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.
As we look at different environments for contemplative practice, how can we not look at the outdoors, or a park like setting, for both mindfulness and accessing the altered consciousness. Any nature walk, visit to a botanical garden, zoo, park, trail, or even your own backyard gives access to a simple connection with nature.
As a mindfulness exercise, lets walk with purpose and attention. Slow your pace, slow it more. Now feel the bottoms of your feet as they walk, heel-to-toe. What does the sock feel like against your skin? Or maybe we are barefoot, and we can feel the grass against the soles of our feet and toes? What do the muscles feel like in the ankle, the lower leg, the knee, and the upper legs?
As a contemplative exercise, either close your eyes or focus on one thing directly in front of you such as a tree, 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. When you consider Chi Kung, Tai Chi or other martial arts, or even some Yoga practices, standing and walking also become a contemplative practice method. Taking the mindfulness exercise above, we build upon that exercise and focus on any object ahead of you on the trail as you walk. If you are standing or sitting, do the same but with a tree or bush in front of you. Stretch the breaths to 60 or maybe 90, and let the relaxation of the breathing take you into a deep relaxed state.
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.