Values are an expression of our heart’s deepest desires, and describe how we want to behave in our lives, and what we want to do. Values are not goals, they are about ongoing action, how we want to act and what we want to keep doing for the rest of our lives. Values are about what you want to do, now and what you want to feel.
In the following meditation you will asked to reflect upon a series of questions related to values as they emerge in different parts of your lives such as in relationships, academic and work environments, family, leisure, and so on. You can chose to do this meditation in a similar way to the previous weeks in a seated position with your eyes closed or you may like to actively include journaling and writing your ideas down as part of the exercise upon reflection on each of the questions.
“Warm up” Preliminary Practice: POSTURE, BREATH
Let’s begin with a mindful centering practice to fully arrive to this space.
First, notice your body posture at this moment and begin to make adjustments to sit in an upright position that would allow you to pay attention fully in the next few moments.
You can let go of anything you may be holding. Bring your feet flat on the floor, back straight but not stiff, shoulders relaxed, facial muscles relaxed, and hands resting comfortably on your thighs or in your lap. Let your eyes gently close.
To begin, let’s take a few deep breaths as an invitation to bring the mind and body together. Take a deep breath through your nose, and let the breath come out through your mouth. Make the exhale slow and long. Let’s do this two or three more times. Watch the body release as you exhale slow and long.
Now let your breath move at its own pace and just pay attention to the flow of the breath in and out. Just notice the sensations of breathing.
First, bring your attention to your physical body and notice any sensations.
How is your body feeling right now?
Now, bring your attention to your mind and see what thoughts are there. When you notice a thought, just label it as “thinking”.
Then, begin to notice any emotions in the body and mind. When you notice any sensations, just label them as “feeling”.
Remember that whatever you notice, you can allow these sensations to be there without having to change them, push them away, or hold on to them. And when your mind wanders, just bring yourself back with gentleness.
Now let’s begin to move into an exercise to help you clearly identify your core values. Remember you can do this exercise purely as a guided meditation or you can grab a pen and paper and write down your ideas after you have contemplated the question.
Can you recall a moment where you felt totally yourself? A peak moment of life when you were in your element, when everything just felt… aligned? A moment when you felt happy and fulfilled? Take some time to recall this peak moment in detail.
Now think about what values were being expressed and felt in that moment. What was important to you about this moment that made it so special?
Here are just some possible examples to help you recognize your own values alive in that experience:
-Love and connection
-Working with people to help them suffer less and be happier
-Being open, vulnerable and authentic
-Feelings of courage and strength
-Vitality – a deep sense of aliveness and well-being
-Feelings of freedom and peace
You can either continue to contemplate this experience with your eyes closed or jot your ideas down on a piece of paper.
Now keeping in mind these values you just identified emerging from a peak experience bring to mind now your relationships with your family, friends, partner, etc... Think about how you want to behave in those relationships and if those same values are present in those interactions or are there others? What personal qualities do you want to bring into these relationships?
Either continue to contemplate with your eyes closed or open your eyes and jot down your ideas on a piece of paper.
Now shift gears and bring to mind the major/career/course that you really want and why it is important to you. What kinds of skills or knowledge do you want to develop? What personal qualities do you want to bring to that work?
Do you find any crossover in values and what you think is important in your relationships and what emerged out of thinking about your peak life experience?
You can either continue to contemplate with your eyes closed or open your eyes and jot down your ideas on a piece of paper.
Now start to think about how do you want to have fun in ways that are healthy and life-enhancing? What activities would you like to do more of? What groups would you like to join? Lifestyle changes you’d like to make?
Now reflect on your values that are embedded in these various activities. Are these values the same or different from that have already emerged from your previous reflections?
Either continue this reflection with your eyes closed or jot down your ideas on a piece of paper.
Now reflect on your answers to the previous questions and the values that emerged from them. Which of these values do you feel is close to how you behave already? Which of these might you be neglecting? Which do you want to start working on right away? And which values are most important to you?
Continue for the next several moments to reflect on these questions either with your eyes closed or open your eyes and jot down your ideas on a piece of paper.
Now to conclude our practice take a moment to reflect on the web of interdependence that we find ourselves in everyday of our lives. Reflect on how expression of your values has a kind of ripple effect on the whole web and vice versa-how you are affected by other people’s expression of values.
Take a moment to allow the feeling of appreciation to arise for the manifestation of other people's’ values in the world and the positive impact they have on your own life and others. In that same light reflect on how others benefit from the manifestation of your values in your daily actions and interactions with others.
Take a moment to contemplate the areas in your life that you identified earlier where your actual actions and values did not entirely align. Allow a sense of forgiveness and acceptance to emerge regarding these past actions and set an intention now to find ways to better align your intentions and values with your actual actions and behavior.
Now return to your awareness of your breath and your body in this moment. Slowly begin to bring some movement into your fingers and toes, bring some movement into the whole body, stretching gently, and then allow the eyes to open when you’re ready. Take your time.