Tag Archives: meditation

Fire Within

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“Holy Fire” by Alex Grey. This is an excerpt from a larger piece. See the complete work http://alexgrey.com/a-gallery/h-fr.html.

In my ongoing search for enlightenment, I seek balance through aligning  myself to the rhythms of the earth and the natural world around me.  The solstices and equinoxes offer me an excellent opportunity to reflect on the cycles of nature and my place within them.  By tuning into these rhythms of life, I’m more aware of myself as a piece of nature, subject to my own unique cycles and rhythms.  It makes sense to me that my search for harmony and balance must include placing myself in balance with the world around me.

I celebrate the summer solstice for its abundance of sunshine and energy.  Today’s weather certainly cooperated with that ideal.  It was the first real scorcher of summer, and it came right on cue for the summer solstice.  I stood outside in the sunshine this afternoon, eyes closed, palms opened toward the  light.  I bathed in the light, feeling it penetrate my skin, sparkling fragments of light sinking into me and setting each cell of my body alight.  My solar plexus glowed with an inner sun that grew brighter with each breath I took.  I strained every fiber of my being to embrace the light until I glowed.
(Note: I found the accompanying artwork by Alex Grey only after writing this description, but it looks like the artist and I had the same experience.)

I limited this sun bath to about five minutes, for although I’m clearly a sun worshipper, I also have huge respect for how swiftly the sun can harm my fair skin.  This is part of the reason I pay homage to the sun.  We are totally at the mercy of the sun, and utterly dependent upon it as well.  There would be no life as we know it without our sun.  It is of vital importance to our lives.  I try to remember this, but in the day to day bustle of life we sometimes forget fundamental truths, so the summer solstice is the perfect opportunity to remind myself.

As I stood in the sun, I imagined myself on fire.  (It was about 95 F, so the image came to me easily.)  I pictured flames dancing within me.  Everything – heart, lungs, muscles, veins, blood – all on fire.  I was a forest fire, flames consumed all the dead underbrush of my soul, clearing the way for new ways to grow.  I was incandescent.

After my sun meditation was over, I decided to commemorate the solstice by blending a new essential oil perfume for the occasion.  I wanted it to be fiery.  I wanted it to be bright and spicy.  I wanted it to support my confidence as I emerge from a long period of uncertainty.  I pulled out my oil boxes and got busy.

I decided to use seven different essential oils to correspond to the body’s natural energy points known as chakras.  Some oils fit their assigned chakra better than others, energy-wise, but I let the oils choose themselves and just attempted to guide the process.  Here’s how it turned out:

I have over eighty different essential oils to choose from when blending a custom perfume.

Fire Within
1 drop Sage (Crown)
3 drop Hyssop (3rd Eye)
1 drop Holy Basil (throat)
1 drop Clove Bud (Heart)
3 drop Lemon (Solar Plexus)
2 drop Ginger Root (Belly)
2 drop Ylang Ylang (root)
Diluted into 1 oz. fractionated Coconut oil.

Sage  is one of the sacred herbs associated with wisdom and longevity, and warding against evil. It is renowned for its spiritual cleansing and purification properties, dispelling negativity and cleansing the aura.  Its aroma is herbaceous, sharp, and bright.

Hyssop is an invigorating oil, recommended for melancholy and pessimism.  Its strong, pungent aroma opens the chest and helps us to face the world, counteracting the urge to withdraw. It can strengthen one’s sense of personal boundaries, and defends the individual from negative influences. It can sharpen awareness and consolidate the aura. Its aroma is sweet, warm, and bright.

Holy Basil may aid with anxiety, hysteria and nervous depression. It is a stress reducer without being a sedative. Some sources indicate that, like other basils, it enhances clarity of thought and aid memory retention.  It is sweet and spicy in aroma.

Clove Bud: This herb has been used in various ways, including protection and purification. This Sun scent can help create a feeling of safe warmth and thus a sanctuary in which to do inner work. Clove’s Elemental Fire aspect encourages action and achievement. This botanical fragrance is good for building confidence and unlocking the chains of old ways of thinking. The oil of clove smells just like the cooking variety, sharp and spicy.

Lemon has a clearing, refreshing effect and is particularly useful in the aftermath of emotional storms.  It brightens the mood and helps to restore a sense of optimism and good cheer.  It smells sweet, bright, and citrusy tart.

Ginger root oil is warming and invigorating. It activates will-power, stimulates initiative, and restores determination.  In addition, it can help to boost confidence and morale, making it the ideal catalyst of the Will.  Invoking and enhancing the vital fire, ginger can restore the exhilaration of achievement.  Its aroma is spicy, pungent, warm, sweet and woody.

Ylang Ylang has a calming action on the heart.  It harmonizes the mind while calming the nervous system.  The oil relaxes, uplifts, and helps to reunite our emotional and sensual natures.  It soothes and entices, opens and centers us.  It allows us to inwardly unify and so outwardly merge.  I especially chose the heavy sweetness of ylang ylang to balance the spicy heat of the other oils.  The intensely sweet perfume reminds me of tropical flowers that bloom in the heat of midsummer.

This blend could carry one less drop of lemon, but an extra drop slipped into the bottle in spite of my plan. I always allow for serendipity in my blends. After blending this oil, I immediately tried it out, even though it can often take a day or several for the oils to fully integrate in a blend.  The first scents that are revealed in this blend are the sweet lemony top notes.  As it dries down, the spicier notes are revealed. It felt warming and energizing, exactly as I had hoped. It is my intention that this oil blend will help me in situations when I need to feel my connection to the summer sun, shining brightly in my heart.


Note
: My oil descriptions come from the notes I’ve taken as I’ve studied essential oils over the years.  My notes often synthesize the information I got from several sources, and although I tried to make note of where I learned what, my notes are not complete in that regard.  Still, much of the information on how essential oils can be used spiritually come from Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: A Guide to Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance Through Essential Oils by Gabriel Mojay. http://www.amazon.com/Aromatherapy-Healing-Spirit-Restoring-Emotional/dp/0892818875

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Lost & Found

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Although normally an optimistic person by nature, there are days when the relentless little disappointments of life wear me down and leave me feeling discouraged.  When this happens, my instinct is to do what has always brought me comfort: retreat to nature.  Whenever I am feeling lost, I can always find myself again in the woods.

Throughout my childhood, my family used to spend the summer on a small little island in the middle of a fairly large lake in Massachusetts.  There were about a dozen families that owned cottages on this little rock in the pond, but the island isolation helped to create our own little paradise.  It was very rustic; there was no electricity, running water, or flush toilets.  We floated tanks of propane over to the island to run our refrigerator and stove, but otherwise, there were no modern amenities.  Water was pumped by hand from the well and hauled up a hill where our cottage stood overlooking the lake, and our outhouse was, well, it was just something you got used to.  When it rained, we entertained ourselves with endless card games.  When the weather was nice, I was out in the woods.

I could hardly help it. The island was heavily wooded from shore to shore.  Just being there meant being among the company of trees.  I learned to climb them, and run among them in the dark without breaking my toes on the roots.  (That lesson took a few years and many broken toes.)  I learned to listen to their whisperings and tell when the weather would change by the sound they made.  I watched trees grow up, and sadly, I watched trees fade, fail, and die.  Summer after summer after summer, it was me amongst the trees.  I watched birds build their nests, and squirrels raise their families.  I watched bats roost among the branches, and a legion of insects make their way in and around the leafy canopy.  Trees were ever-present, and although it may sound unusual for a child, I counted the trees among my friends.   I was a woodland creature as much as any squirrel.

I still am.  Now, as an adult, I find myself returning to the woods again and again whenever I need to find comfort and peace.  Our family no longer has the cottage on the island, but I still live in the extensive woodlands of upstate New York.  I do not lack for woods or trails to hike through them.  So when the going gets tough, I grab my walking stick and instinctively head into the shelter of trees.

I was feeling discouraged and depleted this week.  I needed to find my internal reset switch.  So I took up my walking stick, filled my knapsack with what I would need to sustain me, and made my way to the nearest trail head.  I started my hike with a bit of yoga stretching.  Sun Salutations became a moving meditation as I used them to get grounded and open myself to being present.  Then I sat at a picnic table and took out my journal, where I wrote for a bit to clarify my intention to cultivate peace.  It’s hard to drop baggage that you don’t know you’re carrying, and I find journaling to be a good process to identify the things that are weighing down my journey.  This wasn’t just a random hike, but a journey to find myself again.  Thus prepared physically and mentally, I entered the woods.

I chose a path through the mountains above my home on a trail that crossed over many streams that carved their way through the landscape seeking sea level far below.  The trail began at a waterfall splashing down merrily among the fossil-laden limestone, evidence of an ancient inland sea from a time so long ago my mind boggles.  Meditating upon the presence of a clamshell fossil up in the mountains is a great way to find perspective.  It’s hard to stay trapped in the fleeting fears of the moment when confronted with time on such a vast scale.  Humbled, I rambled on, more peaceful and reflective than before.

Everywhere I look, the stones preserve the memory of the inland sea that this mountain used to be.

I walked steadily, but as silently as possible, pausing frequently to peer through the trees to see what wildlife might be sharing this trail with me.  I’d walk, and pause, and listen, then continue on.  I paused at another waterfall, and sat for awhile letting the sound wash over me.  I went further along the trail and found a fallen log in a sunny spot off the beaten path, and sat there for awhile and listened to the trees and birds exchanging news of the day.  I watched a spider reinforce her spiral web against the wind.  I saw a millipede hunt along the log where I sat.  Farther along, I found a large flat boulder and used it for another seated meditation where, anchored by the stone, I allowed my thoughts to become untethered and roam freely on the breeze.  I was hardly aware of myself as I rose and continued my journey.  As I continued my solitary drift through the woods, I allowed thoughts to form and pass.  I noted them, followed them, and let them go.  I spoke to the trees about what was in my heart, and let the breeze carry those words away.  I opened all my senses, and received the grace of the woods.

I thought I’d hike for an hour or so, but when I finally emerged from the woods, four hours had passed.  I felt a bit like I had slid down Alice’s rabbit hole.  I couldn’t possibly have been gone that long?  But it was time well spent.  I emerged from the woods feeling more settled, peaceful, and hopeful again.  I was pulled from my own petty worries back into a place of timeless beauty.  I dipped the ladle of my soul into a deep well of peace, and was refreshed.

Where do you go to restore yourself and find peace?

Heart’s Ease

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From distress to destress

Where do we find our heart’s ease?  How do we cope with emotional distress?  What do we do to help ourselves when life gets challenging?  I find that when I can keep my heart open to joy, I have the emotional resiliency to carry me through life’s difficult transitions.

I interviewed for a job earlier this week, and it went well.  Nerves don’t bother me in such situations.  I’m friendly and open by default. I have spent much of my adult life trying to cultivate an attitude of emotional equilibrium which helps me keep my cool in stressful situations.  However, I’ve had to work hard to maintain that equilibrium in the post-interview waiting stage.  With so much riding on the outcome of an interview, the waiting can be excruciating.  These are the day to day opportunities for growth that I try to be grateful for.

I’ve always found waiting for important news difficult.  As a teenager in high school, I used to audition for solos in choir and for parts in the plays and musicals.  I was still developing emotional self-control at that age, so I was a bit more nervous during auditions, but it was nothing compared to the all-consuming distraction of waiting for the call back list to go up.  I had a hard time putting my mind on other things, and would be anxious and distracted for days until the outcome was known.  Once I got the news, good or bad, I was fine again.  It was the waiting that killed me.

So it is still for me today, even after decades of meditation and self-development under my belt.  I have gotten much better at being naturally confident in auditions or interviews, but I still am driven to distraction while waiting for the outcome.  But while my idle mind still returns again and again to the thought “Will I get it?”, I have at least learned of a few effective strategies to engage my mind in worthier directions.

Here’s what doesn’t work: sitting by a phone waiting for it to ring.  Now, I don’t have a cell phone that I use for business purposes, so if I get a professional call, it’s at home.  This makes it far easier for me to walk away  from the phone, both as an object and what that object symbolizes.  As long as I’m at home, every innocent ring makes my heart leap into my throat, and my mind buzz like a kicked hornet’s nest.  I can’t find peace in a state of hypervigilance.  But by getting away from the reminder of my discomfort, I’m better able to place my attention and my emotional energy on other things.

A very effective strategy is to find ways to be helpful or useful to the world.  I actively look for opportunities to do good deeds.  If you’ve ever volunteered your time, you likely have experienced the special kind of joy that comes from helping a worthy cause.  Selfless giving opens the heart and aligns it with a greater good. There are a million little pieces of unhappiness and suffering in the world.  Relieve a piece of that for another, big or small, and your own heart is rewarded with the very act of doing it.  It’s impossible to stay stuck in emotional distress while simultaneously experiencing the joy of selfless giving.  An open heart finds sympathetic ease when easing the distress of another.

So yesterday, to ease my distraction by a phone that didn’t ring, I looked for ways to be of use to the world.  I saw a friend in emotional distress over the grave illness of a loved one, so I offered to visit with her and help her create a custom essential oil blend that could support her emotionally in this difficult time.  I blend oils for myself to give me support in similar situations, so I was hoping to offer this friend a gesture of solace that might also provide her with a real tool to help her through this time of sadness and transition.

We chose six oils whose properties are associated with decreasing anxiety, fear, and stress: Patchouli, Cedarwood, Lavender, Melissa, Bergamot, and Cypress.  Patchouli is good for steadying the mind when overthinking and worry develop.  Cedarwood can give us strength in times of crisis, and support emotional resiliency. Lavender is rightly renowned for its ability to calm and sooth frayed nerves. Melissa can provide relief from anxious depression, while Bergamot clarifies and uplifts the mind.  Cypress helps convey a feeling of emotional cohesion, and supports our ability to cope with change, particularly with the transition of death.  When I was done with the blend, my friend was left with a custom perfume that can give her something to focus on when stress becomes overwhelming, and I was left with the heart’s ease that comes from supporting a friend in need.  And of course, I was also exposed to a therapeutic qualities of these oils as I was blending them, so it helped us both  find a bit of strength together.  That’s what friends are for.

It doesn’t do us any good to stay trapped in difficult emotional states.  Whether unhappy with some piece of our lives, or distressed about events outside of our control, staying stuck in those emotions isn’t healthy.  I think it’s important to find ways out of negative emotional states into more peaceful, joyful states of being.  This is an important part of my search for samadhi.  I seek liberation from the chains of emotional distress.   In those times when I am able to achieve emotional equilibrium, I find an infinite pool of joy waiting to offer its endless abundance.  I haven’t been able to achieve a perpetual state of bliss, and maybe I never will, but that is where I become a buddha.  No matter where I am, that is my destination, my heart’s ease.

“Better do a good deed near at home than go far away to burn incense.” – Chinese Proverb

Drum Therapy

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LATE BREAKING NEWS: Drum Circles Cure Common Cold!

These are some of the drums I bring to my monthly drum circle.

But like any miraculous headline, there’s a catch.  In my case, the effect lasted only so long as I was actually drumming.  Once the drum circle ended and I was packing up the drums to go home, all of the symptoms of my heavy head cold returned.  But while we were playing last night, it was a surprising miracle.  It was such a noticeable difference that the other members of the group remarked on the change in me. But I shouldn’t have been so surprised.  Research supports the idea that drumming truly is a healing art.

Mostly I drum for the sheer joy it brings me.  Rhythm touches something deep inside of me, and affects me in ways not usually so dramatically noticeable.  Drumming relieves tension, stress, anxiety, fear, anger – the entire range of emotional states that leaves people tied in knots.  For me, at least, it’s impossible to hold onto these states while drumming.  I may start drumming from that place, but the rhythm lifts me out of that emotional state and transports me to a stronger, calmer, more genuine state of relaxation.  Relaxation doesn’t always mean calm – I’m usually energized by the practice, but it relaxes and unwinds all of the emotions that have me wound up.  And when you clear that away, what is left is a natural feeling of well-being and joy.

Necessary Context: I’m something of a science geek.  I enjoy reading the latest research findings from a diverse range of fields of study.  I like looking for connections between these domains, in search of my own unified theory of the universe. A lofty ambition perhaps, but really, aren’t we all in search of greater understanding and unity of meaning?  So I subscribe to science newsletters, and try to give attention to the front lines of research.  I’m no expert, but I try to stay informed.

Scientists have been studying the healing effects of drumming from a number of different angles.  One of the most interesting to me are the effects that drumming has on the brain.  As you may be aware, the activity of our brains can be measured in brain waves with devices such as an EEG (Electroencephalography).  Electrodes are attached to the scalp which measure the electrical activity of the neurons firing in the brain.

(Aside:  isn’t that COOL?)

Through EEG studies, we learn that there are different brain wave patterns associated with different states of consciousness, both awake and sleeping, and the stages in between.  When we are awake and focusing our attention, our brains produce beta waves.  By immersing ourselves in highly structured rhythmic environments such as drum circles, our brain waves begin to align with the rhythms in a process known as entrainment, which alters brain waves in measurable ways.

(Again, COOL!)

Alpha waves bring us to a state of deep relaxation, where creativity is unleashed.  This state can be achieved in the brains of drummers fairly easily and quickly.  It produces feelings of euphoria and well-being.  As the drumming persists, the brain can shift gears again, and produce theta waves.  Theta waves are associated with a deep meditative trance state where a doorway to the dreaming mind is opened. Insight and inspiration are often found in this state of mind.  Drumming is a key that opens the door to these states of consciousness.

But wait!  There’s more! (I apologize for the excessive use of exclamation marks, but I really find it quite difficult to curb my enthusiasm when it comes to this subject.)

The effects of drumming extend beyond their influence on brain waves.  In addition to producing a measurable relaxation effect, drumming also releases endorphins, neurotransmitters that act as natural opiates which relieve pain and produce natural feelings of euphoria.  Recent promising research also shows that drumming boosts the immune system, helping the body produce more killer cells that work to combat everything from viruses to serious illnesses such as cancer.  Cortisol, the stress hormone suspected as the root cause of many diseases, also decreases measurably while drumming.  Our entire biological response seems to get a tune-up when we immerse ourselves in highly rhythmic environments.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that I should feel so fantastic while I was drumming last night.  I went to the drum circle feeling generally miserable, chained to my box of tissues, and desiring little more than to crawl into bed.  But drumming lifted me out of that entirely, creating a state of energy, joy, and euphoria that lasted even after the drumming stopped and my nose resumed it’s dripping.  It’s no wonder why I’m such an enthusiastic ambassador for the drum.  Next time, come join me.

For a well-cited overview of Drum Therapy, see http://healing.about.com/od/drums/a/drumtherapy.htm
Another nice summary can be found at http://www.shamanswell.org/shaman/powerful-healing-benefits-drumming-circle
To find a drum circle near you, visit http://www.drumcircles.net/circlelist.html 

Gong Bath

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The sound of the gongs are tuned to the frequencies of the planets, creating the “Music of the Spheres”

As a drummer, I’m keenly aware of the effect that sound vibrations can have on a person physically and psychologically.  I can physically feel the vibrations of drums resonating in my body when I play, and I have observed the psychological uplift typically experienced by people immersed in the rhythmic environments of drum circles.  So when I had the opportunity to experience a special “Gong Bath,” I couldn’t resist.

Conducted by Universal Sounds of Saratoga Springs, NY using a wide range of singing bowls and planetary gongs, participants are immersed in a rich vibrational soundscape. Based on the premise that all matter has a vibrational frequency, they believe this resonant gong bath will help people retune themselves to find harmony.  They are called Planetary Gongs because each one is tuned to the vibrational frequency of each planet, as calculated by Swiss mathematician and musicologist Hans Cousto.  When played together, the air throbs with the music of the spheres.

It was a beautiful spring morning.  I arrived at the Hindu Temple with my yoga gear and an attitude of hopefulness.   I have been managing heavy stress loads lately, and I hoped this experience would help me hit the mental and emotional “reset” button.  Although I normally have a regular yoga practice to rely on in difficult times, my practice had evaporated over the past month, leaving me stiff and shaky on many levels.  My meditation practice has had to double down to compensate, but my internal resources were stretched too thinly. This special event was a yoga class followed by a gong bath, and I was equally looking forward to both.

The event was held in a large carpeted room with a stage running the length of the far wall.  Approximately 50 people had pre-registered, but I saw many walk-ins register at the door.  The room easily accommodated all of our mats without feeling too crowded.  I unrolled my mat, wrapped my blanket around me, anointed my chakras with essential oils that support meditation, and settled myself in to wait for the class to begin.

We began with a yoga class led by Jim Whiting, a Kripalu Yoga instructor from Body Mind Spirit Yoga in Delmar, NY.  Suitable for all levels, the practice consisted of gentle stretches that left us grounded and open for what was to come.  After a brief break to allow people to get settled and comfortable, the gong bath began.

I was laying down with an eye bag over my eyes when the sound began, and I had an immediate experience of synesthesia where  I perceived sound as color. I was quite surprised by the psychedelic light show that appeared against the inside of my eyelids as the gongs began to resonate.  It was a bit like Fantasia; each time a gong was struck, a different splash of color would appear in my mind’s eye, rippling out wider as the sound of the gong spread.  I was surprised by this experience simply because it seemed so unexpectedly cliché, and it happened so immediately.  This synesthesia only lasted a few minutes, but I found it fascinating.  But as the gongs began to overlap and the sounds became more layered, I became untethered in ways that are difficult to describe.

As the gong bath began, our only instruction was to get comfortable, stay present and immerse ourselves in sound.  As a seasoned meditator, “stay present” means something very specific.  Our minds all have the tendency to jump around from thought to thought.  We spend much of our thinking lives either dwelling on past events or thinking/planning/scheming/worrying over future events.  To be focused entirely on the here and now is a meditation practice precisely because we do it so rarely we NEED to practice.  For after all, life only really happens here and now.  We miss the richness of many experiences because we are mentally checked out.  Staying present is at the heart of Mindfulness Meditation techniques.  Just about any activity can be done mindfully, with focused awareness.  I’m not perfect at this, and my success varies according to my internal landscape, but I’m generally able to put aside distracting thoughts and focus on one thing attentively, especially if it’s something as lush and interesting as the rich soundscape of gongs that was making the whole room vibrate.

And yet, I could not.  As much as I returned my attention again and again to the sound of the gongs, as each wave of sound washed over me, I was swept away again and again.  Images arose, disconnected and unfathomable.  I saw a strange bearded man eating peanuts.  I saw a friend in a wedding dress. I saw fragments of images that never held still long enough to identify.  It was very much like a dream, yet I was very aware of and observant of this experience.  Interesting visual phenomenon replaced the color splashes of the synesthesia; the images in my mind wavered and spun, brightened and dimmed, shattered and reformed.  I was completely unable to bring any kind of mental discipline to the idea of staying present.  I was swept away.

I eventually sat up so I could hear and feel the sound of the gongs completely surround me.  There was a very physical sensation associated with the vibrations.  There were at least eight large gongs, and the sound was palpable.  An hour flew by in what seemed like only a few minutes.  Gradually the sounds tapered off, and there was silence.

I have had experiences that left me feeling charged and energized, but surprisingly, this wasn’t one of them.  What I mostly felt was emptied. I could clearly feel a residual sensation of vibration throughout my body, but it didn’t leave me bursting with new energy like I had expected.  Instead, I tapped a pool of exhaustion I didn’t know I had in me.  I went home and slept like the dead for two hours, an extremely rare event for me unless I’m ill.  As I explored this after-effect, I believe this result is because the gong bath actually did what I was hoping for.  I’ve been too tightly wound up for too long, and this gong bath managed to unravel that tight knot of tension.  The nap was my body’s response to my spirit unknotting.

It was a beautiful experience; one that I will seek out again.

Becoming Buddha

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On the one hand, as a meditation teacher, I have a certain amount of professional interest in staying grounded, focused, and peaceful.  Live your practice, right?  On the other hand, as a human very much involved with living in the world, I often struggle with staying present in the face of challenges.  That’s why we call meditation a “practice”. 

I was extraordinarily fortunate to have been taught meditation techniques as a toddler, so the practice has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I sometimes wonder what I would be like without this experience.  I believe I have a great deal of emotional control, and I credit my meditation practice.  I don’t usually get easily flustered or overwhelmed in crisis situations.  When swept up in an emotional storm, I can find my way to the eye of it fairly quickly and re-establish equilibrium.  I can examine myself and my life situation from a place of compassion.  I forgive easily.  I love widely.

I meditate because I feel better when I do it.  I feel calmer, more grounded, more open to the world and my place in it.  I often get a clearer understanding of my own inner workings, and return from meditation inspired and refreshed.  Seeking that experience had been my only goal for decades, until I learned something that inspired me to greater heights.  As the ultimate meditator, I had always admired and revered Buddha, and so it was a great revelation to learn that Buddha wasn’t his name, but a title.  He wasn’t Mr. Buddha, he was A buddha: THE Buddha.  It was a description, a job title…and that meant I could be a buddha too.  Maybe I don’t need to meditate under a Bodhi Tree for 49 days to achieve this state of enlightenment, but what excited me was the idea that this state of ultimate enlightenment was available to me.  I could be an enlightened buddha.  Me.  Really.  Keep practicing.  So I do.

So I meditate for short-term and long-term results.  In my day-to-day life, it helps to keep the monsters in my closet.  In the long-term, I strive for Samadhi, a state of enlightenment.  I’ve always believed that we were born to this earth to learn and grow.  Meditation allows me to grow toward greater peace and fulfillment.

I keep practicing because I’m not there yet. Life still throws curve balls.  I still get caught up in the barbed nets of fear, anxiety, anger, and frustrations.  But meditation gives me the tools to escape from these nets, however briefly.  Hopefully one day I’ll manage to escape those nets entirely.  That’s the freedom I seek through meditation.

Blue Lotus Love

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yoga lake

The very first oil blend I ever created for myself had Lotus essential oil in it. That was seven years ago, and my love for this haunting ethereal aroma endures. I was first drawn to blending essential oils because I was fascinated by the emotional and spiritual potential of these potent substances. As a dedicated yoga practitioner, I actively seek the union of body, mind, and spirit, so essential oils are one of the means I employ. Because the Lotus is a symbol of enlightenment, it was one of the first oils I wanted to try.

I’ve experimented with White, Pink, and Blue Lotus, both full strength and in 10% dilution. Each one of these oils is subtly different in aroma, but all have a similar effect on the mind and spirit. Much as I expected to find from this sacred flower, Lotus brings serenity and tranquility, and supports a state of relaxed awareness, making it the ideal addition to a meditation blend. In fact, this first blend I made for myself was specifically designed to support my meditation practice, and I named the blend “Samadhi”, the yogic word that describes the final meditative state of bliss. For a blend with this high aspiration, I knew it had to contain Lotus.

Recently, my favorite supplier of essential oils, Marge Clark of Nature’s Gift, sourced a very special treat: Blue Lotus Infusion. When I first heard about how this oil was made, I knew I had to have a sample of an oil that was made with such painstaking dedication. As explained by Marge, “The producer [uses] equal amounts of pure Jojoba oil and fresh Blue Lotus blossoms. Seal, cover, allow to stand overnight. Drain off the jojoba, discarding the spent blossom, and add freshly picked blossoms to the Jojoba. Continue this process for 25 days. At the end of this period one is left with the most marvelously sweetly scented Blue Lotus infusion.” I knew I had to try it.

It was love at first sniff. Regular Lotus essential oil can be difficult to love undiluted. It has a deep, sharp undertone that frequently masks the more delicate floral notes it contains. Lotus is a water-borne plant. It roots in the mud, but floats upon the water. It really likes to be diluted to lift the more subtle notes out of the oil. On the other hand, the floral notes are so subtle that other oils can easily subdue it, making it a difficult note to elevate in a blend. But this Blue Lotus Infusion was different. It was bliss straight out of the bottle.

Knowing it was diffused in a skin-safe jojoba, I dabbed a drop on my wrist as soon as I could pull my nose out of the bottle. I was eager to see how it reacted to my skin chemistry, since some florals seem to fall flat on my skin. Blue Lotus Infusion held up beautifully, so I immediately filled my essendulum (a wearable sample bottle) so I could have this on hand throughout the day. Rarely have I ever fallen so in love with an oil, but this one was definitely just what I needed.

I lead a weekly meditation class, so of course I began using this oil in conjunction with meditation sessions. It is such a beautiful oil that it inspired a new meditation blend. I have been using it as an antidote to anxiety, grounding me in a time of great difficulty. It focuses my awareness on the present and brings peace when I let worry overtake me. It centers my mind and steadies my spirit. I call this blend Blue Dawn because it evokes the same sense of peace and optimism.

Blue Dawn:
4 parts Blue Lotus Infusion
2 parts Jasmine grandiflora 10%
1 part Patchouli
Equal parts frac. Coconut oil

As a devoted Jasmine lover, I usually prefer the Sambac variety, which has a richer, heavier floral than the grandiflora. I chose the lighter grandiflora here so that it wouldn’t overcome the sweetly delicate Lotus. The Patchouli is needed to ground this heady mixture, acting both as a perfume base as well as an emotional base. But be careful: a little Patchouli goes a long way; even diluted against the Lotus and Jasmine, people were able to detect the Patchouli immediately in this blend. But what a winning combination! I have been using this blend nearly every day as emotional support during a difficult and anxious time. Just pulling the stopper and taking a deep breath is enough to ground me and reconnect to the present.

This blend has been a true gift to me. I believe we are drawn towards oils that help us heal on whatever level needs healing. If we allow our intuition to inform our noses, we will be attracted to the oils we need most. Blue Lotus Infusion has become a powerful tool in my quest for serenity and peace.

Namaste.

(A copy of this article first appeared on the blog of Nature’s Gift on 26 April 2012. http://naturesgiftaromatherapy.blogspot.com/2012/04/blue-lotus-love.html I wholeheartedly endorse this company without any hesitation or reservation.  It’s ethically run by real people who care a lot about what they do.  If you are interested in essential oils, this is where you should get them.  And no, this is not a paid endorsement)