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State of the Katje: spiritual edition

Spiritual: Well, not a whole lot to report in this corner. I'm not currently in any women's circles or part of a UU church or really doing any kind of intentional soul work in a group setting. However, I have been doing meditation via the Insight Timer application off and on for several years now, and when I buckle down and DO the thing, it really DOES help. They just started a daily challenge for 2017; we'll see how long I last for that one.

I bounce between the guided meditations (where I discovered the awesome Tara Brach, by far my favorite guide) and the solo versions. When I work on my own, I run through the chakras and focus on certain aspects of each space within me (it was VERY cool to see this done in the middle of one of my all-time favorite television series, Avatar: The Last Airbender! This link goes to a 10m video excerpt of Guru Pathik's explanation of chakras and how to open them, although of course the genital/pleasure section had to be edited for Nickelodeon audiences). After this series of focusing and relaxing my whole body, I can sometimes slip into a pretty amazing theta wave space that makes me feel terrific for a few hours after... but it's still rare for that to happen, and I'm hoping that a regular practice will help pave the way to getting there faster and more consistently.

My solo Rainbow Meditation usually goes something like this:

Muladhara, or the Root chakra
Focusing on the root chakra point (the sacrum), I imagine I am floating through a sea of warm red light. I think about feeling rooted and grounded, nurturing a sense of stability and security. I imagine twining roots descending below me, through the floor and deep into the ground. I try to just hold that sacral space gently, as I acknowledge my chronic fears about being unrooted (flailing around) or uprooted (forced change). After a few minutes (I set a quiet reminder bell on my Insight Timer to signal the change), I'll let myself drift up into the next layer of light...

Svadhisthana, or the Hara chakra
I think of this as the "fire in the belly" chakra, though is it traditionally thought of as genitals. I focus about three fingers below the navel, and imagine that the sea I am floating through is now orange. I think about recent physical pleasures, which do include sex, but also things like the happiness of tasting something delicious, the sensuality of a backrub (giving AND receiving!), the sense of flow while working on my calligraphy, and the utter joy of floating weightless in the therapy pool cradled by warm water. And I imagine that this glowing orange space in me, like a miniature sun, is bright with desire and drive to create those pleasures, and that I can draw on this energy for inspiration. Floating upwards...

Manipur, or the Solar chakra
As I drift into the yellow sea of light, I imagine this chakra as a slowly rotating luminous yellow ball (similar to the nifty Focusing Orb from Glitch, the MMO game I used to play, only yellow instead of blue), floating right behind my solar plexus. This chakra holds my power, the energy that moves me towards the place I need to be, and my sense of responsibility, the energy that gives me the strength to do what needs to be done (even when... maybe especially when... I don't want to do it). After dwelling here for a bit, I move up towards...

Anahata, or the Heart chakra
This is a deep green heart space, where I grow my own garden of love. It is where I nurture a sense of intimacy with family and friends, move towards forgiveness of those who have hurt me, and build my sense of trust that people are generally good and kind. This is a pulsing orb in the middle of my chest, as cool and earthy as an ancient redwood grove, alive and rich with possibility and hope. Then it's time to ease up to...

Vishuddha, or the Throat chakra
This is where I focus on a shining blue star right at the hollow of my throat, my true voice. It is where I dwell upon the meaning of honesty and justice, and how I can use my words to carry them. This is the energy that gives me a sense of accountability, helps me remember to think before I speak: Just because something is true, does this other person NEED to hear it? If so, am I being kind and compassionate as I express it? Is this the best forum or medium for this message? I play over my recent exchanges with others, and whether they ring true to me (and whether I need to follow up to clarify or to apologize). Onward, up to...

Ajna, or the Brow chakra
This is another bright star, right behind what we think of as our third eye, but this time a deep luminous purple. This is the seat of my intellect, my intuition, and my imagination. I spend a lot of time in my head (not necessarily a good thing), and I feel very comfortable with these aspects of myself. This is my puzzler, the part of me that delights in problem solving, the insatiable curiosity about the world around me, and the storehouse of my life experience. Finally, it's time to emerge into...

Sahasrar, or the Crown chakra
I think of my crown chakra as more of a fountain, an opening in the top of my skull where white light leaps up and out in all directions around me, creating a curtain of sparkling dancing light at arm's length. This shower of light envelops me, protects me, washes away little annoyances, and fills me with gratitude. I feel myself drenched with absolute joy and grace, and I think about all the ways I've been so lucky in my life. I usually try to focus on something that's been bothering me, and reframe it as a gift (for instance, this morning I was feeling cranky that my spinal stenosis is flared from cold weather, and is preventing me from being able to walk without pain even with medication... I try to celebrate that I have good health care and access to information to help me figure out what's going on, that I have a car and am not forced to walk and exacerbate my condition, and that I have access to the therapy pool for an entirely pain-free hour each day). The overwhelming number of things that had to go precisely right, from the Big Bang to this moment, to create a world that generated life, which progressed over millennia until it resulted in my successful birth, and an environment where I get to thrive for decades, find a partner, raise up my children, and be part of a web of community that lifts and supports other beings like myself... every day this miracle blows my little mind and makes me a lot less likely to be pissy about a late repairman or a flat tire.

If I still have time at this point (we're already 35 minutes into the session), I try to sweep away distracting thoughts and focus on my breathing, watch a point in the black swirl behind my eyelids until the theta waves kick in... my breathing goes very shallow and slow, and I feel like I'm floating, that there's no boundary of flesh or skin, and I feel simultaneously microscopic and huge. It's pretty cool when it happens, and I hope to be able to visit that state more often with more practice.

Wow... that wound up being a lot longer than I meant, but maybe it will prove to be helpful to someone else getting started with meditation, so I'm glad I wrote it. </b>


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 5th, 2017 12:33 pm (UTC)

This was very detailed and insightful. Thank you for sharing.

Jan. 6th, 2017 12:04 am (UTC)
Thank you for reading! I know I'm a bit wordy, but I hoped it might be of use to others in some way. Glad to know you're still here! :D
Jan. 5th, 2017 03:25 pm (UTC)
There's some super cool research described in "Why God Won't Go Away" about what's going on neurologically during that microscopic-and-huge feeling. In the spirit of your throat chakra meditation, I won't go into detail unless you're interested--sometimes folks prefer their own models of spiritual experiences over biological ones.
Jan. 6th, 2017 12:03 am (UTC)
Bring it on! I wouldn't do any of this if there wasn't a positive effect, and I know my imagery is just window dressing to elicit a biological response. But it's a window dressing that I can remember easily, and makes me feel like I'm at least TRYING to become a better person, so it's working for me.

By the way, Linc found a nearly new copy of the Hamilton libretto at a bookstore today, and we thought of you! Do you have a copy yet? Should I go back and snag another one for you?
Jan. 13th, 2017 06:11 am (UTC)
Essentially, there's a part of your brain dedicated to telling the difference between you and not-you--it's used for proprioception and balance and such--and that part of the brain is almost always active. But it goes way quiet when people have intense religious experiences! They tested it in Buddhists doing their zen thang and in Franciscan nuns chilling with God, and found the same neurological responses. The you/not-you divide gets less distinct, resulting in that nifty all-encompassing connectedness.

I totally feel you about imagery. As much as I love to wallow in biological explanations, I still sometimes use visualization techniques I picked up from pot-exuding old hippies at Whole Earth when I was a kid. If it works, it works.

I don't have a libretto, but I have the nice hardcopy CD with complete lyrics booklets, which in the case of a sung-through musical probably isn't far off from the libretto. I'll poke through it next time I visit you guys. :)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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