How to Meditate, Interview – March 8, 2010
HTM: What form of meditation do you find most effective?
Caroline: For me it comes in small moments throughout the day. I am a busy Mom and it can be challenging to find a 30 minute chunk of time for sitting meditation. So I try to be mindful throughout the day. And when I can get a 5 minute window...I will sit and begin to slow my breath. I close my eyes and place my hands in "Namaste." I find these moments so refreshing and sacred. Sometimes I will do this in the car while waiting to pick up my kids.
HTM: Were there times before kids that you meditated for longer than 5 minutes? If so, was it anything formalized? I am not suggesting that a five minute meditation cannot be effective. After all, time is relative. I have had deep meditation experiences in just five minutes. However, this was not always the case for me. Only after a few years of deep meditation was I able to drop into anything like a quality meditative state within a 5 minute period. This is why I ask about previous experiences on your part. I am curious as to whether this is the case.
Caroline: Funny you ask this question... I did not really meditate before kids. Maybe I was not as stressed! I began to meditate more after my kids were born, as I could feel the pressure and stress of parenthood building within. After my second child was born, I began seeking "meaning" and was searching for something that formalized religion was not giving me.
I began to meditate and was introduced to Reiki (and actually became a Reiki master). This filled a significant hole within my spirit. And now I am "committing to sitting" even for only 5 minutes (but trying for at least 20- 30 minutes a day). It really makes a difference. Now, I find that I am more mindful, peaceful and patient.
HTM: You say that the Reiki "filled a significant hole in your spirit" and I would like you to, if possible talk about how this occurred for you, not so much intellectually but what happened to you on a feeling level due to your willingness to explore your own inner life.
Caroline: When I first signed up for the Reiki class...I had no idea what Reiki was! I know that sounds crazy to sign up for something without knowledge...but I was following my heart on this. The first day of class was amazing. We did an hour long meditation followed by an in-depth discussion of energy and explanation of Reiki. Long story short, I began a lifelong spiritual journey.
Learning about Reiki energy healing was so eye opening. I feel so much more "connected" now. I follow my heart more and listen less to my ego. I realize that I know very little about the universe...but I know that energy and love are very much part of it. And since becoming more aware...I feel so much happier and whole.
HTM: I have another question for you. In what way do you routinely get in touch with your own divinity, and can you provide a recent specific example of how your meditation practice (what has been opened up through Reiki and then perhaps further developed by yourself) has enabled you to more fully navigate with your heart?
Caroline: It's quite simple...I pray. Every day I give thanks for all the goodness in my life. I thank "the divine being" for assisting me in my navigation in life. Also, I occasionally use Doreen Virtue's angel cards. I pull a card from the deck and will use that as an affirmation to guide me through the day. As always, I just try to be mindful. Being present and living in the moment.
HTM: I feel like this is going well. This may sound a little confrontational, but it is not how I mean it... I am simply trying to draw out a more tangible description of experience... and so I want to know if you can tell me how you know you are following your heart— that it is a heart path. What is it on a feeling level that makes this clear to you?
Caroline: It's a "knowing" but not understanding. There is a big difference between the two. I can feel it in my solar plexus—really. Knowing is so different than understanding. Sometimes I have to make a quick decision and I go with what feels right (even though it may not seem logical). I don't really understand why I choose it, but I know it's the right thing to do.
Sort of like when I signed up to take the Reiki course. I knew within my heart it was the right path to follow...although I had no understanding about it. Some people may find this "reckless" as I don't always follow what is logical. But when I follow my heart (or intuition) it never fails me.
HTM: Knowing and understanding. This is good. I would like to hear more. The words knowing and understanding, because we are dealing with language, can still be misunderstood. There are those who use the word "understanding" in relation to the heart and "knowing" or "knowledge" in relation to the mind or a thinking process. So, in order to be utterly clear I wonder if you could speak on this. For instance, are there any thoughts involved in your process of knowing? What kind of feeling takes place in your solar plexus? Are there images involved— a flash of insight? If so, how does the flash manifest?
Caroline: To me the difference between knowing and understanding is this...logic/thought. To "know" is more intuitive. To "understand" requires the use of thought and logical reasoning. So when I follow my intuition or my heart...I "know" that it's right, but I may not be able to describe why this is to be true. I don't often "understand" the meaning behind the feeling...but I just follow what feels right.
I feel "the knowing" in my solar plexus. Like a warmth or a pulling of sorts. I don't usually get images...but that sort of "aha!" feeling. It's so hard to describe in words...as it's more of a sensation. In regards to when these feelings occur...it usually comes out of the blue. Sometimes is comes when I am in a situation and I need to make a quick decision. Then I follow what feels right at that moment.
HTM: I think you have described it well with the warmth and the pulling. The pulling sounds "directional" and I wonder if it is synonymous with "attraction"— the law of attraction, and if this is the case do you also feel the opposite when it is something "not right"? I also wonder if you have any explanation for why though you were speaking of the heart that the sensation you describe occurs in the solar plexus.
Caroline: Good point about the "pulling" I never thought of it that way before...and it makes perfect sense. When I feel that pulling sensation, it is attraction. The sensation feels warm and "right". As the saying goes "follow your gut." And this is what I do. I follow that feeling. Now you ask about the opposing feeling...that has its own unique sensation too. It's almost like the feeling you get when someone bad is following you. You can't see them, but you know that something is wrong. Does that make sense? The feeling is dark and icky.
HTM: I remember living in NYC for several years and getting the distinct feeling now and then of being stalked by those with ill-intent and darker motives. It feels exactly like you are saying. It is interesting that we are talking about paths opening up and attraction—a sense of freedom. What I felt during these episodes in New York was a definite trapped feeling or closing in or restriction.
Caroline: Now, regarding the heart versus solar plexus... I guess I always thought that when following my heart, I am following my intuition. For me, my heart is not logical. Following my heart is a leap of faith. And it can be downright scary. That's when I need to "hone" in on my intuition and "feel". I am not saying that this works for everyone...but it does for me. I have never regretted any decision I have made with my heart.
HTM: Thank you for that. I have two more questions. One is regarding your last response and you expressing your intention to "hone in on intuition and feel". How do you carry through with this intention? Do you do anything? Turn off anything? Quiet anything? Focus in any particular place bodily or energetically?
Caroline: I do sometimes try to sit and quiet my thoughts. Practice being still. If I have a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head, being still and placing my hands on my solar plexus helps. When I quiet the noise in my head...then I can really feel what I need to know. It's such a personal thing. But it works for me. And the feeling I get in my solar plexus is always warm and good.
HTM: While still discussing a possible meditation interview, you described your meditation practice with— "I do a more laying down style of meditation and intention setting kind of thing before getting out of bed in the morning." I would like to hear a little bit about what this is and in addition anything else that this interview process has brought up for you. It sounds like a grounding technique.
Caroline: Just before rising out of bed I place one hand in the center of my chest and the other right above my belly button. I take a few very deep breaths. I place an intention out to the universe. It's usually very simple...something like: "help me to be more aware today." Sometimes I just visualize being surrounded by white light and I breathe in peace and love.
Doing this simple exercise helps me to start my day off in a calm state of mind. And on days that I rush out of bed and forget to do this...I feel more scattered. So then I just make sure to find time to sit and ground my energy...I may imagine tree roots coming out of the bottom of my feet and grounding me to the earth. Then I just take a few deep breaths here and re-connect.
HTM: Hands are so powerful for directing and focusing energy. I like hearing how others ground themselves. Thanks for that description. Well, this seems like a natural place to conclude the interview.
Caroline: This was so enjoyable! I really enjoyed answering your questions and look forward to seeing the post.