An Advent Guided Meditation

I wrote this meditation for an Advent Quiet Day for St. David's Episcopal Church in Ashburn, Va, last week. And while it is long, I wish to share it here, for those who would like to embark on a little journey of going inward to experience the quiet and the true gifts of this season.

Enjoy!


Introduction:
Advent is a time for waiting, for preparing, for embodying joy, faith, peace, and love…

Advent is a journey, which invites us to sojourn more deeply within ourselves.

Advent is a time to slow down, to open our hearts to receive the Gift of the Divine in our lives, and to share our own lives with one another, for there is no greater gift that we can give…

Let us take a few moments to settle ourselves – our minds and hearts and body into stillness, that we may open, prepare, and receive the gifts of the season…


Centering:
Begin by making yourself as comfortable as possible, sitting in whatever way will enable you settle most deeply…

If you have to make any adjustments to ensure your comfort, do so at any time, quietly and mindfully…

Try and keep your back as straight as possible. Ancient mystics in many spiritual traditions have indicated that this is very important because it is the position most conducive to deep meditation…

Take a few moments to settle down, letting go of the events of your day so far, and instead take a few deep breaths in, and then gently release them…

And now, simply observe your breaths, as you breath in and out slowly and deeply…

Take a moment to notice the quality of your breath – simply observe your breaths without trying to force them or make them fit into any kind of pattern…

Notice the difference between your in-breath and your out-breath…

Are they about equal in length – or is one shorter than the other? It does not matter… Just simply notice the quality of your breath – does it feel smooth and easy, or do you notice some resistance, or lack of fluidity? Again, it does not matter… Accept your breaths as they are, without any judgment… There is no right or wrong pattern here…

Notice how the breath feels as it enters and leaves your nose…

Is there a sound that it makes as you breathe in – and as you breathe out? Again, just make your observations – without judging it in anyway…

As your breathing deepens, visualize your in-breath and your out-breath as the ebb and flow of the ocean tides…

As you breathe in, visualize your in-breath as an incoming wave enveloping you, surrounding you, and nourishing you – allow yourself to receive everything that you need in this very moment…

As you breathe out, visualize your out-breath as the wave receding, and taking away with it whatever you need to let go of and that no longer serves you – pain, old hurts, long held resentments or pre-conceived notions. All of these are washed away – leaving you feeling cleansed and lighter…

Continue visualizing in this way for a few more cycles, letting whatever arises to be…

PAUSE…

As you breathe in, imagine your breath carrying in peace, and tranquility and everything that energizes your heart, your soul, and your being…

As you breathe out, let go and release all that holds you back – and all that keeps you from being most fully whom you are meant to be – nothing less than a magnificent Child of God…

Now begin to relax your body….

Relax any areas where you are feeling tension…

You can momentarily tense and release your muscles, your hands, legs and feet, and as you release silently say to yourself, “I let go…”

Relax the corners of your mouth and eyes, your scalp – and release the tension in your shoulders and your neck. You do not need to “shoulder” any responsibilities right now…

Visualize the tension as waves of the ocean crashing against a cliff, dissolving and spraying into the air, as thousands of droplets, all part of the one ocean, dispersing to all four corners of the universe…

You are very calm and relaxed…

PAUSE…

Now visualize yourself in a garden…

It is the most beautiful garden you have ever been in…

Perhaps it is a garden you are familiar with – or it is one you are experiencing for the first time…

Take a few moments to notice your surroundings – the beautiful trees, shrubs, the brilliant blue sky, the birds on the trees, and the river nearby, gently flowing…

There is nowhere that you have to be right now or that you would rather be… There are no pressing tasks or deadlines to meet… You have all the time in the world to be here – to be present – to take in every experience that presents itself to you. Give intent to remember whatever you must remember from this experience…

You sit down by a beautiful bench and listen to the river and the birds nearby. Everything is beautiful and peaceful here…

The Spirit of God often comes to us quietly when we the take time to journey within… So listen to what may come to you…

As your heart opens and swells, you are given the gift of clarity, and profound insights come to you…

You feel and deeply experience the Presence of God in His Son, surrounding you, in such a way that he is tangible… You can reach out and perhaps touch him and envision his presence in a way that is profoundly moving and undeniable and in whatever way most speaks to you…

And a question arises in your heart…

How may I best prepare for this season – this season of waiting, of journeying, of becoming, of receiving and of giving of our hearts and souls, and lives deeply to all we encounter, and all those in need...?

The Spirit of God comes to your heart quietly, and speaks to you, inviting you to listen…

So, lean in, and listen…

Listen with all your heart…

Listen with all your soul…

Listen truly, and deeply – with ears that can hear, and inner eyes that can see…
And an open heart that can fully receive all that it needs right now, in this moment…

There is a softness all around that envelops you and bathes you in the light of Divine Presence…

A deep sense of stillness overcomes you…

You are overwhelmed with love and gratitude, and you realize that Advent unfolds here, in this moment, in your heart…

Advent is not about Christmas decorations, or sending cards, or about buying and gifting presents…

Advent is about the true gift – the Gift of God’s Son in our lives – and the gift we give of each other…

Advent can only unfold and be birthed within you…

And you receive this simple message:

Advent unfolds... 

Quietly, deeply...

Advent is a time for waiting and preparing...

It is a time for the cultivation of peace, and faith, and joy, and love...

It is a time for healing...

And a time for renewal...

It is a time to set aside grievances and hurts, and to extend a welcoming hand...

It is a time to embrace, and to let go of all that does not serve...


Advent unfolds...

Surely, and mindfully...

Advent is a time for journeying and contemplating...

It is a time for deepening spiritual practices...

And a time for forgiving...

It is a time for inviting others into the space within our hearts...

And a time to take in and to listen...


Advent unfolds...

Inevitably, and silently...

Advent invites us to take stock of where we are, and where we've been, so…

That we may chart a new course, for where we are going... 

It is a time for starting over...

And for giving birth to all that could be...

And can be...


Advent unfolds...

Day by day...

It is a gift that keeps on giving, and is so meant to be shared...

It invites us to give of ourselves, as Jesus did - 

For the gift of life, is the ultimate gift...


Advent unfolds...

And you, and me, and all of us are birthed anew, once again...

PAUSE…

You receive other quiet messages that are meant for you as well at this time – you drink it all in, imbibing the sweet nectar of the messages and insights received, and you also take the time to express your gratitude for all of them, and for this time you have been given to experience the Presence of the Divine during this Blessed Season of Advent… Take a few moments to listen to deeply and hold all these things in your heart…

PAUSE…

Then the Voice within you, gently lets you know, that it is time for you to leave this garden and return home with a rich and full heart…

You truly know and understand  - the reason for the season…

So you get up from the bench and breathe in the beautiful sites, knowing that this place is always with you – that you carry it within you, and you can return to it any time that you want – over and over again…

All you have to do is be still an instant – close your eyes – and go there…

It is as close to you as your own breath…

The Divine will be there for you always, giving you whatever insights and counsel, and encouragement, and support, and all the love that you will ever need…

You know that you never need to feel alone again…


So slowly, the garden begins to fade but with your knowledge that it is only settling in the background, for you carry it in your heart – it always merely a breath away…


PAUSE…

Begin to deepen your breath…

Visualize the ocean inside of you once again as you breathe in and out – like the ebb and flow of the tides…

Allow yourself to drift back into conscious awareness…


Slowly begin to move your fingers and toes, taking your time, gently opening your eyes when you are ready, feeling refreshed and energize.


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