Recently I heard from a reader that she'd like more practical, hands-on ideas about moving your dream forward in The Joy Letter. I'm all for that ... so let's talk about meditating, which is one of the key tools for connecting with the work of your dreams. Or better yet, let's talk about finding that secret place where you feel God's presence in your life. For me, that's what meditation is all about, and there is no one way to achieve it.
My problem with standard seated meditation has always been that I wasn't sure I was doing it right. I'd heard you should inhale to the count of four and exhale to the count of six or eight. Which I did for a while, and it did seem to focus my mind. Yet, once I'd calmed down and gotten into some sort of alpha state, my mind was hardly empty. I was going through yesterday's grocery list by the time my meditation was officially over. I would open my eyes feeling vaguely guilty, and not really sure the meditation had "worked". Another option I tried was staring at a mandala, a design, or a candle flame, which was a complete failure. I didn't like the idea of staring at anything; it gave me a headache.
Through trial and error, I eventually came up with my own sort of mongrel meditation which I've found to be highly effective -- one it turns out that pray-ers have used for thousands of years. I simply close my eyes, take a few breaths to relax, and say hello to God. There is almost always a warm, secure, taken-care-of feeling that takes over, a sense that God is there, waiting, wanting to help. I thank God for various blessings in my life, and I ask for information and ideas, and help on challenges. Then I do my best to stay open to whatever divine thoughts or images may roll along. Above all, I let my intruding thoughts come and go, with the understanding that they will never leave altogether -- that I can simply include them, and move on.
It took some years to realize that a process this simple was indeed 'doing it right'. I was sure everyone else's technique was better than mine. And yet, when I finally gave up and trusted my method, I truly felt that nod from God. After all, God does want to speak to us ... He or She is always patiently waiting for us. The question is, can we muster up the courage to tune in?
Let me also add that guided meditations on tape can be a terrific solution, especially if you're new to meditation. You can just sit back, turn on the tape, relax and let someone else take care of you for a while. Tapes can be wonderfully specific, too, guiding you to work on specific issues. For many years, I happily climbed into Shakti Gawain's pink bubble on her "Creative Visualizations" tape whenever I wanted to help prod my goals along. I put together my own tape for going into your creative space, and asking for help on your dream.
The important thing, of course, is not how you meditate but that you do meditate. This is your pipeline to your dream, the work that will bring you further along your path. And the more often you do it, the more clear and fertile that channel will become. Just pick a regular time of day to meditate and stick to it -- first thing in the morning, right before you go to sleep, just after you get home from work, even behind closed doors on your lunch hour at the office.
Once you discover the lovely, honey-light of God's essence warming your soul, it will become too hard to resist, and you will find yourself waiting for the moment each day when you can connect.
Sit back, relax, close your eyes, and enjoy!