Catching up

Jan 26, 2016
It's been a while since I posted about my dedicant's path progress, and it's true, I've fallen off the wagon a little bit with the work. I think I got thrown off kilter around New Year's, and I haven't completed one of the weekly assignments since then. It's not looking good for this week, either...but I'll get back to it next week, I promise.

That doesn't mean I haven't been doing anything. I've been meditating pretty much every day. It's amazing what it does for my stability - it used to be that if I had a bad evening, that spoiled my whole day, and probably the next one too, because I'd stay up late trying to get something to balance out the bad evening to happen. (Spoiler: it usually didn't.) Now, I meditate every night at 10:00, and all the crap just goes away. It's sometimes there waiting for me in the morning, but it doesn't ruin my whole evening.

I've played with the Two Powers meditation as well, ADF's particular variation on the grounding-and-centering exercise. I like it, but it doesn't yet feel like I'm connecting to something real more than it feels like a particularly pretty set of images. I expect that will come with time.

I have not been good about getting out into nature - but it's January in Chicago, and I'm sorry, nature is not hospitable in this climate at this time of year. I'm starting to think I should have chosen something I can do from indoors for this particular aspect of the work - tracking the phases of the moon, maybe, or feeding the squirrels who live right outside my window. I suppose there's nothing stopping me from doing that now.

But this Sunday is Imbolc, my favorite holiday, and the one I keep missing due to inattentiveness. I just finished painting my altar decorations (which also may become sacrifices; I'm not sure yet) and I'm planning on doing some baking later in the week. I'm excited. And this should help get me back in the swing of things.

It is always the same step, but you have to keep taking it.

Jan 3, 2016
As I mentioned before, I've been using the Stop, Breathe and Think app to work on my meditation practice. I've tried meditation lots of times in the past, but I was never able to stick with it - but I was trying it with just plain old "sit and think of nothing" meditation, and I kept getting frustrated that I couldn't, well, think of nothing. Then I read The Mindful Way Through Depression and finally understood that that was the point; then I started working on my Dedicant Path in earnest, including the required mental training practice. 

For years I thought that I couldn't meditate before bed, because surely I'd fall asleep. Since I always complain about how long it takes me to fall asleep I don't know why I thought that. A couple of weeks ago, faced with the requirement not only to meditate but to document my progress, I realized that if I didn't set a regular schedule it wasn't going to happen, and I added meditation to my bedtime ritual: after the shower, but before that last hour or so of reading. Turns out that works beautifully. I'm more relaxed and better able to fall asleep, I know I'm not going to be interrupted, and my mind has begun to fall naturally into mindfulness later in the evening (which also helps keep me from accidentally staying up past my bedtime).

And then, last night, something weird happened. I sat down to do my evening meditation and I didn't want to listen to a guided meditation - I wanted quiet. I wanted to sit quietly alone with my breath. I'd never actively wanted this before, so I was conservative and set the timer for four minutes, which is about how long I usually spend, but it wasn't long enough. I did another four and felt fully settled, but also like I could have sat there for much longer, watching thoughts go by, breathing. It was outstanding. 

This is one of those Mysteries, the moment of understanding something that you've been told countless times that finally makes sense in your bones. I love those moments. The more of them that happen to me, the more I understand that they only happen after you've spent time with something, and that by definition that means I have to spend time with things I don't really understand before I can reach them.

Something I haven't mentioned, either in this blog or out loud to myself just yet - I've been feeling very disconnected from the gods, since long before I started this Path. Doing ritual gives me a deep sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, but that connection is still missing. I'm starting to see a glimmer, though, not of the connection itself but of the possibility that it's out there, if I keep spending time with the possibility. Is this faith?