One summer, I meditated twice per day for two months. I was going through a tough break-up, and my mind was driving me crazy. I knew that if I wanted to function, I needed to do something differently. And so I sat.
What worked for me at that time was to turn on music (usually Vas) and emote. I cried. I fumed. I wept. I experienced joy, relief, and peace. I traced each of my sensations as they happened, and I let myself be. I was one with my experience.
That was my first experience with meditation, and I’ve done a lot since. I’ve practiced pranayama. I’ve meditated every day for 100 days straight. I’ve taken a meditation course. I’ve studied meditation techniques and applied principles. I’ve done walking meditations, dancing meditations, coloring meditations, running meditations, and more. Sometimes I meditate for 5 minutes, sometimes for two hours. I sit up, I lay down, I move, I don’t move. I trace my breath. I transcend my mind. I focus my attention. I try lots of different things.
When I walked El Camino de Santiago in 2015, I meditated every morning for the first 10k and every night as I fell to sleep. In the mornings I focused on breath and beauty, and in the evenings I followed guided meditations. When I reflect upon it, my morning meditations were walking prayers. As I noticed the beauty around me, I thanked God for everything. The leaf. The rain drop. The sky. The bird. The village. My boots. My body. My journey. I had a practice of saying out loud or to myself, “hello, beautiful ________! Thank you for existing.” Every time I encountered another human being in those first 10k, my heart overflowed with love and appreciation. It was a profound experience.
This week I’m going to meditate and pray. In honor of my lineage and my Islamic brothers and sisters, I’m going to do so five times per day. It’s my way of connecting to my ancestor, Hafiz, and asking for peace in our world. In my meditations, I’ll focus my attention on God.
In the Islamic tradition, there are five names for the daily prayers: Fajr (pre-dawn), Dhuhr (noon), Asr (afternoon), Maghrib (sunset), and Isha’a (evening). I’ve downloaded an app that plays the call to prayer at each of these times. When I hear it, I’ll clean my hands and feet, and I’ll meditate and pray.
Since I’m midway into Monday and I missed my morning prayer, I will start my exploration in earnest on Tuesday and complete on Saturday evening. However, I will meditate and pray four times today, and I may carry this practice into my future. We shall see what unfolds.
My intentions are to love, appreciate, and ask for healing for our world. It’s pretty plain and simple.
About My Lineage and Inspiration for this Exploration
My dad’s maternal family is from Lebanon. Hafiz, the Sufi poet, is my ancestor. “Hafiz” or “Hafez” were titles given to people who had memorized the Koran by heart. The story is that Hafiz did so in 14 different ways by the time he was a teenager.
Hafiz devoted his heart to beauty and God, and he was a teacher, protestor, lover, and poet.
Here is one of his poems, a favorite of mine:
All the Hemispheres
Leave the familiar for a while.
Let your senses and bodies stretch out
Like a welcomed season
Onto the meadows and shores and hills.
Open up to the Roof.
Make a new water-mark on your excitement
Like a blooming night flower,
Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness
Upon our intimate assembly.
Change rooms in your mind for a day.
All the hemispheres in existence
Lie beside an equator
In your heart.
In your thousand other forms
As you mount the hidden tide and travel
All the hemispheres in heaven
Are sitting around a fire
While stitching themselves together
Into the Great Circle inside of