Welcome Everyone to the 1st day of our Gratitude Practice!
Today, take time to build your Centering Space with any objects that seem intuitively appropriate--these could include any objects from nature, photographs, special books or possessions.
Please add something that was given to you as a gift by someone you love, and express a silent thank you for their support this week.
Take time to find a journal or paper and pen that seems intuitively appropriate for your week of journaling. If you would like to use the computer, please feel free, but make sure this is something you can easily review.
Finally, before sleep, take time to thank yourself for this week of Gratitude Practice. It took much to get you to this point--
Offer loving-kindness (Metta):
May I be well
May I be safe
May I live with ease
May I be free from suffering and the causes of suffering
May I be free
Please feel free to create your own words of loving-kindness, but begin each phrase with "May I...."
Creating a Centering Space (Altar/ Butsudan)
A Centering Space is fun and easy to organize and create. It can be as simple or as grand as you choose, in any part of your living space. If you are able to dedicate a specific area for your meditation and practice where you won't be disturbed, that's great, but not necessary--a quiet corner in your bedroom works just as well.
I have created several mini Centering Spaces throughout my house, and you may find the same applies to your home. Some of these spaces were consciously constructed, others evolved.
Pay attention to how a space feels intuitively and wait to find a space that feels "right". Also, be open to changing spaces as you journey through your practice--you are changing too!
Traditionally, our Centering Space contains various symbolic elements of the Buddha's Teaching.
1 A Central Figure or Centering Object to be used as the meditation object or focal point--this represents our True Self, our Buddha Nature.
2. Incense burner and incense--(sand works well to hold stick incense)--this represents our Mindful living, and our actions and practice that linger long after we are gone.
3. Water bowl--this represents purity, stillness and healing.
4. Candle--the candle represents awakening to the light of the Dharma.
5. Bell--this represents our call to awakening to our True Self/ Buddha Nature.
6. Flowers or greenery--this represents beauty and impermanence.
Facing the Centering Space, place the candle to the right of the Centering Object, the flowers to the left. Incense bowl goes directly in front of the Centering Object, with water bowl to the left. The bell goes in front of the candle.
You may want to also include a box to hold your incense and matches, which can be placed beside the candle.
Opening the Centering Space
1. Approach the Centering Space and bow from the waist in Gassho, palms together at the heart.
2. Light the candle
3. Ring the bell
4. Light a stick of incense from the candle
5. When offering incense, we trace 3 circle in front of the Centering Object, honoring the Triratna or Triple Gen of Buddha, Dharma (teachings), Sangha (dharma community). We touch the bottom of the incense stick to the forehead, acknowledging symbolically our desire to awaken to freedom and wholeness.
6. Make a spiral in the sand with the bottom of the incense stick as you place it in the incense holder.
7. Bow again at the Centering Space
8. Before beginning your meditation, facing your chair or cushion, bow once again.
9. After your meditaion, again bow to your chair or cushion.
Closing the Centering Space
1. Once again, with hands in Gassho, bow at the Centering Space.
2. If the incense is still burning, let it completely burn to ash.
3. Extinguish the candle
4. Bow in Gassho