Yesterday, we had a terrific Questions&Answers (Q&A) with Sally Kempton about meditation. I’ve collected some of her answers and put together in this post:
“Very often we can be in a true meditation state and have thoughts going on. Meditation is contact with our underlying meditation ‘bandwidth’. Its there even during thinking. In some states, thoughts go away, but we can even be in a very expanded state and have thoughts going on.”
Meditating in a group vs alone
“When we’re in a group we get the benefit of the group energy. In this program, we actually receive the benefit of everyone’s energy, whether they are meditating at the same time or not, because of the shared intention. So there’s something wonderful about being in a virtual group, because we get the shared energy while being able to stay home and meditate in our own space.
Meditating alone allows you to ‘cook’ your own meditation energy in a particular physical place. For introverts, it often feels more comfortable to meditate alone. And also, you don’t have to listen to the sounds other people make. Alone, you can follow your own timing.
Its like yoga practice. At times, we really benefit from the support of a class or a group. At other times, it is sweet to be able to meditate in our own space, in our own timing.
“Ah, anger…Meditation will clear it out. However, part of the process is that sometimes the anger really gets in your face during meditation. That is part of the clearing process. The emotions arise, you get to witness them, and they depart. One reason why a mantra practice is helpful is that the mantra can help create a space in the mind that creates an alternative resting place to the angry thoughts.
If you can, see if you can really be the witness to the anger, recognizing that there is a pure energy of anger that is arising. Notice the thoughts that arise. Then see if you can let go of the thoughts—the ‘story’ that attaches itself to the anger, and breathe the angry energy very gently out. Breathe in hamsa and breathe out anger. Breathe in “peace’ and breathe out anger. Breathe in light and breathe out anger. Or find your own opposite feeling, and breath that in as you breathe out anger. The trick is to breathe out the anger without getting angry at the anger! Its an energy like any other, which can come and go if we let it.
Wonderful that meditation is giving you such a transformative experience.”
Love this one <3
“The way to work with problems and questions in meditation is to ask the question, go in and get quiet, and then ask for guidance from your inner self.
Do your [meditation] practice as usual. insights will arise from a deep place, and often you won’t get ‘answers’ at the moment, but will have them come later.
Often when you are sitting in meditation thinking about something, the ‘answers’ you get come from the mind rather than the heart. So let the thinking go.
Then, write down whatever insights have arisen as soon as meditation is over. Offer them up to the Universe, or to grace … and know that some shift will occur”.
“To the question what does deep meditation feel like: First, your mind may get very quiet. You may have a felt sense of comfort and peace. You may feel almost asleep, or on the other hand, extremely light and aware. Some people have visionary experiences, for others there are feelings of great happiness, for others it can be a state that the Buddhists describe as emptiness. When you come out, you feel refreshed. There’s more…my book, Meditation for the Love of It has a lot of specific material on this”.
“Grief is a powerful process, and when it is intense, I have found that the best thing to do is be with it. At the same time, give yourself time to walk, to cook, to spend time with friends so that you are reminded of life’s goodness. There is a time when the grief is assimilated, and it becomes less acute. But if you can use this time of grieving to tune into the compassion for the loss that all beings suffer, it will have deepened your capacity for empathy and love.
I have found that ton glen practice, where you breathe in the grief and breathe out peace or healing, is profound. In that practice, you can go farther, and tune into the grief that others are feeling.
Anxiety and healing
“To breathe consciously with the mantra will calm you. Another way of calming yourself is to use your hands to hold your solar plexus, to breathe in to the area behind your hands, and say to yourself something like, “I am supported” or “I have the right to healing” or “I am loved”. Offer your anxiety to the universe and ask for support. Its there.”
All quotes form Sally Kempton.
The Q&A was part of the Meditation Revolution from Yoga Journal. You can join in if you wish so.