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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter Feast, Day 4, 5, and 6... and 7... and 8...

I suppose I should not be treating the Winter Feast for the Soul as a study in all the various ways I should and should not meditate. But, my little Ravenclaw heart cannot help itself.  The opportunity for research shall not be forsaken!

Day 4... was a total miss.  It just... didn't happen.  But the good news is, Day 5 I didn't just let it go.  I climbed back on the Meditation Wagon and tried again.

Day 5 has been one of my favorites so far.  Day 5: I meditated with my prayer beads.

The Unitarian Universalist Association has helpfully, in their Tapestry of Faith curricula, published this helpful post on developing a prayer bead practice.  I made my prayer beads years ago, before Tapestry ever existed.  They were purple, white, and green, with some lovely hematite moons and a real pearl from my grandmother's necklace (which broke years ago--I didn't break the string to get the pearl) and the end piece was a cloisonne six-pointed star earring (I have its companion moon as an earring even now).  Tragically, the string took a ride through my washer and dryer.  I managed to find a few of the beads sitting under the dryer vent in my yard, but most were gone, including the pearl.  The star never even left the dryer, and there were some mother-of-pearl peace doves that also apparently couldn't fit through the filter.  I harvested what I could and went to buy more beads.  I got malachite and purple tiger's eye, and some rose quartz, and a few white and purple pearls.  I made the strand on stretchy thread thinking it would be less likely to break.  They look like this:

Prayer Beads 2.0
 And today (day 8) I re-strung them on very much less stretchy jewelry thread, and I used my new crimping tool to fasten it so I don't need the clasp.  It looks a whole lot like the picture above, except I turned the doves right side up.  And I didn't even lose a single bead! I was rather proud of myself.

For my bead practice, I hold one bead between my fingers, and breathe in, saying "As I breathe in, I breathe in peace."  Then I move to the next bead and say, "As I breathe out, I breathe out love."  I go around the strand either once or twice, focusing on my breath and giving myself a bead to ground me to the moment.  I have now done this practice twice as part of The Winter Feast, and it is extremely satisfying.  It does not take me an entire trip around the strand to move into a meditative state, and there's none of the mental fussing and fidgeting I get when I just try to sit.

Knitting as meditation,  on the other hand, does not work for me.  My brain is too engaged, even in straightforward knitting, to make this a meditative practice.  One of my wonderful friends, ShaylaMyst, says she uses her spinning wheel as a sort of meditation--and I can see how that would work for me, except that I don't have a wheel.  Spindle spinning is far less meditative and, for me anyway, involves quite a bit more swearing than one would expect in a meditation practice.  So I think I'm going to have to give Mindful Crafting a miss as meditation for the remainder of my spinning-wheel-free time on Earth, despite my deep desire to have it work.  It just doesn't.  Gotta let it go.

I'm learning some things about myself in this practice.  In Savor, Thich Nhat Hanh talks about 'knots'...how our psyches develop knots of frustration and anger if we don't allow ourselves to experience, identify, and work through our less pleasurable feelings.  I'm very sure I have psychological knots.  But I also have two very real physical knots--one in my shoulderblade, which may or may not be bursitis, and the other in my--I think of it as my hip, but it really isn't.  It's deep within the muscles that surround the place where my leg sits inside my hip bone, and therefore it's basically in my rear end, and it causes me daily pain.  When I read the passage about knots, this is what spoke to me: that my physical knots are the manifestation of psychological pain.  I have, I believe, identified the shoulder knot.  It is my perfectionism.  It gets tense when things aren't going the way I planned them.  I have been poking at this knot quite a bit, both with a tennis ball against a wall, and by seeing my way inside it with my mind's eye.

The knot still hurts.  But I think I will be able to deal with it.

I don't know the name of the other knot, but I know it gets me out of physical (and probably emotional) balance.  I don't stand with equal weight on my right leg or sit with equal weight on my right sit-bone.  I am going to keep exploring this knot to see if I can get to the bottom of it.

Last, I'd like to leave you with this blog post, which is simply wonderful... so very YES! I want to do yoga with other Fat Girls too.

And, I learned tatting this month.  Look, it doesn't suck! And this was a brand new and very not-comfortable thing to learn, but I stuck with it, and now I have snowflakes!


And, I made an owl.  The owl is extremely cute, but I don't know if he's a match for SadieLou's Dread Pirate Roberts owl.

I think he's a little quizzical, don't you?