Let’s begin with a mindful centering practice to fully settle into this space with each other.
First, notice your body posture at this moment and begin to make adjustments to sit in an upright position that allows you to pay attention fully in the next few moments.
You can let go of anything you may be holding onto. 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 close.
Often it happens that our body is here but our mind is wandering somewhere else. The intention of mindful centering is to bring our mind back to the body and to the present moment.
To do that, let’s take a few deep breaths as an invitation for the mind and body to come together. Experience a deep breath through your nose, and let the breath come out through your mouth. Make the exhalation slow and long. Let’s do this two or three more times. Watch the body relax as you exhale slow and long.
Now let your breath move at its own pace and depth - slow or fast, shallow or deep - and just pay attention to the flow of the breath in and out. Just notice the sensations of breathing.
As you do this you may notice that your mind starts to wander. You may start thinking about other things. If this happens, it’s not a problem, but is instead quite natural. Just notice what took your attention away without any judgement. Then simply let it go and redirect your attention back to the breathing.
Now, let’s explore what is happening in our body and mind.
First, let your awareness be attentive to your physical body and see what sensations you can notice.
Now, let your awareness be attentive to your mind and see what thoughts are there. When you notice a thought, just label it as “thinking”.
Now, begin to notice any emotions in the body. When you notice any emotional sensations, just label them as “feeling”.
Remember that the purpose is not to make any judgements about what or how much can you notice. The purpose is simply to notice what is happening inside of us.
Now we will begin to explore and reflect upon in more depth our connection with the world around us starting with our breath.
Breath directly connects us with the natural world around us, such as the trees, plants, oceans, and sky. Through the process of breathing, we are constantly in a giving and receiving relationship with the external world.
For a few moments, stay focused on your breath, feeling the direct connection in your body with the world around and the constant giving and receiving dynamic between your body and the outer world.
Now we will expand our awareness of our connection with the world around us through the food that we eat everyday to sustain our body and our life.
Bring to mind something that you ate today or yesterday. Recall the taste and the various sensations of eating, maybe even noticing saliva in the mouth start to change as you think about this food.
Begin now to ponder where the food came from:
Bring to mind the people who work in the store, cafeteria, food truck, or dining hall that sold it to you.
How was it prepared? Who cooked it for you? Who bought the ingredients? Imagine the people who harvested the ingredients, planted the seeds.
Notice that by eating that one food item, you’re connected with all the people all over the world who made it possible for you to eat that food.
Take a moment to appreciate the work of every man and woman who was involved in providing food to you so that you can eat nutritious food that sustains your very life.
Now let's continue to reflect more closely on the food you ate today or yesterday.
Bring to mind the seed of grain, fruit, or vegetable that was planted at some point in the past that transformed into the food that you ate. That seed needed a lot of resources to grow before being harvested and presented to you.
It needed the right soil and minerals.
It needed air to nourish the soil.
It needed enough water - not too much, not too little.
It needed sunlight from the sun to support the growth process.
It may have needed various living beings, insects, animals, fish, and so forth to play some key role.
This one particular food item needed all of these conditions in perfect harmony to grow and eventually land in your hands.
Take a moment to appreciate all the different resources of the Earth that had to come together to nourish your body. Appreciate the nutrients you’re receiving to keep your body healthy and strong
Finally, we will continue to expand our awareness of our deep connection with the world around us by bringing to mind all of the people and resources in our lives that have supported our own growth over time.
Imagine all of the people you know and even those that you don’t know directly that have impacted who you are today, such as your ancestors, parents, mentors, teachers, coaches, and friends both in the present and past.
Notice the invisible web of connections made up of an infinite number of people and resources.
Reflect on how we are dependent upon the success of each person contributing in some way to this infinite interdependent web of connections and support systems.
Now, let’s return to your breath and anchor your attention there again.
For a few moments, pay attention to the rise and fall of each breath and the feeling of the breath inside the body.
Let your mind rest in the natural cycle of your breath.
There is no need to do anything right now.
Just rest in the experience of your breath.
To close our practice, let’s bring to mind a sense of gratitude. Take a moment to feel the sense of appreciation for all of the people, living beings, and other dimensions of the outer world that make your life not only possible, but provide the necessary conditions for your growth, happiness, and flourishing.
Now, slowly let movement return into your fingers and toes, then the whole body, stretching gently, and then allow the eyes to open when you’re ready. Take your time.