There are not many things that I feel that I have to have wherever I am but a pen and paper are two of those things. My love of reading as a child developed into a love of writing in high school and now I find that I am never not reaching for the next book or a pen and paper to write this or that idea down to flesh out further at some point in the future. Its something that makes a certain amount of logical sense; reading, writing, languages, teaching. All of these have commonalities that lend themselves to the appropriation of skills closely related to those I already have. It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve come to understand just how important writing has become to me, how crucial it is to much of what I do. Although I write a lot in terms of my work and these articles, it is the writing I do solely for the sake of writing that has gained my attention. This is because of how I have managed to achieve, to a degree, through writing what I have yet to achieve through my other meditation form.
In simply writing and writing onto a page in a book, my mind seems to be able to unfocused and achieve a near meditative state that allows my thoughts free reign. On a personal level this is important because this writing approach is a method that I know gets me very close to what I have felt in my sole ‘successful normal meditation’. Although this writing meditation is useful for the way in which ideas rise to the surface of my mind, it also helps me become used to the feeling of myself when I am in that state (or near to it). As something to practice as an aside to my regular meditation it is invaluable for the preparatory mental state that I can achieve. In a regular meditation, less so of late (but only slightly), I don’t feel as though I am achieving that state that is ostensibly the aim or function of meditating. Like a previous article went through I am perhaps overly conscious of the effect my thoughts can have on what I am trying to do but by the same token, there is a purpose to meditating that I’ve yet to really achieve in my regular approach. That regular approach too, is something that requires additional consideration.
Because of how the modern world has come to be, the idea of meditation that we currently have and hold tend to be primarily based on an Eastern foundation. Sub-continental Indian and Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) as well as South-East Asian (Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian, Thai, Indonesian) and Tibetan approaches to meditation have become the most prominent ‘paths to meditation’ – almost to a fault. Even the word meditation is rooted, at least from a certain point in time in the West, in the practices of the East. However, though a particular style of meditation has become exceedingly prevalent it is certainly detrimental in that there is small focus on other disciplines that could also be called meditation. The idea of mental discipline or mental ‘working out’ is not one that is restricted to the East. Which raises the question of what there is such a powerful focus on the Eastern meditative approach. In part I think that it is part of the ‘Other is Sexier’ or ‘the grass is greener’ mentality; that the idea the something foreign and exotic is better than what is, metaphorically speaking, in your own backyard. While there are clear merits to learning from other cultures, it is a flawed mental process to think that Eastern philosophies are the sole source of meditative techniques. Certainly the East raised the act of meditation to an art form, turning the very act itself into a discipline rather than treating it as part of a discipline or praxis. Nevertheless I cannot help but think that it devalues much of the idea of Paganism and Heathenry to not seek out meditative techniques based elsewhere than the East.
Shamanism and the trance techniques that the broad spectrum of Shamanism is attributed with are one good example of meditative techniques that stem from a different principle. Icelandic practices from the Dark Ages and onwards developed/became Galdr and Seiðr, what little accurate historical accounts are available for Druidry give a decent impression that certain foods were consumed as the beinning of trances, Salvik and related Shamanistic practicies, as well as many others, are well known for their use of drums. Islamic [check] Whirling Dervishes are reknowned for their ecstatic meditation teachnique and Christianity and Judaism, as well as Islam in general, have used prayer in various ways for meditative processes. Based on this, the idea of meditation could be said to have entered the Western consciousnes (as opposed to its subconsciousness) on the Eastern princple of Stillness or Absence, overriding the toher pre-existing meditative principles of Trance and Ecstasy. Because of the almost Romantic lense that Eastern meditation is viewed through, and has been viewed through for a long time, that single appraoch has become the dominant meditative principle. Nevertheless there remains at least two other principles that are desrving of equal attention.