Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow? A Guided Meditation for Creativity

Since posting my last article (Distilling Your Essence: A 7-Step Program), I have received a number of e-mails from readers asking for help with meditation. So I share with you this meditation technique that I developed for working with my creativity.
MED-I-TA-TION [med-i-tey-shuh n]. Webster's Unabridged Dictionary defines it as "Close or continued thought; the turning or revolving of a subject in the mind; serious contemplation; reflection; musing."

When it comes to meditation, a lot of emphasis is placed on emptying the mind and finding that place of absolute stillness within. But my experience has been that a mind devoid of thought is daunting and mostly impossible.
Think about it: Even the thought of not having a thought is a thought.
Some people find it easy to connect with silence or to completely empty the mind. Ultimately, I believe it’s more important to allow yourself the time and space to connect consciously with your thoughts rather than avoid the process altogether.

In this approach, I have experienced great success.

THE EXERCISE: HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW? This meditation is a combination of contemplation and creative visualization. Here, you are asked to focus your thoughts for a specific purpose but hold them loosely enough to allow for the spontaneous expression of the subconscious mind, where your seeds of truth are often buried.

Our objectives are these: (1) contemplate a specific dream, desire or goal that you would like to achieve, (2) connect with your intuitive or subconscious self to understand what may be blocking the fulfillment of your desire, and (3) creatively transmute the poisons of negative thoughts into healthy growth.

I encourage you to read through all of the steps below before moving into the meditation. Just get a general idea for where this is going and then make it your own.

STEP 1: GET COMFORTABLE. Find a comfortable place to sit or recline. So much of the meditation instruction encourages practitioners to sit a certain way, hold our hands a certain way, touch our fingers together in a certain way, while doing a host of other things. My early days of meditation were frustrating and anything but enlightening. While for some, rules and a defined structure may be comforting, for me, I find that too many rules turn me off and take away from my experience.

So my only “rule” of meditation is this: Find what works for you and never give up.

As for me, I go into meditation almost always lying down, with my head on a pillow, arms and legs uncrossed, and covered with a warm, snuggly blanket. Gentle meditation while lying in bed just before going to sleep often will spark creative dreams that bring solutions to my most pressing dilemmas.

STEP 2: B-R-E-A-T-H-E. Now that you’re comfortable, focus on your breath. Most people find it challenging to focus on two things at once, but connecting with the breath is a great way to slow the mind chatter. Like Rain Man, I find it comforting to count, so mentally I count on the inhale and the exhale, which keeps me focused and grounded in my breath.

Spend a few minutes breathing.

STEP 3: FIND YOUR HAPPY PLACE. Imagine that you are sitting under your favorite tree. (I envision myself sitting under an ancient Blue Spruce tree in my backyard.) While comfortably seated on the ground, imagine that you grab a couple of the tree’s above-ground roots lying on either side of your hips and fasten them around you like a seat belt. The roots are important because they represent the core—or root—of your experience, and they serve as a conduit for removing the obstacles to your creativity.

Spend a few minutes breathing under your tree.

STEP 4: AWARENESS IS KEY. In this step, we move into contemplation mode. Consider questions such as:

• What is my dream, goal or objective? What is my creative purpose?
• What skills or qualities do I bring to my endeavor?
• What am I lacking? What do I need to do, be or overcome to fulfill my desire?

You can focus on any question for which you want clarification but, again, don’t over “think” it. Try to let your subconscious mind reveal the subtleties of your situation.

Sit with these thoughts for a while. Grab the kernels of truth in a, “Hmmm, this is interesting” sort of way. Don’t judge what comes up. And don’t forget to breathe!

STEP 5: DISTILL YOUR CREATIVE ESSENCE. Now it’s time to turn your lemons into lemonade. To “distill” something means that you are purifying it, taking the negative or contaminated parts and running them through a cleansing process. That’s essentially what we’re doing here in Step 5 as we move into creative visualization.

As you sit under your tree, grab those thoughts of lack or negativity that block your creative path and imagine that you are sending them, one by one, to the root that is fastened around your lap. Visualize the fears or blocks going through the root and into the ground, where they are planted as seeds that then sprout all around you as flowers—the flowers of your dreams. Don’t over think it. The goal is to relax your mind enough to allow for new and helpful information to present itself.

Look around at your new growth and see what’s there. Do you see a solution to your problem? Can you extract even one idea that will help you move forward? Are some of your dreams ready to harvest?

Spend some time in your new garden and make a mental note of anything that may help you move in the direction of your creative dreams. And b-r-e-a-t-h-e.

STEP 6: WINDING DOWN. Now we work in reverse. Start by giving thanks for your fully-functioning intuitive self and your creative nature. When you’re ready, unfasten your root-belt and disengage from your position of contemplation. Spend a few minutes counting your breath before slowly bringing yourself back to the present moment. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Stretch your arms and legs. Slowly move your head around and, when you’re ready, open your eyes . . . relaxed, present and ready to make your action plan.

STEP 7: DREAM CATCHER. Immediately following your meditation, before you get busy or distracted with the details of life (or before falling asleep), take 10 minutes to write down your impressions from your session. Like recording your nighttime dreams, the information you receive in meditation is most clear immediately upon waking.

Disclaimer: Remember, if you hear “voices” telling you to do things that you know are inappropriate, run, not walk, to your nearest psychotherapist’s office and do not attempt meditation again.

1 comment:

TR Hughes said...

I am super jazzed to incorporate your method of meditation into my practice of relaxation therapy. I have often found that meditating has eluded me all together, yet, I find your example to be a fresh take on applying a method to the madness of trying to quiet the mind. Thanks so much for sharing!