UGnomeMy first contact with meditation was the classic “sit and clear your mind.”  I was vague on what this was supposed to do for me other than it was necessary for spiritual practice and would be calming.  Somehow it was supposed to lead me to enlightenment but that was many levels of spirituality later.  The first time I saw the episode of South Park with the underwear gnomes, I shrieked “That’s it!” because that is what meditation has felt like to me all those years.  Meditate….?….Enlightenment.  I came across chanting meditations such as toning “OM” or recently in studying the Kabbalah I’ve found reference after reference to the practice of chanting letters of the aleph-bet or the names of God as a means of meditation.  I’ve tried if for myself and there are times when I believe that it has been very efficacious.  The problem is that I can’t hold that state for very long.  Between my getting past the initial “I’m chanting.  Don’t think about chanting.  Just breath.  My mouth is dry.  Stop thinking…” I get into the groove for a few seconds, then fall out of it.  The amount of work has never been worth the small reward.  It’s just not my thing.

What I discovered through my own spiritual journey was that there are many kinds of meditation with many different effects.  The end goal is a type of enlightenment, I guess, in that they allow the seeker to come into harmony with their essential selves which is one with All That Is.  There are many different words for this process, but those are the ones that resonate with me.  They seem simple and yet encompass an infinite number of experiences and possibilities and levels of existence while not needing to engage in hierarchies, power differentials, and better/worse than comparisons which I find less than helpful in most religious and magical descriptions of the spiritual journey.

For me, active meditation works best.  My mind never stops working, but during active process the logical/problem solving/left brain side quiets down and focuses on the task at hand leaving my expansive/creative/right brain side plenty of room to experience and take things in without judgement and to connect to everything and everyone including myself.  Yoga, hiking, and long walks work best for me when it comes to this type of practice.  But the best meditation for me, in my experience, is creative.

What I think of as creative meditation is creating something for a spiritual purpose.  I create things for any number of reasons. I have been a cross stitcher for decades making fine art needlework and I enjoy the hours I spend at the slowest printing process on the planet as I used to call it when I was working in the computer industry.  But it’s not meditative for me.  I do it while I’m watching TV and relaxing in the evening.  Creative meditation is when I’m working with something, some concept, some ceremony, some personal issue, and I want to go deeply into it both spiritually and physically.  I find myself jonesing for a way to create, to bring this thing into being in the physical, the way I crave popcorn when I goto the movies.  When I’ve figured out what the project is, every step I take from collecting the materials to designing the actual piece to construction is a meditation.  Each time I work on it I’m dropped into a spiritual place.  My body radiates it, my mind steps back, and I’m in the zone.  When it’s done I haven’t just created a new something that has never existed in the world before, I’ve created a new aspect of myself.

That’s, I believe, the purpose of meditation.