What To Do If Meditation Isn't For You
-Michael J Dangler
Three Cranes Grove, ADF
Not everyone is cut out for passive meditation or the emptying of minds. Some of us prefer to focus on a single point: a mantra, a mandala, a candle flame. Still others prefer to actively call to the deities, to hold ritual and seek out that which we love.
I am one of those last. I cannot sit for hours with an empty mind, nor can I focus on one thing for more than a few minutes. I have learned through trial and experience with other methods that the only truly useful form of daily practice available to me is daily ritual.
A parallel for what I do might be found in the daily puja of Hindu people, where each morning the household "wakes up" the gods and honours them. I do something very similar.
Each morning, I wake up, shower, put on clean clothes, and get ready for my day. Before I leave the house, though, I stand in front of my altar and begin to breathe in a 4-2-4-2 pattern (in for four, hold for two, out for four, hold for two, repeat).
I check the Well on my altar for an appropriate amount of water. If it is low, I pour some extra in. If there is enough, I simply take note.
I strike a match and light the three candles upon my altar that symbolize the fire.
I dip my fingers into the well and anoint the tree, and then I wave the heat of the flames onto the tree as well.
The wetness of the well, the heat of the fire, and the contact with the tree serve to transfer my mind from one world into the next.
Depending on how I feel, I will either open the Gates and make offerings, or I will not. The decision is one based on a feeling of what the Gods and Powers request, and it is impossible to describe how I make the choice, but I do not consider the making of offerings to be always integral to the daily ritual.
I open my mind at this point, and call out to my Gods. I ask that they bless my work in the day, and that they remind me of their presence.
Following this opening (which may take between a second and an hour), I do fifty push-ups and a hundred situps (sometimes more depending, again, on what I feel the Gods wish). While physical exercise may seem out of place in a ritual, I very much feel that they are integral to my worship. Not only is my altar a temple to the Gods, but my body is as well. It does not have to be perfect, but I feel that I must make an effort.
Once I am done with my exercises, I open once more, briefly. I place a triskel necklace around my neck as a symbol to myself of my devotion that I can feel all day long. Then I close out the ritual by extinguishing the flames, and go about my daily work.
In the evening, I repeat this process, the only difference being that I remove the necklace before bed.
I have found that this process has helped me remain mindful of the Gods, and to think on them more often in my daily life. It helps me to see things in a different light, one that reminds me that there is magic in all things, from a child's laughter to a hawk perched royally in a tree. Daily ritual practice, like meditation and mantras, is not for everyone, but I hope that, if it is for you, that this short description of my own practice will help you to develop yours.
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