Spontaneous meditation. I was born knowing how to meditate. But meditation was unknown in my family and not part of my culture. I learned nothing about it. My wisdom found ways to wake me up. As a child, I made progress with love using spontaneous meditations. That's what I mean by meditation: not some technique like sitting cross-legged, but waking up a little, having success, making progress, getting more enlightened. If I'm doing something that's supposed to be meditation but I find no joy in it, no falling in love, I'm wasting my time.
Louisiana. I had many spontaneous meditations as a child in Louisiana. At age two, I encountered time and death for the first time in the form of a rusty tricycle. At three I had a memorable encounter with nature in the form of stump water. At age four I had a spontaneous meditation with my dad. I was an energetic little boy, always exploring and getting into things, often including trouble. One day I was being rambunctious in church. Of course you can't be rambunctious in church, not a Methodist church. But I did my best, fidgeting in my seat and fiddling with stuff in the back of the pew in front: hymnals, offertory envelopes, and those stubby little pencils. I believe the final straw was dropping a hymnal. That can make quite a noise if it lands just right. My dad had had it. He took me by the hand and marched me out of the church. He cut a long twig off a bush that years later I identified as spirea, and gave my legs a good switching. It was warm, as it usually is in Louisiana, and little boys got to wear shorts to church. I remember examining my legs later that day; the switch marks were little red stripes with fat welts on either side; striking. That switching definitely woke me up; it helped me get over the ridiculous notion of fairness. Life is not fair; never was, never will be.
Marianna. Spontaneous meditation faded in Marianna because of my age. Children are open to love and connection until the ugliness of human culture shuts them. And schoolwork. Learning to read and write doesn't fit meditation. It puts words and ideas front and center. Words and ideas are what I have to get over to meditate. It just doesn't work to try and get over something when you're learning it. Words have their uses. You can't have culture and art without them. I was having rich experiences with my dad that prepared me for future meditation. Like hiking to the river. And digging into rooting.
Asheville. In Asheville, in the 60s, spontaneous meditation started coming back to me. I was confident in my language skills, so my nonverbal core, my wisdom, could become more active. I had many moments of spontaneous meditation during this part of my life. I've written about a number of them:
Kenya. In Kenya, alcohol and pot shut down my spontaneous meditations. Drugs and spontaneous meditation do not mix. It took encountering a cobra to shock me awake. I was stuck with formal meditation until my detour was over. Traditional formal meditation practices like sitting cross-legged in front of a candle or a blank wall are very slow, laborious ways to make progress with love. The meditations my wisdom comes up with, spontaneously or via painstaking guidance via muscle testing and body sensing are more effective by orders of magnitude.
Tallahassee. As part of my ministerial training program I got initiated into kriya yoga. Kriya was interesting but it also felt unbalancing. As I mulled that over an image came to me. An illustration from a book I had about Taoist magic. It showed an ouroboros inside a human figure. I applied that circular image to how I was doing kriya yoga, and the feeling changed from unbalance to subtle pleasure. I loved how that felt. But the subtle pleasure still felt unbalanced because it felt like too much. It was more than I could handle. But that pleasure intrigued me, and I held onto it somewhere in my depths till thirty years later in Seattle. When my wisdom reached out to me in 2006, it pointed that subtle pleasure out as a clue: this is what I'm looking for: the simple pleasure of being. I wrote my first website about that pleasure. I found that pleasure whenever I tuned into my natural breathing rhythm and really paid attention deeply. The subtle pleasure of breathing launched the voyage of discovery that led, link by link, to where I am now. Focus.
Meditation in daily life. None of the meditation I do now looks like meditation. It's been that way since sometime in 2008. Instead of sitting on the floor, something I was never any good at, I use my internal connection with the pleasure of making progress to infuse meditation into walking, cooking, eating, cleaning, lying in bed. I meditate quite a lot in bed: when I'm ready for sleep, when I'm about to rise, and whenever I'm wakeful in the middle of the night, which is fairly often. Listening to classical music is a form of meditation that's been of immense value to me in the pandemic. Classical music helped me grasp my place in the world and accept the pandemic. It's been of extraordinary value in dealing with all this. Oh yes, and dancing. Partner dancing is one of my very favorite forms of meditation. And writing these stories. Writing is my nemesis and my best meditation. It's rough; it tears me up. But in the best way possible.
Abbie's affirmations: I am creative. Ideas flow out of me and onto the page. I am fearless. I pour my heart and soul into my writing and I am proud of it. I don't allow social expectations to dictate how I feel about my writing. I feel good about my writing, because I know that I do my best. I strive for progress, not perfection. I don't compare myself with others. I only compare myself with my past self. I am a stronger writer than I was at this time last year. I am invincible. I am worthy. I am brilliant. I love myself. I love my writing. I believe in myself. I was born to write this story. I have an incredible future.