From the lounge room window I watched the fog roll on to the river and surrounding areas like a grey blanket. I noticed I brighten up remarkably when the sun peaked through the clouds yesterday and decided to take an early morning walk down to the river and then popped into the local gas station. They were advertising a new maciano coffee made with fresh milk. The checkout person always offers a donut with the new coffee and I always decline, muttering that I’ve already had too many donuts over Christmas but appreciated the offer. The early morning workers rush in to grab a something to drink or eat and to pay for petrol before they shuffle to wherever they work. Grabbing a cup at the gas station and walking down town and then next to the river is a small routine I have made myself especially during the cold bleak months.Sometimes I go to the library which is only a block from our place and get my latest fix on Bazar magazine or ‘How to do the best trim board or how to give your remodeled house a curved window look. I rummage through the dvd isle picking out a hopefully good flick or comedy. Next I might will sit and read magazines before going home.
All these small routines and habits keep me sane during winter. I have a couple of groups that I have joined but it is all too easy to slump into a dull half-life when it is cold, sometimes icy days. It takes a certain dogged mental choice to do the centering in the morning and occasionally if I have an opportunity, I’ll half cheat and sit in bed propped up by pillows.
I live in the hope that the sun will come back, the ice and snow will melt and I can welcome the warmer weather like a dear cousin I haven’t seen for years. I might even get emotional when they get here but I say the soon the better. In the mean time I keep my regular habits, and tick them off for the week. I do Centering four or more times a week, attending a group centering group, walking daily or at least four or five times a week down town or by the river, the gas station coffee and the library.
In the mean time, I’ll sit and watch funny movies or comedies and have a good laugh. Bring on the spring I say.
There are times when people and situations can cause us to become agitated or feel strong emotion and these can that get in the way of Centering Meditation. In my experience, it always pays to deal with the emotion before getting back to Centering, otherwise my focus is scattered and instead of being part of the flow of the universe, Centering Meditation can be the longest, boring, and painful silence.
For example, the other day, I was dealing with a sometimes-difficult tenant and I had to make clear what extra work we would and would not be doing in her apartment. Her response was one of shock but somehow, I already knew that that was coming. After the interaction and for some reason I had an old negative feeling of fighting my battles.
For some reason, the interaction with the tenant, my husband standing there but offering no backup or feedback flipped me into a flashback situation of feeling emotionally abandoned, unworthy and fighting my own battles alone. Needless to say, the communications with husband were frosty for the rest of the day.
According to Wikipedia A flashback, or involuntary recurrent memory, is a psychological phenomenon in which an individual has a sudden, usually powerful, re-experiencing of a past experience or elements of a past experience. These experiences can be happy, sad, exciting, or any other emotion one can consider. The term is used particularly when the memory is recalled involuntarily, and/or when it is so intense that the person “relives” the experience, unable to fully recognize it as memory and not something that is happening in “real time”.
In that situation I used the tapping exercise. http://www.impactministries.com/bible-based-eft/ There are different techniques that I have used over the years to help bring me back to peace. Techniques such as tapping or yoga stretches, music. One could say food is a form of comfort or drugs and alcohol are some other ways people use to quell negative emotions.
Tapping has a Chinese origin and is based on the different meridian points on the body. Tapping those meridian points while speaking will have an effect of disrupting the negative emotion that is exhibited. Then on the second time tapping the meridian points – one speaks some positive truth to replace the emotion. Finally, the third time, speaking some encouraging truth. In my case, tapping allowed me to disrupt the negative, replace and reintroduce positive truth which I had momentarily forgotten.
The intention is always to come back to peace and so my time in Centering meditation is not overwhelmed or scattered by the strong emotion. When stuff happens, as it inevitably will from time to time, consider it a wonderful chance to learn more about yourself, and be happy, thankful and grateful that you can deal with the immediate emotional state through many awesome healing techniques that are available. Then you can get back to Centering Meditation.
IS THERE JOY IN INNER QUIET
By Vicky M. Krause
When I was a young girl of nineteen, I met an elderly couple at church. Evelyn – Mrs, Douman was confined to a wheelchair and her husband Bill cared for her with the help of their daughter who was a missionary nurse on sabbatical back from Papa New Guinea. They needed help with housekeeping a couple times a week I would go to their place, do simple chores and spend a couple hours doing crafts with Evelyn.
One of the first things I was aware of when I entered their home, was a peace and quiet. Over the years I have wondered about what I experienced in their home. To me it was almost tangible. After a while and after learning about their lives, I attributed it to the fact that they were religious and prayerful people.
Even as they entered the twilight years of their lives, a quiet peace radiated through them and seemed to affect even the atmosphere in their home.
The Dictionary noun for quiet is absence of noise. I’ve known the opposite of this where I’ve walked into a room or place and despite the absence of noise, the air is heavy but I’m not sure of what. Maybe the strong contrast was heightened in me because I had experienced and felt a lot of conflict and chaos in my childhood home and for the first time I experienced something different while in the Douman’s home.
CAN I FIND THE TIME??
Over this last week I have struggled to find the time to do Centering Meditation. Does this sound familiar to you? Am I the only one who struggles? I find If I don’t do Centering Meditation within the first couple of hours of my day, my window of opportunity is usually gone. A couple times during the last week and at odd times in the afternoon, I have retreated to a comfy chair in the spare bedroom but it’s been a conscious decision to take myself away from my daytime activity. I can tell you, it was not easy, yet it was only for twenty minutes. Getting to it first thing in the morning is so much easier.
Once I was settled in my chair, I had to contend with the rapid fired wanderings of my mind. I found myself constantly checking the timer because I was sure that it was broken and I had been there for over an hour when in fact, it was only nine minutes.
CAN I FIND THE CALM?
At times I have felt like I was strip-mining for a nugget of wisdom, truth or anything that would make it easier.
I read a little, sometimes from Thomas Keating- Trappist Monk author of ‘Open Mind Open Heart’. At other times I read my favorite devotional commentaries and a few scriptures from my bible.
CAN I FIND THE PLACE.
It helps if I set up conditions that are conducive to CM, whether that is choosing a quiet time of day without the distractions of phones, TVs etc. For some the only place might be in the bathtub. The point is that we each need to find a time and place that works.
Thomas Keating describes a situation where a family had learnt to block out unavoidable noises and had not only tolerated but accepted the situation.
He relates a story of a family he visited who lived next to the EL train track in New York before it was pulled down. As he sat there, the train went by. It sounded like the train was coming through their house. The family would just stop the conversation until the train went by and then when it was past, they would continue the conversation like it was normal.
CAN MY MIND DEFEAT THE DISTRACTIONS?
Keating compares the train story to the mumbling and internal noise in our heads. Obviously most of us don’t live next to a busy train track. At this point, some might say, this is not for me and give up and yet if they would stay a little longer with CM, and give it a little more time. CM sets up the habitual practice to gradually turn to the silence. At first you might not be aware how much thoughts and nonsense are actually swirling in your head and it might even be a little scary.
Sitting in the quiet after Centering Meditation one morning, that long ago memory of the Bill and Evelyn Douman from New Zealand came back to me. At that moment I had an Ahaa moment and a knowing that I too could experience that quiet and peace.
I am reminded that one of the fruits of the spirit is peace and Centering Meditation directs us to silence and peace.
My name is Vicky. Welcome to my new blog on Centering Meditation. My inspiration is to relate this blog to Centering Meditation and veterans and veterans who suffer or who have suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Military Sexual Trauma (MST)and or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as well as other war related disorders. Any civilians who have been affected by these melodies are encouraged to read along as well.
What is Centering Meditation? It is sitting quietly in silence. If you are new to Centering Meditation, then starting with a few minutes daily and gradually increasing the time to spend in silence. I personally do Centering on a daily basis, yet others might start with once a week, then increase the practice over time.
A fine visual example of Centering Meditation comes from ‘Open Mind, Open Heart’ by Thomas Keating. Keating says to visualize a wide river. On the river is an assortment of boats and flotsam of different shapes and sizes. There are many people sitting and standing, talking and doing various activities on the boats. The flotsam includes furniture and other objects floating gently down the river. If you can imagine that the objects on the river are the day to day situations, experiences and places in our lives. The river which is carrying us along is often ignored or only given a casual glance – just enough so we don’t get stuck on a sandbar or hit hidden rocks or debris. Yet the river is a constant immense reality and always the same. It is always murmuring of her discoveries if only we will listen. Centering Meditation offers to create an awareness of the interior space beneath the hub bub of what’s happening in life.
How do you do Centering Meditation?
- Find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted or disturbed.
- Sit comfortably with eyes shut or if that doesn’t work, focus on an object in the room
- Have a bell or watch handy so you can keep time. There are free apps on meditation bells that are easy to download, otherwise a watch or clock will be sufficient.
- Next chose a sacred word or phrase. There are a number of sources to help select your chosen word or phrase.
- As the mind wonders and you have other thoughts crowding in, then slowly bring your thoughts back to the sacred word or phrase.
The intention of Centering Meditation is to develop a deep sense of awareness first to our interior silence even if it is only for a number of minutes daily. The first step to centering is the intention to make the effort. As a friend mentioned to me the other day as we discussed meditation, she said that her partner David ‘created space’ for meditation. I was impressed with that saying and liked the idea that we create space in our often busy schedule. This thought had me thinking that I can create space for centering, as well as the idea to ‘create space’ for other writing projects, my businesses, and attention to my family and friends. It could even be applied to physical exercise and other areas of life that we choose and are passionate about. I can go on and on and burrow into the subject but will leave it there for now. There will be many more thoughts and observations that I want to share as we sojourn along the winding path of centering.
Future posts will cover such questions as:
- How does Centering heal or enhance the healing of PTSD, MST of TBI
- Is Centering Meditation faith driven, or solely a process, or both faith and a process?
- What does it look like?
- How does it compare to other meditations?
There are a slew of other questions. It’s an exciting journey for me as I’ve practiced Centering for over five years.
I can honestly say that you might not see any outward signs that I have changed so much. One thing I can say is that I have a rich source of internal life, a peace and strength derived from my times of centering, coupled with my reading of scripture and prayer. As I have mentioned at a workshop I attended last year, centering becomes a “lifestyle.” Not that everything is peaches and cream, far from it because normal ups and downs happens in my household as it does in everybody else’s. But there is a source, ‘the river’ which we give attention to, even if it’s for a short time, that becomes the tangible and constant source. Is Centering Meditation effective for the traumas of life and war? A number of studies say yes. That’s a subject for the future.
So welcome to ‘VNRC Centering Meditative’ blog! Please feel free to comment and join in the conversation. I do have the right to approve any comments before allowing them to be published so please be respectful and stay on the subject with the spirit of curiosity and openness to learn. My intention is to have many more people join with me and the community of those who do Centering Meditation.