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Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

Or rather, not meditating enough, but the attempt was made. In the past, I’ve done mostly mindfulness meditation, but I’ve also been reading up on what John Michael Greer calls discursive meditation, which is something like “thoughtful, focused meditation on a particular subject”.

In particular, I’ve been working a few bits from the blogger Hecate’s guided meditations for her Magical Battle of America. I know it’d be smarter probably to work on something with the Earth Mother, or the Gatekeeper, but this was on my mind this week, so I’ve decided to run with it. After all, ADF has a long history of activism, and Hecate’s posts are about the magical guardians and mental constructs that are particularly strongly rooted in the American consciousness.

I’m not sure it was particularly fruitful discourse, but I did at least DO it, so that’s a good start.

On Wednesday, I did some divination – just a simple three rune pull like I’ve been doing recently. I’ve been feeling called to do more divination in general, so I’m trying to make sure I do at least a quick rune pull once a week for myself. I drew the following runes:

  • Ac – the acorn: adequate resources, resourcefulness
  • Eolh – the elk-sedge: active protection, careful boundaries
  • Lagu – the sea: trepidation, uncertainty – could mean bounty, could also mean storms

I’ll be honest, I had some trouble interpreting this. In general, I read Ac positively, and Eolh as well, though Lagu is often a bit of a mixed blessing. I didn’t ask a specific question, just for “guidance”, so I guess that’s partially my own fault. That said, if I tried to make a sentence or coherent statement out of it, it would be “You will have adequate resources to meet the situation, but will need to be careful of your boundaries and possibly strive to be resourceful with what you have – the outcome is in flux, but the reward for success could be very great.”

We’ll see how that plays out in the next week.

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This week (or next week) marks the half-way point of my journaling for Liturgy Practicum 1. My first entry was for the week of 13 June, which was 8 weeks ago. The journal has to be for four months, so the week of 13 October should be my last “official” recorded week.

Though like with many practices in ADF, the journaling is supposed to be the beginning or the documentation, not the culmination of the practice. I’ve created practices with this work that I hope will stick with me, but I’ll admit to being a little discouraged at how “simple” my practice is. I make offerings at my altar most days, to the Kindreds, to the Eorthan Modor, and to Eostre. I make offerings at my hearth most days, to my house spirits (who seem very fond of oatmeal, so I’ve been eating that for breakfast more). I am rekindling my deity practices – my prayer beads are on my altar, and I’ve been developing a series of prayers to say with them. (Look for those in a future week.)

But it doesn’t feel like it’s “enough”.

And, of course, the next thing I think of is Rev. Jan Avende’s song “All Things are Sacred

You should know that all things can be offered.
You should know that all things are sacred.
You should know that you’ve given the best
Of yourself
And it’s enough.

This is something that I’ve always struggled with. I worry that I’m going to turn in this journal, and it’s going to be deemed “too simple” or “too basic”. That this practice that I’m developing will not be enough. But I’ve always set expectations for myself that are unrealistic, and finding the balance of “this practice is meaningful” and “this practice shows enough regular devotion to warrant my place in the CTP” is something I knew from the get-go that I would struggle with.

I can think of many things that I’d like to be able to say my practice includes. Some of those things – like regular meditation – are things I’ve done in the past and can likely do again. (In fact, I’d argue that I’ll absolutely HAVE to start doing regular meditation again before I can get my Trance and Magic work done.) Other things? Like a full Core Order ritual every day? They just seem utterly unreachable – whether because I don’t have the time or because I just don’t have the willpower to set up that kind of a devotional habit (which I know those of you with small children at home will just laugh at, but we each have our own struggles).

Self doubt is a part of any practice though, and I know this. Today it seems huge, and so, in response, I’m going to go and sit my butt on a cushion and just be for awhile. Just breathe. After all, that’s why they call it “practice” right? You have to take the time to get good at it.

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For years, I have sat on the same purple cushion in the same little bedroom in front of the same little altar space to meditate.

I am still not allowed to do it without help.

meditation with cats

And no, I can’t just close the door. If I close the door, they sit and paw at the door and meow loudly in protest (there are two of them).

*Since I know someone will ask, the mala was handmade for me by Beth Wodandis, and I can’t recommend her services highly enough. This one is onyx, bone, coral, and amber, and I am absolutely delighted with it every time I pick it up to pray or do magic. I’ve had to keep myself from buying all of the prayer beads that she makes (I’ve had a problem with collecting prayer beads for a long time). Her etsy shop is here.  

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Lately I’ve been running into waterbirds all over the place. There have been herons and egrets when I go on my walks near the waterway, I’ve seen cranes and herons in my meditations (especially at my mental grove), and I’ve been dreaming of cranes and flying.

Not sure exactly what to make of it all. Obviously there’s a trend.

Waterbirds like herons and cranes are liminal birds – they exist on land, sea, and sky, and thus cross the ways between the three worlds. They are associated with watchfulness, balance, and wisdom. They can be messengers, or just representatives of higher states of consciousness. They are usually solitary birds and can be symbols of independence as well.

Of course, all that is very interesting, but I’m not sure exactly what it means for me to keep encountering them. Usually when I have  a string of similar encounters, it means something is trying to get my attention, but in this case I’m not sure exactly what that might be.

I did some extended meditations on the subject this week, and found that my brain was very scattered when I tried to focus on them. I could return to the breath and be centered again, but every time I tried to look directly at or through a crane/heron/egret, I’d end up with a flood of images in my mind, from standing (one foot on land, one foot in the water), to flying, to hunting, kind of like I was getting all of the experiences of a heron in my mind all at the same time. It was a little disconcerting, since I was trying to focus or get a good look at what I was seeing in my meditation, and it just ended up all over the place.

Maybe that’s the message – that I’m too scattered right now? I can’t put my finger on any explanation that feels satisfactory.

Maybe I just have cranes on the brain.

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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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