***Please lend your thoughts and prayers to those dealing with Texas wildfires. The post that follows feels almost silly given what people are going through, but perhaps, while meditation cannot bring back a house or a loved one, it can help manage life’s stresses. If anyone reading this is or has been in the path of the fires, please know that I am sending you big hugs and hopes that your home, animals, and family are safe.***
Our Swiss adventure continues. Today we combined cable cars and a long hike (about five hours) to reach Corvatsch, which, at 3,300 meters, provides a breathtaking 360-degree view of mountains and glaciers. Or should I say breath-giving?
The hike was challenging but felt safe all the way, and we agreed that this was one of our best hikes to date — and that’s saying something! We toured several mountain lakes filled with quartz and malachite.
Once we had finished our climb, I felt euphoric. My mind felt soft and peaceful, and I found myself in a state of “alert rest.”
Camille Maurine might say that I was in a meditative state, a state that I entered into naturally — and that state is available to all of us, all the time. When I taught yoga, I can’t tell you how many people said, “I can’t meditate. My mind never gets quiet.” Maurine would suggest that we allow all of the thoughts, emotions, and noisiness to just be there. I’m excited about Meditation Secrets for Women because I believe it provides people with a nonjudgmental, loving, sweet approach to meditation.
I confess that like many of the women Maurine spoke with about meditation, I did things that some teachers considered “wrong.” I often keep a notepad and pen next to me, for example, in case I get a really interesting idea. I open my eyes, jot down my thoughts, then return to my concentration. I sometimes move around during meditation, and occasionally I have a really good cry. I love my meditation, but I have often kept my methods to myself.
Why haven’t I — or these other women — shared our experiences of wanting more movement? Why do we not discuss the pleasure we feel or express our deepening passion for life?
Maurine shares some horror stories about how women’s psyches can be wounded with more authoritarian forms of meditation training. I’ve definitely run across teachers who say that their method is the ONLY method of true meditation — which makes me nervous. I also know that over the years, the more alive I felt in my body, the more certain teachers seemed to want me to “settle down.” I didn’t want to be calmer, or quieter, or anything other than my genuine self, which is sometimes loud, bawdy, and ludicrous, but which is me nonetheless. I got tired of disapproval and made the decision that I needed less self-improvement and more self-acceptance.
Still, where meditation was concerned, I always wondered: “Am I doing it right?”
For fourteen years, nearly every morning, I have written three pages longhand, a method I learned from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. She called them a form of meditation. That felt true to me, but still…
I found myself drawn to the Kripalu style of yoga, with its emphasis on “meditation in motion.” The idea is to free the body so it moves spontaneously into poses. But is that meditation?
Maurine would say yes. She provides twelve “secrets” to a woman’s meditation practice. Examples include Celebrate Your Senses, Claim Your Inner Authority, Be Tender With Yourself, Say Yes to Every Part of Yourself. She provides opportunities to explore, a variety of meditations to try, and opportunities to reflect on the meditations at the end of each section.
For a few weeks now I have written about September being a month of stillness and relaxation. Maurine would remind me that we are more flow than stillness, and I like that very much. For me, stillness is not about lack of movement, but about a sense of peace that pervades even when we feel in turmoil, a sense of knowing that we are always, in every moment, all right. So, I don’t think we disagree…but I think that from now on I will adopt the use of “flow.” I think it’s closer to the essence of what I hope to share this month.
Meditation Secrets for Women can benefit anyone, whether or not they are experienced meditators. In my opinion, even a man could benefit from the gentle approaches in this book. If you are a beginner, it’s a great instruction manual for getting started. If you’re experienced, you may find opportunities to explore different or new methods, or to just give yourself permission to enjoy what you’re already doing. For me, this book is an affirmation of what I have felt and experienced inside for years.