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Archive for the ‘Meditation Journal’ Category

I’ve always been intrigued by the various methods of “grounding and centering” found in Neopaganism. For one thing, they frequently involve digging your “roots” deep into the earth, to either draw up or send down energy, to find balance (if you are an ADF Druid, they also include sending your “branches” up into the sky, to draw down the energy of the sky power). Fundamentally they are all about creating a balance of energies from which to do magic.

One thing that stuck to me from a book I read, though, was a different sort of method of centering and grounding. It’s a different kind of visualization, and one that I’ve always found interesting. The book is one of Mercedes Lackey’s Heralds of Valdemar series – though I don’t remember which book. Basically, instead of doing the typical Neopagan “ground, and then center” – the character in Lackey’s book “Centers, and then grounds”. You draw yourself – all the versions of yourself, your external self, the self you portray at work, the self you portray to your family, all the different “yous” that exist, into one solid, concrete, centered SELF, and THEN you connect to the ground, and use that grounding to root yourself and sustain the unified you-ness.

It’s a different sort of way to think about grounding and centering, but the visualization has always helped me when I feel really scattered and out of sorts. Things at my job are very unstable right now, so I’m finding myself with a lot of anxiety and a lot of general frazzledness. I like this “center and then ground” method a lot when I’m feeling that way, because it forces me to address that multi-tasking takes its toll.

In addition, I’ve ramped up my focused meditations to Freyr, in preparation for Lammas (which I’ve decided I will celebrate in honor of Freyr specifically, and then honor the Vanir Pantheon in general for the Fall Equinox, which is the second harvest festival). For what it’s worth? He still prefers Sandalwood incense. I guess that’s just going to have to be my connector to Him.

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Didn’t get a post written yesterday (ever have THOSE days? Yesterday was one of THOSE days) so here’s a Meditation Tuesday post instead.

I’ve been strugging with meditation recently, especially meditation intended to bring me closer to the Kindreds – especially Freyr. A lot of the reasons for that are pretty personal, so I won’t go into that here, but I asked a blogging friend to do some divination and she agreed. The results were very comforting, and so far very helpful.

One of the things she suggested was taking my meditation practice outside. Now – keep in mind that I live in southeast Texas, and it is nearly July. It was 85 degrees this morning at 6am on my drive in to work – and it’s been extremely humid. As such, it’s also high mosquito season. So I’ve opted for an in-between until things are not so blasted uncomfortable to be outside (it’s hard to settle into meditation with sweat pouring off of you). I’ve been meditating in my screen porch – it’s not quite as good as actually sitting on the ground, and the Cult of The Eternal Yard Work has been noisily disruptive, as usual, but it HAS helped some. I’ve been doing these meditations after I exercise (so I’m already hot and sweaty) and it’s been fairly productive at helping me re-make some connections.

I do my stress-reducing meditation inside though. Those are done after a shower, and I’m not wasting a perfectly good shower by then immediately returning outside where the heat index is over 115F.

Usually the summer is a reflective time for me – in the way that Winter is for a lot of people. It really is pretty inhospitable here in summer, and so while I do GET outside, I’m not as eager to stay outside like I am the other nine months of the year. (For reference, my wedding anniversary is in January, and it was sunny and 75 degrees outside that day this year (and on the day we got married!)).

I’ll definitely be doing more outside meditations as we start approaching Lammas and the Fall Equinox. These are big holidays for me, especially in my worship of Freyr (who is the God of the grain cycle, so the grain harvest is a good day to specifically honor Him). I want to try making some kind of loaves to offer as a sacrifice, and I want to deepen my connection to Him in preparation for that time of his sacrifice. The ADF Norse interpretation of this holiday is typically celebrated as the wedding of Thor and Sif (and of comunity coming together for the Thing, so the bounds of community and laws), but I haven’t decided if I will try to split my Lammas rite into two sections, or if I will just honor Freyr as Lord of the Grain Harvest (or if I’ll move my celebration of Freyr back to the Fall Equinox, as a more general Harvest festival, which would correspond more closely to what was going on in my garden). Things to ponder as summer progresses.

(I will also be finishing my “Wheel of the Year” at the Fall Equinox, so I have some big decisions to make about oaths and dedicating myself to Druidry as the ending of the Dedicant Path. I’d like to submit by Samhain, if possible, so I need to get all my ducks in a row with my essays before the Fall Equinox.)

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I just ran across a new meditation timer app that I thought might be useful to other people practicing meditation. It’s called Insight Timer, and it does a lot of the same things as the app I prefer to use (Meditator) with a number of other features. It’s got an online community, as well as tracking tools so that you can track how long you’re meditating and how many days per week and things like that. It’s got free versions as well as a full paid version for both iPhone and Android.

Meditator has more chime options, plus optional ambience noise for your meditation background, but since I only use the tingshas and singing bowl chimes, I’m not sure I’d miss them. As well, Meditator is only available for iPhone and iPad, so android users are out of luck.

I haven’t personally tried Insight Timer yet, but it looks like it could be a really good tool for a beginning meditator.

For a smartphone user on the Dedicant’s Path, this is a great way to keep track of your meditation progress (though I don’t know if it has a way to input comments after each meditation), especially if you’re like me, and just making journal entries once a week, regardless of the number of times a week you’re practicing your meditation.  When you go back to write your final essay, you’ll have easy access to statistics like how many times a week or month you’ve been practicing, as well as how long your average sessions are. Helpful!

So if you like tracking and statistics and the idea of building a virtual meditation community that you can connect to (and know when other people are meditating), as well as the usual features of a meditation timer (chimes, reminder chimes, timer presettings), check out Insight Timer. Both Insight Timer and Meditator are the same price (unless they go on sale! I got Meditator for free on a promotion), but Insight Timer has a reduced-function free version that you might try to see if you like it first!

Note: I am not affiliated with either Meditator or Insight Timer, nor have I been paid or compensated for this post. I am just a user of meditation timers and thought my readers might find this information useful.

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I’ve not been so good about two parts of my practice recently – both blogging and my meditation time have suffered as my commitments in life have ramped up. Those two things are related, since they both represent time I spend in thought and contemplation about my path (or just about my breath), and I’ve not been doing a lot of that recently. Quite frankly, I think it’s time to swing back that direction. My meditation practice is directly tied in with my daily offerings, so you can imagine that those have been less as well, and frequently have been getting skipped.

I’m not sure exactly where the balance is, but I know right now I’m not on it. I have some health issues going on that are taking up more time than usual, and that means rebalancing my time to make sure I’m making time to do the things I need to do. I’ve also had some personal issues getting in the way of my devotional practice. They’re intensely personal, so I’m not sure I will talk about them much here, but suffice to say it’s been very difficult to maintain a devotional practice with regards to Ingvi Frey lately. I am hoping to get some guidance on that front, but it’s been challenging. I’m hoping that with a bit of guidance I can find a way to do those devotions in a way that is also protective of and safe for me mentally.

My ancestor devotions are about where they were – I’m definitely going through a lot more candles in the kitchen on my hearth lately!

As well, the two books I ordered on Anglo-Saxon paganism have come in, so I am anxious to get started reading them. I think it’ll be good to read something more scholarly after having immersed myself in fiction with the Iron Druid Chronicles. Those were fun – and spiritually interesting – but as with all things, balance is good.

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My first missed meditation journal entry since last October! Not a bad record, if I do say so myself. I did several longer meditations this weekend, including one focused on renewing the contact I’d previously had with Freyr. Controlling my anxiety levels has gone a long way toward making these meditations more comfortable, helping me to settle in and really focus. I know that every meditation is different, and that even when I’m highly anxious, sitting down to meditate is better than doing nothing (and in fact, can help a lot), but it’s nice to feel that my practice is “working” again.

A commenter mentioned in one of my journals recently that “judging” meditations is completely counter to the way that Eastern thought approaches meditation, and I think that’s definitely true.

It’s very hard to keep an objective journal of meditation and mental discipline progress without applying some sort of judgment to your meditations though. The goal of the DP is 5 months of journaling condensed into an essay that describes your progress and what you got out of it – a fairly critical difference from the Eastern thought that you shouldn’t be judging meditation at all.

I think there’s a balance to be reached between non-judging and carefully collecting and applying yourself to a practice with the intent of learning a skill. I think Druidry is placing a different goal before its DP students, one where the practice of meditation and the ability to enter trance states is considered a skill worth developing. Progress toward that goal requires at least some analysis of what is or isn’t working (so long as you give things enough of a try to get that data).

Still, I think it’s important to keep in touch with the idea of non-judging as well – you might be thinking critically about your meditation, but you can do so without making it “wrong” or “bad” meditation – just things that work better than others, or mind states that affect your practice differently. In a class-based situation like the DP, some measurements are necessary, but going forward, I think I need to be more kind with myself, and less judgmental towards the “bad days” that inevitably happen.

Hopefully that will help both with anxiety levels and with my not wanting to meditate for fear that I’ll have a bad day and it won’t feel “productive”. Any meditation time is better than no meditation time, and distracted, anxious meditation is better than no meditation at all. It all works toward the goal of training the mind, even if it sometimes feels like a step backwards.

I also think that support for Druids who continue to meditate AFTER completing the DP would do well to remember the non-judging side of meditation practice. That it can easily just be a practice for its own sake, and that it has value as such.

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Most of my meditation this week was of the “just breathe” variety. Things at work are fairly stressful, and I had a major screwup that caused one of my coworkers to have to cover for me, and it’s sent my anxiety through the roof. My job itself is not in jeopardy, it’s just not the best working environment right now.

So I’m leaning on my meditation practice to be a little safe haven to help think about something, concentrate on my breath, and let things go.

Sunday, however, I did a fairly extended meditation to have conversations with my Disir for Mother’s Day (after celebrating with my living mom on Saturday). I want to honor my Disir, and the group of women I’m calling my Prairie Godmothers (who are like Fairy Godmothers, only with wooden spoons instead of magic wands). These are my American ancestral mothers; the women who held their families together with grit and resourcefulness, who left their homes and came and made a new life for themselves and their families here (some on the east coast, some here in Texas). Some of them are from my own family, some from my husband’s, but I’d like to honor them and learn from them regardless. I made an offering of food (chocolate cake) and incense, and just sat in meditation/light trance to try to communicate with them. I didn’t hear anything definite, but I think it was worthwhile anyway.

Somehow I find it easier to connect to the women who came here to North America than I do to women who would have actually practiced something like Norse paganism. I guess I’ll just have to work my way back to them.

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Meditations are slowly creeping along this week. Beyond the meditation I did in my Beltane/Maitag ritual, I did a few other sitting meditations, but I ended up cutting most of them short, either due to frustration or anxiety. This is probably the opposite of how I should respond (instead I should sit and meditate longer) but there are days when it’s just … ugh. So I give myself credit for making the effort this week, and we’ll move on from there.

I’ve had what I can only call an agnostic sort of week, spiritually. It’s not that I doubt my own experiences (which I always have done, and will probably always do), it’s more than I’m doubting what my motivations are for even seeking out the Gods in the first place. I do my devotions and I did my Beltane ritual, and that all is going well enough. But I just keep getting this nagging feeling that none of it really makes any actual difference regardless. That if something bad happens, nothing – not my relationship with the Gods, not my prayers, not my working to change it – will fix it. It’s half “why am I bothering” and half “do They even care anyway.”

This is probably a symptom of some of the bigger mental health issues I’ve had recently, but it’s made it hard to stay motivated about the DP. I have another virtue essay finished, so that’s a good step, but my next essays are to start working on the Three Kindreds and Personal Religion requirements, and I’m just finding that I don’t have any gas in the tank to tackle them right now.

I am hoping that I can do some focused visualization to reconnect with the experiential side of Druidry and see if that helps out some.

For anyone out there with a better experience of spiritual guidance, I’m open to suggestions. I know Rev. MJD says that belief follows action, so I’m still doing the actions. I’m just a bit discouraged about it all I guess.

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