The other day I attended a very different kind of meditation which the practitioners called, Flowing with Musical Expression. Essentially it was people making all manner of odd sounds, chirps, whistles, hums, ooos and ahhhs – randomly and loudly for 30 minutes. I thought I was in room with people who had Tourrents. It was distracting and uncomfortable. According to literature at the center, the founders said that Westerners always need to be “doing” something. So their active meditations were a response to that.
There are of course, many different ways and reasons to meditate.
I thought of a dear Baha’i friend who once said to me that meditation does not have to be formal. It can be during a walk with your dog, a simple stopping to appreciate the beauty in a cloud, architecture or perfectly made crème brûlée. For me, it is about the stopping. I think and do way too much as it is.
Poetry helps me to stop and to savor. One of my favorite poets is Mekeel McBride who I met at women’s conference just after I graduated from college. I’ve memorized many of her poems; the pages of her book all dog-eared and yellowed now. I’ve never been one to keep books pristine. I underline, highlight, and bend the pages.
“… Just that some people love words
as much as a locksmith loves the machine
that duplicates keys, allowing the lost
to once again enter familiar rooms,
touch the chipped blue china cup,
stand quietly in the sun-drenched kitchen,
amazed that such return in this word is possible.”
From The Going Under of the Evening Land by Mekeel McBride
Has there ever been a more controversial or polarizing subject? That which is meant to unite us can serve to separate us instead. Lately, I have been reading spiritual books, and talking about God with some of my Baha’i friends. From both sources, I discovered that the concept of God can be individually defined. God as you define it. In short, you get to make it up. What a liberating discovery.
A ROSE BY ANOTHER NAME
It can be called by many names: higher power, goddess, universal consciousness, prana, chi, positive guiding force, or grace. Whatever works.
But how does it work? How do I know God exists? What does it feel like? Well, in one discussion a woman talked about the healing power of nature – how so many things heal – from plants to animals to us. And that natural healing power to her, was God manifest.
My Baha’i friend hosts a monthly devotions gathering where she uses a deck of virtue cards to spark a discussion. Virtues (e.g. love, forgiveness, independence, trust) are another way people experience God.
PICK A CARD, ANY CARD
These cards really help anchor me. And they make great gifts. They are non denominational spiritual pick-me-ups that even agnostics can love. “They influence the vibration of my day,” commented a friend. They are certainly a way to gain new insights; a way to calm down; and a way to re-tune. Here is an excerpt from my virtue card today: Joyfulness
“Joyfulness is an inner wellspring of peace and happiness. It is beyond ordinary happiness because it is not an occasional emotional reaction to luck or circumstances. It is a deep sense of well-being that fills us with delight and hope…we allow joy to carry us through the painful times. We take ourselves lightly and remember to play …” The Virtues Project
Jovanka JoAnn Milivojevic