Lunchtime Meditation

Sister Alma Rose Glows

Visualization can be a form of meditation. Y’all know what it means to visualize, right? It’s a bit like imagining, but it’s more like pretending.

Here’s what Sister Alma Rose is trying to say: When you ”visualize yourself as a ray of light,” don’t stand a ways off and look at a ray of light and imagine it’s you. Y’all got to be that ray of light. Crawl inside it and soak it up until you are the ray of light.

Here’s the easiest meditation-visualization practice in the world:

Glow.

Glowing is especially useful when you’re in an uncomfortable social situation. Sister Alma Rose’s little friend Noreen occasionally has to travel with her boss, usually by car. They don’t have a lot to say to each other. The silences used to make Noreen uneasy, and she’d grope around for things to talk about. Now, whenever silence settles between them, she just… well, she glows. From her toes and fingertips to her face and the top of her head.

Sometimes she visualizes a warm, golden light entering through her crown, the middle of her forehead, or her heart. Other times, she feels the warmth and radiance emerge from inside.

Easy does it

One of the problems with a lot of guided visualizations is that they don’t make sense. A popular and generally helpful healing CD has y’all floating on a pink cloud, which then deposits y’all on a beach, where you bask in the sun for a while, and then you walk uphill and discover you’re carrying a big bag of rocks. In another meditation, called the Daisy Pond, y’all are supposed to walk down some steps, down a hall, through a door, and out into a lovely natural setting where there’s a giant daisy in the middle of a pond, into which y’all are supposed to propel yourself and get cozy. Sister Alma Rose just can’t feature it. Daisies are too fragile. A big red rose might work, but not a daisy.

In the lunchtime meditation, Sister Alma Rose is going to ask y’all to inhale a healing white light. Sister Alma Rose has experimented with different ways of doing this. Sometimes she’s in the Valley of the Sunrise and she’s breathing-in the first rays of dawn. Sometimes she’s in a kind of light-cocoon. Sometimes she’s a star.

If Sister Alma Rose is in a chilly place, like outside on her porch when there’s a cool breeze, she feels the light entering from above, like a thin shining stream.

Do what works for you. If you have a headache, it might help to feel the light entering where the pain is sharpest. If you’re grieving, you may want to feel the light coming into your heart.

Sit or lie down comfortably, where y’all can be undisturbed for ten minutes or so. Close your eyes and begin breathing easily from your diaphragm. As you inhale, feel the healing white light enter. Feel the warmth and a bit of tingling where the light enters your body.

Float in the rhythm of your breathing for a minute or two. Then feel the light penetrate and massage every part of your body. Lean into it, relax in it, surrender to it. Every inhalation brings in new, clean light; every exhalation sends the light surging through skin, muscle, bone, heart, lungs, stomach, down to your very cells. If y’all have pain, send the light to where the pain is, surrounding it with love and compassion. Don’t fight it. Just let the light do its work.

If your mind wanders, acknowledge the thoughts or feelings but don’t follow them. Gently, compassionately, return your attention to breathing-in the light. Don’t scold yourself. As one of the Masters says, the intention to meditate is enough for now.

This type of meditation is like a warm bath. It surrounds y’all and fills you with warmth and comfort. It cleanses and heals. It reassures you that right now, right here, everything is as it needs to be. And it is. Oh, yes, it is.

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Sister Alma Rose: Ride the Sky

Editor’s note: More than twenty years ago, I learned to counteract the stress-induced “fight-or-flight response,” which causes your blood to rush to your heart and which, if unrelieved, raises your pulse rate and creates tension or anxiety.

 

A psychologist taught me this simple biofeedback exercise: You simply hold a small thermometer between your fingers and wait a few minutes until the mercury reaches your current temperature; then you purposefully raise the temperature. It’s easier than it might seem. Resting your attention on a part of your body can induce the blood to flow there, and away from the heart. It doesn’t take much practice to feel the blood flowing into your fingers, to feel them warming and tingling. Pretty soon you can toss the thermometer.

 

This exercise calms you in at least two ways: by relieving the pressure of blood in the chest and by making you focus on something other than the source of stress. Variations of this technique are used in many forms of meditation.

 

In guided meditation, you’re often instructed to focus on your breathing and to feel your breath circulate throughout your body. I’ve done this for years, and I’ve found it especially useful in relieving headaches and muscle pain. Today, however, I practiced this technique while listening to music through a particularly good set of earphones. The music, called “Meditative Music Collection,” was composed by Kevin MacLeod, and I found it at theChristianMeditator.com.

 

“White bread” was my initial response to the music. “Hypnotic” is more accurate, I now realize. I’m hooked. Listening to this music, breathing from the diaphragm in rhythm with it, and feeling my breath flow from the center of my forehead to the tips of my fingers and toes—it was a magic-carpet ride. I never wanted it to end. It seemed a bit like cheating—Is meditation supposed to feel better than sex? And this was pure hedonism. But maybe the reason so many of us need so desperately to meditate is that we take ourselves and our responsibilities too seriously. We all need to lighten up.

 

I’ve done the best I could to translate the experience into words, but I highly recommend that you not take my “words” for it. Try it. You’ll like it.

Transported by the Music of the Ancients

I’m not sure exactly where I’ve been, but I can
hardly wait to go again—I, the one who lightly
treads because the brittle crust of earth might
shatter at my step, who hesitates to breathe, in
case I use more than my share of precious air—
just now that very I, the same, leaned back
against the sky, and what a ride, oh, what a
ride, it gave me. Such a glutton I became for
earth and air and light. Why, I inhaled a
hundred million stars, I do believe, and felt
them penetrate the scaly cells within that I’ve
maltreated through the years and in a shudder
of vibration make them smooth and firm and
youthful once again… oh, healing river,
sweet rejuvenation, current running through
the wires, and then I know the motion isn’t just
inside… at first a cradle sways, then by a
chariot I’m borne, and suddenly I’m like a
mermaid gliding in the warm, clear sea, where
I can breathe, I find, and I don’t mind the near
proximity of squid or shark, or fear what might
be hidden in the dark. The rhythm’s
irresistible, the sense of being borne to safety,
safe in transit, pure contentment mixed with
longing for unspecified delights, and I can
wait, because the song is getting stronger, I
can’t steer it with my breath or bones, and yet I
have no fear: I’m not alone; the wind that
carries me and whispers in my ear is wiser far
than I, the spirit is benign, and I am satisfied;
the destination doesn’t matter—I’m already
home.

 

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