Sometimes life floats the perfect scenario to hold up a mirror and assess the changes which have accrued from the inner transformation which takes place through meditation. Such was the case when I took my kids to an outdoor movie recently. We had grabbed some take out to enjoy as we watch the film. My daughter, Layla, insisted on getting soup, which I advised was not a good choice in that circumstance. She dug in her heels and stated definitively that there was nothing else she liked, so I chose to let her make the call. Soup it was.
When we arrived I began setting up our camping chairs. Layla's chair was first, and I was working on getting my son's out of the bag when I heard a scream cut through the air. This was a scream full of pain and fear, not an "ack there's a bug on my leg!" scream. My eyes immediately went to the sound and were met with the sight of Layla covered in tomato soup, her face crumbled in sobs and her legs and arms jumping around trying to escape the pain she was wearing in the form of hot liquid covering her clothes.
My mind and body immediately went into action. My first thought was I needed to get her clothes off of her. I led her over to a place off to the side slightly. (Thinking she would need to be stripped down, I wanted to try to save her a little embarrassment if possible.) She had leggings on, so it was easy for me to pull her pants away from her skin to assess if she was developing blisters. (VERY) Fortunately, she was not. I realized that it would save me time and her undue embarrassment if instead of taking her clothes off I put my hand and arm away between her pants and skin, and I know enough about energetic healing to know that I could also take away a lot of her pain if I just kept my hands on her where she hurt. Someone came by with a cold bottle of water, and we poured that on her skin as well.
I kept my hands on her for some minutes. She stopped crying pretty quickly, and before long she was fine. She even asked if we could just go buy some clothes somewhere so we could stay and watch the movie, but I told her we both needed to get home and get cleaned up (you can imagine it didn't take long in this adventure before I was also wearing the soup).
There are many ways we could unpack this experience, not the least of which is the healing power which is available to all of us, including the often un-utilized healing and calming power of touch. However, the aspect which serves the larger point of this post is that of calmness. As I was reflecting later on about what had happened, I remembered the intensity of the situation. I remembered the sound of my child screaming incredibly loudly with that unmistakable ring of pain. I remembered those seconds which seemed like years between when I'd seen what had just happened and I didn't yet know how severe the burn was. And then I realized that I was able to meet that chaotic, emotional, intense scenario with calmness. I was able to stay centered and move quickly, wasting no time trying to assess and organize my thoughts to decide what to do next. I saw what happened and immediately acted, and those actions were effective.
In meditation, there are many aspects of superconsciousness which reveal themselves. In fact, according to yogic tradition, there are eight aspects of our higher Self which can manifest: joy, peace, love, light, sound, wisdom, power, and... calmness. In meditation, we are engaging with one or more of these eight manifestations of the divine. Early in our practice, we may primarily notice these aspects in meditation and right after we meditate, but the effect wears off as we become engaged with the external world. As we get more experience, we notice these aspects bleeding into our non-meditation time more and more. We feel more peaceful, for example, throughout the day. We find our inner peace becomes harder to shake even when the external world gets rocky.
When the habit of meditation develops, it is usually called a "meditation practice." I'd always related to this phrasing of meditation as a practice in the sense of something which is done regularly. It was through this experience with Layla and the hot soup in which I saw another layer to that phrasing. In meditation, we are practicing those higher responses such as calmness and joy in the same way a basketball player practices free throws. The basketball player shoots free throw after free throw after free throw in practice, so that in game time the body and mind are well-versed in how to connect with the basket at the free throw line. In the same way, we get in states of joy, calmness, or so on in our practice of meditation so that when we are engaging in that unpredictable game of life we default to those states instead of getting pulled in to fear, anger, sadness, or so on.
There is an interesting phenomenon called sympathetic resonance, which is illustrated using tuning forks or stringed instruments tuned to the same frequency. If one is passive and the other is activated, the passive one will vibrate along with the active one without being directly activated externally (i.e. without someone plucking the string or striking the fork). Because they are both on the same frequency, they are literally "on the same vibe" and this causes them to activate each other.
This is interesting from a meditation standpoint because (as I keep going on about) everything is energy. Even things that appear to us as solid (like your body) are actually compressed energy. The vibratory movements which are causing that sympathetic resonance are also energy. So we as energetic beings also resonate with energy which is on our same frequency. You know this just by moving through your own life. There are people who just fit with you on a deep level, and there are those who you just don't want to be around. The former group would be people on your frequency; the latter those with a different vibration. And then are of course plenty of people in between.
As we develop and continue on with our meditation practice, our vibration gets higher. It's interesting to see how that can change the company we seek, as we adjust to a new frequency. As our vibration gets higher, we are drawn to others on that higher frequency. If those around us are also increasing their frequency, then we'll continue to have sympathetic resonance with them. If they are staying at the same frequency while our vibration is increasing, we may not feel as strong of a connection with them. Is this bad? No, it just is. It doesn't mean we have to intentionally cut anyone out of our lives because we have grown "beyond" them (that seems like a good recipe for difficult karma to build up), it just means that both parties may naturally begin to connect more deeply with people who are on their frequency. Space gets created from the former relationship as attention is directed toward those both parties feel a deeper connection with.
This has been a popular topic amongst my students as well as with meditators I know in other places. They are noticing changes within themselves and are lining up their lives outside of meditation to match that inner dwelling. They are changing behaviors such as how much time and energy they put into watching the news or social media, changing attitudes and behaviors around alcohol, turning their attention to the energy they are sending out through thoughts, words, and actions, and they are assessing if their relationships are aligned with the direction they are trying to move toward or if certain relationships are working against their efforts for personal growth. (Note: I don't mean to imply things are all sunshine as these relationships change - it can in fact be quite the opposite. Perhaps a good topic for a future blog post.)
Another interesting aspect of this vibrational lift is the impact which it has on our environment, including those around us who are not on that vibration. Raising your vibration positively influences the vibration of your environment, including the people around you. You've undoubtedly experienced this yourself, when you feel great when you are around someone, but it's not clearly understood why. It wasn't something they said or did - in fact, they may not have said anything to you at all. People who have spent time around saints attest to this curious experience of just feeling something in their presence. Holy and spiritual places also have a feel about them which is almost tangible, such as Assisi, Italy or Lourdes, France or Sedona, Arizona or many other special places. It is espoused by many great souls that meditation is a service an individual gifts to the world, because as they work to raise their vibration/frequency/consciousness, they are also working on elevating the vibration/frequency/consciousness of the world at large. So, get to work!
I remember clearly a conversation I had with a friend when I was living in Italy. She was talking about how she had to tell her kids how unicorns aren't real. She had been pretending with them that they exist, and when she felt they really wanted to know the truth she had to come clean. They were so hurt and wanted to know why she would have let them believe unicorns were real when she knew they weren't, and she said she just enjoyed that they were getting to experience that wondrous feeling that the universe is a magical world. She said, "I just wanted them to hold on to the feeling of wonder for a little while before they learned there is no magic in the world."
As a yogi, I found her sentiment of the world always being completely predictable a bit dry and out of step with my own feelings. Although I had only been on the yogic path for a little, I had been a seeker most of my life. I was always drawn to stories of mystical experiences. You want to share a near death experience? Tell me everything. Divine intervention? I'm all ears. Visions? Strange lights? Unseen forces? I'm your audience. I believe there is wonder and magic to behold if we remain open to more possibilities than those to which we are accustomed.
My podcast partner, Alessandra, and I recently interviewed Gita Matlock - an episode which will be released Sep 12. Gita is a vibrant soul, full of life and light. She grew up in a yogic community, and in the conversation she talked about how special it was to grow up with yogis because they are so open to any possibility. In childhood, we hold space for anything to be the cause for something to happen. Thunder can be literally thought of as God bowling (this was what we explained to me, and I believed it), a rubber ball bounced as hard as it can by a four year old clearly went into space rather than coming down out of sight (holding up my hand again), toys coming to life when you leave the room is pretty likely, princes starting out as frogs, all of these are certainly within the realm of possibility with children. It was fun for Gita to grow up in an environment where the adults were open to many possibilities, and it was important to these adults to keep the possibilities open to children. As Gita put it, these yogic adults believed in magic!
Let's be clear about what I mean by magic. Magic is often experienced as being voluntarily tricked. You go to a magic show and you know what you are observing is a manipulation of perception. You don't believe the magician has the power to go beyond the limitations of natural law, but rather that he is able to give that illusion. That's not the type of magic to which I'm referring here. I'm talking about the mysteries which reveal themselves to individuals throughout time and the world over. These are things that defy explanation, which go beyond the boundary of ordinary circumstances. Unlike the magic produced by a magician, these are events which occur organically and without manipulation or trickery.
Examples of the magic which can be found in life are spontaneous healing, near death experiences, feeling directed by an unseen force (i.e. feeling you aren't to board a plane which later crashes), seeing the image or another sign from a deceased loved one, and many more - really the imagination is the limit! However, the more open we remain to life being mysterious, the more we see the magic in everyday life. Synchronicity is such an example - those little coincidences which line up unexpectedly. Receiving a text from the very person you are in the middle of typing a text to, say. Or, considering signing up for a class and then happening upon the topic a couple of times throughout the day. When those smaller things happen, we can brush them aside as coincidences if we want, or we can open ourselves to the possibility that the Universe is vying for our attention and showing us we are seen.
The truth is, there is magic around us. The world is very predictable when we are viewing everything from the intellect. But when we open up and start seeing the world around us through our heart, we become aware of the vibrancy of possibility in each moment. We start to see that things are happening behind what we can perceive with our five senses. If we can tune into that, we begin to experience the magic.
I am an Ananda® certified meditation teacher. I am passionate about meditation and embrace a yogic lifestyle for greater wellness physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
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