Monday, October 3, 2011

Meditation journey

Cherished reader,
I want to share with you a bit about my brief experiences meditating (10 mins a day, probably 6 days/week for the past few weeks). See, I do mean brief! Short in time, and short in experience of practice. I wish to meditate every day, but some are so hectic that it's late in the evening when I realize I didn't have that quiet time. I don't force this time on myself when I am too tired, but leave it for the next day. This is something my soul has been yearning for, like a homing device that connects me to an essential self like a tether.

I may have mentioned that my little meditation ritual is to ask to come into God's presence, and then I try to wait. And be calm. And not think. However, every time there are many things to think of, and they course through my head in a rapid, jumbled succession. That's the "monkey mind" for you. Tonight, I caught myself several times thinking of what I would write about here! Though it may be quite worthwhile, planning a blog post is not the same as meditation!

My friend Karen has been urging me strongly to meditate for a long time now, and she's of course very happy I finally started. (Did I ever tell you she is an Enneagram Type 8, the leader/boss?) She usually does have good ideas for me, though I refused her latest book suggestion. Her word of advice on meditating was not to constantly judge my experiences or think, "I'm not making progress" or "I'm not doing it right"; rather, just to have these experiences. But how can I not judge? It's the most human thing to do. How else do we know where we are, and where we've been?

What is amazing is when the meditation goes to a deeper place than I usually inhabit. One early time, I was visited by our most wonderful dog, Sandy. She came right up by my right leg, just exactly her old self, wagging her tail with her trademark grin, and that doggy smell, with the scars of the spider bites on her back still, and I could sense her there very strongly. Her presence was so loving that I started crying, and that is how that meditation concluded. This is not something I consciously invoked, because I have remembered it several times since, and recalling it is not the same as her actual presence there with me in my meditative state. (Sandy died a few summers ago, of old age.) Austin says she was the best dog ever, and she is.

Tonight, I wondered what it would be like to be in God's presence. Then I began sensing a reunion of sorts. I was in someone's arms, crying inconsolably. However, my meditative self was observing from a distance and was not caught up in the raw emotion. Thank God! I saw that God was hugging and rocking me with a full-bodied, matronly form that was large and soft, and smelled of cigarette smoke. Yes, it was Mom! She was comforting me, or some iteration of me. Mom may have died, but she has never left. She would never abandon her children.

I am reading a little book that is collected from lectures and writings of Alan Watts called "Myth and Religion." He's one of my podcast "favorites," a British philosopher, Episcopalian priest, and scholar of Eastern religions who died in 1973 or so at around the age of 57. He had moved to the USA and taught at Harvard before moving to California. Reading him is making me still less fettered to any particular belief system. It feels strange, to be so unmoored. "What do I believe?" you ask. I know less and less any answer to that question. I do know I am tired of demagogues, those who "know" what they believe, and those who would label. I shake myself free of any such associations. Watts, by the way, is relentlessly critical of the church and how it seems to have led the opposite way of Christ's example. It's all about what you believe (are you in the Christian "club" or out of it?), and moral judgment, rather than caring for your fellow human being as an equal. Did Christ exact a creed from his own apostles before letting them follow him?

Some people find the greatest comfort in thinking that they know exactly what is true. They stand on the authority of the Bible, or some other thing, and proclaim it infallible and above human questioning. I find that avenue to be a trap that prevents me from seeking and growing. In the end, there is so much more that I do not know than what I do know. As Watts proclaims, he is no guru, and his most fervent wish is for all his "followers" to find their own ways and have no further need of his advice! Every authority we have here on earth is a fellow human being, just like you and me. Therefore (again Watts), no one has any authority that we have not given to them. You choose your own authority figures, who you will trust or obey or believe.

I also wanted to tell you that Andrew and I ran a 5K at Sea World on Saturday and both took first in our division, woo-hoo! Now, Andrew came in 6th in the race overall, whereas I was about 101 of 212 participants, but still won my division of women ages 41-50 (of whom there were a total of 10). This was a fabulous opportunity; the entry fee went entirely to their conservation fund, with free parking and admission to the park all day long. We stayed for the fright-fest which got rolling at 6 pm -- my legs were so tired after walking the whole park all day long! Andrew was the trouper and wanted to stay for the Frightful freaky forest (Frightmare? It used to be the Haunted Forest), which would have been a whole lot more scary if it had been dark.

Now for the cheater on the 5K: this was designed to be quite the recreational (vs. competitive) race. Why? Sea World had a variety of animals on display throughout the race route. Most sensible people pulled over to watch and enjoy all these creatures! Two boa constrictors, owls, penguins, Beluga whales vocalizing, even a sea lion on the back of a cart! However, Andrew and I raced right on past it all, with our eyes on the prize.

The last 5K I did was in April and I have not run since (I went out about 3 times before this race just to make sure I still knew how). I have been doing the elliptical and bike and weights at Anytime Fitness regularly, which is what pulled me through. So I was totally pumped about that success. I think my time was nearly the same as in April, when I came in 7th in my division at a SAWS run!

1 comment:

  1. I guess we are at a similar place in our journey - learning to take back our own power to read, understand, and live out the truths of the Bible as we understand, to not allow anyone to lord it over us or over our hearts. I like that minister's hope that people will no longer need him but will look to God for themselves. The thing I find is that most people, most pastors to be more specific, think that it's dangerous to try to figure stuff out on your own. We need them, they tell us. Do we? I mean, I know we need other people, but the whole institutional church pyramid set up is no longer working for me. Not even a little bit.

    Thanks for this post, for your update, and for your honesty about where you are on your journey.

    Peace be with you.


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