This is a foundational awareness practice designed to help bring about three key insights: clarity of intention; understanding of our power, presence, and impact; and opportunities for wise action-taking. If we take a moment to consider how complex, volatile, and uncertain current societal conditions are, as well as the spectrum of emotions we are feeling individually and collectively, it is easy to feel a sense of overwhelm and confusion about how to engage with the world from a place of strength, groundedness, and calm.
A Guided Meditation for Turning Awareness into Action
In this practice, we will move through the four stages of human bridge-building. We’ll explore how we show up in each of the four transformation quadrants of self, family, community, and organizations. The breath we focus on is the normal flow of the in-and-out breath, allowing it to rest in its natural rhythm and cadence, as we meet what arises with self-compassion and curiosity.
A 12-Minute Meditation for Turning Awareness into Action by Michelle Maldonado
1. To begin, silently set an intention for yourself to be open and curious about what comes up, receiving what arises with equanimity. You may sit or stand comfortably, just allowing whichever position you choose to let you feel both alert and relaxed. Feel free to close your eyes or cast them in a softened downward gaze.
2. Next, let’s take three deep breaths in and out. Allowing your awareness to settle…your body to settle…and your breath to settle into its natural rhythm. Breathing in and out as we explore how we can build bridges with others to serve as agents of transformation.
3. First, let us bring our attention to our heart space by gently placing a hand over the heart, allowing it to simply rest there. Placing a hand over the heart can often bring us comfort when we explore difficult thoughts, emotions, or experiences.
4. Next, see what you notice: perhaps the weight of your palm against your chest, or a temperature difference in the space underneath your palm, or maybe even the sensation of each heart beat as you expand your awareness. Taking it all in with a gentle inhale and exhale.
5. Over the next few moments, I invite you to consider these three things:
- How did I show up in the world today?
- How did my privilege show up through me?
- What actions can I take to help become more aware of my privilege and its impact on others?
We don’t have to know all the answers. We are simply inviting in reflection and introspection to allow insights and awareness of body and mind to arise. Whatever arises, see if you can meet it with self-compassion and curiosity.
6. Taking three deep breaths in and out, let us bring our attention back to our breath. Allowing the mind and body to let go of the thoughts just reflected on for self-inquiry.
7. Now, let us consider the next quadrant of family. For many, family is where we learned our values, roles, and the lens through which we view life and others. With kindness and curiosity, I invite you to consider what key values you learned from your family and how they might impact your view of people who are not like you. If you like, you may continue to place your hand over your heart or return it to your heart to support you in reflection on ways your family experience has informed how you perceive the world. Focusing on the breath, notice any sensations in your body. Where are they? What do they feel like? If, at any time, this reflection becomes too difficult, please feel free to open your eyes or, if needed, pause or stop to honor self-care needs.
8. Bringing your attention back to the sensation of your breath. Perhaps noticing the sound of your breath or the sensation of the whole body breathing as you let go of thoughts and reflections of family. If any difficult emotions remain, you may want to curl, squeeze, and then uncurl and stretch your fingers, allowing any tension to release with each stretch.
9. Let us now turn our attention to community. Coming to awareness of privilege and the role of family in our perceptions of the world, we can now begin to see how we may be navigating the world and the quality of our presence in it…beginning with our communities. Next, let’s consider how we move through our communities.
- With whom do you tend to interact in your community?
- And with whom do you not interact?
- Why?… Go deeper… Why?
10. And now, for these next few moments, consider how you might show up differently in your community.
11. Let’s bring our attention back to our breath as we let go of our thoughts about community. Breathing in and out. In and out.
12. In these last few moments, let us now turn our attention to the organizations in which (or with whom) we work. At this point, we may have gleaned some insights about our privilege, the nature and impact of our presence, and how our families have shaped how we interact with and perceive the world and people around us. Bringing this forward, let’s consider how these factors influence how we show up at work or with clients. See if you can notice where your lens of perception may need broadening or clarity. Is there a specific person or group of people that you hold with judgment and certainty? If so, bring them to mind and see if you can offer loving-kindness to help you shift from judgment and certainty to discernment, kindness, and curiosity.
- What do you notice?
- What do you feel in your body?
- What stories or mental narratives arise when you think of this person or these people?
- What can you do differently to model and create a brave and safe space for all to flourish?
Let us rest here for the next few moments in contemplation.
12. Taking three deep breaths in and out, letting go of thoughts and bringing your attention back to the sensation of your breath. As you close this meditation, I invite you to journal on what came up for you and what action steps you may wish to take.
This practice is based on the four stages of human bridge-building outlined in A Bridge To Better: An Open Letter To Humanity and Resource Guide.