The other night my family was enjoying a cookout in our backyard. My two children love to roast marshmallows over the dying coals. Being that they are still young, the joyful experience of roasting marshmallows can be stressful.
My daughter was feeling disappointed that she was unable to create a perfectly toasted marshmallow. It would either burn or not toast enough. After eating at least three marshmallows covered in ash, I decided to assist my daughter.
First, I told my daughter to be mindful of the grill and to not burn herself. Then I informed her to focus on where she would like to toast the marshmallow. I guided her hand to hold the skewer at a certain point. I turned to her and told her to center herself. It was as I tapped her heart center and told her to be calm and still, that I realized how this was similar to meditation.
I was eight years old when meditation became a part of my life. Until then my father was always telling me to, “Be still!”
That early training helped me as I grew older. And by older I mean nineteen, when I attended my first meditation and dream study retreat in Wisconsin with John Van Auken.
To this day meditation remains a part of my life. Being a student of meditation practically all of my life has allowed me to experience many different styles and techniques. As with many teachings, there is an underlying theme to meditation regardless of the source.
Meditation requires preparation. Honor thyself and the creative forces by saying a prayer or other form of protection. Just as the coals are hot and require caution, there are unseen forces which deserve recognition. Follow this with an intention for the meditation. Where do you want to toast your marshmallow? Then go within yourself, be still, be silent and ascend. Sit with your marshmallow as it cooks.
Only you will know when it is time for your meditation to end. Just as some people prefer well done marshmallows to lightly toasted ones, meditation is personal. On some days I could sit in the silence for hours, others I only need a short time to reconnect with a higher force.
The next time you find yourself being hypnotized by the flames of a fire or the burning embers of coals, think about going within before you toast that marshmallow. Sit with yourself, be calm, be still.