The premise was that I stop finding excuses for not following the completely excellent advice which my co-host, Kim Balstad, and I give out on Holistically Curious, The Podcast. Each month, for a year, I would take one body, mind, and soul-enhancing piece of wisdom and apply it to my own life. The struggle that I envisioned was one of actually following through. What I did not expect is that the follow through would be fairly easy (at least so far) but communicating it…communicating something which is both inconsequential and monumental at the same time while still trying to process all of the feelings that go with it…well, it is difficult.
So, month one. My mission was to develop a meditation practice. The first step to this was immediately clear as I surveyed my meditation/podcasting space. Nature abhors a vacuum and unfortunately, nature decided to fill my once nice, clean space with seasonal clothing and the tools for our home remodel. I attacked the room with all of the fervor of a person on their first day of a diet. Out, junk. Out, dust. Out, what is that thing??? If I don’t know what it is, it probably needs to be OUT! One of the first Holistically Curious podcasts was about decluttering and all of the forms that takes in a holistically-balanced life, so yeah…points for taking on multiple challenges. Let’s say partial points because one clear room does not a decluttered life make but more on that at another time.
While surveying the clean and meditation-conducive room I realized that I had another challenge ahead of me. What does meditation look like (feel like, smell like, act like) when it is in my house? Time for the disclaimer (and I think that there will be monthly disclaimers as this blog progresses). I do not believe that meditation is the same for every person. Nor do I believe that the benefits manifest in the same way in every practitioner. This is coming from a place of enlightenment which 30 days of meditation has brought me to. In other words, I don’t know anything! Take from my words what resonates and throw the rest out. Actually, that is good advice whether dealing with a novice or a learned sage….take only what resonates for you. But, I digress!
So, for me, meditation comes with bells and whistles. I am a “bells and whistles” kind of girl, so when I decided that my practice can look however I want it to look, I knew that I wanted to incorporate some of the elements that I have so loved about other practices that I have had in my life such as those found in Christianity and Buddhism. In my meditation practice, there is a beginning and ending punctuated by the chimes of a singing bowl and reverence for my loved ones who have passed. There is incense, soft pillows, and a surrounding of objects that bring me joy. I found that having a sense of ceremony brought me to a place of importance, or rather the importance of the practice and that is something that was valuable to me. Again, your practice probably looks different and that is as it should be. I actually found no problem in the act of meditation after I was able to let go of what I thought the actual meditation should be. Beyond the elements of sounds and loving thoughts to the departed which were my gifts to myself, I allowed the meditation to be whatever it was. In my case, it was a listening state where thoughts entered my mind and I examined them and let them go.
What did I expect? I envisioned myself coming to the end of the 30 days of meditation with much calmness and clarity. Perhaps my voice would become more dulcet-toned and I would be far wiser than when I began. What did I experience? The benefits of the practice have manifested in ways that I would not have even thought of. I cannot help but think that the outcome of the practice was directed by spirit because I would not have thought that I could ever have consciously desired the outcome. I have been crying for weeks! I did not realize that I had difficulty experiencing empathy but processing the waves of empathy that I am now undergoing has been quite challenging.
At first, it was the things that most people of compassion find touching; a commercial on TV, the feelings of a loved one. The next thing that I noticed was that I was having difficulty eating meat when it was too close to its living form. This was not a good month for me to attend a pig roast and for my husband to bring home some live lobsters to make lobster rolls! After only a few more days, eating meat of any kind has become more challenging. I don’t know whether I will become a vegan or even a vegetarian or if this is simply a temporary wave of emotion but I am willing to find out. I know that I definitely don’t want to consume anything that has gone through great trauma and I am not clear right now what that leaves for me if I do not become vegan.
The most recent and most shocking wave of empathy for me was when I went for a motorcycle ride with my husband. Passing a grove of apple trees, it occurred to me that the trees were very close together and that might not be healthy for them. My conscious mind said “Well, the farmer wouldn’t grow them any closer together than what is most profitable, so this must be the closest that he can fit them together without sacrificing too much on their production.” My sub-conscious mind was struck with horror, knowing that what was profitable for the farmer was not necessarily what was healthful and joyful for the individual trees. And, yes, I began to weep for the trees.
That is not my normal state of mind, nor would I have said that it was a desired state of mind for myself but if this is the route to allowing my compassionate soul to access my senses, than this is the realm that I must become accustomed to.
If I am completely honest as to what I expected…I expected to have some cute little stories for you, my friends. I expected that I would be bored, that I would cheat on my regimen, and that I would have hilarious tales for you as to how I forced myself to do this thing called meditation. I did not expect that I would tell you that I have been weepy for nearly 30 days but I took on this adventure, and you agreed to come with me, with a promise of honesty regardless of the results. I am frankly disappointed that my experience does not make for fun reading but perhaps that shows that my ego-mind has a long way to go yet. I will continue this adventure and perhaps I will find the growth and maturity required to let my experience simply be what it is, without judgement. Thank you for being my witness and my reason for continuing.
I am looking forward to the coming month where I will continue with meditation and add in a yoga practice. Based upon my past experiences with yoga, I suspect we will find our laughs in the next blog post but that, my very dear friends, remains to be seen!
With much love, so much love,
Teresa York is a writer and the Co-Host of the bi-monthly Holistically Curious podcast. She says, If you are listening to the podcast, it means that you are a kindred spirit! In her journey for a whole and healthy life, she has drawn from her experiences traveling around the world, as well as from the amazing people she has met along the way.
In a quest to enhance her own knowledge of the world around her, Teresa has obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies (mainly Literature and Humanities) and attended The University of Metaphysical Sciences. Because life is full of little surprises, she is also a Third Degree Blackbelt in Tang Soo Do.
Transitioning from a city mouse to a country mouse, Teresa recently moved to a rural town in Maine where she lives happily with her husband, 4 dogs, and a cat. She misses the community of light-seekers which seemed readily available among the larger population of her previous home but she is inspired by pure spirits, wherever she finds them, and happily she finds them in the most unlikely places.