Tag Archives: meditation

Lost? Go to your base.

yoga womanLast year when I was on a weeklong women’s retreat at Spirit Rock I had the good fortune to take yoga classes from Mary Pafford. I went to the retreat in a grumbly mood, blaming perimenopause or whatever, and once there in my own private silent space I decided to indulge it. But I simply couldn’t maintain it after the first day, after Mary’s yoga class.

Her class got me back into my glorious body. Among other things, Mary teaches how to get into contact with your perineum. Brilliant! She teaches that women’s wisdom can come from deep within, deep down, way down, and so my dark attitude began to fade as I reconnected to this depth in myself through Mary’s playful example.

So, with her permission, here is what yoga teacher Mary Pafford says about going to your base, an excerpt from a longer piece titled “Periwinkle Ahoy! Tales of drought, overwhelm, and perineums.” I think you’ll benefit from her words of wisdom, especially in times of uncertainty and unease.

GATEWAY AND BANDHA

GATEWAY TO THE EARTH by Mary Pafford

This is where the perineum can be helpful. “When you don’t know where to go, go to the base.” A refrain in many of my classes. This is your internal GPS. When trauma arises we often close this area down, rather like an animal fearfully drawing its tail under and in. A temporary protection but many of us are walking around the universe with our tails drawn in as a permanent state of being. Or we have absolutely no connection to this area at all. There’s the taboo associated with sexuality and excretion and we just don’t want to go there. Beyond our own physical body, we have lost our way of being in touch with the world.

Consider the perineum not as a floor as its often called, but a sacred membrane and the way that we communicate on a deeper level with the earth, with our true nature. By simply being in contact, breathing here, one finds a sense of ground. Notice this when you are in transition or in some way threatened or overwhelmed. How helpful it is to just exist in the perineum, not contracting or tucking, just trusting the earth beneath and within you. “When you don’t know where to go, go to the base.” 
 
MULABANDHA

In the yoga world, some teachers encourage a strong engagement of the perineal muscles to draw the energy up and away from the earth to the heavens to cultivate Mulabandha. In this way, abandoning our human beingness ~ earthiness in the pursuit of “higher selves” ~ a new age type of refrain. If you listen to this little clip from Richard Freeman, you will see that this isn’t necessarily the most illuminating way to approach the pelvic floor… or life!

Richard suggests that the Goddess needs to be invited and cannot be forced, thus cultivating relationship rather than a practice of control, attainment, and separation from the mud of being. Can one root through the bones of the base of the pelvis and invite the rebound? The earth deities rise up and support life in the same way that we tend to the earth and this merges and supports our spiritual aspirations as many indigenous traditions encourage. In many of these traditions the earth is spirit – there is no separate word for spirituality.

The Power of Prayer

prayerI have always been interested in the potential of prayer. Did praying work, or is it just a pipe dream of the uninformed and naïve. When I was young, my southern-raised grandmas told me to pray. “To Jesus,” they would say. At night when I attempted a prayer I wondered, should I get down on my knees? Can he see me? Do I need to fold my hands in front of my face? Then I thought, “If everyone is praying and asking for something, how can Jesus keep track? How could he possibly answer all these prayers?” I doubted that he could.

By the time I was in college I had been questioning religion for several years and decided, while taking a course on world religions, that I was a Hindu, and not a Christian at all. Upon further study I decided I was, in fact, not a Hindu, but an atheist. My college years were spent questioning the role of religion in our world, while doubting the existence of God and refuting the relevance of prayer.

Over the next couple of years things happened that renewed my faith. Two of my closest college friends died in the same year, eliminating some of my naiveté and forcing me to reconsider my former disregard of God. I reconciled not with the Protestant God I’d been raised with, but a God who embodies both the masculine and feminine—a powerful energy of creation that suffuses all of life. It is with this view of the Divine that I researched prayer for my doctoral dissertation.

My interest in the power of prayer came on the heels of Dr. Larry Dossey’s research which he compiled in his book Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine. This inspired me to research the effect of meditation, visualization, and prayer on a group of patients in England.

Those who offered their prayers were located in the United States and Canada. The study had statistically significant results, with the patients in the receiving group experiencing the most improvement.

One problem some people have with prayer, with asking the Divine for assistance, is that they won’t be heard. But I believe prayers are heard and answered. Sometimes the answer is not what we thought we wanted. Sometimes the answer is “not now” or “you don’t want that in your life—you just think you do.”

We can trust this answer. We don’t know all the unseen forces at work on our behalf, so we can have faith if the answer is “not now.” Although we want life to be the way we desire, we can’t always understand the higher vision. When we trust unseen forces, we can trust that our prayers have been heard and answered.

In my experience, the most powerful prayer holds the intent, “For the best and highest good of all.” For example, “Please help me to make wise choices, to expand my awareness, and to move forward in joy, for the best and highest good of all.”

Today is the Perfect Day to Expand Love

grand sextileI know it sounds cliche. The word “love” is carelessly tossed around and many of us have become anesthetized to it’s meaning. But whatever it means to you, today is the perfect day to meditate on expanding your own personal expression of it. It’s a day of opportunity. The cosmos are on your side.

At this moment, the stars are aligned to assist you through a mystical portal of love. We have a special planetary alignment today creating a Star of David in the sky ~ two triangles intersecting to form a Diamond Tetrahedron.

The planets involved in this alignment are creating potential for great advancement in our “heart brains.” It’s an opportunity to take responsibility for our heart energy and how it’s expressed. It’s a time of healing old wounds, hurts, betrayals, the times you didn’t get what you thought you needed, and all those negative energies clung to for the sake of strength and power ~ this is the time to address them, to admit they cause unlovingness and pain, and to call in the higher forces of love.

There are two things I’m doing and I hope you’ll do them too:

  1. Ponder your openness and availability to receive loving energy from others. Recognize the pain humans feel when the love they offer, in whatever way they offer it, is not received. Consider allowing yourself to absorb the love given you and let it lift you up.
  2. Tune into your willingness to let love flow freely from you, without conditions or expectations of return. Breathe healing green light into your heart center. Soften your shoulders, chest, facial muscles, and all that useless defensive armor. Make an agreement to be someone who love flows easily into, through, and out from.

Today is the day, which doesn’t mean tomorrow you can’t do it. But we’ve got a portal operating in our favor right now. If nothing else, take a moment to breathe into your heart center and ask, “Can I let more love flow, without fear and defense?” I believe the answer is yes.

My Thoughts on Doing a Silent Retreat

533796_3292120096307_1066899692_3043234_1472076028_nEvery year I do a silent retreat or two for at least a week at a time. And each time, people look at me puzzled when I tell them this is what I’m doing. After all, it’s so strange to not talk incessantly, or be talked to. Isn’t it?

Sometimes I join a group, other times I go solo. Often, in April, I like to do a solo retreat in Maui or Kauai (or both, let’s be honest). It’s my birthday month and I love to be immersed in the island vibe. But this April, since I was in Maui last September finalizing the last chapters of my new book, I decided to do a silent retreat in a place where I won’t be able to check messages because there’s no wifi, let alone cell phone service. I’ll be with about 100 others, who come together from distant places, all with a similar idea: let’s take a little breather from the madness, check in, tune in, and listen to what’s real and true, if only for a week.

I very much look forward to no talking, writing, reading, computers, television, or electronics of any kind. No checking email, no Facebook, no Twitter, no CNN, no Orange County Housewives. Am I in the minority when I think we’ve become a completely distracted, unbalanced society through this media? At any rate, there will be the sights and sounds of nature along with deer, turkeys, maybe a fox or two, hawks, lizards, sunshine and intermittent fog.

And, oh yes, I almost forgot—the sound of my own thoughts. The chatter of my inner 5 year old, my inner sullen teenager, and various other inner selves all interrupting my older, wiser self. There will be unexpected random memories, songs from 1983, compulsive planning, weighing the pros and cons of letting my hair go gray, living room redecorating, and ideas of what I should have said to someone 15 years ago. This chatter will go on at least for the first couple of days until it exhausts itself and my mind surrenders to balance and spaciousness.

The first time I attended a silent retreat, I had signed up for 10 days at a meditation center in the Massachusetts countryside. I’d been told by one of my professors that it was the best thing he ever did. Better than any sort of therapy. Incredibly transformational. So I jumped right in and attended the New Year retreat when we entered this millennium. It was lights out by 10pm on December 31, 1999. No fanfare, noise, champagne, nothing. We were awakened by the sound of a bell at 4:00am on January 1, 2000 to continue meditating. It was odd, but delightful.

So here I am 13 years later, still longing to get immersed in my week of silent meditation. Still looking forward to not knowing what’s happening in the outer world. It feels a little defiant, actually, in this information age, to simply turn my back on it all and ignore it. I won’t speak for a week, or be spoken to. I won’t hear my neighborhood’s leaf blowers, screaming children, or the Harleys going down Hwy 1 on Sunday. Instead, I’ll have the opportunity to engage inwardly, locate my deepest center, learn to love the rhythm of my own breath, and release a bit of what doesn’t belong to me.

When it’s over, I’ll return home with greater inner peace, with more love to share, and a greater tolerance for all that is noisy and alive. Now why would anyone not want that?

Communing with Your Higher Self

green goddessYour Higher Self is the wise, all-knowing part of you that is connected directly to All That Is—the Divine Source. It knows why you’re here, where you’re headed, and carries much knowledge and awareness accumulated through eons of time. I believe it’s the part of us that helps us hold our integrity in life. It keeps us moving forward toward positive expansion.

In this age of constant distractions—shiny, sparkly objects catching the attention at every turn—it’s easy to become detached from the Higher Self. At worst, this detachment leads to self-abuse such as drug-use, violence, physical neglect, and negative mental states. At best, it’s a nagging feeling that you’re not living the way you were meant to.

Accessing your Higher Self connects you to your wisest self which has answers for you and knows what step to take next. Communing with your Higher Self requires that your mind be quiet enough to hear its wisdom. Being in silence, settling inward, and getting in touch with the body and breath is one path to linking more strongly with your Higher Self. Experiencing joy is another way. Real inner joy, coming from experiences that raise your vibration high enough that you transcend the ordinary mundane world, can link with your true higher nature.

We not only can touch our soul essence in meditation by tuning into the body and breath, or when we allow ourselves to be truly joyful, but we can gain guidance from our Higher Self and begin to allow it to be the guiding force in our lives. Once you’re in touch—ask, wait, listen, and trust. It’s always been talking to you, but hasn’t always been heard. So give it some practice because there is no guidance better for you than your own wise counsel.

Self-Healing with Energy

lightThe earth offers us food, clothing, and shelter, and it also offers healing energy. The idea of drawing healing energy from the earth might sound odd, but when we connect deeply with the earth and either imagine, sense, or hold the intention to fill ourselves up with its energy and light, a natural balancing occurs within us. We become more serene physically, mentally, and emotionally.

One method you can use is to stand tall and imagine roots extending from your feet, anchoring you deep into the earth. A more powerful and healing way to do this is to stand barefoot on the ground. Feel the bottoms of your feet connecting to the living planet beneath you.

Another way is to imagine dropping an anchor of light into the center of the earth extending down from the base of your spine. Then, imagine drawing bright light energy up from the earth into your body. Alternatively, sit on the ground, “drop anchor,” and absorb earth energy upward into your body.

Just as you can pull energy up from the earth, you can also pour light into yourself from above. Simply visualize light pouring into you. It can be golden, blue, green, silver, or whatever color you imagine. See or sense it as energized, refined, and uplifting, filling your entire body.

These practices can be used by anyone regardless of their beliefs. Whatever your image is of God, the universal awareness, or even if you don’t consider yourself to be spiritually connected at all, you can use light and energy from the earth to heal and balance you on many levels.

Why Meditate?

meditationThe most immediate way I integrate spirit into daily life is through meditation, the simple practice of quieting the mind long enough to become aware of the here and now, to become aware of what is within. Meditation reconnects us with ignored parts of ourselves.

Our souls live through our bodies. To connect with the soul we connect with the body. Through this connection, excess mind chatter, worries, and fears die down so we can settle into the present moment.

One basic, widely-used meditation technique is to sit with your eyes closed. Bring your attention to your breath without changing it in any way. Observe the inhale and exhale. Note when the in-breath stops and becomes the out-breath. Do this for several minutes twice a day. It’s that simple!

Sometimes, however, it’s not so easy, and there are reasons for this. During meditation your mind races, your breath is sometimes quick and shallow, you might feel frustrated or restless and don’t want to focus on your breath. You want to think instead. Sometimes people I work with say “I’m just a big thinker.” That’s true! This is what our minds do. They think about the past, what someone did, what you yourself did or didn’t do, what you’re going to eat for dinner, how your knees ache while your sitting quietly. The mind will do this. It generates thought, continually. Despite this, basic meditation practice is about bringing your focus back to your breath and quieting the thoughts.

Your mind will master you if you don’t master it. Meditation is a simple way to develop mastery over the mind.

Mercury Retrograde November 6 to November 26, 2012

Mercury

Mercury’s domain is the mind, perception, education, and transportation. When going along as normal, it helps us think and communicate. The retrograde period, which lasts around 21 days and occurs 3-4 times every year, doesn’t mean the planet reverses its orbit, but it seems to from our vantage point. Mercury appears to initially slow down, stop, then go backwards.

This apparent retrograde motion affects our lives. Mercury retrograde is blamed for malfunctioning computers, derailed plans, delays, and confused communications. You’ll find people mixing up appointments, arriving late or early, or forgetting things altogether.

Unusual things can happen during the retrograde, and Mercury is already known as the “Trickster.” He seems to enjoy watching people slip on banana peels. In January 2009, President Obama had to re-do the oath of office. Mercury was retrograde the first time around. And the health bill that needed revising again and again? It was introduced during Mercury retrograde. The President isn’t using an astrologer, apparently. What about the unsuccessful Facebook IPO? Mercury retrograde. Obviously Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t have an astrologer, either. It’s ancient wisdom to wait on final agreements and official introductions until Mercury turns direct.

Ideally, a retrograde period is for review. It’s the perfect time to ponder or research a major purchase or document, or revise something you’ve been working on. The mind wants to rest from its normal push forward and take time to reflect. Otherwise, we can experience frustration, misunderstandings, and confusion.

If going with the flow, we would be introspective and meditative during this time. However, we are generally out of touch with these natural rhythms. Most of us will soon be busy with Thanksgiving holiday plans. How to handle this period with little or no upset? Take it slow and be more patient than usual. This isn’t a time for doing things at the last minute. Double check travel plans. Allow extra time to get places, to complete projects, and make preparations. Keep in mind that everyone needs a mental rest right now, but is not necessarily getting one, so offering people your understanding would be helpful.

Check to be sure what you say is understood. It’s not a time for assumptions. It’s the ideal time to back up your computer files, as things have a way of simply disappearing. As for the elections occurring today, we’ll have to wait and see what the Trickster has in store for the U.S. There will likely be some “re-dos” on the horizon.

Connecting with Spirit Guides

I’m frequently asked how to connect with spirit guides. More people than you might realize want to have divine guidance, especially when it’s individually tailored to their own life path. Many people I work with have benefited from connecting with spirit guides. These guides don’t intervene until you ask, except in the case of your Guardian Angel. This angel makes sure your path is in alignment with your Higher Self and the blueprint for your life.

You might feel you have to manage life yourself, but you can hand a lot over to spirit guidance. Connecting with a guide brings relief, inner peace, and a feeling that life is not being lived alone. The guide can work on behalf of your healing, giving you answers and reassurance. It goes forth into the world on your behalf.

Sometimes spirit guides come in meditation. When your mind is very quiet, one will just slip in and you find perhaps it’s been there all along, waiting for you to get quiet enough to listen. You can also connect with a spirit guide by asking for it to come in. However, it’s still beneficial to be in a meditative state. Get quiet, calm your thoughts, and ask your highest guides to show themselves to you. If this proves difficult to do on your own, an energy healer or intuitive healer will help you make the connection.

Here are a few requests you might bring to your guide (or guides).

Please make the decision clear for me.
Please bring me greater inner peace.
Please make the right path clear.
Please help my body, mind, and spirit be in a state of balance and ease.
Please help me go with the flow of life.
Please guide me to a place of deeper well-being.
Please show me what I need to know to get beyond this… (fill in the blank).
Please make this process quick and easy for me.
Please let me know you are listening to me.
Please help me walk through life with strength.
If this decision/person/situation is not right for me, please give me a clear sign.
Please give me clarity of mind, strength of spirit, and physical vitality.