Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blank White wall

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A blank white wall.  This was my very first experience with meditation at a very young age.  If you grew up in a Christian oriented household, then I think most people can relate to the excitement generated on Christmas Eve night.  In our family, we waited until Christmas Day to open gifts, which amped the excitement level up that much higher.  After everyone was in bed, anticipation of the following morning and opening gifts would take hold of my young mind, making it difficult to sleep.  Even at that age, I recognized that unless I managed to get some decent amount of sleep, I wouldn't be able to enjoy all the festivities of the following day.  No young child relishes the thought of having to take a nap on Christmas Day, after all!

So, I would lie in bed, tossing and turning and attempting to relax enough to sleep.  I have no idea where the concept occurred, but I suddenly realized that I had to corral my racing thoughts.  My way of doing this and blocking out all distracted mental images, expectations, hopes, etc., was to imagine myself standing in front of a blank white wall.  Standing very close to it so that my entire vision was taken up by the clean expanse of uninterrupted white.  I also imagined this white wall to emanate softly blowing cool air, because I've never been able to fall asleep in warm surroundings.  That first moment worked like a charm - I imagine that it only took me 10-15 minutes for this meditative process to calm me enough to fall asleep. 

From that point forward in my life, I employed this calming technique of standing in front of a blank white wall to clear my mind.  I still use this technique to this day when I am having a particularly extreme amount of mind chatter going on in my head.  Insomnia seems to be a common experience as we grow older, and sometimes this method will help to relax me enough to allow sleep to come.

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I also employ this method occasionally for meditation, simply to drop my breathing and heart rate into the proper level to access that deep state of calm and reflection.  It has become a Go To exercise when life seems to be throwing a huge amount of activity in my direction.  In order to meditate, we do have to find a way to control mind chatter.  I spoke of this very thing recently with an old friend who is getting back into meditation and yoga.  I believe it is very common for anyone new to meditating, or long absent from the practice, to experience the challenge of mind chatter.  Micro-moments where seemingly random thoughts pop up and refuse to fade away.  One leads to the next, to the next, until eventually you lose focus. Those thoughts come rushing in the moment we settle down to meditate....or to sleep....or to pray.  Who hasn't turned their bedside table out and started their nightly prayers with all sincerity, only to get distracted by some random thought?  It happens to all of us and is certainly something we should forgive ourselves for; it is simply a physiological response the brain goes through as our bodies are at rest.  A method of processing all the minutiae of the day.

I don't know that the blank white wall method will work for everyone to calm mind chatter and make meditation or sleep come more easily; I just know it has worked for me since childhood.  For a good twenty years, I never correlated that this practice had any connection to meditative mindset.  When it did connect in my mind, I found it slightly bemusing that a four year old child had managed to cobble this concept together and be successful with it.  Granted, it was born out of a child's excitement about opening gifts on Christmas Day, but as I grew older, it became a valuable tool in my own inner growth and spiritual studies.

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I am guilty of straying from the practice of daily meditation and my recent discussion with this old friend reminded me how much I have been neglecting this vital part of my life.  With daily meditation, I am centered and better able to roll with the inevitable punches that Life delivers.  I am better able to access my inner spirit and intuition, and I am better able to release those niggling, annoying moments that bombard us minute by minute.  One would think all of the above would keep me very strict and true to a daily meditation regimen, but it doesn't.  I get lazy, I get busy and I forget.  One day turns into two, turning into a week and multiplying.  You glance at the calendar and suddenly realize that many weeks have passed without true nurturing of your Inner Light. 

So, the blank white wall beckons me from childhood memories to return to this vital daily practice.  Meditation is an individual duty and joy, although I realize that not everyone will embrace the practice, or even care to learn about what it really involves and how it can really benefit each person.  This isn't a post to encourage readers to embrace meditation.  It is just my thoughts on the topic and the path that I set my very small feet upon at a very young age. 

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I do embrace meditation, although as I admitted above, I fall out of daily practice on occasion.  Perhaps that conversation with my friend was all that was necessary to nudge me and get the mental gears turning.  Once that occurs, it is inevitable that a blog post will be born, and I am ultimately a better person for it.  Writing, you see, for some of us, is its own form of meditation.  I reach a very profound Zen state when I write.  Time ceases to exist, hunger and sleep do not even impinge my consciousness.  Writing the thoughts out and weaving them into a cohesive and lyrically flowing fabric consumes me until that zenith of purity is reached.  Then I am washed in a level of satisfaction and bliss that is sublime. 

And all of these thoughts coalesce and return to that pivotal year in early childhood when I somehow devised a way to calm my thoughts.  I didn't know at the time that this was a form of meditation - I didn't even know what that word was at that young an age.  I simply knew that blank white wall method worked to help me sleep and I continued to employ it as I grew older.  For whatever reason, as a wee one, my brain was receptive and hardwired to esoteric concepts and by the time I was in second grade, I began to search for answers.  Today, the blank white wall still works for me when nothing else will; for sleep, to drop into a true meditative state after a hectic day, or simply to check in with myself and process through the myriad experiences of a given week. 

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As I come to a close, I recognize that it is time to get back to daily meditation.  There are no accidents with conversation between friends; I have no doubt that this was God/Universe/Spirit gently nudging me, reminding me that this is an important energy in my life.  Time to come back to quiet, time to come back to calm, time to process and grow.  Time to visit that blank white wall and allow it to work its magic, settling chaotic, erratic thoughts into a smooth, even flow that gifts the Spirit with beauty and peace. 

5 comments:

  1. we were just discussing meditation at one of our meetings on monday evening, and found there were several who practiced it on a fairly normal basis and some included prayer along with that. gonna print this out. very good reminder dawnie.

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  2. Meditation or the quieting of the mind is an important part of staying centered. Whatever helps you to reach a deep state of calm isn't as important as just doing the process.

    The other important thing is that meditation doesn't have to be for an extended period of time. Even a few minutes a day can make a huge difference in your life.

    Hugs,

    Bill

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  3. Janie, I'm glad you found value in this one! I always include prayer in my meditation practice and I think that both can complement one another. Thanks for visiting, as always!

    Bill, when I'm in a good rhythm with meditating, I usually do it daily for a minimum of twenty minutes. Anything less than that, for me, doesn't feel sufficient for the true application of meditation. I'm not disputing your comments about a few minutes a day being helpful; I'm just saying that for me it isn't enough time to truly process through all that occurs in a given day. Each person has to find what works best for them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    ~ Dawn

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  4. Meditation takes the shape in many forms and ways. Music, walking, gazing or even silent mediation.
    It is an integral part of my life although I must say am not regular with it. But when I do take on my practice I feel good.
    The original form which is the seated can be quite powerful when practiced.
    There is no right or wrong way. It is an individual practice. The end result is what matters!

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  5. Savira, I agree with you on all levels. When I come back to regular meditation on a daily basis, it refreshes and fills my Spirit so much that I always wonder how I could've ever gotten distracted. Perhaps that's the very reason distractions DO happen - that just occurred to me as I write this - without mini-sabbaticals away, we might not truly appreciate the gifts of meditation. Just a thought. At any rate, thank you dear one, for sharing your thoughts. You always make me smile. :)

    ~ Dawn

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