I’ve been interested in meditation for most of my life. The one thing I’ve known for a long time that I don’t want is an eastern-derived practice with mistletoe stuck to it. Meditation that comes out of Hindu and Buddhist traditions has certain underpinning ideas about the nature of reality and the goals of meditation, and these do not work for me.
Having done a lovely Contemplative Druid day at the weekend, I had a lot of time in situ to contemplate what Druid Meditation is. What we do in that space connects well with what I’ve been doing for years. There was a bit of a ‘eureka’ moment for me when James Nichol spoke of how this practice creates stillness on the inside, but not to take us out of the world. Here are some extensions on that line of thought.
We slow down, and in slowing down are able to go deeper, or wider. We notice more and have the time and space for really involved thinking and feeling responses to whatever we’re experiencing.
In the silence of the circle, what we tend to get is a very softly held deeper kind of connection with each other as human beings, and a deepening of experience of the space, the day, the season. Usually the centre of the circle is a small altar with a light and seasonal representations, and this encourages seasonal reflections of what happens both outside and within us at this time of year. Space to share those diverse responses and to contemplate each other’s way of being in the world increases mutual understanding and eliminates dogma. Personal truths sit side by side and are honoured.
During the day we’ll go into various contemplative activities – sound, art, and movement may all feature. These will be things we undertake together so again there’s that sense of deepening connection. We may go outside, and encounter the wilder part of the area with an open heart and more scope for seeing. We look deeply at things. Often the consequence is inspiration and there will be words, poems, images and intentions that form through these experiences.
Druid meditation is an expanding of relationship with the self but also between participants, between participants and space. It’s a nourishing, nurturing practice that explicitly invites inspiration (Awen space is something we hold deliberately). There’s no intention to develop shared meaning, we share in order to witness, know and support each other. There’s no particular outcome that anyone is aiming for. In slowing down, paying attention, reflecting, looking back, looking forward, looking around, we will all find something and it usually turns out to be something we needed.
There are very few rules in these practices. We hold silence as the default, but there’s room to speak and share when something important comes up. Empty noise is eliminated and replaced with more soulful exchanges. We don’t do interventions for each other, although in some of the spaces, we can tackle each other’s questions if it makes sense. Not that there are any ‘right answers’.
I find it a very generous, allowing way of meditating. In some sessions I just sit with the quiet and let my mind wander where it will, enjoying the quiet companionship of everyone else as they do whatever they do. It’s a releasing process, allowing me to sort out the inside of my head in a more organic, less pre-defined sort of way. It permits whatever happens to happen, and that creates a great deal of possibility. It encourages inner stillness and calm, but I notice repeatedly that deep thinking and profound emotional responses often follow – for myself and others – because we allow ourselves to engage with anything that seems interesting in that space.