Devotion: Singing Gatha
As our singers gather for their first rehearsal since April, alto section member Jenny Kelley shares a devotion about mindfulness.
I read a wonderful story about an ordained Buddhist dharma teacher, Cheri Maples, who served in criminal justice for 25 years. She attended a mindfulness retreat in 1991, which she applied to her work as a police officer, policing with more compassion and openness. Cheri went on to lead mindfulness retreats for others in law enforcement and others in high-stress work. One technique of mindfulness that Cheri and other dharma teachers is to use a Gatha before any activity.
Gathas are short verses that help us to practice mindfulness in our daily activities. When we focus our mind on a Gatha, we return to ourselves and become more aware of each action. When the Gatha ends, we continue our activity with heightened awareness.
Here is a simple Gatha to focus on our breath:
Breathing in I know that I am breathing in (Breath in)
Breathing out I know that I am breathing out (Breath out)
Besides focusing on the task at hand, a Gatha can be like a prayer, to ask for a blessing on that activity. I wrote a Gatha for singing, to help us to focus on our rehearsal tonight:
My mind becomes ready. (Breath in)
Now I get to sing. (Breath out)
Each note creates a warm breeze. (Breath in)
With each measure, healing comes. (Breath out)