Meditation for Feb 16 

The randomly selected quote from the Buddha app thins morning:

So, what is truth?  My initial thought centered around finding spiritual (or religious) truth finding your Path.  But, the Parh is different for everyone.  People have their own beliefs and even within the same religious groups, there are people who don’t adhere to all of the teachings. One example: my parents both belong to Christain churches that teach against marriage equality and that homosexuality is a choice.  My parents disagree.  Their truth is different from their churches’.

I find Wicca a rewarding spritual path.  There are many concepts that I regard as truth.  However, other Wiccans may understand the concepts differently.  Or may not even believe in the concept at all.  Who’s “right?”   There are many different religions in the world.  People believe as they do.  There are also atheists. And other pagan spiritualities.  What is truth? Maybe all of them or maybe none.

What about politics? (Oh,snap! Politics and religion in the same post! Trouble.). People hold to their positions tightly.  Which is true?  Personally, I think politicians lie, so much of it isn’t true.  However, people think their point of view,is true and correct.  I fell into the trap during meditation of thinking that the conservative Republicsns need to search for truth.  Truth, of course, being liberal like me.  I don’t have the inner road to full knowledge and truth.  The Republicans honestly believe in what their leaders tell them.  It becomes their truth.

People can be misled about truth- assuming there is such a thing- or is it all relative?  If you’re led to believe in things that bring harm to yourself or others, that is not the truth at all. Higher truth does not lead to harm.  I thought about division.  Does truth divide us from each other?  It depends.  Can we accept other people’s truth might be different and honor them even if we don’t agree?  How do we go about things like government without stepping on someone else’s truths?  Religions is actually a bit easier.  Believe what you want but harm none.

P

Truth isn’t in books, in the teachings or a religion, or in politics.  The truth is different for everyone- it’s,an individual set of beliefs or code of,ethics.

Of course, this doesn’t mean people can break laws or harm others.  There are some things all people in society need to agree to follow.  Otherwise, it’s chaos and people, animals, the world gets hurt.  “An it harm none, do as thy will.”

Next: not starting on the road or not going all the way.   There is no real finish line when it comes to the road to truth.  The journey of,figuring out your truth and how it fits in is ongoing.  There is always more to discover and understand about even your closest held truth.  Maybe you’ll find out that it needs to change.  Maybe be enacted differently?

Starting on the road is asking questions about what your truth is.  For example, do you believe something just because someone else told or taught you that it is true?  Have you ever thought about it yourself?  Starting on the road is a willingness to ask questions and to really struggle with answers.  Maybe it’s just becoming comfortable that truth might not be what is expected.

To me, the truth boils down to  two concepts: love and respect each other, the world, and nature and “an it harm none, do as thy will.”

 

Yule

IMG_2294
Yule is a time of reflection and celebration, a time to connect to inner wisdom, to others, and to the Goddess and the reborn God. It is the shortest day of the year and occurs between December 21-23 in the Northern hemisphere. It is Solstice, when the sun rises earlier and stays later every day. It is a time of hope and renewal. The Oak King returns!

This year, my Yule celebration was simple. Recently, I have struggled with negative, depressed emotions. On the evening before Yule, I spent time in silent meditation, communing with the Goddess and my Guides. Then, I cleansed and blessed my house. My house felt peaceful and brighter afterwards. It is interesting how the animals respond. Both Scout and Brigid spent time in the Circle and responded the the energy flows. I asked the blessings of peace, safety, and protection on the house.

On Yule morning, Scout and I woke before dawn. We drove out to Bennington Lake for an early morning run. Often, I find running a good time to meditate. Motion assists my mind to focus. This is especially true after the TBI. Still meditation is good practice for concentration but I find motion to be easier to succeed. There is no “right” way to meditate. Use what works. The meditation started with morning thanks to the Goddess and the God for my blessings of the year.
1. Scout. My service dog has added so much into my life. He has shown me that I am still able to do more than I thought I was capable. He helps enrich my life in many ways.
2. Bobby. This little ferret had a rough start to life. I was blessed to become his adoptive forever home. He is such a fun little man. So energetic and playful. He reminds me to have fun and not stress over the small stuff.
3. My health. I continue to improve with the TBI symptoms. The Topomax has helped control my migraine symptoms dramatically. I still have migraines but not to the degree as before.
4. My family. My parents, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousins all support and love me. Since my injury, I have been in contact with family I had lost touch with over the years. It reminded me of the fragility of life.
5. Friends. I have several good friends who have provided support and care through the hard times. The ones who left were not friends to start.
6. Running. No matter my runs are shorter and slower, I still run and have the joy of endorphins.

The next part of my meditation was about what I learned this year. The hardest lesson was the most recent. I accepted that my military career was over. Medically, I am not able to serve. I thanked the Lord and Lady for the wisdom to accept this. It was not easy. My unit is deployed and a part of me feels as though I should be with them. I am the process of a Medical Board. Other lessons I learned this year:
1. Recognize something to be thankful for daily and express it.
2. Be patient with yourself and others.
The last lesson connects to the work I want to continue into the next year.
3. Perfectionism can manifest in many forms.
In my last post, I mentioned running marathons and being angry with myself if I walked in the past. That is one example of perfectionism. In a sense, I do not seek perfectionism but I worry about “not being good enough.”

The last part of my meditation was what I wanted to work on for the following year.
1. Continue to develop a deeper spiritual connection
2. Release the fear of “not being good enough” or perfectionism.

Who I am will have to be good enough.

Kaliyah

Kaliyah

The run was outstanding. It started out in the dusk, predawn. It was cold, with a cold wind blowing. Then, it started to rain. Perfect. I almost changed my mind. But, I had decided that this run was part of my Yule celebration, so cold, rain, and wind aside I was going to run. As the run started, the day gradually lightened into dawn. The rain slackened. Scout barely got damp. He ran along happily, smelling interesting scents, running ahead, doubling back. He was watchful, responding to my calls and hand signals.

The sunrise was beautiful. The clouds held red, with yellow and white shafts of sunlight breaking through. As we rounded a corner, we witnessed a hawk take flight, with the results of a successful hunt hanging from her claws. The wind slowed. It turned into a cold, partly cloudy morning. Perfect.

Whatever holiday you celebrate during this time, may it be filled with laughter, light, and love!

Meditations

I changed my routine today.  After I finished my physical therapy run at the track, I spent time just being.  So often in life, I move from task to task without spending time just being present.  It’s easy to do.  Life has time demands: family, work, ferrets, and even fitness and other enjoyable activities.   In the past, I have often been so busy doing life that I forgot to live. 

Many people believe meditation reduces awareness of the world around you.  There are different forms of meditation.  I frequently practice mindfulness meditation, which actually enhances your awareness and experience. When I was running, my focus was on running.  I was aware of my breath and my body.  My mind was focused either on the run or pleasantly neutral.  This, too, is a form of meditation.  As I walked to cool down, I focused on my breathing.  In through the nose, out through the mouth.  I visualized peace entering my body every inhalation and stress leaving every exhalation.   I felt my muscles relaxing.  I experienced the sensation of my feet on the track, the breeze gently blowing on my skin, the sound of the wind in the trees, and the smell of freshly cut grass and the nearby wheat fields.   Then I sat in the sun, closed my eyes, and felt the sun’s warmth soaking into me.  I listened to the song of nature around me.  I heard the shussch-shusssch of a nearby lawn sprinkler and the scent of water and wet concrete tickled my nose. 

I decided to take a trip. I sank my awareness into myself, becoming aware of my breathing and the movement of my abdomen.   I chose my destination: the Oregon Coast, near Haystack Rock.  This exercise was particularly challenging for me.  Even prior to the accident, I was not strong in visualization.  The concussion did not improve it.  I concentrated on my other senses.   I tasted the salty brine in the air, smelled the tang of the ocean, heard the crash of surf and felt the cold wind.   This is concentrated imagination or perhaps body memory, as I frequently visited the ocean in the past.  I managed to see the tip of Haystack Rock in a hazy gray mist.   Given the Oregon Coast, it would not surprise me if I visited in a rain storm, with reduced visibility.  I am pleased I got as much detail of the rock as I did.   Soon, it was time to return home.  I became aware of my breath; and then my body, paying attention to the feel of the grass on my legs and the contact of my seat on the ground.  Then, I paid attention to my other senses.  When I felt totally “home,” I opened my eyes.  This is meditation based on a themed visualization. 

Meditation benefits health in several ways and it is an important part of my recovery from the concussion.  Meditation reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, and slows the pulse.  It can help lower blood pressure.  Focused meditation is being used more in pain management and reduction.  Meditation improves concentration and the ability to use imagination.   When I first started meditating after the accident, I was totally unable to focus for more than a couple of minutes.  That was fine.  Meditation can be as short or long as I decide.   I think my meditative practice has helped improve my concentration.   Yesterday, I had a migraine that the medication was not ending.  I used a simple breathing meditation.  The headache did not leave totally but the pain level dropped considerably.   There are real health benefits to practicing meditation.

Many people are overwhelmed by meditation.  They visualize a monk, sitting cross-legged, chanting “ohm.”  That is one form of mediation.  But, as demonstrated in this post, there are many others.   Meditation does not have to be based on spiritual or religious practices, unless you want to use it in this fashion.   Prayer can actually be seen as a form of meditation on Deity, as well as conversation.  You can meditate on your favorite scripture or spiritual practice.    Meditation can be used as a method  to be in the presence of Deity and to discover more about yourself and your spiritual connection.    However, meditation does not need a spiritual theme to work.

I want to challenge you, my friends, to try a simple experiment.  

Find a time and place you won’t be disturbed.  You may want to go into a room and shut the door.   Ask children and family members not to disturb you.  If you have furry-family, you may want to put them in another room.  As much as I love my ferrets, they can interrupt a meditation faster than you can say “dook.”   You can play relaxing music in the background if you wish. 

 Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet touching the floor.  Next, take your pulse for a minute and write it down.   Follow this link to learn how to take your pulse.  http://www.webmd.com/hw-popup/taking-a-pulse-heart-rate

Close your eyes.  Become aware of the sensation of your body sitting in the chair.  What does it feel like?  Can you feel it touching your back and legs?  Become aware of the sounds and smells around you. 

Become aware of your breathing.  Just notice it for 5 breaths.  Don’t try to change it.  After 5 breaths, start breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Don’t try to breathe deeper or change how fast your breath.  Just breathe. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.  Continue for 10 cycles of breath.   Remember, don’t try to force your breath.  Breathe naturally in rhythm.  When you complete your 10 breath cycles, slowly open your eyes. 

Take your pulse again.  What happened to your pulse?  What do you notice about how you feel? 

 This is an easy meditation that does not take much time.  Yet, it is still effective.  And it can be done literally anywhere. 

If you want to learn more about meditation, there are many sites on the internet and resources at bookstores.   I recommend for mindfulness meditation  “Full catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn.  The book primarily focuses on mindfulness in pain control and reduction.   However, it is a wealth of information on how to practice mindfulness in daily life.  Dr. Kabat-Zinn has other books and media available.   Thich Naht-Hanh is a Buddhist monk.  His books and audio are excellent to learn about life and meditation.   “The Miracle of Mindfulness” and “Breathe, You are Alive” are excellent places to start.   

Give meditation a try!  It really helps!