This Masonic contemplation series focuses on simple exercises we can incorporate to make use of our time in different circumstances, in different environments, to further strengthen our minds and sharpen our focus. Mindfulness and reaching an altered state of consciousness are different concepts, but both are useful and can be combined during a meditative session. Let’s explore a scenario and put some context around it.
Mindfulness exercises can be as simple as setting a timer and focusing on some activity, or simply focusing on one single activity through completion. Accessing the altered state of consciousness is more difficult at first, but becomes easier with practice. Advanced practitioners reach a point where it becomes easy to tune into the body (body awareness) and find that deeper relaxation through even a few breaths or moments of concentration. As Masons, you learned the most valuable lesson is Prayer, and applying that lesson now is suggested.
Very noisy environments
As we look at different environments for contemplative practice, we can practice our concentration skills by focusing inwardly in noisy environments. I tend to caution against construction zones as jack hammers and heavy equipment often have a jarring effect unless you are around construction often. I do recommend auto repair shops, street cafes, and so many other options open to you.
As a mindfulness exercise, lets sit silently and let our attention come to the feeling of simply sitting silently in the midst of all the noise. What does your skin feel with the weight of the clothes you’re wearing? Please don’t tell me if you aren’t wearing any clothes in a public or noisy environment. What other sensations do you experience through your senses? What is happening around you in that exact moment?
As a contemplative exercise, either close your eyes or focus on one thing directly in front of you such as a tree or street sign, and take 4 long, deep breaths. The first breath is to allow you to better focus on the next three breaths. Contemplative work is often done while in a sitting or relaxed pose, but any sitting position can work so long as it is marginally comfortable. People who sit in a zazen pose will argue with me, as zazen is never fully comfortable, but I argue back that’s the point of zazen is to get past that discomfort. For the contemplative exercise, focus on gravity pulling you into your chair with each breath. Feel the effect on your bones as they feel heavy inside your body. When you feel the heaviness and connect with the deeper consciousness, continue focusing on tuning out what’s around you and redirect your inner attention back to the relaxation and deeper consciousness for 9 to 27 more breaths.
A couple of minutes each day can make a difference, so why not incorporate quick, simple exercises into your daily routines?
Randy and his wife Elyana live near St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Randy earned a Bachelors Degree in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry, and he works in Telecom IT management. He volunteers as a professional and personal mentor, NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer and enjoys competitive tactical pistol, rifle, and shotgun. He has 30 plus years teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and healing arts. Randy served as a Logistics Section Chief on two different United States federal Disaster Medical Assistance Teams over a 12 year span. Randy is a 32nd degree KCCH and Knight Templar. His Masonic bio includes past Lodge Education Officer for two symbolic lodges, Founder of the Wentzville Lodge Book Club, member of the Grand Lodge of Missouri Education Committee, Sovereign Master of the E. F. Coonrod AMD Council No. 493, Co-Librarian of the Scottish Rite Valley of St. Louis, Clerk for the Academy of Reflection through the Valley of Guthrie, and a Facilitator for the Masonic Legacy Society. Randy is a founding administrator for Refracted Light, full contributor to Midnight Freemasons, and an international presenter on esoteric topics. Randy hosts an open ongoing weekly Masonic virtual Happy Hour on Friday evenings. Randy is an accomplished home chef, a certified barbecue judge, raises Great Pyrenees dogs, and enjoys travel and philosophy.