With a study session on meditation coming up, I’ve been contemplating my various meditative experiences. Have a look!
When I was a young pagan pup, I made up a meditation (or was inspired to?). Sitting cross-legged, I’d swirl my body in small circles and visualize a tornado taking me away. When I landed, I’d be in a dark, damp cave. Ahead would be a double door, ornate and heavy-looking. I’d look around nearby and find a key; I instinctively found it each time. Unlocking the doors, I’d cross into an alternate version of my own neighborhood. In this world, the rules of physics didn’t apply; I could fly by jumping up and willing it to be so. The only real rule was that nobody I knew would be there; any people or creatures I ran across were guides taking on a familiar form, that’s all. I distinctly remember mixing potions from herbs in this beautiful, big room at a local museum.
Back before I had internet at home, I used Tetris and solitare as meditative tools. Keep in mind, I didn’t have internet at home until 2005 due to living in Germany as a broke Army brat. To use the games as tools, I had a process. I would put on noise-cancelling headphones, turn on a random mix of music, and start playing. Somewhere between levels and songs, my mind would move to an altered state of consciousness. I wouldn’t hear my name, even if my music stopped; I wouldn’t really see the game I was playing. In fact, the few times I was interrupted would cause me to pause, but when I returned I would immediately lose at Tetris. The level I was on would turn out to be far beyond my normal focus. I don’t use this method often anymore, but it’s a highly effective way to alter my consciousness for calming and problem-solving purposes.
During a meditation class in my old coven, I met Isis. I don’t particularly like Egyptian mythology; I have a long and detailed reason that I’m not going to explain right now. That said, I was actually participating in a meditation to meet a goddess. The meditation began with a stone. We focused on it, and it expanded to become the ground beneath our feet. As we walked, we saw a woman in the distance; when she arrived in front of us, we would see her and ask her stuff. I have issues “seeing” images, so most often my experiences are hard to describe. However, I saw flashes of white robes, a golden headdress of wings, and thick kohl eyeliner with dark hair. We approached a bonfire (via the guide’s instructions for the meditation) and celebrated with other females and goddess; I couldn’t see anything but blurs and flickers of light, but I felt the pressure of people nearby and heard the sounds of celebration. After the meditation, I looked through a deck of goddess cards as part of our post-meditative discussion and was amazed to see an image of Isis looking exactly how I’d seen her. I haven’t worked with her since, as she didn’t communicate that particular desire, but I’ve always remembered her contact.
During an inner temple meditation, I saw my true self. You were told to look around, and there would be some representations of each element visible in your temple. Mine was a big marble room, with three steps in the middle leading up to an altar surrounded by pillars. Everything was marble. On the path up to my altar, there were two little pools carved beside the pathway. The meditation told you to find the water in your temple and seek your reflection; that would be a vision of your true self. I was a lithe-but-curvy blonde with a peacock headdress (and nothing else) on. It made me think of Hera, but I felt no presence, and I haven’t felt any tug to research or worship her. However, I’ve kept my eyes open to any further contact.
Once, I took an unguided meditation that blew my mind. It was based on the starter exercise in Follow the Shaman’s Call. I was having trouble visualizing anything like a tunnel or stairs to my inner world. Suddenly, after trying very hard to go “down the tunnel”, I was in a cave so dark I couldn’t see, but I could sense there was water in front of me. Having read that sometimes a challenge is presented (and knowing my fear of drowning), I dove in and swam… and swam… until I felt some fear that I wouldn’t be able to breathe. I stayed calm, reminding myself that I was in control. At the last second before I would’ve lost my cool, my head broke the surface of the water. I was on a calm beach, at night. The sands stretched up to a tree line, a forest that felt soothing and right. I walked across the beach and placed my hand on a tree before being interrupted; I said farewell and rushed back the way I came, having read that you should always finish a journey by returning EVEN if interrupted (it’s better for grounding your spirit). That book was borrowed and never returned, so I haven’t tried that journey again.
The last major meditation I can remember was unfocused. I tried to follow a guided meditation, but I found myself shifted to leopard form. Then I ran across a bear who demanded I behave (like a stern mother) and there were no words. I hadn’t learned how to understand messages without words, so the interaction left me confused (on top of the confusion an unexpected shift creates). I’ve gained some understanding of my shifts and of non-verbal communication in meditation since then, but I haven’t tried that particular meditation in ages.
Reviewing my experiences, I have to admit that I mostly think of meditation in terms of journeywork. When you include any process of focusing (or unfocusing) the mind or altering your state of consciousness, I can say that I meditate far more often. I spend at least a few minutes a day in meditation, using music or time in the shower to realign myself. Sometimes I even “zone out” during a rerun and let my brain reorganize itself in an unguided process. I may have to incorportate more purposeful meditation in my day-to-day life; we’ll see what this next study session has to offer, and go from there.