I make it a priority to meditate and do other deeper yogic practices daily. It's not easy. Trust me, my life is busy. But as busy as life gets, I make it happen.
Now why would I prioritize this? I have my social life, I love travel, the outdoors, and the arts. Isn't that enough? Why would I want to commit to a spiritual practice? Well, this is what immediately comes to my mind:
Let me quickly tell you a little story, that for me, exemplifies the challenges of integrating the mystical into daily life. Many years ago, my bad back had landed me in a yoga studio. I started off as a die-hard rational gal not at all interested in the spiritual aspects of yoga. After a few months I attended my first intensive weekend workshop with a visiting teacher. At this particular workshop we did yoga postures and I was introduced to Sanskrit chanting. I had studied classical singing for years so I particularly loved this relaxing, meditative approach.
At home the next day I sat and chanted and chanted. I finally stopped and just sat with my awareness focused on my breath. And then this experience started unfolding within me. I started to feel like I was falling. I felt like I was falling storeys and storeys downwards within myself. As the sensation intensified and fear began mounting, something inside me told me to stay with it and I managed to maintain my focus pinned to the breath. Suddenly I felt my awareness “land” (thump!) in the pit of my belly. I breathed a sigh of relief… only to find my energy now beginning to expand outwards across the horizontal plane. I was beginning to feel like I was huge. Like I was miles wide. Again, the energy seemed to reached its limit and then rested… I breathed another sigh of relief. At which point a tone started emitting from my heart center.
The volume began steadily increasing.
It was becoming deafening.
I was swimming in sound waves.
I felt like my entire physical body was breaking down into sound.
Suddenly an image exploded from my heart center in an outpouring of light and as it began rapidly expanding…
my partner at the time happily burst into the apartment hollering, “Hey, babe! What’d you make for supper?!” The entire experience, sensation, image, light, and sound, rapidly collapsed back into a single point and I was left sitting stunned on my living room cushion.
“Spaghetti”, I managed to gasp.
And so it has gone ever since: the struggle to balance a dynamic inner life with my outer life. Balancing the mystical with the mundane: work deadlines, laundry, school lunches. Social obligations. Family obligations!
Motherhood does certainly pose it’s own particular set of challenges to creating the time and space to consistently tap a deeper level of consciousness. Meditate with your baby? Do yoga with your baby? Great gig if you can get it; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It especially might not work if you’ve just tried to sleep sitting upright for 3 nights in a row cradling a croupy, choking infant. And then one day, you find yourself a single parent and suddenly time seems even more precious.
Of course, you don’t need to be a parent to feel overloaded. Shift work. Multiple jobs. Long commute. Whatever. Few of us have the luxury of time as we struggle to juggle the multiple demands of our fast-paced, demanding lives.
Not only are we too busy, our culture just doesn’t seem to value the mystical. It’s “flakey”. “Out there”. And my personal favourite: “It’s ‘woo woo’ ”. Which points to another issue: we even lack vocabulary and context for deep states of consciousness and genuine spiritual experiences.
So how to balance the mystical with the mundane? This is what I have found works for me:
So maybe I can summarize all this with just: be consistent and be kind to yourself!
Spiritual practice can deepen our sense of Self, heal an inner sense of fragmentation, and align our disparate energies. Not only will this affect us, it will spiral out, affecting our loved ones too. It's worth it, even if it is a challenge. Almost everything depends on our inner state.
Just to add, not everyone has strong experiences when they meditate, do yoga, or mantra and neither is it necessarily desirable. At that point in my life when I began Yoga, maybe I had just allowed myself to get too small. Yoga is about connection. If you neglect your deeper sense of self you start to whither. Pieces of yourself become fragmented, splinter off, become harder and harder to access. It happens so slowly and insidiously you might not even realize it. You become tired. Energy is limited. Time to go on another trip? Take another training? Doing so might just be a bit of a quick fix when what you really need to do is rest … in your Self … and allow it to expand and assume its proper dimensions.
Join me Sunday of the May long weekend to learn mantras to draw yourself into deep meditative states. There will be a one-hour workshop at Yoga on the Park in NDG. More info here.
There will also be a mantra and chanting session from 7-8:30pm at Cafe Zephyr in NDG on Monday, May 22. The cafe will only be open to participants. Transitions NDG will be hosting this. They are a cool, lovely group of people! More info here. To register beforehand: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in free resources on mantra, just go to "Log In/Register" on the upper menu and create a user name and password for yourself. You will have immediate access. I will add to these monthly. You may also wish to "Like" my Facebook page to be updated on new resources.
Here are my "musings" on mantra and sound as a transformative path.