Friday, June 24, 2011

Meditation and Metaphors

Who hasn't thought about meditating? And why not? I've only ever heard good things about its benefits. Yet, like the author of Eat, Pray, Love, learning how to do it presents problems. Emptying ones mind of thoughts is nigh impossible. And if you do happen to do it, for like one second, then what? So, when I was invited to join a beginner's class in meditation about six months ago, I was happy to try it, and it has turned out to be a very meaningful part of my life.

There are many kind of meditation, but the one I've been introduced to is Taoist. According to my instructor/leader, "The Taoist practice is based upon cultivating a surrendered relationship to one's own intuitive knowing, and using energy in alignment with that to help/heal oneself and others."

So, what have I learned? How to sit, how to bow in, how to position my hands, how to calm the mind and "stop the tapes," how to breathe, how to listen, how to focus on different important points in the body, how to make an intention, how to "read" another person, how to give energy as well as receive it, how to experience the many levels of depth in meditation, how to love it. All of this in just about a dozen sessions! It's pretty amazing, and I'm sure this is just the tip of the iceberg. I'm still just "Beyond Beginners."

Like many things, meditation is very personalized. People come to it for different reasons, they experience it differently, and they take different things away. I didn't know what to expect, or what I wanted to get out of it, so I quickly made something up like "focus and direction" when asked about that. I'm not sure that's what I've gotten, but I have gotten many other things: acceptance, calm, energy, enlightenment, patience, and knowledge, for instance. I've learned that there are many layers to meditation, from thought to emotion to energy to spirit to connection to the universe. I've learned that you let it happen; you don't force it. Emotions will spill out when the boxes you have locked them in open. It's useful to just "sit with" the feelings and see what happens. I've had tears streaming down my face at times without even knowing why. Deep joy and deep sadness have both visited me. Energy can be transferred to another person. I've done it and it doesn't deplete my own. In fact, I feel more energized. It is possible to see and feel things about other people and for them to do so for me. No matter how long I meditate, when, or where, it's always helpful. The more I practice it, the more I learn.

Meditation is made up of metaphors, signs, and symbols. They might be colors, a feeling (warmth, pain, etc.), movement (in my case, lots of it), sound (some people are very vocal with spontaneous sound), places (a basement, the ocean, a mountain), images (light, figures, animals, water, a rainbow, a dog). It's amazing because they are not forced; they just appear. The challenge might be to make sense of them.

One little story: One time I was meditating with another person, touching back to back. Several things appeared to me, but one particularly odd one was cowboys. Several times, cowboys appeared in front of my mind. (Note: I never think about them.) When I shared this with the other person, whom I barely knew at all, I expressed my puzzlement. She said it wasn't surprising to her, at all, because her family came from Oklahoma and was filled with cowboys and Native Americans! Don't know how/why that happened, but it's pretty cool. Maybe I'll get a job at the Renaissance Festival next year.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mary Ellen,
    Great meeting you. I tried to leave a comment a few times and it wouldn't work...trying again. Hopefully you'll get this. This sounds really interesting. I've never tried meditation...but it sounds like a great way to destress.