Day 20 of the Feast
Dear One,

Three decades ago I was being trained to pay attention. I was in basic training in the U.S. Army, and when a superior would call us to attention, I’d stop what I was doing—whether polishing my boots or walking to the mess hall—and in an instant, straighten up, stand with my heels together, toes apart, chin up, chest out, shoulders back, and stomach in. My arms would shoot stiffly down by my sides and, with my fingers straightened, my middle fingers would line up precisely with the seams of my fatigues. I’d assume a blank expression, eyes forward and focused on some random distant object, and wait, motionless until the next command—which I hoped would be, “As you were,” so I could get back to the task at hand.

Now, and for the past two decades, I’ve been teaching people how to pay attention through the practice of meditation and mindfulness. Attention, what a valuable currency, and one that is often squandered. But meditators, we have the edge. We know how to pay attention because we practice.

As you meditate, like in life, your attention will likely drift, and when you realize it, you redirect your attention to the focus, again and again. This training not only develops your ability to be more attentive while in meditation but also makes you more attentive outside of meditation so you can live a more deliberate, aware, and meaningful life.
Thank you for putting your attention on your spiritual practice. I during this time of deep practice. I am practicing with you.

Love, Sarah

Sarah McLean
Director, Feast for the Soul, Inc.


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Meditation Teacher Highlight
Carl McColman is a Chrisitan Contemplative author, speaker, retreat leader, and spiritual director. He's a professed Lay Cistercian (a layperson under formal spiritual guidance of Cistercian monks) affiliated with the Trappist Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Georgia. He received formation in the practice of Christian spirituality and contemplative leadership through the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. He leads a meditation on appreciation.

Spiritual Practice Tip
Heart-Centered Breath

Your heart does much more than pump blood through your veins. Your heart is intelligent and wise. There are as many neurons in the heart as in your brain, and the heart actually has more magnetism and more electricity than your brain does, 5,000 times more! The heart sends signals to the brain that change the entire nervous system, reducing stress hormones, enhancing your immune system, and increasing anti-aging hormones. When you pay attention to your heart, you enliven its intelligence and its attributes and qualities of peace love, compassion, joy, gratitude and inclusiveness.
This Heart-Centered Breath settles your awareness into your heart center, whether you are in activity or in meditation. It can be used anytime: while walking or while listening to someone else. It can be done by itself or before or after your regular meditation practice.
Here’s how:
·   Get into a comfortable position and sit quietly.
·   Your eyes can be open, capped or closed. Scan and relax your body.
·   Bring your attention to your breath as you breathe through your nose.
·   Feel the sensations of the inhale and exhale of the breath, the coolness of the breath on the inhale, the warmth on the exhale.
·   Don’t try to control or regulate the breath or its rhythm. Let your body naturally settle.
·   After a moment or two, bring your attention to the rise and fall of your chest right to the center of your chest. Let it rest there for a breath or two.
·   Next, imagine your breath is moving into and out of your heart center. (You can also place your hand over the center of your chest, your breast bone, to keep your attention focused there.)
·   Match the length of the inhale to the length of the exhale and breathe in this rhythmic way for three or four full breaths.
·   Then, return to the natural breath pattern without controlling the rhythm, depth or speed, though still imagining the breath moving in front of you - in and out of the center of your chest.
·   Continue like this for a period of time (5 minutes or so), refocusing the attention back to your heart when you notice it has shifted to something else.
·   When you are complete, you can let your breath return to its natural rhythm. And open your eyes slowly.
Living the Feast
Walking in a Wonderful World

Whether you are walking in the wilderness or in a parking lot, you can practice this walking meditation. Where ever you are, relax your body, and give yourself some deep breaths. And as you walk, simply receive everything that you experience, sense by sense. Receive the breeze as it slips past your skin, receive the solidity of the ground as your foot meets it with each step, enjoy the fragrance that is offered, and feel the temperature of the air. The sky is offering you its clouds, sun, and blueness, and the birds serenade you. Any sound you hear can be for you to enjoy, and if you don’t enjoy it, perhaps you enjoy the silence it leaves. If you look, everything in nature is very wise, offering you an answer, a lesson, or a gift you could benefit from. Everything is for you. Imagine: it’s all for you to receive. So, receive it. Walking in this way will assure you that it’s a friendly world. 
Here is a Navajo chant (translated) but the original word for beauty is Hozho. The chant goes like this:

In beauty I walk.
With beauty before me, I walk.
With beauty behind me, I walk.
With beauty below me, I walk.
With beauty above me, I walk.
With beauty all around me, I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
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