“Witches worth their broom-bristles know how to meditate.”
Damnit, Roderick…I need that tattooed on my left forearm. I want to meditate. I really, really do. But I’ve never taken the initiative to carve time out of my days to do it, well…religiously. I get discouraged because I’m very apt to ‘daydream’ when I meditate. Sometimes I think that’s the goal, really…to get to that ‘visiony’ state. But there are many forms of meditation, and I want to be able to not always drift off to that dream place.
So today we look at the differences between Eastern and Western methods.
In a nutshell, Eastern methods bring the practitioner to physical and mental stillness. They don’t force you to block out your thoughts, but view them in a detached manner. Roderick describes it as “allowing your thoughts to exist naturally, but trying to to engage in any of them.” Sometimes this involves focusing your attention on mantras, breathing, or an object like a candle flame.
This is the method I *want* to be able to work with. I want that stillness.
The Western methods try to bring about stillness with activity and energy. To be honest, I’ve never gotten this approach. When we’d go walk the labyrinth at DePauw, for instance, I was always worried about staying in the lines and not bumping into people to really call the experience ‘meditative.’ I do, however, love ‘guided imagery’ meditations…those controlled, planned dreams. The problem with those is you need a good recording. Or a good friend. I used to try to record myself…but it just didn’t fly. At any rate, today’s exercise is to try to decide which loose method fits your temperament best.
Exercise: Meditation Temperaments
To assess which style suits you best, consider the following questions:
- Do you like your life to be perfectly organized or do you not mind a bit of chaos?
- Do you respond to most queries with action or with contemplation?
- Are you active and mobile, or are you laid back and sedate?
- Do you believe that ever question has a definite, logical answer, or do you think that questions can sometimes beget more questions?
- Are you naturally internally focused or externally focused?
- Are you naturally patient or not?
- Are you strong willed, decisive, and direct? Or are you easy going and more indirect in your approach to people and tasks
I like organization. I can deal with a good amount of chaos and confusion, but I much prefer organization. Similarly, I can and often do respond to queries with action, but I prefer to take a moment to think about it first. I am laid back and sedate. (Probably too sedate for my own good.) I think that the best answers beget more questions. I have no idea if I’m internally or externally focused, but I am rather patient. And while I think I can be decisive and direct, I often take the easy going indirect approach unless I have to do otherwise.
According to Roderick, people who consider themselves “organized, action-oriented, mobile, and logica lmight try the Western types” and those who are “laid back, contemplative, less active, and nonlinear might try the Eastern methods.”
So I guess I’m going East!