The past year has been one of personal transformation for me. During this time I’ve worked hard to learn what truly works for me in regard to self-care and self-love. Much of this work revolved around re-possessing my own life, my own soul and making proactive choices in how I live my life – and how I treat and see myself and others. In short, it comes down to caring for and taking ownership of my own mental health.
Despite the excessive use of “I, me, my” just now, shifting to think like the above was crucial. Those of us coerced into dogmatic faith paths understand all too well how “dying to self” and seeing “our best works as filthy rags” is abusive dogma. Thankfully, there is healing ahead.
|| DISCLAIMER: What I share on this post and this website are my personal experiences. A qualified professional can help untangle religion induced messes better than someone online ever can. ||
I recognize my methodologies don’t align with everyone. That’s ok; many of you do “get it” and meeting you has truly helped me to become more open. On this blog, we’ll talk about living along paths others may never consider. (Our voices count just as much as the masses, don’t they?) For us, kindness (the true meaning of the word), love (love defined honestly) and even self-love and care are crucial.
For me, part of the path toward healing from Evangelical fundamentalism has been a reluctant realization that meditation isn’t so bad after all.
For me, part of the path toward healing from Evangelical fundamentalism has been a reluctant realization that meditation isn’t so bad after all. To downright stop and take a few moments and allow my mind to focus on anything except the thoughts running around inside it is a good thing.
Many Evangelical fundamentalists consider meditation a dangerous practice. Many of us were taught long and hard that prayer is the only acceptable form of “meditation.” They preached that opening our minds, stilling them, is only good so long as you are open to letting god (and god alone) in. Otherwise you risk evil beings gaining access and taking you over. (No, I’m not kidding. Check out the comments section about a month from now.)
In reality, for someone logical like me, letting someone, even “god,” fill up this quiet time by talking my ear off misses the point of this practice of stillness entirely.
When I started experimenting with the concept of meditation, I’ll admit it felt downright silly. Sit here and just… sit? How does one let their mind go blank? It was all rather awkward. I soon learned that closing my eyes for a few minutes first thing in the morning was useless, too, as I’d fall back asleep. (Can you relate fellow late risers?)
The few times I successfully quieted my mind were admittedly beneficial. I felt centered (another evil word in the fundie lexicon) and calm. I was able to focus, which for someone struggling with ADD is huge. Still, I found it hard to commit to the practice.
Somewhere along this nature chased path I’m ambling I ran across suggestions of making time to merely look out the window. Sit there, face forward, and focus on nature. This sounded easy and enjoyable. For me, this did it. These special times I now call “window meditations.”
Here is one of them.
On Window Meditations
Our backyard faces a small grove of trees. With constant suburban sprawl these few giants are becoming crowded. Morning chirps easily compete with engines rushing others to work, to school and places beyond. It’s a cacophony of clutter, and I’m glad the birds are doing their part (albeit unintentionally) to drown out man’s grating machinery. These winged beings help cover distractions and help ease me into the moment.
My eyes remain open, watching to see if I can spot any wildlife outside our widow. While rabbits tend to visit after dusk, squirrels are ever present; digging, jumping, floating from branch to branch. Occasionally my husband will toss the remains of his apple into the grove though I’ve rarely seen a squirrel take interest in them.
The squirrels are focusing on acorns today, digging more holes into the yard, which annoys my husband yet amuses me. Reese, our Yorkie, is more than happy to chase them about, but he’s inside.
The floor where tree trunks root is a mix of brown. Old leaves, decaying mulch, plus a smattering of green (more weed than wanted growth) cover this patch of earth. Ashes from incense and flowers given back to the earth (roses, baby’s breath and whatever else made it into the bouquet) mix in.
My eyes now move toward sudden movements further up. Some leaves are budding, beautifully illuminated by the morning’s sun. My first instinct is to grab my phone and snap a photo, and then post it somewhere. I stop myself. This isn’t about sharing time. This isn’t about “work.” This is about taking in life through the senses. It’s about etching these things into the mind’s eye. It’s about creating something to come back to later when I want to feel alive.
Suddenly, the app chimes. One minute to go. This one minute signal helps transition my mind back into the tasks of the day.
Widening my vision, I look for lessons to take with me as the morning draws to a close. There is interconnectedness in nature that is lacking in the world I’m preparing to dive back into. No rude comments by Squirrel about Dove’s overly emotive posts, though Mockingbird holds her ground when Cardinal takes up too close a perch.
The timer completes the cycle and I must move on.
How do I feel? Rested. Focused. Warm (in a good way – not the middle aged way). And I wonder why it always takes so long, so much prompting, to increase these window meditations.
Be kind, have fun, harm none.