Getting to know you / anchoring peak experiences
I combined the “getting to know you” questions with the first opening meditation. The prompt was to think of a time when you felt connected to something bigger than yourself—and by that I meant something even bigger than “community”—and to think of what that felt like in your body. The point was to anchor that feeling physically so that you can call upon it whenever you wanted to reexperience that feeling of connection. There were a lot of interesting experiences shared that I could definitely relate to! I also shared tips for how to open and lean into this experience instead of chasing it down, which is pretty much the same technique I use to remember dreams in the morning, and also how to read the Akashic Records. It’s all about relaxing and opening and letting the energy come to you, instead of chasing things down in hyper-focus.
Crown chakra overview
The crown chakra is the seventh and highest chakra in the classic system that Anodea Judith elaborates in Eastern Body, Western Mind. Personally, I often feel my crown activate when my third eye is also active, so it’s taken me a bit of work to figure out how to distinguish the energy of the two. It struck me just a couple days before the gathering that the third eye is more connected to the collective feeling of the All in the One, whereas the crown leans more toward unity: the One in the All.
Another one of those little gifts that crossed my awareness right before gathering was Jon Kabat-Zinn’s writing on “How to meditate without meditating.” I have been trying to convey this all year by encouraging people to try meditating with their eyes open, but it hadn’t really taken. Admittedly, it’s not easy in a room full of people, and can even get a bit awkward as we all just sit there not saying or doing anything. But I find that it’s a great mindfulness skill to develop because then you can really take it wherever you go, from walking down the sidewalk to sitting in a busy train car. All it takes is opening to the present moment and being yourself. “All it takes.” Yes, this is simple, but can be challenging, which is why we practice!
In this segment I read JKZ’s article aloud, and then shared the very first line of my Akashic Records blessing, which when I first said it aloud to myself brought about a deep and persistent state of peace that lasted for hours, even as I went about my business. I thought it was a perfect tool for “meditating without meditation,” and I was glad to have such a positive response to it from the group!
Calling to the four directions
I started calling to the four directions early in May, following my trip to Peru, and even shared some of that experience in the June gathering. Back then, I was still experimenting with different versions of the practice in order to get a sense of what resonated with my heart the most. But by late summer I had really come into my own with it, and had created my own version of the prayer. This was the version I shared with the group at the end of this month’s gathering. The purpose was two-fold: first, to suggest it as another way of feeling connected to something bigger, and second, to share a story of how this simple practice can lead to profound healing experiences, as I myself learned over my recent period of silence and solitude. What I love about this practice—and I think what also resonated with everyone—is how customizable it is. You can make the prayer as short or long as you wish, call in whatever forms of support you wish, and build as much or as little ceremony as you feel is appropriate to the context. There are some days when I break out the smudge stick and some symbolic objects (such as crystals for each direction). But lately I’ve just been doing all this while sitting in bed (and not turning to face the directions), dispensing entirely with ceremony and focusing on the depth of my intention and heart connection, which as always, is the most important aspect of any practice.
The next and final gathering of the year will be on Thursday, Dec. 14. We will be looking back on everything we’ve learned collectively and individually, and also setting our intentions (not “resolutions”!) for next year. I will go into this more deeply shortly, but I also took the moment to announce that I will be putting Dreamers & Schemers on pause in January. I’ve been feeling the need to take a break and reassess, and following two full years of monthly gatherings seems like as good as a time as any to do so. I’ve noticed that folks are still getting to gatherings worn out from the previous month, and so I am still trying to problem-solve for how to provide support in those in-between times when individuals struggle to find the space and time to connect internally. Ideas are brewing!