I highly recommend using inspirational passages for your meditation and/or focused attention.

First, it is training in concentration. Most of our mental powers are so widely dispersed that they are relatively ineffective. In focused attention, we gradually focus the mind so that when we meet a difficulty, we can cut right through the nonessentials.

Second, we begin to resemble and actually become whatever we give our attention to. People who think and dream about money have minds pervaded by dimes and dollars, shares and properties, profit and loss. Everything they see, everything they do, is colored by this concern. Similarly with those who dwell on power, revenge, pleasure, or fame. And today, despite our technology and science, people are most insecure because they persist in thinking about and going after things that have no capacity to give them security.

An inspirational passage (for passages see God Makes the Rivers to Flow) turns our thoughts to what is permanent, to those things that put a final end to insecurity. In focused attention, the passage becomes imprinted on our consciousness. As we drive it deeper and deeper, the words come to life within us, transforming all our thoughts, feelings, words, and deeds.

By focusing on say Saint Francis's own words in "Lord make me an instrument of thy peace," you will find that you begin to resonate with the spirit of self forgetfulness and love that the words contain.

Using the same passages over and over is fine at the outset, but in time, the words may seem stale. You may find yourself repeating them mechanically, without sensitivity to their meaning. I suggest you memorize new pieces from your faith or other traditions so you will have a varied repertoire. As you commit a new passage to memory, it is good to spend some time reflecting on the meaning of the words and their practical application to your life. But please don�t do this while you are actually doing your focused attention.

In selecting a passage, be sure it really inspires. Don't let yourself be carried away by literary beauty or novelty. Wordsworth and Shelley may have been splendid poets, but for passages on which to remake your life, I suggest you draw only on perennial passages. And avoid choosing passages that are negative, that take a harsh and deprecatory view of the body, of our past mistakes, or of life in the world. We want to draw forth our positive side, our higher Self, and the passages should move you to become steadfast, compassionate, and wise.

Keeping a notebook of pieces to memorize may help. Later on, after you have learned to concentrate well and need a greater challenge, try a longer work.

Once I went with an old friend to a meeting in the hills. The road twisted continuously, and his driving impressed me. On hairpin turns I have seen drivers lunge and clasp the wheel tightly, their faces grimly set. But my friend took each curve with an easy spin of the wheel, letting it swing back on its own.

That's amazing,I said. "How in the world did you ever manage to learn that?"

He answered tersely, Machines obey me.

This is a good analogy with the mind that is disciplined in focused attention. When we are fully concentrated on the passage, the mind obeys us. It will make the exact turn necessary. We know the road, the curves, the precipices, and where we felt intimidated before, now there is the satisfaction of mastery.

For information on a coaching program that will help you implement mediation and more into your daily life: www.sharonredd.com

Adaptation of an article by Eknath Easwaran

Author's Bio: 

Sharon Redd, M. Ed., is the founder and president of TAPHealth Inc., which designs health and productivity promotions combining cutting-edge scientific research and the latest in behavioral research for greater follow-through and sustainability. She also serves as president of the National Wellness Research Institute, a non-profit organization that conducts wellness-related research dedicated to advancement in the areas of productivity, health/disease management, work/life balance, and cancer research.

While surviving a grim cancer prognosis, she used her 30 plus years of experience as an educator, psychotherapist, executive and life coach, and consultant to create a successful personal productivity and lifestyle change program that produces results long term.

She developed the Totally Alive Program (TAP) that has been successfully used with various populations, from employees; to patient’s diagnosed with cancer, heart disease, CFS, high blood pressure, and cholesterol, to those merely interested in prevention and wellness enhancement. Sharon is a visionary in the fields of human consciousness and health promotion, and disease management.

Sharon’s latest book, Totally Alive: Simple Ways to Live Healthy Longer has practical, simple tips and tricks on how to live a healthy lifestyle. In addition to her M.Ed., Sharon is a licensed counselor and has earned therapeutic certifications in Bioenergetics Analysis, EMDR, and Imago Relationship Therapy. She has served as a supervisor for licensing professional counselors, a continuing education provider for healthcare, as well as other professions, and has served on the Omega Institute Faculty.