YOUR ANSWERS LIE INSIDE YOU.
The answers to Life’s questions lie inside you.
All you need to do is look, listen and trust.
A brief word here regarding meditation. The briefest definition of meditation is a practice that quiets a person, whether it be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual aspect(s) that need quieting. Another word for quieting is to become centered. All of us at one time or another have felt too much coming in at once, so that you experience overload and sooner or later, your system is going to shut down out of self- defense. Depending upon how far you’ve pushed it, you will get anything from a headache to a cold to a broken limb. It’s a favorite theory, unproven, that emotional, mental and spiritual, when neglected, ask the body (physical) to get your attention, which it then sets out to do, gently or fiercely, depending on how much credence you give your body.
There are many forms of meditation from the traditional form of sitting on the floor, legs folded and tucked, candles lit, incense burning, sun coming up, hands resting on thighs, fingertips meeting like cymbals, eyes closed, listening to music – all the way to a brisk walk or a good strong physical workout in a smelly gym to needlepoint to cooking. It is whatever quiets and centers you and it will be different as times and you, yourself, change.
Over 20 years, I have tried numerous ways of meditating. Some always work, some work some of the time, and some not at all. Some, in fact, have the opposite effect of making me jittery and twitchy.
In this incredibly jumped up, busy time of ours, what are the benefits of meditating? Stress is here to stay. It can be dealt with – in fact, it must be dealt with in order for you to live well. Will it make your problems go away? Nope. It will reduce, if not eradicate, some of the by-products of your problems – lack of sleep, poor sleep, poor eating habits, lack of nourishment, lack of fresh air, too much eye strain, mental arguments that run ’round and ’round in that active mental field, emotional highs and lows, anxiety, lack of purpose, loss of identity, poor self-esteem.
If you have made a practice of meditating, you will find the benefits enormous. You’re not going to lose your temper as frequently, you will view personality clashes more calmly, responsibility sits easier because you are in better shape for it. Most people have said it engenders a new viewpoint or perception of the problems besetting them and of their relationship to and their role in the community and world around them. In fact, some people become so calm, they begin to fear they’ve lost the ability to feel. Quite the contrary – because you are so strongly centered within your own self, you feel more intensely without the emotional storms and noise that used to accompany it. This means that you will process whatever has upset you or thrown you off-center faster and with more ease.
When this course was designed, my original question was what can I teach you in four hours about emotional distress and/or substance abuse. In other words, how do you distill 20 years of experience in four hours? Out of those questions came the realization that each one of you needed to experience what benefits meditation can give you immediately and over the long run.
If you will recall, we did four meditations, one for every hour of class. Each one focused not only on a particular subject, but also once each on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. As each class is unique, each meditation can be and was individually tailored depending on the mood and strength of the class. The technique I learned and developed, utilize and teach is one which combines the needs of the moment (what you are currently experiencing), and the individual’s unique history, imagination, visualization, sensory abilities and desires.
The meditations, much like a work of art, speak to far more than your mind – your sense of humor, beauty, stability, harmony, belief systems, feelings – were designed for you to see, hear, taste, touch, and create an inner healing, a wellness, if you will.
Just as music calls forth a response both physical and emotional, so too do the images you carry of yourself and others in your life. When we are willing to learn or experience a different aspect of growth – one that allows for both pain and beauty, for merging left (logic) and right (creative) sided hemispheres of the mind, we can release and let go of an enormous burden of past baggage each of us carry around with us as a legacy of our past.
Initially, you were requested to begin a series of deep breaths, to close your eyes and beginning with your feet, to imagine a feeling of relaxation traveling upwards by first flexing your feet and then releasing them, gradually moving upwards through your entire body, including gritting your teeth and even, if possible, making your hair stand on end! As your body relaxes, I had you pause and truly appreciate what an incredible body you do have. For all your ambivalence, it still is an amazing piece of machinery and considering everything coming at it, in it, and around it, it navigates skillfully and with a gentleness and patience that is truly surprising when you take a moment to think about it.
The second meditation you did in class involved your emotional body. As an entity, this one is usually the youngest of the four – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. In the West, we prize Mental over Emotional, as though emotion was something to be embarrassed about. It is the cry of the heart that gives Mental it’s direction. Mental can take you there, but it’s Emotion that sets the direction and goal.
You were asked to visualize on your inner screen, both a light above you and a light beneath you, as well as a ball of light far out in the distance. You are asked to go to your heart center and from within that space, you go to a meadow. After walking a short distance, you come to a plateau and begin to build a bridge of light.* The bridge takes any shape you design, whether it be strong and of stone, arched high and made of tensile strength steel, or spun of fairy gossamer glass or ribbons of light. You are on one side of the bridge and on the other is a small being. You can see the being on the far side, but it’s dim due to distance. Your bridge is built – what’s underneath it? A river? Is it stormy or gentle? A rocky crevice, a ravine, an abyss, or simply a flat, safe passageway?
You begin to cross the bridge, watching the being on the far side. What does it look like? Is it a person, a monster, someone who makes you feel good or sad? Male or female or does it have a sex? Is it young or old, does age mean anything to it? This being watches you coming – what is it doing? Is it standing still, backing up, crouching, meeting you halfway? You reach the end of the bridge so that you and this being come face to face.
At this point, you are asked to begin a conversation with it. This is your emotional self – what does it want? What gift does it give you? How can you help it? What do you want of it? You are a team and this is a member frequently left out of the reckoning. You are, this day, assembling a new team. Tell this being you will hear it from now on, you will listen and act upon its need or wisdom when required. At this point, tell it truthfully what is in your heart – where you feel you need strengthening – ask it where you need strengthening.
Take a moment and thank this being. How does it look now? Is it the same or has it changed? Come back across the bridge, back into your heart space, back into the room, and rest.
It is this one meditation, more than all the others, where people feel compelled to write notes. They have touched a part of themselves, seen or tasted a part that has usually been long neglected.
The following is a healing meditation. Once again, begin in your heart center, you go to the hub of an enormous wheel with spokes in every direction. This hub is the very center of your being. Each one of those spokes or strands is a relationship – you are asked to pick a strand and follow it out to the person on the farthest end. Who is it?
Talk to them. Say what you’ve always wanted to say. Listen to their response. It will not necessarily be the response you expect. Come back to the hub. Pick another strand and follow it out to the other end again. Again, again, and again. At each strand, this may be someone you love or someone you have left far behind or who left you. One question came up repeatedly in every class. What about the dead? Can we heal our relationships with those who have died? I believe with every fiber of my being that yes, we can. Pick one of those threads or strands that leads to someone in your life you wished you had had the time, strength, ability or enough love to talk with them one last time. Here is your chance.
Now, returning within the hub, do a 180° turn. Somewhere within the wheel is a gap where no spokes or ribbons of light exist. These are the relationships you have severed or will create. From the hub, begin to spin and weave a spoke or a ribbon of light straight out to the farthest point of the wheel – who is it? Does it’s color differ from the ones already in place? Lighter, darker, stronger, weaker? At this moment, you can heal the severed relationship. Simply visualize that rope being strong, healthy and whole. Feel it humming down the line. See the person’s face, see it flood with understanding. It’s an interesting fact that we don’t necessarily want agreement, we want to be heard. Be very conscious of the knowledge that this is as real as anything else.
You are simply working with energy – in this case the energy of emotion. The person you are thinking of is receiving this on a certain level as real as if you’d picked up the telephone or gone to visit. This is your chance, your time, your hub and wheel. This is your universe. Within this wheel you may have as much joy and warmth as you choose to create.
There is a law here however. This must be done with respect and care, not out of anger. When you are angry, you cannot hear and you can strike out and cause damage. There is a law at work here that will not allow the forcing of an individual. You may keep in mind that what you send is what you receive triplefold. The universe takes care of its own.
* Inspired by Bridge of Light and Connecting With All the People in Your Life – both authored by LaUna Huffines.