One of the most powerful practices I’ve put in place to help me deepen my spirituality, tap into my intuition, and navigate the twists and turns of my own heroine’s journeys is meditation.
Meditation has given me a safe, sacred place to turn inwards.
Finding a safe space as you navigate your own heroine’s journey is crucial to step into the darkness and explore what is true for you beneath the surface.
It’s likely that you’ve come across the many benefits of meditation (and if you haven’t, read this!).
Instead, I want to share one of my most memorable meditation experiences (an excerpt from my first memoir, “My Journey Through War and Peace”, which will be published in March 2016!) and walk you through a guided meditation to get you started.
A Powerful Meditation Experience
At sunrise on that November day in 2001, I walked through the sacred town of Auroville, known as the “Soul of the City.” The Southeast Indian monsoon rains had taken a few days off. Mist rose from the red clay earth. I walked through the Garden of Existence, in which were planted pink hibiscus to remind visitors of psychic aspiration.
The golden Matrimandir (Sanskrit for Temple of The Mother), a UFO-like building, grows out of the center of the park. I climbed up the spaceship-like ramp, which was under construction, and opened the double doors leading to the meditation hall, where I left my flip-flops. An Aurovillian-French woman handed me white socks to put on. Inside the foggy air-conditioned interior, I immediately felt peaceful and still.
The domed room was all white, with twelve, fifty-feet high columns, white walls, and cushions on the white marble floor. A shaft of light burst through a hole in the ceiling, a beam that struck a three-feet tall crystal ball, refracting rainbows throughout the inner chamber. Over a hundred devotees could easily fit in the sanctuary, but this early in the morning there were fewer than a dozen of us.
Sitting cross-legged on a cushion, I felt myself entering a vast open space. My mind quieted quickly, a result of decades of meditation practice. Many things swelled within me: my spiritual readings, contemplations, the overwhelming spiritual essence of Auroville, and my having just turned forty. I felt a stirring at the base of my spine. The pulse moved up to the top of my head, causing my crown to tingle.
I rocked forward and back as the energy surged through me, causing me to experience orgasmic contractions. My whole body pulsated. Particles of my being dispersed and blended with those of the Matrimandir, Mother Earth and the Cosmos.
In this shrine dedicated to the Universal Mother, I had become one with all.
A Guided Meditation
Whether you’re new to meditation or an old pro, here’s a guided meditation I come back to time and time again.
Based on the Vipassana Meditation from Goenka, start with following your breath. Pay attention to the sensations of the air flowing in through your nostrils, out through your nostrils. Follow the natural rhythms of the air moving in and out.
Begin with the top of your head and transfer your attention to observing your crown. Continue to breathe at a natural pace.
Then follow the sensations in the body as you move your attention from your crown through your face, the back of your head, your neck.
Allow whatever comes up—thoughts, feelings, sensations—to exist. Don’t comment, judge or think about what is happening.
Use your attention to follow the sensations from your neck down your right shoulder, down your arm, down to the back of your hand to the tip of your fingers. Then continue to observe your sensations as you move from your right palm up through your elbow to your shoulder.
Observe the sensations in your chest, upper back, down through your belly and lower back.
Then continue to observe as you move down your upper right thigh, knee, ankle, foot, toes.
Remember to breathe.
Bring your attention back up through the sole of your foot, back of your leg up through the upper thigh.
Move down the left upper thigh to the knee to the foot. Feel the sensations in your toes. Continue up from the sole of the left foot, to the back of the leg, to the upper thigh.
Feel the sensations in the buttocks, up through the pelvis, the lower back, through the lungs to the upper left shoulder.
Move your attention down to the left elbow, to the hand, to the fingers. Continue to the palm of the left hand, up through the wrist, elbow and left shoulder.
Feel your neck, throat, jaw, cheeks, nose, eyes, forehead and back up to the crown.
Breathe naturally. Observe the sensations of the whole body. Notice any place where you feel stuck. Take deep breaths and let the energy move to those places where you may have resistance, discomfort, even pain.
Give yourself and all beings a blessing: “Many blessings and much happiness to all sentient beings.” You may say this mantra out loud or to yourself.
Then notice how you feel at the end of this meditation before you turn your attention back to your busy life. You may enjoy this process so much that you’ll want to add it to your daily morning ritual.
To turning inwards,