I light the first candle, for the Infinite Feminine, the Creatrix.
The second and third for her guides, whoever I am worshipping at the moment.
The last candle is for myself, a representation of my devotion and my own light, small though it may be.
I sit on a child’s step stool. After years of searching for a comfortable meditation stool, this $4 plastic one is the most comfortable.
The meditation rug I found in Seattle, my spirit’s home. When I asked specifically for a prayer rug, the man at the store said, “Please do not ask for a prayer rug and then use it in your bathroom.” No, I assured him, it will only be for prayer. It’s the most masculine part of my altar. I love that it looks like ejaculating penises. How delightfully appropriate for my journey.
And I breathe. I say hello to my guides, ancestors, and deities. I humble myself and open my heart.
And then I sit.
I sit and focus on my breath.
The in breath.
The stopping point.
The out breath.
The stopping point.
If I’m lucky, I can stay with it for 5 or 6 breath cycles.
Most often, the monkey-mind sets in and suddenly, I am shopping at Target.
[So. Very. Normal.]
I sit through everything.
I feel certain these ‘items’ at the top of the rug are
meant simply to point towards Mecca.
But they look like more than that to me.
I sit with sadness that hits my body like a hard rain. I am outside and naked. The sadness, the rain, is cold and breaks me.
I sit with happiness, like a river I floated down in high school. Warm and buoyant.
I sit with desire. So hot it burns me for years. But it also feels really good. Sometimes it is a tornado inside my body, it is so wide and tall and chaotic. I sit with it.
I sit with fear. Of myself. Of the world. Where is it all going?
I sit with the chatter. Sometimes I am completely swept away by it. The alarm chimes and I have not connected with my breath for a single cycle. “At least I got my ass on the cushion,” I say.
I sit with ‘downloads’ of information and ideas that I have no idea where they came from. I just know they are right. I offer gratitude to those who sit with me.
I sit with it all. And the one constant I know from this sitting is that things change. If we can simply breathe and let it pass though us, it will. We may grit our teeth as it passes, but it will move, if we let it.
It is impossible to ‘not think.’ Human brains are only made for thinking. But we can think about one thing- the breath- and let our brain rest. We can focus on a single sensation- the rising and falling of our chest- and it can give us space and peace.
The more I sit, the better I am.
::: ::: ::: :::
I have been meditating for more than 15 years now. I used to sit for 30 minutes, 7 days a week. Now I strive for 15 minutes, 5 days a week. The research is clear that meditation helps your brain function at its best. It regulates mood and hormones, reduces stress and increases resiliency. It certainly makes me less of a cranky bitch. And it is my home. My meditation practice is the place I rest all of who I am and also integrate all of who I am. It keeps me connected to my center and makes me a better person.
If you’d like to start a meditation practice, I recommend either Susan Piver (books and website) or Sharon Salzburg (books or website) for instruction and guidance. Both have very good beginners books. I practice in the Shambhala tradition, as it was specifically developed for the modern, Western culture and for those with jobs, families, etc. Books by the Shambhala creator, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, are worth your time, as are those of his son, the latest leader of Shambhala, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.
I hope you’re well, fellow travelers. I’ve battened down for a new winter storm. Wish me luck!
Joanna :: xoxo