Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

February 17, 2014

Learning about "Object" Meditation

To learn a simple form of "object meditation" provide each student with an acorn. Lead a simple meditation on the acorn using the following script.

A good way to begin to learn about meditation is to practice a very simple form of meditation using a common object from nature. I've chosen an acorn, but you can also meditate on grass, leaves, flowers, stones, small shells, twigs, seed pods, pine cones, or small vegetables. Another preliminary step is to find a place with a minimum of distractions. Your desk will have to do. Nevertheless, take everything else off the table. Assume a comfortable position. Inhale and exhale slowly, being aware of the air coming in and going out. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you. Be at peace, quiet, and still.

The first step in a simple meditation is to observe carefully the object you have chosen. In this stage you are like a scientist who wants to know everything there is to know about the object. Hold the acorn in your hand. Notice its colors, its form, its shape. Put it to your lips. Smell it. Feel its texture next to your cheek. Place it by your ear. Touch your tongue to it. Try to capture the feeling a child would have for the first time. Learn all you can about it. (Spend about three to five minutes on this step of the meditation.)

The second step of a simple meditation is to reflect. Ask yourself the question, "What does this mean?" Make full use of your imagination in this phase of the meditation. Close your eyes. Ask the acorn what it is saying to you. You might think of the tall oak tree that dropped it to the ground. Or perhaps you will picture its being taken away by a squirreled away to provide a nutritious meal for some small animal during the winter. Or you could see the little oak taking root and gradually growing into a tall sturdy tree. Perhaps you can feel the power and mystery hidden in the small acorn you are holding. It is a little time bomb of potential life which, if properly planted and nourished, will unleash tremendous power. Perhaps you will imagine the thousands of acorns that could come from this one little acorn, the other trees they might create, the shade these trees will give, the safety their branches will provide for the birds, and so on. What it is that is so special about this wonderful object that God made? (Spend another three to five minutes on this step.)

Meditation is a way to listen to God, a third step. So far you haven't even consciously thought of God. Now, in this step you turn to see what God might be telling you about this wonderful, small creation. Think back to what you observed and what the acorn might be saying to you. Select a couple of your observations and see if there is a message there for your own life. Perhaps you were struct by the insight that an acorn is a powerful little bundle of life that can bring forth great growth. You, too, are like that. God has given you gifts that, if nurtured, can bring forth life in other people. Ask the Lord to show you where your gifts are and how you can nourish them. Perhaps you have planted them in bad soil, for example, you are developing a bad habit like cheating that needs to be corrected for you to grow straight and true. If this insight comes to you, you might make a mental note of it and thank God for sharing it with you. (Spend another few minutes listening to what God might be saying to you through the object of your meditation.)

It is usually a good iea to make some kind of resolution as you conclude the meditation. You might recite a prayer thanking God for any insights you were given. Maybe you can thank God for helping you to realize what great potential you have to do God's work in the world. Or you might praise God for the beautiful created things that have been made for your enjoyment, like the stately trees which many take for granted. Or if you found that your meditation revealed a bad habit like cheating, you might promise the Lord that on your next test you will be honest no matter what the cost. By resolving to do something with your meditation, you will be better able to relate it to your everyday life. (Allow two or three minutes for the conclusion of this stage of the meditation.)

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