“Now close your eyes, and focus on a part of the body you hold discomfort,” said Anandagiri, senior faculty member of One World Academy, shortly after guiding us through a breath meditation called the ‘Ananda Mandala.’
I’ve done this practice before, and now refer to it as the ‘snow globe’ meditation. Basically, you inhale gently, and exhale intensely, through the nose. Each segment focuses on different energy centers, or chakras, and the whole exercise takes about 35 minutes. It can be super annoying but filled with treasures because it helps root out old hurts that have lodged in the subconscious, like those little stickers your socks pick up on a beautiful fall hike.
The Ananda Mandala, which you can listen to online, has been recorded by another OWA faculty member, Krishnaraj. Here’s the link:
“Yell if you get annoyed,” I tell participants in my own workshops that I teach, because the Ananda Mandala can do that. But it’s powerful and effective.
The body holds clues to our past pain
We set our intention to heal a relationship, and I chose Caelin, my oldest son. Sure, we’ve been getting along great lately, but sometimes when he comes to my mind, I feel guilt. So I decided to get rid of it by focusing on that emotion, which I ‘store’ in my right upper hip flexor.
Right when Anandagiri started, I was irritated. “This, again!” my mind whined. “We did this yesterday!” Indeed, I’d hosted two leadership immersions back to back, and my mind wanted to be sure to remind me. “Maybe we could just skip this one,” it carped. I overrode the noisiness, and continued, my breath in sync with the other 12 participants.
Once the meditation was over, we went ‘inside’ the body, to that particular place where we hold the pain. Eyes closed, I wandered down to the little stabbing pain in my hip, and stayed with the vision appeared in my mind. I saw a grey, lonely ocean, with rain drops falling onto it. The picture in my mind was the epitome of sorrow.
Suddenly I was in Caelin’s room, when he was a baby. The walls were an icy, cold bluish white. But around Caelin, it felt warm, and quiet. I looked down and was watching myself as a young mother, and this Tara-at-29- years-old was lying on the floor next to Caelin’s white crib. Her thoughts reflected what an honor it was to have such a beautiful child. But then Tara moved over to the doorway, and sat back against the frame, head dipped down, knees pulled in. And she began to cry. “I’ll never do this right, I’ll fail. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m going to mess this up.” I could read her thoughts as I watched her from above. Small arms and long, thin legs scrunched up toward her chest, soft brown hair that fell forward as she leaned her head onto her knees, she was a little ball of sadness and despair.
I kept watching her, allowing Tara to feel her pain…not stopping it, but acknowledging it. I sat down beside her, just to be present for her. The compassion I had toward her was soul deep. “I am here for you” I said to her, intuitively. She cried and cried in my vision, and I cried and cried as I sat there in the meditation, letting go of grief.
I could see that tight part in young Mom Tara’s belly, like a coiled up wound slowly coming undone. We sat there together until the pain became ‘unsprung’ and relaxed. As it did, I felt my own body relax, and suddenly we merged into one person. The residue of hurt disappeared.
There is no perfect Mom…she doesn’t exist.
Everyone finished the meditation, and I could hear feet squeaking across the wood floor as they left the room. I slowly moved from my chair down onto the floor in a more comfortable position. I wasn’t quite finished, and stayed with the story unraveling. Up from the crib popped 1 year old Caelin, with a big, red, inflatable bat. He reached out and bonked me on the head. “I forgive you!” he said, intuitively, with a gleeful smile. Down he went again, then appeared one more time. “I forgive you! I forgive you, I forgive you!” he said, as the bat bounced off my head. I started howling with laughter as I lay there on the floor.
When I began the meditation I thought it would be about Caelin forgiving me. It was the opposite. I needed to forgive myself. I know now that I did the best I could, and there is no such thing as ‘the perfect Mother.’ It’s ridiculous the amount of harm we can do to ourselves.
Self love, and self forgiveness are the anecdote to guilt and shame.
The sun had just set, and we were to break for a walk and some alone time. I walked toward the dirt trail of Mt. Sanitas, and after a few minutes turned around to go back. I noticed my chest felt so big, and unusually light. It was as though a burden had been lifted. “Wow! This is incredible!” I said out loud, as I rounded the street corner and stepped off the curb. “I am so happy” I yelled to night sky.
Find a few friends/fellow meditators, and you can do the Ananda Mandala together. Just make sure to focus on the physical place you hold stress and tension. You’ll find treasures and maybe a little red blow-up bat of your own. “I forgive you,” it will say. Just be sure to listen.