” Simple and easy aren’t the same. Simplicity is efficiency, a clearing of clutter—mental or otherwise; while easy is uncomplicated and trouble-free.

Whether we pray out loud or speak from the quietness of our mind, our words and thoughts are things—they have a vibration—which means they’re powerful. In her book The Dynamic Laws of Prayer, Catherine Ponder wrote, “When you pray, you stir into action an atomic force. You release a potent spiritual vibration that can be released in no other way. Through prayer, you unleash a God energy within and around you that gets busy working for you and through you.”

(Photo was taken with self-timer in Ardnamurchan, Scotland)

 

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

Tonglen

Tonglen by Len Buchanan

Tonglen by Len Buchanan

Tonglen is an active practice of loving-kindness; a breathing meditation of sending and taking. Performed by Tibetan Buddhists and other spiritual traditions, Tonglen is a positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing way to care for other people. The heart of this practice is compassion; to breathe in another person’s pain—physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual—and breathe out strength, joy, and peace of mind; whatever gives relief.

Tonglen can be done for people individually—a person who is ill, fearful, in sorrow, or in pain. Or it can be done for people collectively—people in a geographic area that has been struck by a natural disaster such as tornado, earthquake, flood, or famine. Tonglen can be done anywhere, anytime. It can be formal like you see me doing in the photograph, or it can be done while you’re driving, or in bed.

Tonglen — the active practice of lovingkindness. Here's how it's done. Click To Tweet

When the Dalai Lama was touring the United States, he recommended the practice of Tonglen. He made it very simple. “Tonglen is giving and taking. As you inhale, take on the suffering of others. As you exhale, give out to them all your gifts, virtues, and positive qualities.”

He suggests beginning the practice with equalizing, which means, “To realize that each and every sentient being wants happiness and does not want suffering, just like you.”

With that in mind, he imagines that this practice actually reduces suffering in the world, but he says that “Whether this meditation really helps others or not, it gives me peace of mind. Then I can be more effective, and the benefit is immense.”

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

Sacred Space

Sacred Space by Laurie Buchanan

Sacred Space by Laurie Buchanan

When someone asks me to pray for them I agree to hold HeartLight—sacred space. This past weekend we created sacred space at my healing studio, HolEssence. What then is sacred space? To me it can be a literal place, a heart/mind location, or time that is sanctified—set aside for a divine purpose.

Where is your sacred space? Click To Tweet

Sacred space is self-defined and different for each person. It can be something we create by intent such a room in our home or an outdoor labyrinth. Or, it can be something that already exists like a “cathedral” of trees or stones we find in nature. Be it a place, a mindset, or stillness of time, sacred space is anywhere we meet with Divine Love.

Where is your sacred space?

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com