Meditation Through my Hands + Feet
A Creative’s Meditation
It can happen in the form of a pen + paper.
My understanding of meditation has been a very obtuse one. Here is how I thought meditation went: You are seated on the floor, your legs crossed, palms upward, eyes closed, “hummm”, zero distractions…
I can recognize its appeal, but it also sounds painful, especially considering the speed in which my thoughts come and go. My inclination to over analyze, to define such a practice as a “performance”, makes the idea seem just too much.
But meditation is not static, it does not come in just one form, and is not dependent upon perfection. This is a great relief because as I continue to work through some deep bouts of anxiety and stress, I have never felt so much in need of meditation as in this year.
The concept of an ebb and flow kind of practice resonates deeply with me. Fluid and immersive, and with many names, meditation is meant to be a unique experience. There is a foundation to it, with mindfulness and intention, but who is to say there is only one way to be mindful and intentional?
Meditation starts in the mind and moves through the body. Though I want to jump quickly into action, I recognize that first establishing a space to welcome and explore everything I’m feeling, is essential. I would not be able to experience these acts of reflection without first identifying my intention. If I jump in, I run the risk of slipping out of focus, taking a breath reminds me of the growth and the joy awaiting me. In this long journey, I want to take a moment and share with you:
some of my favorite acts of meditation
a few things a truly fulfilling time of meditation asks of me.
pen + paper meditation
I started a bullet journal last year that turned into a memory journal entirely (with bullet-esque features). In it I have noted joys, struggles, and everything in-between. As I continue to create it I ask, what would life be like if I told myself I could do exactly all that I dreamed of doing? Because the paper that I pour all of these thoughts onto actually includes a lot of growth, certainly a far more complex existence than just “you are nothing”.
If I was nothing I wouldn’t have started two new volunteer jobs or taken a drafting class or gotten on a flight. I have experienced moments of clarity, made mistakes, turned them into knowledge, had revelations.
Those are my reality.
thoughts are not the enemy, but not all are true
The power of words. It both amazes me and frightens me how verbose I can be in my mind. Not only do I talk away with so many descriptors, I also undo my confidence in the process. I tell myself with great eloquence how terrible I am at pursuing my calling, wondering why things aren’t changing, as I sit on the couch confirming to Netflix that yes, I am still watching.
Words of kindness exist too but I have to work hard to resist succumbing to the negativity that rips my self worth with such verbosity.
In the act of meditating, the moment where words start streaming through, and quiet your mind becomes a hilarious concept, consider the idea that the thoughts are not to be fought and fended off. Rather they are to be regarded and relinquished.
First, remove yourself as the creator of these thoughts and become the observer of them.
I listened to an episode of Oprah’s Supersoul Sunday podcast where she interviewed Michael Singer, author of “The Untethered Soul”. He is a spiritual teacher and in the interview talks about methods for allowing feelings to pass through you without taking over your life. It’s an interesting concept, your thoughts are entirely separate from your innate being, despite existing in your mind. From Singer’s perspective, we are first and foremost spiritual beings living in a physical form.
There is something greatly missed when I regard my physical body as the sole guiding master of my life and do not consider the enigmatic power of my consciousness and of the greater power that made me. My spirituality is actually really resilient to those lies I tell myself. If they weren’t, I would not have the capacity to keep going.
Starting a journal can create that space whether it be in the form of lists or stream of consciousness (no parameters, no edits, just write down all that comes to your mind). It’s a wonderful place for reflection and releasing the layers of emotions.
“There are 5 million people who will tell you, you can’t do it. Don’t be one of them” -Bruce jones
burn burn burn meditation
Speaking of pen and paper, there is sometimes the much needed act of relinquishing the words you’ve written. Sometimes it’s not enough to place the barraging thoughts on paper because those words are still present in your life, easily accessible to read over and over again. The cycle can continue, it’s just now in another form.
Once the negative thoughts demand your attention it is so easy to lean into them as truth because they are so loud and so persistent, they must hold some value. Otherwise why would they come back?
They only seem to have power though because so much focus is paid to them.
When you give those thoughts your time, energy, and attention, they will feel like necessities, as if they are a part of who you are. But they are not. They may be screaming with authority as you try to meditate, but the truth is you have the power to choose what words repeat in your mind.
The way to do so is to give space to those thoughts to create room for the quiet and the clarity. When I first came across that suggestion, that seemed unwise. Wouldn’t giving the negativity space, give it room to grow? Not when you, as an already separate being, choose to observe it, instead of becoming it.
You can ask whether these thoughts are serving you; are they steering you toward a joyful existence or a demoralized one? You know the truth that exists within you because it’s seamless, there is no turmoil, and anything that tells you different is not worth regarding. Every moment is too precious to miss.
Release it so there is no tangible thing to give new life to the heavy thoughts.
And I do indeed mean flame. A deeply cathartic experience, lighting up the sheets of paper where I have written these thoughts, to witness the remnants disappear with the sparks. It is powerful.
The words, the memories associated with them, become remnants too that I no longer need to hold onto. (Important note: burn the pages but please stay safe while doing so. This can also be metaphorical or consider a shredder instead).
“Every moment of life is a spiritual experience”
And every meditative act is a part of that.
Movement is so wonderful. I love the idea of meditation as a fluid and active engagement of my limbs. The most magical part of it is that it is an act of not just physical expression, but emotional expression and storytelling.
When you’ve found your rhythm in a choreography, something clicks and there is this removal of dissonance between your mind and the music; it’s just synergy.
Now, if you are anything like me, you’ll find many movements are actually way uncomfortable. I mean, pull a muscle uncomfortable. That struggle creates a lot of frustration and embarrassment. That is where the great challenge and great reward lies.
The creative endeavor to cradle a calm mind requires one thing. No expectations. It is entirely about the process, which means the limitations and mistakes are to be celebrated. That discomfort I mentioned is such a reality right now, but in pursuing through that discomfort, I am finding a greater peace with my body and my mind.
The first thing I have to do is tell myself my dance journey is my own and no matter the comparative results at the end or the continual challenge of a movement, I will remember that joy.
It exists in my aching muscles and in my disappointment of my late timing, my lack of flexibility, it exists regardless of all that is wanting. And not only is there joy, there is celebration. I do cringe at that idea because most of my life I’ve equated failing as failure, but those mistakes are acts of life, which is in essence an entirely imperfect thing.
Life is full of immense beauty, which is however we define it to be. What power it is to have your own definition!
Do not restrict yourself with a failure mentality, see yourself as a pursuer.
“Dance has been my medium, my metaphor, my message, and my meditation” -Gabrielle Roth
I thank the calm app for loving a mediation of stillness. The guided meditation has helped me to cherish my breath and the natural foundation it creates. I first discovered I don’t breathe well. I never before noticed how I hold my breath when I’m stressed and the effort is uneven and faint-I’m actually surprised I haven’t fainted. With the app I am acquiring an awareness of the relationship between my thoughts and my body and knowing the first action toward peace is nurturing my breath. Of course, easier said than done.
a life long pursuit
Oh how I want to master meditation and just be that. A MASTER. With no more struggle, thank you Calm app I got it, I’m good, let’s be one with all things, and forever content.
But such is not the way life works and I think we are the better for it.
Our growth is dependent upon our trials. I can think of many joys that had a mirrored suffering. Gratitude comes from the loss, the betrayal, the disappointment, and as I practice meditation, the act of reflection gives me a perspective to find peace. To master something means to constantly learn, improve, grow. We are ever changing beings so how can we become masters of a practice if we do not adjust its form alongside the life changes?
So, I continue to pursue. I continue to find tools to help guide me toward new ways of meditating, and approach not just the practice, but my own perspective with intention. I cannot change my habits or my circumstances without changing my way of thinking.
“the thing about meditation is…you become more and more you” -David Lynch
a creative’s meditation
is yours to define
Meditation is an act that gives space for reflection. You know your mind and body better than anyone because you have an intuition and a conscience to guide you.
Tapping into it might feel incongruous with life, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It takes time and I encourage you to give yourself the grace to take a break when 10 minutes feels like too much. Remember that there is a benefit in trying, in giving even 2 minutes of your time to let your mind rest.
There is power in creative experiences that are about movement, emotional expression, really anything.
You are present in the moment.
You are attune to all of your thoughts.
You have greater discernment to let the ones that hurt you, go.
. . .
Useful Resources to explore meditative practices