It’s Gold And Pink And I Got A Feather

Things are getting pretty freakin’ groovy around my house, and you know what?! I kinda love it.

I have no problem holding two diametrically-opposed views at exactly the same time, so while I’m mentally mocking the notion of “connecting to the divine” and “sitting like the Buddha,” I am also simultaneously falling in love with and totally digging on those ideas.

And ocean breath?! Don’t even get me started on how much I love ocean breath. It makes me sound like I’m impersonating Darth Vader (or, if you prefer, the sound you hear when you hold a seashell to your ear), and it’s the fastest route to relaxation that I’ve ever experienced. Basically, it requires breathing through your nose by thinking about your throat.

Wanna try it?

Inhale with your mouth closed, focusing the air and your attention on the back of your throat. The trick is not suck the air in through your nose with a sniffing sound, but to draw it deeply into your lungs through the throat.

The exhale is similar: Release the air without sniffing through your nose by letting the breath tickle in your throat. This is specifically where the Darth Vader impersonation comes in. Here’s a video to help you get started.

I use my ocean breath when I crawl into bed at night, during yoga class, and during meditation.

The guided meditations I’ve been doing are a set of recordings for beginners by Jack Kornfield. They were a gift from my therapist, and I’ve been using the LovingKindness Meditation and Sitting Practice on and off for a few months.

This week, I decided to treat myself and bought Guided Meditations for Self-Healing. There are three separate meditations – Healing Presence, Healing Temple, Power of Love – and the recommendation is that they be done lying down. Love that!

I tried the Healing Temple meditation for the first time yesterday, and I think it was my most successful meditation ever. It was the first time I didn’t have to work so hard to keep my mind from defaulting to to-do lists and other wanderings.

The specific, detailed visualizations that make up the Healing Temple meditation kept my brain from meandering. I had to visualize a healing temple (!) and imagine myself being carried there on a gentle wind (!). Inside the temple, I was greeted and cared for by a glowing, healing being (!) and, after applying healing energy to the parts of my body that are wounded (!), she gave me two healing gifts. In my meditation, the gifts were a crystal heart and a fluffy white feather (!).

I’m not sure I’m supposed to use the word “fun” to describe my meditations, but dang it! It was kinda fun.

I wasn’t thinking of a real temple in my visualization – I just naturally pictured a golden building with minarets. But later, I did a Google image search to see if anything like my imagined temple exists. I found photos of the Golden Temple, which is pretty close to what I imagined during my meditation.

I’m sure it’s too soon for me to have undergone any significant, meditation-induced changes in the last week, but it has been a pleasure today to think about my temple, my glowing friend (she was bathed in pink and gold light, in case you’re curious), and the healing, glowing energy that I imagined flowing through my body.

See? Super groovy, but also kind of awesome.

If you’re curious about giving it a try, here are some links to the Jack Kornfield stuff I’m using. I’m not an expert, and I’m not on J.K.’s payroll – it’s just that his are the only guided meditations I’ve tried, and I like them, so… here you go:

Meditation Texts
If you don’t want to purchase audio meditations, J.K.’s site includes the text of a few of his meditations so you can read through them, then repeat the phrases to yourself while you meditate on your own.

Meditation For Beginners
This is the original set of guided meditations I used. It includes LovingKindness Meditation, Forgiveness Meditation, and Sitting Practice. The meditations are 10-20 minutes long, so it’s a good one to get you started.

Guided Meditations for Self-Healing
This is the new one I got yesterday. It’s focused on healing both physical and emotional wounds, so it’s not only for people with illnesses or injuries. Includes Healing Presence, Healing Temple, and Power of Love meditations.

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  • Jess says:

    I need help meditating. I can go about 15 seconds before I start thinking about recipes or grocery lists. Thanks for the links, maybe just what I need!

  • Peggy says:

    Have you tried Jon Kabat-Zinn’s meditation cds? I’ve heard it recommended by multiple people, but haven’t gotten around to purchasing. I may look at the Kornfield meditations as well.

  • Jude says:

    Look who is becoming a convert – almost in spite of yourself too! 🙂

    Love that you’ve got such a stylin temple. Leopard print anywhere inside?


  • Blanca says:

    The UCLA Mindfullness Awareness Research Center has great resources. I’ve attended some classes and find them incredibly helpful.

  • mamie janik says:

    well it sounds like santa needs to get you a copy of eat, pray, love and a subscription to yoga journal mag! ha! so proud of you for taking this on..i know its way outside the box of black leather secret spy but hey, spies need to be really flexible just incase you have to manevour through infrared trip wires! and your motto, never cheat never quit, still applies! we actually make patients that come to the office with high blood pressure go to the yoga room and meditate in shivasana to the best of their knowledge and its almost an assured 10 pt. drop. that is yoga power! love you so much and truly an inspiration!

  • Mel says:

    MAMIE! So awesome to hear from you! Hope the Whole30 is treating you well.

    If I ever hold a copy of Eat, Pray, Love someone PLEASE bash me over the head with a cast-iron skillet. Thank you.

    And you’re right: the focus and flexibility I learn will totally help me in my spy career. Plus, when I’m being interrogated, I can go to me centered, neutral place and they won’t be able to touch my mind.

    Love you back! Wait ’til I write about the gong-infused yoga class I took this morning! Wheeeeeee!

  • barb says:

    Hi Mel – Thanks for the refs for guided meditation – i am with you – need something to keep my list maker mind from wandering and instead turning inside- check these out – book and cd combo


  • Bo Sabin says:

    If you’ve time, check out Jon Kabat-Zinn tapes. But his books are even better: Full Catastrophy Living and Where Ever You Go, There You Are. Excellent reads.

    I’m def going back to mix in some hot yoga with CrossFit. I’ve been forgetting to breathe when I have weight on the bar!

    As always, love your blog.

    • Mel says:

      Thanks for the suggestion, Bo! Went to a Hatha class today that was, like, 90% stretching and breathing. It was TOTALLY chill, and it felt great.