Crystals and meditation seem to be like peas in a pod here in the west. It’s not like that in the wisdom traditions that bring us meditation, but a newer intuition with its roots in the American cultural revolution of the 1960’s has put crystals into the same space that earlier traditions put crucifixes, singing bowls, malas, rosaries and sacred clothing.
Crystals seem to fit right in with the idea that we are all manifestations of the same consciousness. Something about crystalline formations speaks to our souls about the structure of the natural world. We can see and feel the truth of order and wisdom in the geometric faces of our mineral friends.
Meditation is a practice dedicated to understanding truth. When we look within we find a prismatic kaleidoscope of emotions, intentions, thoughts and ideas in which the same thing can take on different hues and angles from our broadening perspective. Sometimes in meditation we see a reflection of ourselves, other times we see right through ourselves and into the fractal of consciousness beyond.
Because of this seemingly obvious fit, people often ask what crystals are best for meditation and how to use them, so I thought I would take a few minutes to write up a general reply that can serve as the single and universal, authoritative answer to all questions relating to the interplay of meditation and crystals, forever and ever amen.
Well, maybe that’s a bit over the top, but I can at least give you my honest opinion.
Ok so that’s being a little bit cheeky. Beginners mind is a term used to describe the flexibility of an advanced meditator’s mental state, constantly open to freshness and the newness of the truth as it appears in this moment. Perhaps Socrates is best known in the west for this because he maintained:
“As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.”
Personally, I find that this is a great way to approach meditation. I sit each day for 10-30 minutes in the morning with no real expectations about what I am supposed to be getting out of it, or what is supposed to be happening.
It’s true that I am aware of several different schools of thought regarding meditation, like various visualization methods, breathing strategies, concentration techniques, relaxation techniques and self inquiry or whatever else, but when I sit down to meditate, I don’t think about them.
What The Meditative Mind is not.
We are used to our minds being engaged with something all the time. Pick up the kids, get the shopping done before the traffic picks up, make food,
do taxes, pay bills and when there is nothing pressing down on us. . . watch TV, check facebook, snap a selfie for Instagram, read an article,
read a book? maybe?
Awareness is never tired. The constant mental chatter can make you tired, but your thoughts can continue to bubble up driving you from one distraction to the next without ever tiring. This relentless mechanism can send you stumbling around the world ad infinitum, forever and ever amen. . . Unless you decide otherwise.
Meditation is one way to decide otherwise, and it has become very popular in the modern west, even sparking a resurgence of traditional forms of Christian Mysticism with contemplative practices like centering prayer and lectio divina, leading to mystical states like Unio Mystica.
Many people are meditating these days and that is a great thing, but if you ‘meditate’ at random stoplights and while you are waiting for your coffee at Starbucks, and you don’t have a more substantial daily practice, you are probably not getting the full benefit of meditation in much the same way that walking to the refrigerator and back to my computer doesn’t really grant me the full benefit of exercising.
Meditation starts as a practice
It continues as a practice as well, but if you want to develop a new habit you have to do something every day for 100 days. By the time you get to 100 days, your new habit just feels normal. This is true with our bad habits as well as our good habits which means that consistency and determination give us great power over our lives.
Sit for 10 minutes each morning for 100 days and you will absolutely change your life. Set an alarm so you don’t get distracted trying to figure out how long you’ve been sitting for and just sit. While you are cultivating this habit, don’t do anything. Don’t try new techniques or blaze new trails, don’t even think if you can help it, and certainly don’t try to get good at meditating.
If you need something to do because your gears just wont stop turning, then breathe. Breathe on purpose. If you need to be accomplishing something or getting better at something, then breathe. Become an accomplished breather.
Also, if breathing gets too boring, just stop breathing until it seems like a pretty cool thing again, and then you are ready to breathe some more.
Eventually the longest 10 minutes in all of human history will be over and the alarm will sound. As this becomes more and more of a habit, 10 minutes will fly past and you may even want to add some time to your alarm to get a deeper stretch, as they say in Yoga.
In the beginning, (and it’s always the beginning) your mind will try to figure out meditation. Every time you sit you will take a few deep breaths and then start gathering up all of the data you have about meditation and what you are supposed to do. Next you will probably start thinking about the right things to think about or how not to think at all. When you realize that you have gotten lost in a daydream you will take another deep breath and get really serious about solving this meditation thing.
As your practice deepens and your sense of identity slowly separates from your psychology, you will begin to watch this happening in your mind and laugh. It’s like watching a dog chase it’s own tail, and when you laugh at the silliness of the mind it generally gets quiet really quick. Suddenly the dog stops chasing it’s tail and hides behind the couch.
Now you are ready to meditate.
Consciousness crystalizes like water, suspended for the moment in the recognizable and differentiated shapes of snowflakes and icicles.
The warmth of life reminds us that we are only water, pausing on our journey to the sea, simply clouds passing through the sky, pretending to be this shape or that. read more…
The chill breeze rattles through the dead leaves on the lawn. The sweet warmth of the autumn sun denies the portents of the lengthening shadows and lingers like a departing lover.
A cup of coffee, a comfy sweater, but still barefoot on the porch, I take deep, gluttonous breaths, as if I could imbibe and somehow store these twilight days within my heart. read more…
Humility is often recognized as carrying a connotation of specifically Christian spirituality. But as we will see, it is very much in alignment with the Buddhist concept of Right View.
Just as Right View is said to be the foundation of the 8 Noble Truths, Humility is possibly the very foundation of Christian spiritual practice.
Many people who have felt trapped in a rigid Christian theology will recognize something like “knowing our place in relation to God” as the definition of Humility, and the patriarchal connotations of subjugation may easily offend.
However, while Humility may carry with it a connotation of submission, it is not the connotation, but the true meaning which we seek to understand. Humility is not a submission to an all powerful “Other” as much as it is a disidentification with the ego through the practiced recognition of its true and accurate relationship to all things. read more…
“There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
– Leonard Cohen
In this simple yet poignant line Leonard states the truth with the elegant simplicity befitting the poet he is.
Every single thing in the world of form is incomplete. There is a perfect imperfection in any object or concept. The delightful and dynamic potential of $100, for example, is collapsed into a single object or service when you spend it. You can not have the freedom of the money and the stability of that which it buys at the same time.
Our lives in the realm of duality are steeped in paradox like this. Self and Other. Objects and the space between them. Manifest reality and the potential from whence it flows. This fundamental duality gives rise to the “crack” in all things that Cohen is Talking about. read more…
How many times have we heard the immortal words of Joseph Campbell? His encouragement echoes loudly through the New Age community and it’s simple wisdom undergirds so many of our day to day conversations, goals and methods.
We use this advice to seek our life’s purpose and sometimes even give it the same exalted status as the Buddhist concept of Right Livelihood. As mistaken as that might be, the idea that following your bliss is the path to happiness is almost universal in the new age community, and it’s easy to see why.
All of life is a movement of Love.
Like the breath of God it ebbs and flows through our awareness, rustling the branches in the forests of our minds. Sometimes the branches are old and stiff and they creak and moan in the gentle breeze.
“No stone can stand against the crashing waves forever.”
This simple truth speaks volumes to the power of consistency. We all know that the ocean pounds against the shoreline, and over vast amounts of time it smashes tall jagged cliffs into gentle sandy beaches.
What is consistency, really?
Have you ever had someone tell you that life is a mirror of your consciousness? Or that we are each mirrors of each other?
Have you also noticed that even though you NEVER cut people off in traffic, some people still cut YOU off, and sometimes blatantly and intentionally?
Very often this mirror idea has been twisted from it’s original meaning to fit into a symmetrical understanding based on the Law of Attraction, namely that your consciousness actively creates the reality that you experience.
However, that is kind of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and one of the reasons it can seem so untrue sometimes is that the Law of Attraction is not really where this particular teaching belongs.
The idea that life is a mirror of our consciousness is often misunderstood and today I wanted to go back to the great traditions for some teachings that might shed some light on the true meaning of this common saying.