Author: susantara

The Best of 2015: A Tea Meditation

The Best of 2015: A Tea Meditation

Barely a week and a half into the New Year, I’m feeling a sense of hopeful momentum supported by unprecedented planning, organization, and support. This year, I’m taking life up a notch. I want to play with possibility and see what kind of magic I can tap into that I’ve been shutting out until now. I intend to break the mold, and it’s exciting.

Part of being intentional about planning for the new year is reflecting on the previous year. I’ve been taking inventory of what did and didn’t work, lessons I’ve learned, how I was transformed, what I discovered about myself, etc. At the top of my list of 2015 successes is what I call my “tea meditation,” and I want to share it with you.

The tea meditation is inspired by Michelle Martin Dobbins’ Daily Alchemy blog post on Making “Love Tea” and a breath practice that my spiritual director recommended when I went  on retreat in the fall. It’s really simple and is a meditation that I actually look forward to every day because it feels amazing and is a remedy for when you experience a sense of emptiness or lack or if you simply want to cultivate a certain inner quality or energy.

What is it that you long for? That you feel you lack and might try to acquire in unhealthy or unproductive (and perhaps unconscious) ways? In this mediation, you will focus on that – on really feeling it and then (literally) drinking it in. I focused on love/nurturing, and as a result of doing this meditation regularly for three months, the grief and emptiness I felt stuck in last year has transformed into a sense of wholeness and completeness – a feeling of being tapped into an eternal Source of Love from which I can radiate and source love for others. In other words, I have gone from seeking love to being love and am so grateful for this miraculous shift! Now I am focusing more on abundance (which is my sacred word for the year). But if I feel shaky about love and experience myself seeking or longing for it, I’ll return to it.

You can perform this meditation with tea, water, juice, or any beverage that feels truly nourishing to you. I like to use tea because when the tea bag is steeping in the hot water, it helps me to imagine that the quality or feeling I want to develop is infusing the water.

You might want to dedicate a special mug for this ritual. I chose one that felt right to me, and then my daughter gifted me a mug that she decorated by hand and which therefore means a lot to me, so now I have two. (If you’re looking for a special mug, check out what my talented cousin, Chris, has to offer! )

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Here’s how you do it: While the tea is steeping, hold the mug in your hands, and imagine that whatever you long for most and feel is lacking in your life is being put into it. (Since I focus on abundance, I’ll use that as an example.) See the word itself going into the water, and concentrate on generating a feeling of (abundance). This might involve visualizing yourself manifesting a certain goal, recalling a memory in which you felt a sense of abundance, or imagining how someone who embodies abundance might feel. Put all that good stuff in your cup! Become attuned to the frequency of abundance while the tea is steeping, for at least five minutes. Focus as completely as possible. Really feel it. (It feels quite amazing!)

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When your beverage has cooled down or you feel ready, start sipping it, and imagine that the vibration of abundance (for example) is going into you and becoming part of you. Feel the warm liquid entering you and spreading through your body. Allow what you seek to fill you!

When I experience the vibration of abundance during this meditation, I often have insights about what attitudes, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors support or restrict the flow of abundance in my life. Sometimes it simply feels wonderful and empowering and raises my vibration. When I’m in that state, whatever is not in harmony with that vibration falls away. It doesn’t resonate. And sometimes I receive encouraging signs.

For example, one morning I was feeling very much attuned to the vibrational frequency of abundance and was really feeling it. Then, in the middle of the meditation, I heard a cha-ching! notification from my Etsy shop that I made a sale! When I heard the sound, I glanced at my phone and saw that it was 11:11 – a time that holds special meaning for me! It felt quite magical and validated that I’m on the right vibrational frequency to attract abundance.

In a recent blog post, I shared instructions for making “spirit lanterns” to illuminate aspirations and intentions for the upcoming year. If you made one, your tea meditation could focus on one of the words on your lantern – whichever one feels most relevant and essential to cultivate at this time. Focus on that word for a month, and see if anything shifts or changes. Focus in depth on the quality you feel you’re lacking. Totally focus on it. Experience it. In other words (borrowing from my previous post): Feel transformed. When you do, you’ll find that you’re not lacking anymore!

I truly look forward to sitting on my cushion and doing my tea meditation. It feels so good to get in the vibrational state of actually feeling and radiating the quality that I want to attract or cultivate – to feel that I already have it. To really drink it in and feel whole, complete…and transformed.

© 2016 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

 

A Magical Walk in the Park

A Magical Walk in the Park

Today I want to share an intriguing snippet from a truly magical (yet utterly ordinary) day.

The magic moment happened when I was taking an afternoon walk after filling up a few water jugs at a spring in the park. As I waited for the jugs to fill, I sat in my car and read a few pages from a book I’ve been working my way through for the past few weeks. The passage was about the importance of being receptive to, rather than blocking, the well-being that flows in our direction and the role of emotions in gauging whether we are allowing or restricting that flow. It’s an idea I’ve really been focusing on and experimenting with lately.

It was cold outside, and I had been planning to exercise at the gym. However, something told me to take a walk in the park instead – and to strap on my camera gear. And for some reason, I found myself walking in the opposite direction from my usual route. As I walked, I thought about how amazing it is that, at this dark time of year, I feel so light! I felt wonderful and contemplated the importance of feeling what we desire as if it already were actualized. Regardless of what happens in the future, feeling good is a reward in and of itself and is well worth cultivating!

I gravitated toward the Gideon Putnam Hotel, where I captured a few images that had commanded my attention. Then my intuition nudged me to turn around and look behind me because there might be something even more incredible there that I’d miss with my back turned to it.

So I did, and here’s what greeted me:

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Feel transformed. Those two words summarized as succinctly as possible exactly what I was experiencing and contemplating! The message felt unambiguously like a nod from the Universe confirming that I’m on the right track. I was dazzled! What are the chances of that happening – receiving such a clear “sign”?

I walked some more, energized and inspired by what had just happened. And eventually I felt compelled to write a love note in the snow about magical moments. The shadows make it a little hard to read the words in the photo below, but I wrote: “PAY ATTENTION. You might stumble upon Magic!”

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Before I finished writing the word magic, a woman came along and read what I’d written so far and asked me what “you might stumble upon.” I told her, and then she wanted to know what it meant, so I explained it. It seemed like we were both open and receptive channels of communication at that moment and formed an instant connection. It turns out that we had several things in common. Like me, she recently had left a job that was very unhealthy for her and was looking for new work opportunities. We went on to talk about a book we both love, and she shared with me a simple, holistic remedy for an ailment familiar to both of us. I found it interesting that the remedy was something I intuitively have been practicing for several months now, but with an extra step that just might make a difference. From talking with her, I also was reminded to explore a healing modality that I had been curious about but hadn’t yet tapped into.

By the end of my walk, I felt so uplifted from receiving a sign, expressing love (which in turn might be a sign for someone else to discover), and what I imagine was a mutually beneficial interaction between this woman and me.

That’s what it feels like to be open to the flow of well-being. When you’re open and allowing it (and following intuition seems to be part of the equation), magic moments tend to arise! Or maybe they are constantly happening, but we don’t notice when we have our heads down or are otherwise impeding the flow.

The magical snippet I described above happened within the context of an absolutely magical 24-hour period of ordinary moments supercharged by what felt like being aligned with a higher vibrational frequency. That alignment seems to happen when I feel good and rested and walk around radiating love, feeling grateful for what I have, and envisioning hopeful dreams for the future. In that mind-space, the chance meetings, signs, inspirations, and possibilities that take shape leave me expecting life to be juicy and abundant. I feel connected to and supported by the universe, and such feelings enhance the present moment and shape the future. The bottom line is: It feels good! So when these moments come along, I drop everything and write about them, to remember what they feel like. And I share them, to remind you, too, of how extraordinary life can be when you engage the magic!

© 2016 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

Spirit Lanterns: Illuminating Aspirations

Spirit Lanterns: Illuminating Aspirations

Happy New Year, everyone!

I’ve been busy planning and setting intentions for 2016 and am stoked to discover a wealth of resources for manifesting goals! I feel like I’ve tapped into a mother load of resources, which brings to mind the adage, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Teachers and active support networks of women coming together virtually to inspire and encourage one another!

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working with a tremendously creative and inspiring tool: Leonie Dawson’s  2016 Create Your Shining Year in Life workbook.

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This workbook is so full of goodness that it would be impossible to describe it with only a few headlines or examples! It begins with wrapping up and reflecting on the previous year and includes a page to list everything you’re grateful for from 2015, which is a great exercise because gratitude is key for moving forward! The rest of the workbook focuses on creating a shining new year in all areas of life by setting inspired goals and listing resources you have to support you along the way. (My favorite page is the self-created list of “Things to Do When Everything Sucks!”) There are pages for affirmations, mottos, and plenty of space for creating a dream board. I’m having so much fun (with my colored Sharpies) brainstorming and imagining, setting intentions and goals, breaking goals into actionable steps, and writing the steps in my day planner. It’s something I can look back at throughout the year to help me stay on track. I’ve never done anything like this before and think it will be a catalyst for serious growth.

I anticipate that various pages in this workbook will inspire blog material throughout the year, but for now I want to start with something simple: choosing a “sacred word for the year”.

When I was teaching, I’d create an elaborate binder for each school year to keep me focused on what was most important and in alignment with my core values and aspirations. The cover of the binder featured a picture embellished with my word for the year. The word served as a compass to help me navigate the year. Since the binder also housed my weekly lesson plans for the whole year, I saw the cover every day and was reminded constantly of the intention I set for the year. It was a powerful tool!

So choosing a “sacred word for the year” was not something new. Before choosing my word for 2016, I made a list of words to consider. I kept the list in my phone and added to it whenever something new came to mind. I finally decided on abundance. Yes, I think it’s high time to expand my horizon and focus on that word!

Truth is, I never made money a priority in my life and was never intentional about it. Money was not something I considered when it came to choosing either a college major or a spouse. It simply didn’t show up on my radar. I lived simply and with some creativity learned how to live on very little. But since resigning from my teaching job, I’ve been doing some conscious work on my attitudes and beliefs about money because I think I’ve been selling myself short and cutting myself off from the flow. Lately, I’ve been stretching myself to use my brain in ways that are entirely new to me and realize that developing a healthy “money mindset” is critical. It seems clear that all my life, the attitudes I’ve held toward money have obstructed the flow of prosperity in my life. Now I am curious about this energy and feel inspired to experiment with it and see what I can do with a friendlier attitude toward it. So I’m working first and foremost on raising my “money vibration,” which goes hand in hand with pursuing professional opportunities.

But abundance isn’t only about money. It applies to all areas of life, and gratitude seems to be a fundamental part of it – which is why it felt so worthwhile to make a list of everything I was grateful for in 2015. This year, I intend to be conscious about how I am either allowing or cutting myself off from the flow of abundance in my life. To keep my sacred word front and center, I am printing the photograph below and mounting a small print on both the refrigerator and the inside cover of my daily planner and a larger, framed print on the wall of my work space.

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To supercharge my word for the year, I identified what habits and actions will draw more of the quality of abundance into my life. I also created a unique lantern for my meditation space with my sacred word and several other words to (literally) illuminate my aspirations and intentions for the upcoming year. This includes qualities that I anticipate will be useful to have in my toolbox for the year, to support what I want to accomplish. Words to uplift and inspire me when things don’t go the way I want them to. Reminders to help me stay on track.

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Here is another view of my multi-colored lantern:

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And here is a Spirit Lantern I made several years ago that ended up being a powerful manifestation tool back when I was pursuing a teaching job in a competitive job market:

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I’ve received numerous requests to share instructions for making Spirit Lanterns, so here goes!

Materials:

  • smooth glass jar or straight vase (I like to repurpose 16-oz. salsa jars)
  • sheet of handmade/natural/mulberry paper from an art or paper store (either a large sheet or a few 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets)
  • Mod Podge (either matte or glossy)
  • paintbrush or foam brush
  • inkjet or laser printer
  • a few sheets of regular copy paper
  • tape or glue stick
  • glitter (optional)
  • silver and/or gold Sharpie pen (optional)
  • sparkly star stickers (optional)
  • charms
  • thread
  • hot glue gun and a few glue sticks
  • ribbon, raffia, or twine

Instructions:

Step One: Brainstorm, Layout, and Print Your Words

  1. Brainstorm and select the words you want to include on your lantern. For best results, limit your list to no more than 12 words.
  2. In a word processing program, type out your list of words, leaving space between each word. (Eventually, you will rip out each word by hand, so you’ll want to leave enough space to do so.) Use whatever font(s) please you. At times, I’ve used a variety of fonts for one lantern. Other times, I’ve only used one font (and think I like this effect best). I prefer to use a calligraphy or script font, such as Caflisch Script (a free download).
  3. Test print your words on a sheet of regular copy paper to make sure the words are the right size.
  4. Print your words on a sheet of mulberry or handmade paper. I recommend cutting this paper a little smaller than a regular sheet of 8 1/2″ x 11″ copy paper and then either taping or using a glue stick around the edges to adhere the mulberry paper to the regular copy paper so the delicate paper won’t get eaten by your printer. In the past, I’ve been able to print directly on the mulberry paper, but the printer I have now is too rough for such delicate paper. Use the “best” print quality setting.
  5. After printing onto the mulberry paper, detach it from the copy paper.
  6. Tear each word out by hand, leaving as little paper around the words as possible without tearing into the word. If there are difficult to tear fibers, use scissors to cut through them, and then continue tearing.

Step Two: Prepare and Cover Your Jar

  1. Begin by cleaning your jar and removing any label residue if you’re repurposing it. (Goo Gone does the job well.) Make sure the jar is dry before proceeding.
  2. Cut your decorative paper to a size that will cover your jar with some excess left over. You will want the paper to extend about 1/8″ above the rim, and a couple inches beyond the bottom (to cover the bottom surface).
  3. Paint the entire outside of the jar with Mod Podge.
  4. Cover the jar with the decorative paper. Smooth it out as completely as you can. Try to have as little overlap as possible where the two ends of the paper meet, but make sure there’s no gap. If there’s a gap or you don’t like the way the overlap looks, you could run a strip of matching washi tape vertically along the seam. Trim the paper so it’s flush with the top rim of the jar.
  5. Cut slits in the paper that will allow it to cover the bottom of the jar, and carefully fold the slits over the bottom so it is covered completely. Smooth it out as much as possible. If you end up not having enough excess on the bottom to cover it completely, you can cut out a circle nearly the size of the diameter and adhere it.

Step Three: Embellish Your Lantern with Words, Charms, and Other Details

  1. Apply Mod Podge to the places where you want your words. Smooth out the words.
  2. When all your words are adhered to the lantern, paint over the entire lantern with a coat of Mod Podge. Let dry.
  3. At this point, you can embellish the lantern with designs and/or stickers. I love to take out my metallic Sharpies for this and make spirals! You might want to decorate with a few shiny star stickers.
  4. Cover with another coat of Mod Podge, and let dry. I like to sprinkle some fine glitter in the Mod Podge for the final coat!
  5. If you are using charms, attach each one to a few inches of fine thread. Find places for them to hang so they are not covering any words. Put a dab of hot glue near the top of the rim, and attach a thread to the glue so the charm dangles in the space where you want it. Do the same for the remaining charms.
  6. Use hot glue to secure ribbon, raffia, or twine around the top of the lantern, to cover any threads in the glass (that allow the lids to screw on).
  7. Place a tea light or votive inside the lantern (inside a small votive holder if you wish), and enjoy and reflect on your illuminated words!

I recently listed Spirit Lanterns for sale in my Etsy shop, so if you’d like one but don’t feel like making one on your own, I’d love to create a customized lantern for you using your sacred words for the year and/or even an inspirational quote!

© 2016 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

Sculptures of Light

Sculptures of Light

One of my favorite quotes from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is: “Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms, you would never see the true beauty of their carvings.” Similarly, Michelangelo claimed he saw the angel in the marble and carved until he set him free. The metaphor of carving and sculpting really speaks to me after receiving discouraging health news from a close loved one last week. Perhaps this is why I have experienced my departed mother’s spirit so active around me in recent weeks – most recently in a strong fragrance of lilacs that arose out of nowhere when I was walking outdoors in solitude and stopped for a moment to record an insight. And I have been hearing her loving voice in my mind more clearly than ever. I have no doubt that she is making her presence known to give me comfort and strength, not only for myself but also so I can source it for others.

Hearts are a mystery. Sometimes we feel our heart is enduring one hard knock after another, as if it’s being hammered. We feel we can’t take yet another blow because we’re still stinging from the last one. But perhaps what’s really happening is Life – in its role as Divine Sculptor – is carving us with each purposeful blow of the hammer to reveal the love we are at our core that is concealed within the rough stone of ego. Each strike of the hammer or scrape of the chisel dislodges another chunk of our false, limited self, revealing the radiance within.

This kind of perception allows us to handle loss and heartache with grace, for we realize we are getting closer to our true nature rather than believe we are losing something essential to our wholeness.

Are we losing more of our self with each blow? Yes, but it’s the false self that masks the more authentic Self. The block of ego is the only thing being diminished – and refined. It’s happening in the process of liberating our True Self and our true beauty. We are not being diminished. We are magnificent masterpieces waiting to be revealed. Sculptures of light.

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Perhaps our hearts are not as fragile as we sometimes think after receiving another tough blow. Perhaps the only pieces we can lose are the pieces that are not essential to our wholeness and need to be chipped away because they block the exquisite expression of our inner light.

Thy will be done. And may we trust the process and continue to shine.

I have a friend who is a brilliant sculptor. My favorite of all her pieces is one that was born from great personal loss. Before I learned the story behind the sculpture, I felt its power and was drawn to it. All her work is amazing, but this particular masterpiece is infused with pure spirit. When I imagine the creative process through which she manifested the vision she knew was waiting to be revealed in that block of clay, I conclude that it must have been holy. And I imagine the creative process that is shaping each of us is every bit as holy.

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At times this year, I’ve felt more anguished than I can remember ever feeling in my life. But the whole time – even when I felt the heaviness deep down in my bones – I sensed that the hurt didn’t go very deep, that all was well at the core, and that I had a great opportunity to heal some longstanding patterns. I cried, prayed, and did some hard, honest work – and it still hurt so much! It was such a humbling experience! But then one day, I woke up and finally knew what it felt like to be healed. A shift had taken place, and I had to bow to the miraculous forces at work in my life – the blows that seemed to come from every direction at once and hurt so much at the time but served a greater purpose. So at the end of this very difficult year, I feel stronger and more peaceful than ever and consider 2015 a year of incredible growth and empowerment. The pieces that were chipped away were not integral to my wholeness. They were illusions, ego, and false perceptions and beliefs I organized my life around that needed to be dislodged. The perfect storm that tore through my life was a catalyst for pivotal growth and refinement. I learned so much, generated even more compassion, and activated some energy that had been latent all my life. And now when I look in the mirror (so to speak), I marvel at the beauty of the carvings thus far.

Perhaps the final or biggest blows are not cruel or sad but ultimately are the most loving, skillful, and productive ones that finally and completely liberate the angel that has lived inside us all along: our true and most beautiful nature. I recall when my mom was dying, and her personality, ego, and form became so thin, allowing her formless essence to shine through more clearly and brightly than ever until it seemed she was pure essence.

And so another quote from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross comes to mind:

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

Even when we navigate circumstances that feel painful on a personal, human level, may our journey unfold against a spiritual backdrop that reminds us to be grateful for everything that allows our spirit to shine with greater clarity and brilliance.

© 2015 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

Floatation Restoration (Part Two)

Floatation Restoration (Part Two)

It’s been a while since I’ve written about floating in a float tank (after my first experience back in April). Seven months later, I have several floats under my belt and derive so many benefits from floating that I want to write about it again! (Before proceeding, you might want to click HERE to read my previous article so you know what I’m talking about in the first place.)

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Assuming you now know what a float tank is, I won’t go into any greater detail than to say it’s a sensory deprivation tank that is filled with about ten inches of heavily salted water that makes you completely buoyant without having to do anything whatsoever to stay afloat. There’s a dim light inside the tank that you can leave on if you want to, but I don’t see any point in doing so because I always float with my eyes closed – and you wouldn’t want a drop of very salty water to fall into your eyes if any condensation accumulates on the ceiling.  You step inside the tank, close the door (or keep it slightly propped with a towel if it helps you feel more comfortable), turn off the light (if you want to), and float effortlessly on your back. And then your journey in dark and silent nothingness begins!

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Though people’s float tank experiences differ, there are some themes that have been quite consistent for me before, during, and after floating. Oftentimes before floating, I feel flustered because there’s so much I feel I need to do. There’s just not enough time for everything I want and “need” to do, and I feel a great deal of pressure to accomplish it all. It feels so important.

But inside the float tank, the sense of urgency and pressure melts away and doesn’t matter. There’s nothing so critical that I should allow it to disturb my repose, and I’m able to let go of any anxiety and urgency around my to-do list. Floating in a sensory deprivation tank puts everything into perspective, and my attitude softens into: Just do what you can do! It’s not the end of the world if I don’t get everything done that I think I need to do today.  I’m able to see the small stuff for what it is, and much unnecessary activity falls away. Then I emerge feeling ever so calm and aware of what I really do need to prioritize (i.e. purging my living space!). It’s like pushing a supreme reset button in there. You come out with a clearer sense of what’s important, liberated from what was weighing on you when you went in. You emerge completely reset. Or at least that’s my experience!

Inside the float tank, I find that no thoughts are compelling. I’m simply not interested in thought! I feel like a cell with an impermeable membrane that nothing of this world can penetrate. Thoughts don’t carry any kind of emotional charge when I’m in there. They arise. But they’re not interesting. And they go away. It’s incredibly refreshing! It’s like blowing soap bubbles. They float in the air for a few seconds and then gently pop, and – poof! – there’s no more bubble. It simply disappeared.

Instead of fixating on thought, I focus on the sensation of relaxation and effortless suspension, without anything solid underneath me (which is something you really don’t experience any other time).

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Out of the tank, I try to practice 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation every day. For the first five minutes, I focus on my breath. The next five minutes, I expand my focus to physical sensations. Then listening. Then thoughts. Then all of the above. Being in the float tank for 90 minutes is very much like an hour and a half of mindfulness meditation. Inside the tank, there is no sound except for my deep, steady breathing (which is quite audible), so mindful breathing and listening are completely intertwined. That’s what I focus on the whole time (because with my ears immersed in the water, my breathing is quite loud), along with the sensation of complete relaxation. And I get deeply relaxed in there. I am talking about serious theta brainwaves!

It’s incredible to have no interest whatsoever in thinking! I keep returning to the sound of my breath – which is very slow, rhythmic, and calming – and to the sheer sensation of complete relaxation and suspension. Floating is the only time I experience that, and it’s what I want to focus on in the tank. It really is incredible. I feel the energy in my inner body. I’m not aware of my physical boundaries. I feel so light, and nothing physical matters or even registers. (There’s no gravity, temperature, or sensory input to process. Can you imagine that?) Everything, from the top of my head to the tip of my toes, is completely relaxed. Immersing myself in that sensation of extreme and complete relaxation is really all I want to notice or attend to in there. It’s all that seems to matter. Sheer presence devoid of sensory input.

My experiences in the float tank pose the question: Who am I removed from everything else? Who I am is energy and peace.

Here’s an example of the difference between my post-float and ordinary consciousness: After floating, I turn my phone back on and see that there are text messages and notifications from social media. But there’s barely even a hint of curiosity or interest around that. I’m not looking for communications or information to enhance my life in any way or to add anything to my reality because I am absolutely complete right now. I don’t need anything at all – from anybody. There’s really no need to check my phone in the first place. Nothing can contribute to my experience right now. It’s awesome to feel absolutely complete, fulfilled, and tranquil.

I really appreciate the sensory deprived environment because I am quite sensitive to sensory overload in general. I don’t have a TV and find it extremely jarring when the television is on when I’m away from home. The same is true when I go to a mainstream movie theater and have to sit through pre-show entertainment and trailers. It’s too loud and over the top! I also experience sensory overload in shopping malls and at crowded places and events. And forget bars! I can’t handle anything about that environment and have avoided them my entire life! Even when I taught kindergarten and spent the day steeped in the energy of a classroom of active, young children, I needed to lock my door, turn off the lights, and decompress/meditate next to my soothing water fountain when they were out of the room, to recharge my batteries for the rest of the day.  For me, the quieter and simpler the environment, the more at ease I feel. So I am totally in my element in a float tank.

From my experience, it seems the state of mind you bring into that float tank shapes your experience. There was only one time when I didn’t have a pleasant float. It was in late May heading into the weekend of the anniversary of my mom’s death. I was in a great deal of emotional pain at that time, fraught with raw grief, and the sensory deprived environment just made me more aware of the illusion of separation between me and everything else. It was the exact opposite of what I’ve experienced every other time I floated and was only because I was in such a fragile state of mind at the time. In the tank, I experienced the urge to be connected to the living world and couldn’t handle being alone. I turned on the light at one point just to feel anchored to something instead of surrendering to the usually deep and fulfilling nothingness of the tank environment.

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But that experience provided me with some insight about what it must be like to die – which was totally relevant to the anniversary of my mom’s death and re-experiencing the days and hours leading up to it. I remember thinking that when you die, you want to be in a place of resolution. You don’t want to have unfinished business or deep, dark secrets festering inside because something like that could make it really hard to let go. I recall when my grandfather was dying and kept repeating an agitated cycle in which he looked up at the ceiling, exclaimed his (still living) sister’s name, and stated with urgency, “I’ve got to get out of here!” It seemed there was something important he needed to tell his sister before he could give in to the process and die a peaceful death. I advised my mom and uncle to contact her and see if she could talk with him on the phone. They were unable to reach her, told him so, and asked if they could convey a message for him. After hearing that, he fell silent. The cycle stopped, and he died a couple of hours later. I always wondered what was so important that caused him to fixate on her during the final hours of his life. Was their last interaction discordant? Did he need her forgiveness? Did he have information he needed to share with her? Was he worried about her? He took that mystery with him to the grave, but one thing was certain: Something related to her was getting in the way of him being at peace.

My takeaway is that when everything is stripped away from us – and death is a process of stripping away everything we think we are and believe we need until we’re left with just our core essence – where you are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually is what matters. I imagine it can be terrifying if you’re not in a place of acceptance. You don’t want to get to the end when you’re leaving this life and think that you’re not a “good” person or didn’t live a “good” life, or worry about loved ones. You want to go out with a sense of integrity, reconciliation, and peace. When that stripping away happens, you cannot hide from yourself. Your world becomes progressively smaller, and you enter a cocooning process that seems similar to being in a float tank. There are so many distractions in this world that allow you to hide. But there are no distractions in the float tank. My May float signaled that my emotional “pain body” was so strong that I couldn’t let go and access deeper layers of consciousness that day.

Having no distractions and connecting with deeper layers of consciousness is something I absolutely love about the float tank. Removed from sensory input, the daily stress and all the other dust that has accumulated at the surface dissolves, allowing me to go deeper, like an astronaut floating in the vast universe of inner space. It is an experience of incredible lightness, even in complete darkness. Even when I float on cloudy days, after leaving the float spa, I feel like I’m shining like a sun – because it seems light is what I am at my core when all else is removed. It’s what I find in the deep nothingness.

In the tank, there’s just me, the steady rhythm of my breath, the incredible sensation of relaxation and suspension, and freedom from thought, emotions, and any sense of urgency. It is tremendously therapeutic, relaxing, and simply awesome.

© 2015 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

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