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Here is what I have been thinking about . . .


me and my favorite oak tree

"Meditation" is a big, open, fluid concept with probably as many definitions and practices as there are people. For this post, I am referring to a practice of meditation that invites calmness or re-centering. When I feel the gentle prompting or the sometimes urgent need to meditate, to calm down, or settle in, I often go to one of two places in my mind. Interestingly, these memories are complete opposites of each other. One is all about grounding. The other is about flight.

I am sure most of us have times when the details of life start spinning too fast and we feel overwhelmed and out of control. (Imagine, if you are old enough, the old spin art machines at carnivals when you were a kid.) We feel things are moving too quickly and can't feel the ground beneath our feet. For me, this often happen when there are big decisions on the horizon. To ground and recenter, I often think about my favorite oak tree that lives near the ocean. She and I have a long, long history of heart to heart moments where we have talked, without words, and acknowledged our struggles. I learn from my quiet sister who grounds down deep near the water edge. She is not tall, but reaches out wide. Still holding many dead branches, I see she perseveres as new leaves continue to show up every year. Unashamedly she shows her vulnerability, but continues to reach out wide and dig down deep.

Here is what I do . . . I close my eyes. I visualize standing beside her. I begin to breathe slowly and deeply as if I am breathing with her. With each breath, I imagine rooting down deeper and reaching out wider.


Other times, it seems less about how my mind is responding and more about my body. I am not entranced by that crazy spin art machine any longer. I am feeling more like the paint. This kind of feeling is usually short lived, but more intense. It is then that I allow my memory to take me to a particular field from my childhood. There, the goldfinches continue to fly above the field with a their slow, predictable, undulating flight pattern. There is such a beauty in this rhythmic pattern and their in-flight song repeats with the pattern as they fly!

Here is what I do . . . I close my eyes. I visualize myself as a kid watching my brother and sister goldfinches in flight. I remember their rhythmic song. I begin to breathe slowly and deeply with the rhythm of their flight.


I think it is important to have touchstone memories to visit. As we return to them again and again, we learn to settle in more easily, appreciate more deeply, and grasp the comforting feeling of going home.


Where do you go to meditate in your mind? Do you ground or do you fly? Perhaps, like me, you do both. If you don't have place, object, or animal in mind, begin the journey by closing your eyes and remembering a place that brings you joy.



Want to dive deeper into this subject? This month, I introduce a new workshop, "Meditation Mandalas" where we will create beautiful nature mandalas to honor our meditation practices and gain deeper understanding of their meaning. My workshops at Blithewold often sell out, but there are still a few spaces available for Wednesday evening, May 29 at Blithewold Mansion and Arboretum in Bristol, RI. Find more information and registration link here.


Want to support my thinking, writing, and creating time? Consider buying me a cup of coffee here . . . .


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