Every Tuesday I lead a faculty/staff meditation session as part of my outreach work for my job. With my aikido experience, personal meditative practice, and clinical specialty in mindfulness-based approaches, I get just as much out of it as the other faculty and staff who attend. We do all sorts of meditation: metta (loving-kindness meditation), zazen (Zen meditation), guided meditation, nature meditation, contemplative meditation, forgiveness meditation and many more. Today’s session was as powerful as I’ve ever meditated.
The group knew what happened to Trace and I am so lucky to be surrounded by such supportive people – they are a wonderful group. At a place of readiness to clear the mind, I asked the group what they wanted for meditation today. Someone said, “something low-key”. The first thing that came to mind was the pull to visit a place we were fond of – a place maybe we’ve been before, maybe a place we have never been, or even a place we could imagine up ourselves. So I gave them the task, upon my cue to go to that place and just rest. Just to rest in the center of the place of peace and rest and simply visualize just standing, sitting or laying down and to just watch. We could choose to be alone or be with family or friends or animals – whatever we chose for ourselves.
We began with a lead-in mindfulness practice, noticing the connection with everything in and around us as we sat on our cushions. And then it began, the release of our hearts and minds to travel to that place of rest. I instantly saw myself sitting in an open field, fresh green grass on a gradual hill, clear blue skies, a mountain range as the backdrop, and the warm glow of the sun above. I had never been to this place before. And instantly, there was Trace, who suddenly appeared with all smiles and wagging tail as he trotted over to me. We played and we ran around. He rolled on the ground and I rubbed his belly as he just melted in the bliss of being there with me. We sat for a while together and just watched the trees and the sky and the mountains. I was with my boy again and it was good. As I had this meditative vision, I literally smiled as my eyes were closed, my mind off in the distant place. It was beautiful. He was full of life as we interacted. He even had his old body back from before he had surgery. He was renewed, pure, and full of light. What seemed like an hour of seeing him was only about ten minutes.
At the end of this segment of the mediation, we envisioned saying a “farewell, see you again soon” to our places we visited. So, I gave Trace a good rub-a-dub and pat on the head and kiss between his eyes. He let out a resonant bark, as if to say, “thank you”. And as the image dissolved he trotted back off into the freedom of that beautiful place. I opened my eyes as we closed the meditation session and just couldn’t stop smiling. It was such a powerful moment.
Now, some may read this and think it is merely a delusion or some hocus pocus vision. Well, maybe so. But I “saw” what I saw and I felt what I felt and it was a sensual experience to me. In my years of clinical training and in my years of personal practice of mindfulness and mediation, I understand the power of spirit. It is transcendent, beyond the monkey mind that clouds our awareness. I am convinced that we have access to something spiritually deeper than our chattering perceptions. And I think we all can find it if we simply stop trying so hard to change/control everything – really, if we just sit and still the mind and just watch and listen. We all really need to understand the evolution of consciousness, both academically and experientially – it is just fascinating. And we don’t necessarily have to sit and count our breath for 45 minutes; it really can be as simple as conscious appreciation for what is, like watching a sunset, jaw-dropped without any comment.
What started out as a devastating experience has now evolved into appreciating what was already within me. Spirit never dies and its pretty damn cool when you catch glimpses of it in your daily life. What an ironic process this has been and will continue to be…