How are you doing with your meditation practice? Is it sporadic; short; possibly non-existent? Maybe you don't even know how to start. Or perhaps you feel the desire to connect with a group and experience the energy that generates between many practitioners meditating together. As our personal practice ebbs and flows, it's helpful to remember that struggles, doubts, and plateaus are common. It's especially important to join with others and reconnect with the universal spark; that tug from our soul that calls us to meditate in the first place.
When I started practicing, I was 19 years old, living in Hawaii and seeking a way to feel less alone. I didn't have family on the island and very few friends during my first year, yet, I was intrigued by something my Asian Studies professor said. He talked about a practice that stood the test of time; something that got to the root of being human and connected us to a Universal Spirit. It didn't sound religious. It didn't even sound old or dated to me. Instead, his words about Universal Spirit flickered intrigue that sparked at a soulful level. One evening, I wandered through the back shelves of the small and forgotten Hamilton Library, in search of meditation books. I found one dusty copy that described Transcendental Meditation. I tried practicing the "instructions" while sitting in the dimly lit study cubicle. I looked around to see if I was being watched and worried the local Hawaiian students were shaking their heads at me laughing ("Look at the Haole acting like Buddha"). But the more I read and practiced, the more I didn't care what I looked like. I took the book home, feeling like I secretly won the lottery. Night after night, I'd sit upright at my desk trying to remember everything I had read.
Years accumulated, and my practice dwindled, especially when retail work hours kept me swamped. But, I remember particular nights in my one bedroom apartment, listening to the sounds flowing from the darkness outside, wondering if meditation could erase the pangs of overwhelming loneliness filling every cell of my body. I didn't have internet to look up local classes or groups. I was now living in South Carolina and I assure you, the mere hint of asking the librarian where the mediation section was located would have had me under watchful suspicion, possibly worse. So, I relied on my college notes, my journals, and my own internal exploration of silence.
My story of experiences didn't end in the South. Wherever I went, my meditation practice followed. I practiced with Amish communities in their churches; the Catholics during Adoration in my home state, a Buddhist community at a local suburban center, online with professors and teachers, shamans in salt caves, and Toltecs in the red rocks of Sedona. I've sat in observing silence with myself, as well as with friends, strangers, neighbors, students, and nature. Each practice connects me deeply to Universal Spirit - a feeling that words cannot paint adequately. As I look back on 28 years of practice, I'm in awe of this inspiration to keep returning to silence. I'm diligent in most of my daily habits up to a point; usually letting time fade the motivation for most of my habitual activities. In fact, besides maybe showering and brushing my teeth, I can't call to mind anything else I've done for this long of time. And maybe that's how I know this desire to practice isn't from me; it's bigger than me. It's the call from my soul.
Have you heard it too? Has your soul nudged you to start a practice, take a class, learn more? Maybe this is the year you tend to some silence. If you need more guidance, I'd like to help. I'm currently revising how and when I offer meditation classes and series. I'd love to hear how you could use more assistance with your practice. Send me an email or dialogue below. Do you like one day workshops, weekly sessions, online skype calls...I'm listening. While this creation process happens, I encourage you to keep including some silence into your day. Get to know your inner chatter. Then listen closely for your soul to speak. It may come as feelings, emotions, nudges, or ideas. Keep listening without an agenda and see what transpires.
All the best to you on this continued inner journey! And always remember, you are never alone!