Spontaneous meditation. I was born knowing how to meditate. Meditation was unknown in my family and not part of my culture, so I was taught nothing about it. But my wisdom found ways to wake me up in the meantime. As a child, I made progress with love via spontaneous meditations. That's what I mean by meditation: not sitting cross-legged or chanting om, but making progress, having success, waking up a little, getting a little more enlightened. If I'm doing something that's supposed to be meditation but I find no joy in it, no falling in love, I'm wasting my time.
Louisiana. As a child of 3, I had a memorable encounter with nature in the form of stump water. At age 4 I had a different kind of spontaneous meditation with my dad. I was an energetic little boy, always exploring and getting into things, often including trouble. One day I was being rambunctious in church. Of course you can't really be rambunctious in church, at least not a Methodist church. But I did my best, fidgeting in my seat and fiddling with stuff in the back of the pew in front: hymnals, offertory envelopes, and those stubby little pencils. I believe the final straw was dropping a hymnal; that can make quite a noise if it lands just right. My dad had had it. He took me by the hand and marched me out of the church. He cut a long twig off a bush that years later I identified as spirea, and gave my legs a good switching. It was warm, as it usually is in Louisiana, and little boys got to wear shorts to church. I remember examining my legs later that day; the switch marks were little red stripes with fat welts on either side; striking. That switching definitely woke me up; it helped me get over the ridiculous notion of fairness. Life is not fair; never was, never will be.
Marianna. Spontaneous meditation faded out in Marianna, for one because of my age. Young children are open to love and connection until the ugliness of human culture shuts them down. But also schoolwork. Learning to read & write doesn't fit with meditation because it puts words and ideas front and center. Words and ideas are what I have to get over to meditate. It just doesn't work to try and get over something when you're first learning it. Besides, words have their uses. You can't have culture and art without 'em. However, I was having rich experiences with my dad that prepared me for future meditation. Like hiking to the river. And digging into rooting.
Asheville. In Asheville, in the 60s, spontaneous meditation started coming back to me. I was confident in my language skills, so my nonverbal core, my wisdom, could become more active. I had many moments of spontaneous meditation during this part of my life. I've written about a number of them:
Kenya. In Kenya, alcohol and pot quickly shut down my spontaneous meditations. Drugs and spontaneous meditation do not mix. It took encountering a cobra in the coffee to shock me awake. I was stuck with formal meditation until my detour was over in 2006. That's a slow and laborious way to make progress with love.
Tallahassee. As part of my ministerial training program I got initiated into kriya yoga. Kriya was interesting but it also felt unbalancing. As I mulled that over an image came me, an illustration from a book I had about Taoist magic. The illustration showed an ouroboros inside a human figure. I applied that circular image to how I was doing kriya, and the feeling changed from unbalance to subtle pleasure; I loved how that felt. But the subtle pleasure still felt unbalanced because it felt like too much; it was more than I could handle. But that pleasure intrigued me, and I held onto it somewhere in my depths until 30 years later in Seattle. When my wisdom reached out to make itself known in me in 2006, it pointed that subtle pleasure out as a signpost, a clue: this is what I'm looking for: the simple pleasure of being. I wrote my first website about that pleasure. I could find that pleasure whenever I tuned into my natural breathing rhythm and really paid attention deeply. The subtle pleasure of breathing launched the voyage of discovery that led, link by link, to where I am now.
Meditation in daily life. None of the meditation I do now is recognizable as such; it's been that way since sometime in 2008. Instead of sitting on the floor, something I was never any good at, I use my internal connection with the pleasure of making progress to infuse meditation into walking, cooking, eating, cleaning, lying in bed. I meditate quite a lot in bed: when I'm ready for sleep, when I'm about to rise, and whenever I'm wakeful in the middle of the night, which is fairly often. Listening to classical music is a form of meditation that's been of immense value to me in the pandemic. Classical music helped me grasp my place in the world and accept the pandemic. It's been of extraordinary value in dealing with all this. Oh yes, and dancing. Partner dancing is one of my very favorite forms of meditation.