Thursday, April 24, 2008

Depression and Meditation

This morning (actually yesterday morning--I wrote this in a notebook first), I got up for morning (Fajr) prayer, and instead of going back to bed in despair, to avoid all of the challenges of the day and my possible failures of them, I remembered my One Spirit Interfaith Seminary training, coupled with something a friend said at the last meeting of the Rumi Circle (a Muslim prayer circle in Montreal):

When you are feeling some "bad" emotion or are going through a hard time, don't run away from it. Just sit with what you are feeling and know that it will pass eventually.

So this morning, I felt depressed, and I sat and let myself feel it. I felt scared, but instead of covering it up, running and hiding and sleeping, I felt it.

I eventually sat and meditated, allowing those feelings to take the stage and be tasted, rather than boxed away. What I realized is that I give too much credit (and responsibility) to what I'll call my ego. Because of the way I used to operate--being the best at pretty much everything at school was the only option--I have this feeling that if I don't succeed, it's because I haven't pushed myself hard enough. Since failure to do certain things then (be productive early in the morning, get a book published immediately, etc.) is seen as a personal lack, I avoid even trying in order to avoid such a possible conclusion.

But in my meditations I realized that it's not me at all, in this sense of the word. Everything is a gift from God. For some reason this lesson was flowing into me out of the bookcase during my meditation, but anyway...

It seems trite and sentimental, now that my fears and insecurities are arising again as I write this message, safely formulated and packaged. But it is a deep and powerful truth, one which is felt best when it arises organically. But I'll try to bring it to life here.

For example, the morning is God's gift. It is not a challenge to me to be productive or a taunt I need to hide from by going to sleep. It is a loving present from the Creator. As are my meditations, my writing, my breath. When I see these as loving gifts, I can open to them and use them--and myself--gently. Even my depression and fear can be a gift, if I sit with them and use them to open myself to the flow of God's grace.

Two more things. Forget about feeling guilty for not being more God-conscious earlier; that defeats the purpose of this new awareness, which focuses on gratitude for the moment rather than serving your ego--don't let it trick you back into its chains! And I say this to myself. Secondly, this is a gentle process. After many years of just not getting it, I finally learned to meditate by reading the Golden Compass trilogy. While I'm not signing up for many of its more interesting points of theology any time soon, it did have some wondrous advice on the meditative state of mind. When Lyra uses her alethiometer, for example, she must feel her way into a state where she is open to its message, clear-minded and expectant, but without trying to force any particular outcome or answer. This open, in-between state I find perfect for meditation and religious contemplation, emptying myself of my ego and not grasping for something else to fill the void. A teacher of mine was once told by someone that she should not always be rushing around, looking to make herself a new image. Instead, she should stay empty for a while and let God show her the truth of who she really is. But be gentle, this truth is subtle and, for most people (for me), is long in discovering and embodying.

So as I sit with my sense of failure to write the "perfect" blog post, I feel the morning sun on my back, hear the birds sing as they gather breakfast or coo on new-laid eggs (like the pigeons on our balcony), and I know that attempts and mistakes are gifts from God. I don't fully understand it, but I can sit with it, in gratitude.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Welcome to Something Even More Magical. Do you ever feel that there is something magical around us that we only sometimes see? Have you ever had an intense religious experience, felt your heart break at a sunset, or fallen in love with a kind stranger? How do we leap up and catch these elusive seconds, find the key, open the door, and step inside the moment--and then not fall asleep and wake up outside, thinking it was all a dream? I believe that the great religious traditions provide ways of life that can help us in this quest, as do simple people living simple lives, including ourselves. It has been said that life is our greatest teacher. That if you try, there is a chance that you will fail, but if you never try, there is a 100% chance that you will fail. Join me in daring to explore life, seek magic, and BE beyond our wildest dreams.