The culture I grew up in defined meditation strictly in the Zen style, meaning the emptying of all action and thought, till one is just sitting in the moment. This might be why I never realized that the long walks I used to take as a teenager, those walks where I would move into an inner world and pay little attention to the outer, were in fact a type of meditation. It wasn’t until years later that I learned this is what is called, aptly enough, a walking meditation.
The neighborhood I grew up in was extremely safe and so this form of meditation was easy and powerful. I found myself living full lives within that inner world, and I really do think that my imagination grew by leaps and bounds because of this practice as a teen. I was able to keep this practice up for just a year into college before I realized how unsafe the area where my university was located really was. The practice of walking meditation went by the wayside, and I must say I have missed it since.
When I started working on the meditation section of the DP, I had already been working on the Zen form of meditation for some time. I wanted to try and stretch into new forms of meditation during this time, so strived to try a different forms of mediation work. My first thought was to go back to that walking meditation of my youth. I arranged for hubby to keep the wee ones so that I might go walking. This was a huge disaster! The whole time I was so concerned about the kids, and feeling such guilt for leaving my family behind, that I couldn’t get into that inner world at all.
Okay, fine, I’ll take the kids walking with me. Yeah, it was a nice thought, but it turns out that having one or the other child not wanting to walk, and complaining the whole time, is a bit of an insurmountable wall. I have a treadmill in our basement, surely walking on that would help. The kids could sit upstairs, and I could walk and meditate without the guilt or complaining. Two problems quickly presented themselves. First, the moment I leave the kids alone for a few minutes, the bickering, fighting, and calls for Mom to intervene begin without fail. Second, I just found the mess of the basement (which is also the kid’s playroom) too distracting, and so I was unable to get anywhere close to a meditative state.
So, with this failure in mind I bought a book that helped me come to the next style of meditation I was going to try. “The Druidry Handbook: Spiritual Practice Rooted in the Living Earth,” by John Michael Greer, describes what he calls an active meditation. Once again, I had found a familiar practice from my past, with a new name. When I was a Christian, I practiced what is called Lectio Divina. This was a process by which I would read a passage of scripture through once. This would allow me to have a brief overview of what the scripture was dealing with. After a brief pause, I would return to read the passage again to see what images or words caught my attention. I would then take each word or image in turn, and unpack what it meant or how it affected me. I would then proceed to read the passage a third time with these new insights in mind to see how the passage had changed, and what would now stand out. I could easily read a single passage a dozen times and still be finding new thoughts and images. This allowed me a way to interact with the text in a very dynamic fashion. Greer’s book suggested doing this practice with myths and stories from the past. I decided to do this with a story from the “Mabinogi”. The story I choose was one where Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed meets Arawn, Lord of the Other World, while out hunting. The first image that struck me was how Prince Pwyll, who is a very considerate and kind man, chases Arawn’s hounds off a downed stag and allows his own hounds to finish the stag. This image struck me as extremely odd, especially when considering that Pwyll’s reaction is one of embarrassment and he apologizes profusely when Arawn accuses him of being very insulting by this action. This myth illustrates how the other world overlaps and is part of our world even when not seen, and I began to follow that thought as applied to the hounds of Arawn. Did Pwyll see the hounds but misinterpreted them as wild dogs? Since they were part of the otherworld that was not within his ability to see at all times, perhaps his eyes were not able to understand what he was seeing during that hunt. This thought then led to me to wonder when I find myself reacting to situations in life; that maybe I too am not seeing all that is at play. This was just the beginning of what the story began to open up to me. I still turn back to this myth in my meditations when I find myself in situations I am sure I don’t completely understand.
I also decided to try and deepen my trance work. I had been using techniques that I learned in Caitlin Matthew's book, “Singing the Soul Home.” I decided to buy Diane Paxson’s “Trance-portation.” I found many of the practices helpful, but not as powerful as Matthew’s “Two Trees,” meditation. It was through the Two Trees that I met Cerridwyn, who in turn gave me my true name. This name has been a source of grounding for me, because it so perfectly describes the sum total of who I really am. No, I will not share it, for it is far too personal. I will keep that one between me and the Kindreds. This is the part where I will admit to rather horrible trance hygiene. One thing I learned from my attempts at walking meditation was that the only time and place where I can truly be alone is in my bed just before sleep. I lie prone in bed, and allow myself to work on trance journeys. I will admit that I have tried and sometimes failed to create a clear ending before falling asleep.
I think for me, the active, Lectio Divina, style of meditation has been the most successful durning this period of mental training. I am hoping to get back to walking meditation at some point in my life, maybe when the kids are older and in less need of Mommy’s help and supervision.