What question arises when I focus on “The Left Hand” as an object of Vedanta meditation?
This story tells of the left hand having a dialogue with the right hand. Well, not a dialogue but an argument. The right hand is feeling defensive because the left hand started the conversation by priding itself on being more refined, slimmer and smoother, than the right hand. Because the right hand does all the work, it makes its own claim to superiority, especially when it comes to playing the piano.
Reading this story as a yogi, I have to admit to growing impatient with this beautifully written creative expression. Though I have been meditating for years, I couldn’t help but get irked; as the argument developed, I wanted to scold those hands and shout shut up, already, and just hold yourselves together in Anjali mudra!
This strange story could make a Jnana yogi ask, “If the right and left hands were sentient beings — independent creatures with minds and hearts of their own — what wisdom would they seek to grasp? What blessings would they confer when placed upon objects with names and forms? Alone with each other, would the hands press together and hold one another in prayer? Or, would they only argue over who is better and who does more work?”
Is meditation watching the movements of the mind and then continually bringing the mind back to a mantra or object?
Is meditation sitting quietly and forcing intense focus on one object until the meditator merges with that object and goes beyond? (Yogic)
Is meditation boring?
Is meditation hard?
Must we meditate daily, in the morning, as the sun rises and as the sun sets?
Is meditation something that makes us transcend the world and abandon the world to walk the path of the renunciate; or, does meditation connect us and make us more aware and make us more joyfully involved in everything we do?
Is meditation something that helps us to maintain a refined sense of awareness toward our body, mind, and movements in the world? (Mindfulness)
Is meditation something that I can engage in all of the time; therefor, I don’t need to practice any method because if everything is a meditation nothing is a meditation? (nihilistic)
Can / should meditation be defined?
Does meditation lead to levitation; or, is meditation all about balancing gravity and levity?
One day, while thinking about these questions, I came across an Urban Outfitters advertisement that appeared in my email inbox that said, “New bikinis are the answer.” This made me laugh.
Yogic meditation chooses an object like the breath or a mantra, and disciplines the mind to stay focused on that one object. Yogic meditation guides the practitioner to still the fluctuations of the mind.
Mindfulness meditation assesses the here and now moment with intense focus to refine and expand awareness in the moment.
Vedanta meditation is not exactly meditation in the yogic sense, nor is it meditation in the mindfulness sense. Vedantic meditation urges the practitioner to encounter everything in the world in a state of Being the One Illuminating whatever is encountered. It is a path to Self knowledge. It is a path of Brahmavidya, the direct experience of Pure Consciousness in all moments at all times. So, for instance, I know for sure that my eyes are different from the objects I am seeing. Vedanta guides me to know–equally as clearly–that the Witness / the Pure Consciousness is right here and now, shining forth in this moment no matter what I am experiencing. Brahma — undivided and luminous — generates the conscious reality, reveals and hides, and is equally present in every being. Plus, it exists beyond the grasp of language; so we don’t really need to talk or write about it but just be with it, dwell in it, celebrate it, acknowledge it, bow to it. Love it. I want a t-shirt that says I (heart) Brahmavidya. Ha! Ha! Funny, right? I wish Urban Outfitters sold such a t shirt. I would buy it. Peace!
Infinite gratitude to Swami Sarvapriyananda whose YouTube classes are a treasure to me.
I read Lofty Promises: An Election Eve Tribute to the American Essay. In that essay, Joey Franklin mentions that in 1961, James Baldwin wrote “The time has come, God knows, for us to examine ourselves but we can only do this if we are willing to free ourselves of the myth of America and find out what is really happening here.” Franklin’s gorgeous essay pays tribute to the literary form of the American essay as it has been a great tool for helping us to examine ourselves, to articulate what is really happening, and to free ourselves from ignorant myths.
I like to wonder, are there other tools–in addition to the essay–that can help us to free ourselves of the myth of America and examine what is going on here?
One way that I have found to free myself is to study Sanskrit language. In high school, I studied French. That freed me to explore avant-guarde aesthetics. In college and grad school, I studied Chinese. That freed me to become more concise in my writing. In yoga teaching programs, I have studied, read, wrote, and recited Gurmukhi. This freed me to explore the spiritual warrior within me.
But now I am thrilled to be focusing on Sanskrit.
From my previous experiences, I know that language study has proved a great way to free my mind from psychological conditioning, useless internal monologue in my native English, and tired cultural restraints. When I learn a new language and start to use that language, I feel that I grow a whole new personality, a fresh psychology, and a more expansive expressive range.
What’s great about Sanskrit is that, while speaking in other languages can deplete energy (just consider how you feel if you have been lecturing in English all day long), speaking, repeating, and chanting Sanskrit is a life-giving force. The more you repeat Sanskrit, the more energy you have.
Sanskrit scholar, Dr. Katy Jane says,
When you speak, your life force gets expelled with each exhalation you speak. With every word, your life force gets diminished. Talking is truly akin to death.
With Sanskrit–the language of yoga–the opposite happens. As you pronounce each syllable, your prana (life force) gets redirected back into your body, replenishing your energy. It gives you life.
This election season, I have had the blessing and privilege to study Sanskrit. This has made me feel energized and happy.
How has this study freed me from the myth of America? A current myth of America is that the leadership in Washington is contributing to our well-being. It is not. We need to take well-being into our own hands. I study Sanskrit, and I am not getting my energy depleted by engaging in unnecessary complaining. I am devoting energy to volunteer projects with local schools, reforestation projects, and literary arts and education. I am utterly clean and pure as far as feeling influenced in my mind and energy by any social media or misinformation; my internal well-being remains totally in tact and even joyful. I also know exactly what words to say aloud that will serve to refuel me and those with whom I am speaking. Sanskrit helps me know how to never waste breath and never waste words. Both breath and words are precious resources for maintaining good physical, mental, energetic, and spiritual well-being.
With humility and enthusiasm, I start with meditation on the Sanskrit alphabet in the human body. This encourages freedom from the myth of America. This is also a good meditation for helping to know what exactly is going on here. The experience of freeing oneself from the myth of America is different for everyone. The experience of knowing exactly what is going on here is different for everyone. Each experience is unique, necessary, and part of the divine matrix. So, it is impossible to put into a blog post, or even in an American essay, what these liberations and revelations look like for each unique being. But I can sense that, for me personally, studying Sanskrit, being a humble and eager student, and meditating on the Sanskrit alphabet, is a great start to feeling absolutely sovereign within myself and my community. I do plan to vote, but my act of voting is beautifully complicated by the fact that the American myth that I have released is the myth that I am governed or that I am governable. I am not either of those.
The Moon is new. To Earth, the Moon shows her dark face. But I gaze upon Her with New Eyes, the Eyes of 1,000 Sophia Dragons. Welcome the Lunar New Year with Oracle Wisdom.
As the now-lost Sacred Serpent Prophesies recorded long before, this is an era we honor the mother’s of miracles star nativities within the Tree of Life and the pure innocence of the human heart. It’s a season for speaking in Code and for cosmic star bloom collaboration. Join Her coven. Get cozy in your Vajra Body. Create together! Open your wings. Let’s fly!
While absorbing the wisdom of these books, I also practiced the “Grace of God” meditation taught by Yogi Bhajan.
These three together create a trifecta of gilded self-initiation that will honor all beings’ Divine Feminine Self wisdom. Simply be in awe and wonder at Divine Feminine Consciousness within every being. Celebrate Divine Feminine Consciousness. Every being has the power to consecrate intimate Divine Feminine Consciousness within his or her own self. The experience of reading these two books while practicing the Grace of God meditation enhances love for women, expands love for the Divine Mother within.
I intend to continue to celebrate keycode 444, which reveals the ways vulnerability and invincibility dance as loving partners within the heart of all beings. New friends have called to me, reached me, and cheered me on. We are Isis, Hathor, Green Tara, Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, Quan Yin, White Buffalo Woman, God’s Wife, Yogi Ma, Sophia, Rebecca, and more names that are too pure to write in this language.
We are absolutely vulnerable! We are absolutely invincible! We circle dance around all Earth Ways, Water Ways, Fire Ways, Air Ways, and Ether Ways. We spin new star nations into being whirling incantations to awaken the potential in all creatures.
It has been ages, but now we can openly, honestly, and cheerfully proclaim and freely express the ways we create reconciliation, integrity, and sovereignty by breathing into one another’s Completion. It’s time to weave etheric threads of Divine Feminine Christ Consciousness into the quantum matrix of sleeping children in Her Sacred Heart.
Dear Sophia Dragon Tribe
Dear Sophia Dragon Tribe,
Yes, I am ready to witness what Heaven on Earth we can co-create on this Cosmic Day of Brahma.
Beloved Sophia Dragon Tribe, thank you for welcoming me. These powerful women have lifted me off the floor where I was bowing, begging, suffering, and weeping. They have encouraged me to stand tall and enjoy their eyes locked with mine as equals. They have shown me the ways of the winged divinity with femininity. Generous with wisdom gifts, these women have given me the experience of sweet, sensual, fully-embodied oneness with all Star-seed Prayer People Thunder Being Spirit Gods.
Yogin Dragon Writer Speaks
I receive this Codex as cosmic nectar, an epic revelation, a primal soul song from which every song of every soul emerges and returns. I receive this Codex as Parashakti Sundari sits with me, and we cheerfully record Her 1,000 names miss spelled out in my 1,000 names. I call out with 1,000 voices in her 1,000 voices. She and I are ignited as one SiStar within the Tree of Life. We tenderly play our parts initiating the Golden Age of Miracles. Yes, let us cherish our role as Mama Earth, shrine-punk, wayfinding angels, showing how Heaven is here on Earth! Yes, let every being we look upon be bathed by our gaze as our gaze is the 1,000 Waters of Compassion. We are one with the White Cloud Beings and the Thunder Beings. Every storm, every suffering, every virus, every wildfire is a revelation that every changing thing is sacred in its every form and formlessness.
You have asked me to unite with you to guide the human consciousness through Earth’s ascension process so that we may experience this process as blissful. Yes, I willingly take on this honor, blessing, and awesome challenge!
Dear Sophia Dragon Tribe, you turn these tears I have wept these centuries into prayed-for rainfall! Bless us all with super blooms and new life and profound reconciliation; may all enemies think of one another and feel new elation. Transform every conflict! Empower this Sutra to be ten times greater — make “recognize the other is you” into “know the other’s bliss is your bliss.” Keycode 777! “It is done. It is done. It is done. The power of three makes a perfect trinity!”
Thank women! I thank the women friends around the cosmos, for hearing me, for empowering me, and for protecting me. At last, I rest in the sanctuary of the embrace of these billions and billions of feminine beings from all times and spaces. Here are also many alien mother creatures from other planetary systems. Imagine what they look like and the songs they sing! And I have confidence that from here forward my soul is sheltered and infinitely vast. She tells me my writing is safe here. She smiles upon me and my writing life so I may keep up with seeing the lightning within the bejeweled eye of every word.
She gently guides my memory to recall once, long ago, in Her Temple of the Primordial Rose, we all heard the man say, Be like Rebecca. He spoke my name aloud, with reverence and guidance. He said Be like Rebecca. That was at Sophia’s Bat Mitzvah where we were all together Mitzvah-ed. We observe Rebecca and Sophia and the Dragon Tribe are one. It is done. Hello Divine Feminine Christ Consciousness! Hello!
I humbly pray Divine Feminine Christ Consciousness enjoy full expression with Mother Earth. I pray our divinity and oneness usher all beings into the Golden Age of Miracles! May we praise the unfathomable one breath of Sophia: her one inhale creates Aeons, and her one exhale creates Aeons. May her eternal breath be our reception of all the wisdom ways to lengthen the Golden Age of Miracles to last at least three times that long. May every human heart and awareness experience true connection, warmth, Mother love, and vital ecstasy in equal doses of levity and light all at once now and now and now! May we know Heaven on Earth and observe it all go in and come out of Her dark womb of no-thing. Amen!
Elif Shafak’s novel 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in This Strange World begins with The End.
Leila, the main character, is dead.
For 10 minutes and 38 seconds after her body is physically dead, Leila’s mind is still active. Shafak’s novel follows this mind activity. Though Leila was murdered in Istanbul, and her body is thrown in a dumpster, her mind’s activity guides a reader to witness a life injured by sexual abuse but redeemed by friendship; a reader reflects and feels awe what this life cut short by violent death can inspire in Leila’s friends, the sacrifices they make for her that benefit Leila beyond the grave.
What insights does Tequila Leila’s life and death offer a yogi?
Can reading this novel while practicing “Meditation to Go Through Death Into the Higher Levels Of Ether” (see below) refine the chitta (witnessing awareness)? Can this practice under this decade’s last full moon bring increased receptivity and sensitivity in the yogi? Can it bring honor to the dead? Can the practice of being aware of my own being while reading this novel elevate this consciousness in this living process here and now?
No doubt this novel helps inspire a reader’s compassion for Leila. What does that compassion feel like in my body while I read? When do I cry for her? When do I laugh with her? And I assume that any reader, not just a yogi, will feel the burning flame of inner anger when Leila’s father lies to her and when her uncle sexually abuses her. What discomfort am I feeling in my own body when imagining her body brutally murdered and abandoned in the trash? My hip hurts. My neck hurts. The kundalini energy in my spine has gone back to sleep for now. How is the Adi Shakti within me ever going to rise again while I am reading and witnessing yet another incident of the world’s cruel treatment of a beautiful woman?
This blog post explores a way to give full expression to compassion toward Tequila Leila and her friends in this novel. I can’t think of a better way to do that than to dedicate a meditation to these characters and also write about my respect for their souls. Though these characters are fictional creations of the author, their struggles are true to many real life people in the world today. This post attempts to broadcast an intention: Extend immense compassion, honor, and respect to real life people with the same struggles as Tequila Leila and her friends. Perhaps this creates a shelter, of sorts, for “it is in the shelter of each other that the people live” (Irish blessing).
Shafak’s novel is a reflection on a life in the context of the body’s death process. This is intriguing to read as a yogi because yogic teachings on death encourage a yoga practitioner to live every moment in heightened awareness so as to bring heightened awareness to the moments of death.
Yogis mostly choose when to discard the body, and do so in awareness. This is not suicide or euthanasia, but Maha Samadhi. A yogi knows how to die sitting in meditation with a smile on her face. She chooses to do this when life force is running out but before the body gets so radically feeble that it would need drugs to avoid pain. She chooses her time before the mind grows so radically demented that it cannot function in meditation. A yogi knows when and how to exit gracefully. Discard the body like discarding clothing.
Preparing for a conscious death involves being totally aware in every moment in life. So, how shall we be in awareness when reading about Tequila Leila’s life and death? Being in awareness as a reader of a novel means being aware of the frequencies the story is resonating into the layers of the subconscious mind. If a reader slowly witnesses the impact this story is having upon her own psyche, she can consciously work with these energies to transform the inner “trauma into dharma.” The way to witness this process is meditation. When a story flows through a yogi’s psyche, she can consciously summon the frequencies of compassion and healing to meet the story as its impact echoes throughout the universe within her. So regardless of how my kundalini is reacting to this story, I know I can get Her to RISE again!
When She rises, she is bringing Leila with her! Oh, yogi! Meditate!
According to yogic wisdom, after death, the mind does continue its activity. Thoughts that are projected from any living person continue to ripple out in the subtle realm for at least three-day’s time. For Elif Shafak’s purposes with this particular novel, the 10 minute and 38 seconds time frame comes from scientific observations that have been able to record actual physical brain activity after a person is pronounced clinically dead. Scientists have observed that the brain can remain active for up to 10 minutes and 38 seconds after the body dies.
Yogis say the death process for the body takes up to twenty two minutes for ALL the pulses in the physical body and then subtle body to slow down and stop. The last pulse to stop in the subtle body — always whispering more quietly than the pulse of the physical heartbeat — is the pulse at the center of the shushmani channel, the pulse within the center of the Sukhmani Nadi. But who really knows, maybe the time it takes for any one being to stop pulsing is actually quite different for everyone and every situation. But for our purposes here and now, let’s say that if during her lifetime a yogi cultivates awareness and even a loving relationship between her consciousness and the pulse at the center of her spine, she is likely to be loving and aware at the time of her death. She will be aware of how to launch her soul’s energy up into the Sukhmani Nadi and straight through the Brahmarandara at the time of death. If that’s so important…
Let’s wonder for a moment: if you know you have a choice, would you choose to discard your body while you are still able to be aware of the extremely subtle activity within the shushmana? Or, would you live on through months or years of pain, suffering, and illness just to stay alive in this world one more day, month, or year? But these questions are beyond the scope of this blog post … it’s okay to drift beyond scope, but let’s try to return to Leila.
Well the only point in understanding here that for a yogi, discarding the body in a seated position helps create the link between the consciousness, the spine, and the heavens. Then go! Wahe Guru! This is the frame of reference from which I am reading this novel and meditating on behalf of its characters.
Of course, we know discarding the body while seated in meditation is not a choice that Tequila Leila has in the novel; that missed opportunity for Leila makes her story that much sadder for my own yogi reader’s awareness.
Leila was brutally murdered. What about the situation of murder, yogi?
So what kind of impact does witnessing her situation have upon this yogi’s psyche? What can a yogi do to extend some compassionate energy into the real-life Tequila Leilas out there?
Suppose a yogi practices a particular meditation that is helpful for the afterlife and dedicates such a practice to the characters in this novel; can such a seemingly insignificant gesture help anyone cope, bring healing, and restore balance to the universe?
Can such a practice help the collective psyche to bring more awareness to the death process? How can the devotion of Leila’s friends bring more awareness to the grieving process? Is it possible for the events in a novel to increase a reader’s compassion for the afterlife process for all people, whether they be our dearly beloved, friends, acquaintance, celebrities, singers, strangers, and even those judged as companionless outcasts?
Let’s begin to lovingly approach these questions with something concrete: time.
10 minutes and 38 seconds is a limit. Of course the novel explores beyond these minutes. As expansive beings, we cannot help but exceed the limits. That’s good news.
In yogic meditation, we often sit for a set amount of time. Minutes of meditation have different significance. The amount of time spent sitting in meditation effects the body in different ways. 3 minutes impacts the blood and circulation. 11 minutes has an impact on the pituitary gland and the nerves. Meditating for 22 minutes brings the positive mind, negative mind, and neutral mind into balance. 31 minutes resets the whole mind and brings 31 elements and aura into balance. 62 minutes integrates the “shadow mind” and the positive projection. 2 ½ hours completes a cycle of prana (inward flow of life force energy) and apana (outward flow of life force energy); clear states reached here will stick throughout the cycle of the day and make a lasting imprint on the level of the subconscious mind.
So a novel exploring the mind, body, and soul in the minutes after death appeals to this yogi. A dead being’s subtle energy is still making an imprint in the living realm; meanwhile it’s dimensions are defused and also passing to the Hereafter, moving beyond.
Here is a meditation that was taught by Yogi Bhajan that I practiced during and after reading Elif Shafak’s novel. I dedicated this practice to Tequila Leila and her friends in this novel and to the real-life versions of these characters.
The meditation is called
“Meditation to Go Through Death into the Higher Levels of Ether.”
Sit with a tall spine, in a chair with feet on the floor or sit on the floor with the legs crossed. Place hands in “Prayer Mudra” (both palms pressed together). Place the mudra at the heart center and turn the fingers so they point forward straight out from the heart. The thumbs will be pointing straight up to the sky; now, separate the thumbs — they are like the horns of a ram — point slightly outwards. The elbows are tucked into the sides. Eyes are closed but slightly open with the eyeballs focused at the tip on the nose.
Deeply inhale. While the breath is going out, chant aloud this mantra:
Haree Haree Haree Haree Haree Haree Haree Har.
( Pronounced Hah DEE Hah DEE Hah DEE Hah DEE Hah DEE Hah DEE Hah DEE Hud ).
Deeply inhale again. Again, chant the mantra while the breath is exhaled. Continue this pattern for 31 minutes.
Yogi Bhajan said that this meditation is a technical, subtle, and powerful way to build your circumvent field. He said, “It’s a circumvent meditation that takes care of your problems in the hereafter.” The circumvent field is the electromagnetic field that surrounds the body. It’s important to note that yogis feel into realms of mind, body, soul (also the titles of the three parts of Shafak’s novel) but also emotion, and most importantly ENERGY. There is a subtle energy body that journeys with us through the death process, too. Meditation in every moment in life helps.
In the novel, when Tequila Leila is buried in the Cemetery of the Companionless, her five closest friends agree that this is an injustice, so they take unexpected actions to right this wrong. Their collective effort is humorous, bold, and frightening; and while their actions give hope, they also provide a fresh vision for how we might “rethink everything we do and the way we are doing it” when it comes to taking care of our dead. This book helps us to feel called upon to rethink the way we do death and grieving and burial ceremonies. And if we can “go through death into the higher levels of ether,” how can our entrance into the higher levels of ether benefit those we leave behind in the living realm?
It is no coincidence that yogis talk about the realm of Blue Ethers and Leila merges with a Blue Betta Fish in the hereafter. The color blue is consistent with both versions of the hereafter experience.
So over the days that I was reading 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in This Strange World, I was also practicing “Meditation to Go Through Death Into the Higher Levels of Ethers” for 31 minutes. This novel and meditation go well together! Add to that, the 40 seconds of silence when the meditation ends. Those 40 seconds are most important of all. The silence — empowered by meditative creative intention — are the 40 seconds of regeneration of the yogi’s inner cosmos. That’s why the title of this blog post is 31 minutes and 40 seconds under this cold moon.
And the Cold Moon is this last full moon of this decade. My full moon ritual is writing about this book.
The cold moon gifts us the energy of Long Nights. Additionally, the most active meteor shower, the Geminids Meteor Shower occurs during this last full moon of 2019. The moon is full at precisely 12:12 AM EST on 12/12. Some say this full moon brings emotional insight and hope. Well, then, Let’s huddle in close and cry for Leila and hope we learn and improve from having known her!
The full moon is a time to feel complete. This year is complete. I am complete. This project is complete. The full moon is also always a good time to release what no longer serves.
Collectively, may the cruel world release the following bad habits that do not serve: murder, gun violence, sexual abuse, social rejection, families disowning their blood relations, lies, fraud, cynicism, superficiality, superiority complexes, cowardice, greed, ignorance, and all outdated and tired traditions that hurt people rather than elevate people.
The Meditation to Go Through Death Into the Higher Levels of Ether at this moment in time is intended to serve any psyche that wishes to let go of forces that create unfair pain and suffering in every life; but my particular practice of it here and now is especially intended to offer space for healing in any lives similar to that of Tequila Leila from the book 10 minutes and 38 Seconds in this Strange World.
May those who endure childhood sexual abuse find deep inner healing. May those who work in the sex industry realize their truths and gifts and feel liberated from the indignities, cruelty, violence, and judgements continually thrust upon them. May people who think they are men and women of God, and often regard themselves as somehow spiritually superior to everyone else, come to new understandings about the ways of Grace and blessings. May the ways of Grace and blessings never deem any being, not even the smallest worm, “unworthy.” May those who haven’t the courage to speak the truth that dwells in their hearts find courage to sing their heart’s true song before it is “too late.”
Infinite gratitude to Elif Shafak for her work as a writer of profound insight, imagination, and compassion. May she continue to create literary masterpieces that fill us with hope and inspiration.
Below are three meditations that were taught by Yogi Bhajan. Accompanying these meditations are simple prayers, vows, and writing prompts.
This post is meant to send you off onto a writing journey. Here is a gentle warning: this is not for anyone who is in a hurry. This is for those who create the time and space for consciousness to unfold, secret room for slow growth, gradual internal blooming, and deep contemplation.
I shared this journey in a workshop I taught at San Diego Writers Ink in May 2018. The workshop was entitled “Merge With the Muse: Meditation for Writers.”
The experiment here is this: 1. Practice Meditation One then close the meditation with the Prayer. 2. Sit quietly for a few moments in the silence you create. Bow the head and pray. 3. Open a journal or computer and write whatever comes up with the writing prompt. 4. Repeat this for three days.
On the fourth day, 1. Practice Meditation One. 2. This time, close the meditation with the Vow. Bow your forehead to the floor while you mentally repeat the vow. 3. Sit quietly for a few moments in the silence you created. 4. Open a computer or journal and write whatever comes up with the writing prompt. Repeat this process over three days.
Spend six days with Meditation One. Become aware of what difference it makes when you approach a writing prompt while dwelling in the humility of Prayer versus approaching the writing prompt while dwelling in the sanctity of Vow. Be unafraid to consecrate your writing process. Bless your writing process, as you bless your life process.
Then repeat this same entire process with meditation two for the next six days. Then repeat the entire process with meditation three for the last six days. This will give you a total of 18 days of meditation, prayer, vow, and writing practice. Take it slowly, one day at a time.
There is no deadline, only a quiet commitment to listen more deeply to your own contemplative core. Create space in your life for deep contemplation.
If you try this contemplative writing journey, I would love to hear from you about what blooms from within you.
This is the question:
How was your writing while resonating a prayer different from writing while resonating a vow?
Please feel invited to contact me. I adore writing friendships and long letters about contemplative writing.
Find me at my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or leave a comment below this blog post. Embark on this as a commitment to a slow process, and invite that slowness to be with you. Slow unfolding is the beauty, challenge, and joy of the contemplative life.
Happy meditating and happy writing!
Meditation One (Practice every day for Days 1 to 6)
of Fire 3 – 31 minutes
Sit with a tall spine and your hands in Gyan Mudra (index finger and thumbs press together with wrists resting on the knees). Begin breath of fire. The inhale and exhale travels through the nose; it is a quick, short breath, like panting. The breath is powered by effortlessly “dancing” or bouncing the navel point. The force of the breath is equal on the inhale and exhale.
aware of the pathways of prana.
Prayer (Contemplate on this prayer after meditation for days 1, 2, & 3)
May the fires within my body ignite my creative power.
Vow (Contemplate on this vow after the meditation for days 4, 5, & 6)
The fire within me shall ignite creative power.
Writing Prompt (Contemplative Writing for Days 1 – 6)
Write a journal entry contemplating this quote from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: “By loosening the causes of bondage and becoming sensitive to the nuances of prana’s pathways, one’s perceptions can enter another’s body.”
MeditationTwo (Practice for days 7 to 12)
Meditation for a Calm Heart
a tall spine. Left hand over the heart
with fingers pointing to the right.
Right in Gyan Mudra next to the right shoulder. Inhale and lift the heart and ribcage. Hold the breath for as long as is
comfortable. Slowly exhale keeping the
spine long and chest lifted. Hold the
breath out for as long as is comfortable.
Continue this breath pattern for 3 – 11 minutes.
With the breath held in, be aware of the pleasure of fulfillment.
With the breath held out, be aware of the relief the of emptiness.
Prayer(Contemplate this prayer after the meditation for days 7, 8, & 9)
May the wind within my body move me to create in graceful
Vow (Contemplate this Vow after the meditation for days 10, 11, & 12)
The air within my body shall serve me to create in graceful
Writing Prompt (Write on this topic for days 7 to 12)
Write a story in 300 words or fewer that reveals the
difference between acting compulsively and acting consciously.
Meditation Three (Practice this for days 13 to 18)
the Mount Meru mudra, and hold this mudra in front of the heart. Inhale in four segments while you mentally
vibrate the mantra: Sa Ta Na Ma. Hold
the breath, and mentally vibrate: Sa Ta Na Ma.
Exhale in four segments while you mentally vibrate: Sa Ta Na Ma. Hold the breath out, and mentally vibrate: Sa Ta Na Ma.
Continue for 3 – 11 minutes.
of the energy flowing through the spine.
Prayer(After the meditation, contemplate on this Prayer. Then proceed to the writing prompt. Do this for days 13, 14, & 15).
May this breath pattern, my body’s biorhythms, and my heart’s pump
invigorate the rhythm in my writing.
Vow (After the medittion, cntmplate this Vow. Then proceed to the wriing prompt. Do this for days 16, 17, & 18)
This breath pattern, my body’s biorhythms, and my heart’s pump
shall invigorate the rhythm of my writing.
Writing Prompt (Write on this topic for days 13 to 18).
Write a short non-fiction contemplative essay on “My Summer
Resources for Further Reading
Meditation as Medicine by Dharma Singh Khalsa and Cameron Stauth
the longtime sun shine upon you. May all
love surround you. May the pure light
within you guide your way on.
May the energy in my spine support my most creative connection to myself, my beloved readers, each precious word, and the universe.
The energy in my spine shall support my most creative connection to myself, my beloved readers, each precious word, and the universe.
Contemplate the image below or search for images of Mount Kailash online, and write a story in 300-words or fewer that is a dialogue between you and this mountain. Write your internal dialogue between the wisdom within your Third Eye and the wisdom within this sacred mountain.
A poet whom I had not heard of before a month ago has entered into my awareness, and I write this post to honor the significance of my encounter with his work.
The poet’s name is Pádraig Ó Tuama.
In the beginning of March, I received an e mail from “Poem-a-Day,” an e mail list I subscribe to. I subscribe to so many lists that I quickly glance at message subject lines and am very selective about taking time to open a message. But on this day, the subject line “Makebelieve” intrigued me enough to click open the e mail message that contained Pádraig Ó Tuama’s poem, “Makebelieve.” One click is all…
One never knows where as small a gesture as clicking open an e mail message may lead, especially when that message contains a poem with these opening lines: “And on the first day / god made / something up.”
Now, receiving these words delighted me. Fun! To perceive the entire creation can be, quite possibly, one exuberant jazz improvisation! It is great fun to make something up. You go, god! It’s playful! In my own experience, playfulness is the closest I come to divinity. So, yes, I’m in, here we go, let’s play!
In the spirit of improvisation, I encounter this poem, wondering what I can make up here. Suppose this is a first day because, really, it must be a first day of something somewhere for someone. Today is Day One of “Makebelieve.”
Any word play primes consciousness to realize Self, God and Creation are one great, shimmering, spinning thrum of spontaneity. With such awareness, the Self may encounter “Makebelieve” as inspiring a creation.
Hello to the flow of possibility!
“Makebelieve” enters my consciousness and begins its elfin dance in my world.
I inhale the entire poem deeply. Let open my cells, nerves, muscles, organs, glands. May I embrace the poem’s vibration within my body. Even the space between each word in the poem enters into my tissues, cells, and nerves. Let words of “Makebelieve” resonate throughout my 72,000 nadis and add to the gospel according to Ida, Pingala, and Sushmana!
And on the first day
Then everything came along:
seconds, sex and
beasts and breaths and rabies;
hunger and healings,
lust and lust’s rejections;
swarming things that swarm
inside the dirt;
girth and grind
and grit and shit and all shit’s
rings inside the treetrunk
and branches broken by the snow;
pig’s hearts and stars,
mystery, suspense and stingrays;
and interests and death;
with all our viruses, laments and
all our songs and made-up stories;
and our songs about the stories
and all that we’ve forgotten we’ve
and to hold it all together god made
and those rhyming seasons
that display decay.
Pádraig Ó Tuama
Read it again over long moments and visualize welcoming this poem into my pineal gland, and inviting the pineal gland to secrete its Nectar of Mystic Pleasure.
I read the poem over and over aloud and then in a whisper and then silently. I inhale and suspend the breath inside while I silently repeat the poem.
Then I exhale and suspend the breath out while I silently repeat the poem.
Filling and emptying myself with poem and with breath in this way I can amuse / observe myself for hours. I combine a simple, ancient yogic breathing pattern with deeply experiencing this one good contemporary poem. And guess what, Mister Pádraig Ó Tuama? I am meditating with your poem, and breathing consciously all while sitting in my yogi cave! And after regarding your work, sir, I do know how you feel about caves. Hello to the Cave between my eyebrows! Welcome in! You, sir, have nothing to fear in this yogi cave as you are welcomed here with great reverence. Friend, you are known in here as
The Lord of the Rings Inside Tree Trunks!
Not that you created the rings inside tree trunks, but you created my fresh-colored awareness of them. Before I read your poem, the rings inside tree trunks were brown. After reading your poem, for me, the rings inside tree trunks are brown tinged with gold.
Let’s just sit here the day long and breathe this poem. Let every word and thought be intimately entwined with breath awareness. Any poem worth reading demands The Slowed-Breath Reading. Elongate the moments of the poem; take it word by word with lots of pause and be aware of the eye’s movements: ask, over which words or spaces do my lids close then open, close then open? What unseen dust do my lashes flit off? What of the play of light the words toss inside these eyes? When I happen upon a word or groups of words I adore, am I open to regarding their effect inside my body as miraculous as, say, news of the birth of our world’s beloved Savior?
Can breathing and being with this one poem align me up for longed-for, deep-connection encounters with my fellow word-lovers who delight in the wordly realm of divine play?
I seek and find a travel companion in this complete stranger, this Gay Irish Catholic poet named Pádraig, who knows nothing whatsoever of my own queer existence. Now, a shadow of me may lurk in his subconscious mind somewhere as “the reader,” but the way his writing resonates with me, I would have to insist I know him too well. I want to proclaim I am his Brother.
Now, I know I can be perceived to be wearing a woman’s body. But the hug I imagine giving my Brother to thank him for his writings, the heart hug I imagine giving him, is a hug that I give him with a man’s arms, with a man’s heart, with a generous amount of gratitude and admiration transferred through all my man-muscles squeezing. And when we regularly squeeze tension into our muscles and then release, we learn how to let go of tension. Hug often. Squeeze often. Let go often.
But now back to “Poem-a-Day.” This daily e mail offers so much more in one e mail message than one poem per day.
Now I choose to create infinite amounts of time, leisure, open hours, quiet light that urges me to listen to the voice of my soul that says, yes, explore here! Though I have a list of “things to do,” I am choosing to listen to my soul and take a heartfelt dive into this here rich library of resources before me offered by Poetry.org. What truth does this tell about my relationship to my “to do” list?
This e mail message relays all sorts of things that relate to the poem, “Makebelieve.” Welcome all this now to relate to all of me. Let me dwell and draw out this moment when my first encounter with this poem, this poet, this stranger exudes its power. The power of this Stranger is that he piques my curiosity, invites me into a fresh realm of the contemplative journey, a new mystery, and fabulous play. Over the month of March, I have been submersing myself in his writing, and my encounter with this writer is guiding me on a lyrical pilgrimage.
He is returning me, after a long time exploring a variety of sacred texts and bowing to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, his work is returning me to explore love for the The Holy Bible.
The “Makebelieve” poem comes with a list of titles by the author, plus any links to further resources. In the first encounter, I learned a bit of biographical information about Pádraig Ó Tuama. Here is his insight that instantly invited my joyful participation.
“When it comes to ‘Freedom of Religion’, much attention is given to the words freedom and religion. However, the of is also worthy of mention. Religion is free; it is free to query, to make meaning, to break things, to make things up. Religion is—or should be—free to change too, or to wrap itself around the delight and devastation of the human condition. Religion does not only provide a storypoem about the earth’s creation, it also provides a form by which we can create, and recreate, break and makebelieve. We are made of humus, the old texts tell us—we are also made of rot and time; danger and demand. In the beginning was a…what? You tell me.”
Pádraig Ó Tuama
In this beginning right now is longing for friendship. So, I continue to be here. I learn he wrote a book of poems called Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community. Reading a bit further, I learn that The Corrymeela Community is Ireland’s oldest reconciliation community. An easy click on the content below that leads me to the Corrymeela Community homepage.
In the “About Us” page, I read that the Corrymeela Community is a people of “prayers, conversation, curiosity, and questioning.” Instantly, I think, Yes, I adore these people! This is my kind of community. How I long to retreat to such a place where people are devoted to sitting fireside together, drinking cups of tea and engaging in deep, honest conversations about difficult subjects.
How I long to spend every Spring season reading poetry, meditating, practicing yoga kriya, and praying my radiant heart out. Then wouldn’t it be nice to sit down with any person, idea, or state of being that has hurt or helped me and engage in a good, long, difficult talk?
Hello to the distance between us.
Hello to closing that distance with sharing contemplative writing.
Instantly, I ordered my own copy of Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community. When it arrived to my home in California several days later, I read it over and over. And to dive into the details of how my physical, mental, emotional, energetic, and etheric bodies encounter these quiet poems will take so much longer than this blog post. So now all that and all I wish to contemplate and write while slowly reading through his book In the Shelter is filling page after page of my quiet notebooks.
Hello to pure contentment.
Hello to my solitary cloister.
I like to contemplate the different ways we sit with the body when we are in prayer; more specifically, I wonder at the various ways we place the hands to pray. Friend, when you pray, do you fold your hands in what yogis refer to as a Venus lock, with the fingers interlaced and finger tips resting on the back of the hands; or do you press your palms together with the fingers aligned upright pointing each skyward, palm flat against palm, and pressing with a bit of pressure between the palms? Do you pray with the forehead kissing the Earth? What gesture do you use to express that your head serves your heart? What ways do you proclaim to the cosmos your sense of humility and awe in the presence of the divine? Perhaps you find comfort in returning to the curled position humans assume in the womb, all curled up, you pray? In what position do you pray? I wonder: How did Jesus hold his hands and his body, privately, while he was making his most private, inward, anguished prayer? What did Jesus feel within his spine? What word did he use to describe the sensations within his Brahmarandhra?
I love to imagine myself present while the Corrymeela Community prays. I image myself engaging in conversations, arguments, question and answer sessions with everyday people who have endured great suffering and conflict. Let me pour you a cup of tea. Let us bow our heads. Let us pray. Let us breathe. Though I am far away and a complete stranger, please feel me close to you. Feel a friend near, a yogi with a big, generous heart. Please welcome me as one who longs to hear your stories of all that troubles you and all that comforts you.
Here is what I admire about the Corrymeela Community: they sincerely work “to be engaged with the world at its points of fracture, faith and potential.” This resonates with me as a kundalini yogi because Kundalini is defined as “the creative potential within a being.” Potential is always beloved of yogis and this potential blooms from within.
Sadhguru says it like this:
If you know how to be equanimous and exuberant at the same time, there will be no fear. Whatever situation you may face, life will always be beautiful. Once there is exuberance and equanimity in you, your destiny will not be ruled by what happens around you, but only by what happens within you.
I am full of exuberance about this poet I have met through the written word. In my mind and heart I behold his writing…slowly. Perhaps it seems that circumstances prohibit me from physically visiting the Corrymeela Community at this time, other than through my online journey. But as a yogi, I intend to project my subtle body, my intention, and my prayers, which know no bounds. I practice yogic art of subtle transmission to pay my visit to Corrymeela Community. Dear Friends, I am listening.
Here is how I intend to be present and celebrate and be with this community:
I dedicate my own 40 days of yoga practice of Creative Energy Kriya and the Meditation for Word Power to the Corrymeela Community in “[The] North[ern] [of] Ireland.” Throughout these 40 days, may whatever shifts I observe in my body, my thoughts, my energy, and my consciousness be a dedication to all beings who encounter fracture, faith, and potential. May we engage in these encounters with sensitivity, awareness, listening, and longing for peace. May this practice resonate loving solidarity with those who pray from a place of witness, from a place of humility, from a place of feeling the touch of God’s grace within the depths of human longing.
I repeat: one never knows where as small a gesture as clicking open an e mail may lead. Embracing this mystery compels me to wonder at and imagine the ripples, ramifications and consequences of my larger gestures, the great actions I embark upon throughout the day. What will my hands touch? Where will these feet take me? What words will this tongue speak and what impact will all of that movement have, if any? Would it be better or worse if I keep quiet and be still?
So, to close, I shall bow–forehead smooching dirt–to that singular moment when I clicked open that “Poem-a-Day” message. I bow again to the flow that carried me with my own curiosity through the caves within the land of “Makebelieve.” And I bow to every small gesture that guided the poet, Pádraig Ó Tuama, to complete and share his poem “Makebelieve.” I bow to everyone who reads the poem and encounters it with their full consciousness. As this will keep me bowing for quite some time, I surrender some part of my Self to dwell in an inward repetition of Infinite Pranams.
Here is a prayer: May this forty-day Sadhana be a journey into deeper awareness of how creative energy works and what we do now, and can do, with creative energy. May there be realization of heart-to-heart connection. And though each personal “here and now” may seem distant, different, dissonant, or distinct from one another, may we perceive at the heart a brotherhood of glory and a brotherhood of grace. May we come to appreciate the ways in which we are co-creators of peace, conscious repeaters of hurts and reconciliations, and quiet strugglers with internal conflict in a universe of ever-shifting bounds and seasons. May I feel the courage to ask: Is there room enough at your table, you who explore the “Spirituality of Conflict,” to be open to a dialogue with one who wants to learn more about you as she also studies the very-softly-whispering gospels according to Ida, Pingala and Shushmana (the three subtle energy channels that run on the left, right and middle of the human spine that are most important to ancient yogis)?
May every inhale gift a poem; may every exhale give a prayer.
The writer in me longs to communicate and reveal conflict; the yogi in me longs to be in silence and unity. My first travels to the Himalayas brought to the surface the tensions between these two dimensions of my being.
When I journeyed to the Himalayas for a yoga immersion in the Fall 2017, I received a golden opportunity to travel with a well-known yogi and his students. My job was to pen down and transcribe his teachings. I thought that my writing journey and my yogic journey finally received an opportunity to merge.
I am generally reserved.
I get to know people intimately before I am ready to share. When I started to open up to this group of
traveling yogis, a deeper conflict vexed me: back home among my writing friends, no one
expressed much enthusiasm for the benefits of the practice or the esoteric dimensions
of yogic philosophy that fascinate me; meanwhile, among my yoga friends here bumping
around in this old bus on this dangerous road from Chandigarh to Leh, there was
no interest in lyrical writing. No one shared
a joy for reading. So, I got to wondering: How shall my writing life and yoga life resonate
a sense of communion? If no unity is
possible, will the deeper yogic exploration of consciousness compel me to give
up writing? Or, conversely, will the
word-lover in me — and my love for literary writing — urge me to abandon yoga
A Literary Homage to Adventure, Meditation, and Life on the Roof of the World is an
anthology that offers me companionship through this inner conflict. This collection of over thirty essays reveal
a range of voices. Ruskin Bond and
Namita Gokhale are astute editors who created a gathering that perceives the Himalayas
from all angles. This book offered me a way
to reconcile my spiritual practice with my writing life.
For instance, in his essay “Ladakh Sojourn,” Andrew Harvey
contemplates: “Every object in the light of Ladakh seems to have something
infinite behind it; every object, even the most humble, seems to abide in its
This reminded me of practicing meditation at Lake Pangong. We stared, unblinking, at the space between
our eyes and a mountain. We gazed so
long with empty minds at the space between our eyes and the mountain until every
object grew blurry and dissolved. In his
essay, Harvey continues his mind’s wandering over the myriad ways Tibetans,
Kashimirs, Ladakhis, and Muslims live, struggle, and pray side by side in this
ancient mountain town. I welcomed everything
I gazed upon to show me how to abide in my real place.
Arundhathi Subramaniam’s presence in this anthology fills me
with deep pleasure. She is a kindred
spirit. She travels with her teacher, Sadhguru.
In her essay, “Just a Strand of Shiva’s Hair: Face-to-Face with the Axis of the
World,” Subramaniam struggles on an uphill trek toward Mount Kailash, her whole
being so fatigued it hurts to breathe. Her essay describes her inner journey, one in
which her consciousness shifts from respectful observer to cautious
participant, and finally, reluctantly, she realizes she is a devotee. This is the kind of inner crossing that the
There is a theme that repeats in yogic stories wherein the seeker comes to realize that book knowledge is inferior to lived experience. As a reader and literacy advocate, I am always uncomfortable with this theme. Finally, I have found that this anthology supports my personal notion that a book gives an experience; reading is an experience. Perhaps in the past some yogis and sages realized that books do not give ultimate spiritual experience, but books are not the problem. The problem arises when there is any sense of upholding one kind of experience superior over another. Books are not superior to lived experience. Nor is lived experience superior to book knowledge. Neither is higher nor lower. We bow to both.
Now, I remember the feeling of cold stones touching my forehead when we bowed on the bank where the Indus and Zanskar Rivers meet. With my consciousness flowing over memories of my physical journey to the Himalayas mixed with reading the anthology followed by arriving to the end of writing this essay, there exists a flow that comes to a meeting where my awareness blooms. There is reconciliation. I realize I shall write as a way of paying homage. My every act of writing can be an expression of bowing to these mountains, to beloved teachers, writers, readers, yogis, sages, scholars, poets, friends. I secretly contain this intention — may every word I write open a sacred space within me; and may every spiritual discipline light the secret flame burning on the shrine within that sacred space.
I want to express Infinite Gratitude to the San Bushmen of southern Africa for their One Heart Fire ceremony they hold today in Capetown. It is so comforting to know that there are people today who value and unhold ancient wisdom. It is so comforting to know there are custodians of our Soul Medicine who have the courage to commit to upholding ancient tradition. Even though I am one ordinary woman living in southern California, I feel touched by the shamans’ One Heart Fire. I feel passionate yearning to merge into the energy and intention of the One Heart Fire. From this moment on, I promise to do my best to honor and encourage the growth of Enlightened Unity Consciousness in whatever humble ways that may serve my environments. I celebrate humanity’s entrance into the Ninth Wave of Creation. Sat Nam!
Yogi Bhajan said, “We meditate so that our minds can be sharp and alert. We chant mantras so that our souls may ignite like candles. We walk in the light of this beauty.” I light a candle and practice this meditation to express my solidarity with shamans who Ignite the One Heart Fire in a ceremony that is being held May 24, 2017 by the San Bushmen of southern Africa. It is that simple. It is that timeless. Now I bask in the infinite beauty of these moments before the fire starts.
May the purifying influence of fire destroy all the errors we have made in our thoughts, in our words, and in our actions. May the ashes of that which is destroyed be carried by the Ninth Wave of Creation to our future as beings who engage in communion and realize unity consciousness. May humanity walk in the light of the One Heart Fire.