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Integrating Past Practices into Reflective Meditation

It was a transitional time for my meditation practice in the late 90’s, but I didn’t know it then. I could no longer continue my daily moving-meditation practice due to health issues, so I was primed for Recollective Awareness meditation when I met Jason Siff in 1998.

Up until then, each morning I would do tai ji practices; some of the patterns I especially liked or I would improvise and blend movements, taking breaks to let myself fall or rest, circling mindlessly and then finding a new pattern and staying with it for a while. Something unexpected would happen listening to my bodymind while following a loosely structured movement practice. Repetitive moves allowed my mind to come in focus or to completely still itself, and I heard mostly in sensations, feeling tones, and emotions but not in discursive thought, which rarely came with the movement. That was one of the reasons I loved moving-meditation. It was also satisfying to have had what felt like direct access to my emotions and sensations, and letting them play out. After moving, I would sit and meditate, or lie down and meditate. It would be like a stopping a spinning top, even if the movement was gentle, and lovely open and empty spaces would appear. My mind could go still while experiencing vibrations, swirling reverberations from the movement. I would move my hands over my heart or have them in a mudra or in my lap with a permission to choose what felt right. It felt easy to sit there, and if I started thinking about something I did not have rule against it; in fact, this is where discursive thought came back into my awareness and I would journal thoughts and feelings as a way to remember what happened and a way to connect with myself. My practice was personal and it was precious, but I was still seeking.

Looking back on it now, two pieces were missing: allowing and fostering discursive thought in moving-meditation practice, and having a conversation with another person about my experience. Each of us will take up reflective meditation in our own way. We will hear each other’s process and reflections along the way, all of which can be inspiring, frustrating, nuanced, contradictory, rich, and satisfying. I will write in more detail about these missing pieces next month, so for now I leave you with some inquiry for your own practice:

-What are/were you seeking, if anything, when you encountered recollective awareness or reflective meditation?
-What is/was the transition like if you were doing other practices?
-Did you abandon those practices, come back to them, integrate them into your current practice?
-Where are you now in this mix?

–Linda Modaro

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