My eyes are heavy and starting to close. Perhaps I'll let them, as I continue to type. Perhaps that's the best way to get this written. This is my third attempt today....
This is my third attempt to share more about yesterday's quadruple dose of meditation. This is my attempt to tell you how the day progressed. How I progressed. How I was struck with divine inspiration. Filled with an easy air of devotion that fueled me, propelled me into an 11pm yin yoga practice followed by my 2nd round of an SRF guided meditation on Peace, before drifting off to sleep. And the insights that came to me throughout the night and in the morning....
But sometimes it's hard to put into words. Or the moment passes. The moments pass. They're gone. Does it even matter any more? Does sharing it here, or elsewhere, do any good? Does it help anyone? Does it help me? Does it drive it in? Make it more real?
Yes. No. Maybe so.
Maybe I'll just have to break it down like this, provide a little structure for what feels so formless:
1. I woke up, rolled out of bed, opened up my iPad, clicked "play" on the SRF Peace meditation. I'd done this the previous morning too. What was different this time? It was easier to focus my gaze upward to my third eye, but couldn't consistently hold it there. And I kept seeing an image of Yogananda, a black and white image, and I don't remember seeing it in a book, in a movie, or online. He was sitting on some steps outside, his hair about shoulder length or maybe a little longer. Seeing him helped me focus, helped me relax.
2. I taught a Union of Three Hearts meditation class a couple hours later. And when I asked the students if they had any intentions for this meditation, they all said Peace. I smiled and then weaved the theme of peace in and out throughout the Sheng Zhen meditation, inspired and guided by my earlier morning practice.
And then? Then I spent the next several hours not feeling at peace. I spent the next several hours in some sort of time warp in which nothing was accomplished. And that's not even true. I did do some things other than stare into space. But the feeling I had was that it wasn't enough, that I should be doing more, that if I'm not going to do something "productive" such as working on my book or my business, then the least I can do is meditate, practice Sheng Zhen, or take it to the yoga mat. What is this resistance to doing? What is this attachment to doing? Is it my ego getting upset with me over this non-doing? Or is it my soul?
3. A bath and a long talk with a good friend helped me release these and other annoying thoughts in my head, including thoughts about isolation and loneliness on this path that I'm on, as well as questions about if I am spreading myself too thin with the various practices and studies calling to me now.... And then a few students showed up for a 7pm Union of Three Hearts meditation at my house.
The previous week, there had been a request for the room to be darker, so we tried that. And I don't know if it was the darkness, or the state I was already in, but I dropped deeper into my own meditation than normal while teaching. Usually when I teach, I enter into the Sheng Zhen state, a meditative state, but rarely this deeply. I kept my eyes closed for more of the time than usual, only opening them to check the time a few times instead of also to periodically scan the room and see what's happening for my students; this time I just felt into the field. I could see without looking. And truth is, I could always see without looking, but I didn't always trust it, and so I would look too... But now I know. Now I trust....
As for my own meditation experience while teaching, I felt the qi building up strong in my dantian. I felt the qi traveling up and down in the zhong mai between the dantian and niwuan. And then when the qi remained in the niwuan, this is where I went in the deepest.
I saw the cosmos within my head, within my consciousness. It didn't feel like the qi had expanded out and beyond and like I'd traveled out or merged with some cosmos "out there." No. This was inside of me. This felt contained and yet vast. And instead of pulling myself out of there, as I sometimes do when teaching, I simply relaxed into it, opened my mouth, and said, Allow yourself to get lost... in the blackness,... in this pure consciousness, or something like that.
It was awesome. I felt at peace again. I felt grounded. I felt relaxed but also energized.
4. But not too long after my students left, I went back to contemplating whether or not I have "too many" practices (and from different schools of thought). I read something online that made this less of an issue, something that helped me get out of my head and back into my deep knowing. Rather than quote it here, this is my own translation and elaboration:
If you are in alignment with the practices to which you've committed, if you know they bring you closer to God (Source, Spirit, whatever you want to call it) and in doing so bring you Peace and Joy, then you will gladly wake up earlier to do them; you will easily, and with pleasure, find the time for them in your day rather than feeling overwhelmed, over-committed, or too lazy or tired for practices and related studies.
And instead of just being words of some sort of abstract concept or "should," this time it was like a wake up call. Literally. I'd been fighting off sleepiness most of the evening. And although I felt awake right after Union of Three Hearts, I had come back down and was contemplating sleep instead of a late night yoga practice and another round of meditation.
But suddenly I had a burst of energy and a feeling of needing to sit and meditate again. Not "needing" in a way of "shoulding" on myself, but needing to because I felt a strong love for this practice and a deep knowing that meditating right before bed would be good for me. So I started cleaning my room to prepare the temple, so to speak. And as I cleaned my room, I noticed my body crying out, yearning for me to spend some time on the mat. I'd skipped yoga the previous day. And the day before that, I had cut my practice ridiculously short. So although it was nearly 11pm, and I am NOT a night owl, I found myself back out in my living room for a Yin Yoga practice.
I felt truly and joyfully devoted. I felt fueled by this pure love and devotion. And it felt amazing. So easy to drop into the poses and rest into it so late at night. And knowing that next I would get to sit and meditate? Yes, please.
5. So back to the SRF Peace meditation....
This time, this third time, was even easier. And several times when I brought my attention back to my 3rd eye if my attention had wandered, especially if not picturing it as a blue circle with a star in it (the image described on SRF's site), but instead just seeing more of an actual eye there, I felt little jolts of energy pass through my spine.
I also saw that same image of Yogananda from the morning, but this time in sepia instead of black and white. An image of an old Chinese sage came in a few times too. And then I was surrounded; in my room I felt the presence of deities and avatars from all these various traditions. I was not alone. This was especially significant in that earlier in the day, I'd been noticing a lot of feelings and thoughts regarding loneliness, and specifically the words I'd heard from others so many times regarding spiritual path: "It's a lonely path."
Part of me wants to say Bullshit. You are never alone. And the more you meditate and feel this sense of connection to the divine and a sense of Oneness with all, the less lonely you will feel. But.... There's a "but" here that is too much of a tangent to get into right now. So perhaps I'll return to this topic another time....
For now, I just want to wrap up this longer-than-usual blog post by saying that I woke up a couple of times in the night with some deep insights that weren't just thought in my head, but felt in my body. Deeper understandings about being part of the cosmos and about "not being your body." This statement "you are not your body" has actually often bothered me a lot over the years, but last night it didn't. Last night I got it on a different level. And getting that resulted in some insights about desire. Attachment. Suffering. Peace. All that good stuff.
I want to write more about this "not your body" thing and what followed from there. But I make no promises. We'll just wait and see if inspiration comes for a follow-up post....
In the meantime, I encourage you to check out those SRF guided meditations. There are also some great meditations specifically for sleep over on the Nestmaven site. And if you want a personalized guided meditation, I'm here for you.
© 2015 Rebecca Clio Gould. All rights reserved.
This morning, and yesterday morning, I started my day with seated meditation. But not my usual Sheng Zhen meditation, not Union of Three Hearts..... No, this was something else.....
I've been reading, or more like devouring, Autobiography of a Yogi over the past couple of weeks. I grew up seeing this book in my house, in my dad's study, the cover rather than the spine facing out, displaying Yogananda's beautiful, androgynous face and kind, penetrative gaze. I was always drawn to it, and thought he looked familiar, like family. Was I related to him?
Despite this feeling of connection and all of my spiritual studies over the years, I never felt compelled to read this book. Until now. Thanks to a friend who came more fully into my life after several weeks of a voice inside whispering, Yoga. That's what you need.
And that's what I got. First with a recommendation of The Ultimate Yogi to get back on the mat, and then to read Autobiography of a Yogi. I'm only on page 175 or so of 550, but so far, all of the gems contained within feel familiar to me. And it feels peacefully exciting, like coming home, and like, Yes, I get it. And of course I'm reading this now; I need these reminders, and in this form....
So yesterday I watched the videos about meditation on the Self-Realization Fellowship website, and then experienced my first SRF meditation by following along to a 15-minute guided meditation on Peace. This morning I also chose Peace. And it was already easier the 2nd time around.
One of the main differences in this style of meditation and the meditation with which I'm familiar is focusing your gaze upward to the third eye. I do have some experience with this, but it is not part of Union of Three Hearts, which has been my primary seated meditation form for years. So yesterday morning, I found this challenging. I wasn't straining, but it felt strange. I also had to be more mindful of sitting totally still, rather than allowing some gentle movements in to help my body relax-- this was made easier though thanks to a relaxation technique shared in the beginning of the guided recording. And I realize now, as I write that that I don't want to get into the details here of how this meditation differs-- I'm too new to it anyway to accurately describe.... Best to go straight to the source.
So this post is just a little background, as reference, along with the links to check this out on your own, in case you're curious as I share more about my experiences with SRF guided meditations over time....
And in the meantime, if you want some guidance on how to create a space for meditation, check out this cool guide. It's also perfectly fine to not create a special space for meditation. You can really meditate anywhere! Even in your car--when not driving, of course! ;) But for an ideal type of set up, this guide over at The Breck Life definitely has some info that may be helpful to consider.
© 2015 Rebecca Clio Gould. All rights reserved.
Kali is the dance of creation and destruction:
one cannot be without the other.
In choosing one and rejecting the other, she appears
as a fragmented sense of self and world.
Day 5 was Sunday. I woke up, lit a candle at Kali's altar, and read this email about creation and destruction, grief, and these two demon kings Shumbha and Nishumbha, who symbolize arrogance and self-doubt/unworthiness within our consciousness.
I really loved the way "demons" were defined in this email, as "rejected parts of ourselves." And in my practice of self-inquiry and dialogue with these demon kings that morning, what I discovered was that although they differ in many ways, what's similar is that both of them want a rest, and they both need to be loved and to feel safe and secure enough to relax and let go, to just shut their mouths and chill. And they need to know they are lovable just as they are.
It reminded me of this:
When I felt complete with that practice, I went to Ecstatic Dance. A beloved community member/poetess/healer/friend/teacher/dancer/beautiful-soul had just recently passed away. And the air was thick with grief. I recalled the poem shared in the morning's email:
Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you’re bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
if it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting
The two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
I felt into my own grief, my grief over many losses, mostly recent, some old. And I danced with this grief and those demon kings. I acknowledged destruction and death as part of creation and life. I left dance feeling pretty good. Feeling a sense of oneness and acceptance with all that is.
But then I went to do a move-out inspection at a condo I own, and when I discovered that my tenant, who was breaking her lease early, not only failed to clean the place, but also scratched up the floor, I lost it. If only I'd lost it in an angry, empowered type of way. But no. Instead I lost it, as in I felt distraught and disoriented, disappointed, and stressed out.
That night I went home and re-lit the candle I'd started burning for Kali in the morning. The first 4 days I'd always let the candle burn all the way down. But Sunday morning, I had to leave home before it was done. So i lit this candle again, sat at the altar, started chanting kreem, kreem kreem, om kreem kalika-yai namaha, but I wasn't feeling it. I stood up, walked away, leaving the candle burning, and out of my mouth came these words as a song: Burn, burn, burn away, anything that's no longer serving me."
As I walked through my house taking care of various things, like the dishes and getting ready for bed, these words continued to be sung through me over and over and over again.
Burn, burn, burn away, Anything that's no longer serving me.
I went to bed feeling pissed off, but in a peaceful way, excited to see what gets burned away.
So I'll leave you with these questions:
What parts of yourself are you rejecting?
What's no longer serving you that needs to be burned away?
I woke up to an email from Chameli & The Awakening Women team, with today's practices and was pleasantly not surprised to see that today's practices were heavily focused on wants.
Over the past month or so, I'd been getting more practice than ever in clarifying and asking for what I want, especially in difficult situations. From requesting an face-to-face breakup do-over to stating my terms for allowing an early lease termination, I have been on a roll.
And to top it off, yesterday a hypnotherapy session ended up revealing a need to focus on knowing that not only can I ask for what I want, but guess what! ....I can get it. ;)
And it's true; pretty much everything I've asked for lately, I have received.
So this morning I sat at my altar for Kali again. I lit a candle. I chanted. I stood up and energetically rinsed myself in Bhairavi Kali's fire. And I asked, "what do you want for me?"
Freedom, flow, openness. I want you to step into your magnificence.
I want you to have all you want,
to stop holding back,
to stop playing small.
"Bhairavi, what do you want for me?" I asked again.
I want love, passion, and pleasure for you.
An abundance of peace, ease, and joy,
As well as rage, sorrow, and wild storms.
Bhairavi, what do you want for me?
I want you to hold yourself in the highest regard and treat yourself like the queen that you are.
I want you to drop the veils of separation and illusion.
I want you to be fierce in your pursuit of Truth and in telling it like it is, no holds barred.
Bhairavi, what do you want for me?
I want you to stop with the nonsense, the distractions, the time sucks and energy drains.
I want your focus laser sharp; you have important work to do.
I want your energy clean and strong.
I want you to trust yourself, especially when it comes to walking away.
Bhairavi, what do you want for me?
I want an end to anything that's stopping you.
I want you to fly.
I want you to roar.
I want you to remember, and do, what you came here for.
As I went through my day, I felt a sense of strength and this fiery energy within me. A few things happened that pissed me off or threatened to stress me out, but I kept my cool as this fire burned inside. I knew the right path, the right words and actions to take. I also continued asking for what I want and even landed myself a new meditation teaching gig! All in all, today was a pretty amazing day. Thank you, Bhairavi, for wanting what you want for me.
My conversation with Bhairavi this morning set the stage for tonight's self-inquiry and Sankalpa Shakti activation. But it's late. And I'm tired. So perhaps more on Sankalpa another time....
So much has fallen apart over the past month. Let's see what else....
Been feeling fed up lately with all that's out of alignment in myself, in others, in this world.
I call on Kali to not only help me see the Truth, but to speak it. And not only to speak it, but to act on it.
Off with their heads! Including my own.... Away with anything that's getting in the way.
It's time to step into something bigger and better than ever before. It's time to destroy and to create.
I am ready.
Today is the first day of a 21 day journey. And the timing couldn't be more perfect. Two days after a painful breakup, I saw an ad on Facebook for a 21 Day Kali Ma Sadhana with Chameli Devi & the Global Yogini Circle that would be starting a few weeks later. Usually I take some time to consider whether or not to sign up for something, especially when I've already declared that "I will not be signing up for anything in September!" ;) But Kali was calling. She has been for some time now, especially over the past couple of years. And anytime I ignore her call, or continue with anything or anyone that's out of alignment with the Truth of who I am and what I want, there's hell to pay.
So rather than avoid, deny, or put it off for another day, I decided to sign up , to dive right in. To face it all. So bring it on, Kali Ma, bring it on.
I've been preparing for you, apparently. I woke up to an email with the assignment for this day 1: create an altar. I learned that red and black are your colors. I smiled. Three walls of my bedroom are black. And one curtain is red. I sleep in your altar every night; I just didn't know it until now.
But still I created a sacred little space and an altar just for Kali during these 21 days. And then I lit a candle and recited Om kreem kalika-yai namaha (I bow my head to Mother Kali, Destroyer of Illusion.) over and over until I noticed something strange and started to cry. At first my voice was strong and stable. But then it got quieter and quieter, as if I were losing my voice. But it hadn't even been very long. So what was happening? Perhaps I was being silenced.
What do you want me to do? I asked through my tears.
I saw an image of Kali, eyes wide, reaching for her sword. I felt a sense of rage and then heard a response, "Don't ask me what to do; you know very well what to do."
And it's true. I know deep down, always, what's true and what's right. And yet my thoughts sometimes get in the way, try to convince me otherwise.
It's time for that to change. So, off with my head! And into my body, into my heart, into my soul I go.
That's all for now. I love the thought of sharing about this experience, in writing, each day. But I make no promises. Time will tell. It always does....
And in the spirit of Kali, two questions for you to consider: What needs to be destroyed, or has already fallen apart, in your life? And how can you be loving to yourself, and feel loved and supported by others, during difficult times of change?
And if you're interested in Kali, meditation, or anything I write, you also might enjoy this blog entry from April 2014: http://rebeccacliogould.blogspot.com/2014/04/adventures-in-meditating-devoured-by.html
People often see me as a bubble of joy, and often times I am! But I wasn't always like this. As a child, before kindergarten, yes. But after that? No. So below is a letter I wrote a few years ago, my partial Sheng Zhen story; it's just the beginning....
I must tell you that this qigong and meditation, these Sheng Zhen practices, changed my life.
I know that is a strong statement to make, but it’s true. Before attending my first workshop with Master Li Junfeng in 2006, I had sort of a dark cloud hanging over me. Maybe because of my car accident as a teenager. Maybe because of a divorce. Or being picked on in grade school for being overweight and having speech impediments and frizzy hair. Most likely a combination of those and other factors contributed to those dark clouds, leaving me feeling down and low energy a lot of the time. I was also self-conscious. A bit shy. Not one of those bubbly, glowing, happy people.
And I didn’t know much about qigong, certainly nothing about Sheng Zhen. In fact, I thought I probably wouldn’t like it, that it would be too serious and uncomfortable. But at that first workshop, I was pleasantly surprised.
The movements were graceful and fluid, and accompanied by inspirational, poetic contemplations. It felt like a meditation in motion. And I loved that we were not only being encouraged to smile and even laugh, but also encouraged to play and have fun with the movements! I felt something shift in me, a letting go, and an opening. A Heart-opening.
I knew from that day on that I wanted to continue this practice and also share it with others. I started practicing regularly along with a DVD, and within just a few weeks, I was one of those happy, glowing, bubbly people. I couldn’t believe it! But it was true. I also noticed that I was more grounded and calm AND that I wanted to dance, be more social, really LIVE and share with others more. My relationships improved. I worried less, and I enjoyed life more. I had more confidence and felt better in my body than I had in years. All of this thanks to cultivating a compassionate and open Heart through Sheng Zhen.
So I got on the fast track to becoming teacher, and it’s been such a pleasure to share these practices with others and to hear their stories, whether of just simply enjoying it or having some big transformational experience with it. Sheng Zhen certainly has touched the lives of many. And through my own personal practice, teaching others, and working so closely with Master Li, Sheng Zhen continues to be a blessing and a joy in my life, as well as a touchstone.
That’s all for now.
Rebecca Clio Gould is a Certified Sheng Zhen Teacher and Holistic Wellness Coach. Her specialties include self-love, embodied joy, women's sexuality, spirituality, surgery preparation, and trauma recovery. She is also a Supreme Science Qigong Instructor, Essence vs Form Coach, and Award-winning Author of "The Multi-Orgasmic Diet: Embrace Your Sexual Energy and Awaken Your Senses for a Healthier, Happier, Sexier You."