The Winter Feast for the Soul, January 15th-February 23rd, 2014: Join the Series!
Hello! Welcome to the Winter Feast for the Soul, a 40 day meditation practice period. My name is Galya Segal and I am teaching Meditation for teens, tweens, and young adults. Here is a transcription of the introductory meditation session.”
“Look,” he said, “The people are thinking a lot of thoughts in their heads” and pointed to the sky filled with tiny white clouds.
I gave him a puzzled look. He said it again.
“So many thoughts, the people are thinking, thinking, thinking.”
We stared at the clouds floating across the New Zealand skyline and I wondered at the experience receiving an answer for a question not yet formulated in my mind: was the temperament of the earth a mirror to the temperament of the mind? He was Manu, a Tohunga– or elder, an indigenous healer who grew up in the wilderness learning the shamanistic ways of the Maori from his great, great grandparents; and when they passed away he studied with his great grandparents, then finally his grandparents. Eventually Manu returned to be raised by his parents, but by that time he was already a teenager well-versed in the traditional healing arts of the Maori. Manu was the holder of knowledge very rare in the world today: knowledge of herbs, animals, meditation, healing, prayers, song, dance, fighting and sacred ritual. At birth he was recognized as an important future leader. Like many indigenous cultures around the world, the Maori believe in reincarnation, life after death. They believe that some spiritually mature souls choose to come back to the earth in a new body in order to be helpers. There are seers, prophets and shamans who can predict when and where these souls will land on the earth and they ensure their placement in leadership roles where these gifted children can be resources to the community. In the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition, one such leader is the Dalai Lama.
So, when Manu spoke, often he made comments with meaning on multiple levels and for this reason I listened closely.
When the rain is pouring, are the people crying? I wondered. Maybe the people aren’t crying, and the earth cries for them….Does that mean that we hurting the earth when we run away from unpleasant emotions because the earth has to feel them for us? Does thunder and lightning in the sky help us to see, externally, our own inner rage, anger, awe? Is a flood similar to the moment when a dam breaks inside our hearts: suddenly we can’t bottle up feelings any longer and everything we try to hold inside comes pouring out all at once….Hmmmm. This was a new idea, a new way of experiencing nature, a new way to see my own meditation practice, through the lens of what I call the “Nature Mind.”
It’s with a beautiful memory of Manu that I begin this meditation series, exploring deeper into meditation connected with nature. There will be three segments of this forty day experience: Wilderness Meditation, Heart-Centered Energy Work, and Ceremonial Rites of Passage. I sincerely invite you to join me, meditating a little bit every day. I promise to make it interesting, helpful, and hopefully a little bit fun too.
Exercise Number One: Redwood Forest
Have you ever been to the Redwood Forest? If you have you can imagine what it’s like when I describe my favorite place in the world: Muir Woods in Northern California. If you haven’t, that’s okay, just let your mind’s eye imagine walking through a lush green forest, smelling the pines, feeling the cool air against your skin, listening to the birds in the trees and the river rushing between giant cathedrals of ancient trees. In the redwood forest it is easy to have a sense of awe and to feel inspired and quiet.
In so many traditions there is a practice of purification, or preparation to enter a holy place. In the Jewish tradition there is a ritualistic bathing in blessed water called a Mikvah, in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition they say a special mantra called Vajrasattva, and in the Catholic tradition many people practice confessing their misdeeds to a priest. These are just a few examples. Today we are going to purify our mind-body of things that feel yucky—fatigue, depression, anger, stress, negativity from an interaction with a difficult person, etc.
- So I invite you to stand up and shake your body!
- Shake your feet, one at a time, shake your legs, shake your hands, your arms, shake it all at once! Really shake off your day!
- Now imagine that you have the negativity on your hands like water and flick it off, send it away, let it go back to being neutral energy without any particular charge.
- Now let’s do some bouncing and now fall on the heels.
- Finally, with your hands, brush down your legs, like you are brushing off any energetic residue from your body. Brush down your arms, brush down your face, the back of your head, brush off anything you don’t need anymore.
- Now, we will sit in silence and prepare to enter the pristine Redwood Forest of the mind. I invite you to sit quietly for ten minutes, allowing any residue from the day to dissolve back into neutrality.
- Bell rings.
- Thank you! I hope it went well for you and I will see you tomorrow in the Redwoods! This is Galya Segal from sourcemeditation.com with meditation for teens and young adults, a part of the Winter Feast for the Soul.
Join the meditations! Click Here.