At Rainbow Druid Camp 2015, Philip Carr Gomm talked about how we find the idea of meditation. We each have a body, if we experiment with what it does, especially around pain and pleasure, we learn about the power of focusing and surrendering at the same time.
This relates to one of the core differences between Paganism and a revealed religion. If we burned all the books, all the Pagans, took away every written and oral-tradition reference to modern Pagan practice, sooner or later someone would look around them and notice the land and the sky, the pragmatic way we depend upon everything else for life, and the sense of wonder that beauty inspires. From there, many of the things intrinsic to Paganism could be reconstructed. With revealed religions, were you to destroy all the records, stories and evidence, you would destroy the religion.
Meditation is something we do because we have bodies, and all traditions, however old, come back to the truths of the body, and are available to be found, rediscovered, or reinvented on other terms by anyone with a body who happens to be paying attention.
I started meditating as a child, as a desperate response to insomnia. I created a method to still my mind and focus it so that I wouldn’t panic and make things worse when I couldn’t settle at night. I would count, slowly, sometimes to very high numbers indeed. It wasn’t creative, or inspiring, but it helped, and it meant that when I came to other forms of meditation, I already had a lot of the needed tools.
Aged ten or so, I read a fraction of a book on yoga that talked clearly about transcending the body, overcoming the body, negating it. I knew instinctively that this wasn’t what I wanted, stopped reading and moved on. In my teens, I learned about pathworking and visualisation, from witches. My formal exposure to meditation was in a Pagan context, and I’ve always thought of it as something Pagan, and with its own perfectly valid traditions rooted in this soil, and this ancestry. I get very stressed when people are adamant that meditation *is* eastern, that only the eastern models exist, that everything else is derived from there, that we have to do it that way and so forth.
The meditation I practice comes from my body, and from other Pagans. There’s a dash of Tai Chi/ Taoist influence in how I approach very body orientated meditation, again, because that’s who taught me. As this is a more life and body affirming path, with a very different underlying logic to transcendent faiths, I find it a better match for my Druidry. There’s a little bit of Quaker influence in the mix now as well, coming to me from working with the Contemplative Druid group.
Meditation exists across time and places not because someone found the one true way and everyone else then stole it, but because we have bodies, and there are things those bodies very naturally do. Stop. Breathe. Listen. Feel. The rest is just detail.