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Video: meditation exercises by Christopher Mcdermott, Lead Chaplain

Revd Chris McDermott, Lead Chaplain for the University of Sussex.

A priority at the moment for all of us is to nurture our capacity for staying grounded.

These meditation exercises provide some practical strategies for sustaining a non-anxious presence amid the pervasive anxiety now weighing heavily on so many people.

More than ever we need to be present for one another.

Taking time and space to hone some inner stillness as a counterpoint to the pull of reactive energy is one small way to help us do that.

6 April 

Sitting with our thoughts

Isolation can be quite a lonely experience in which we are prone to get overwhelmed with our anxious thoughts and worries. This may be especially true if we are living on our own. Dogen, a 13th century Zen master uses the image of ’sky flowers’ - and ancient metaphor for cataracts and eye problems that cause spots to appear. We really see the spots - but they are not actually there.

In this exercise, after an initial grounding of attention in our body and breath, we are invited to observe thoughts passing through the mind, noticing their emotional charges and possibly where we feel those emotions in our body.

By learning to observe our own thoughts - as ’sky flowers’, events in the mind that are not actually real - we nurture a capacity to be with what may at times be uncomfortable thoughts, whether inducing anger, anxiety, worry or fear - in a way that helps us to be responsive rather than reactive in our behaviour in relation to them.

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By: Sean Armstrong
Last updated: Monday, 6 April 2020

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