Mermaid Tree

Exploring the complex, celebrating the simple

Lift A Stone and You Will Find Me June 9, 2012

The idea that Spirit is all around us is found in many different spiritual traditions (the title for this post came from the Gospel of Thomas, for example, but there are many other sacred texts that speak of how God is everywhere).  Sometimes it can be easy to take for granted the beauty in nature, and forget how amazing our planet really is.  Summer is a great time to take advantage of the nice weather and get more in touch with Earth and Mother Nature.  The time between Beltane and Litha is full of bursting energy and vitality everywhere! Just taking a walk in appreciation of the beauty and peace that exists on our planet can sometimes be all you need to feel refreshed or relaxed. If you are by yourself, try an “active” meditation, where you allow your thoughts to clear and then try to focus on seeing/sensing the energy emanating from the grass, trees, flowers, animals, etc around you. Feel your connection with all of Nature as you move through it. This connection is never broken, just sometimes forgotten. If you are with someone, try to focus your conversation on what you see around you, instead of on work, family, or financial issues you may be dealing with.

Not sure where to go? If you live in the Southeast region of America, try starting by checking out one or all of the following places below:

Smith Gilbert Gardens

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Found in Kennesaw, GA, the Smith Gilbert Gardens are a little off the main road.  Though small compared to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, its secluded location allows for much fewer crowds and a better chance of a more personal experience in connecting to Spirit through the beauty of its foliage and artistic sculpture dispersed throughout.  Cost is low, but varies depending on if you go on a day when there is an event or guest speaker.  Along with the peaceful path through trees, bushes, and flowers, the gardens also include two koi ponds, a waterfall, and a bonsai tree collection.  If you are in the metro-Atlanta or North Georgia area, I highly recommend visiting the Smith Gilbert Gardens for a relaxing afternoon in seek of Spirit.

Chattanooga

Chattanooga, Tennessee is a surprisingly eclectic and artsy city with plenty of things to do to fill a day trip or full weekend stay.  While I did enjoy the museums and I’ve heard the aquarium is worth visiting, the monument commemorating the beginning of the Trail of Tears made the biggest impact on me.  I did a brief meditation at each station and connected with the tiled Native American symbols that are part of the monument.  It is a beautiful and contemplative place, though it was a bit busy on the day I went.  Walking along the river, you can read about the history of the area on plaques while enjoying the blend of water and earth elements.  There are also river cruise opportunities!

Daytona Beach Pier

The city of Daytona Beach, FL has recently taken over the pier and done a huge renovation.  As it is a very popular tourist destination, this is not necessarily the place for a quiet meditation on the beauty of the water.  It is, however, a great, inexpensive way to connect to the element of water through the ocean.  There are many hotels lining the beach that can fit any budget and Daytona is one of the last beaches in the country that you can still drive on, allowing you to just park on the sand, take the chairs out of the trunk, and enjoy the sun.  The pier goes pretty far out into the water, which is why I recommend walking to the end (beware of fishing lines being throne in random directions!) and just losing yourself in the rhythm of the waves and the tide.  I hope the city continues to update the area, but until then I would say the pier is your best bet for some nature-bonding time.  If you are looking for something a little less crowded, try Flagler Beach in St. Augustine, found a little ways north of Daytona.  The historic downtown area is full of metaphysically-minded people and the beach is much less popular for out-of-state tourists.

Rock City

Rock City, Georgia is set high in the mountains on the boarder of Georgia and Tennessee.  It consists of a beautiful walking trail through rock formations, with some surprises along the way.  At the trail’s highest point, you can see seven states on a clear day.  The picture above is of the waterfall called Lover’s Leap, named after two young Native Americans who could not be together due to tribal disagreements.  They both leaped off the rocks to be together in eternity.  To read the full story and see all that Rock City has to offer, I recommend taking the scenic drive up to this theme-park type attraction.  There are plenty of places to stop, sit, and contemplate the beauty surrounding you as well.  This is a very unique place and definitely worth visiting, if only for its unexpected whimsical nature, involving gnomes and Mother Goose.

Of course, you don’t have to travel to anywhere new to connect with Earth. Visit a local park or just go into your backyard (if you have one) and look around. Take a walk around your neighborhood or visit a local lake, river, or ocean. Or, buy an indoor plant for your home and connect with its energy.

Please share with us your experiences at the above places as well as any new suggestions for where to go in a comment below!

All photos in this article were taken by the author in 2012.  Thank you for respecting her ownership of these images by not reproducing them.

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Ways to maintain your meditation practice November 18, 2009

 

In your outer life

If you can feel

consciously and soulfully happy

Even while doing

Ordinary, mundane things,

God will consider this

Your real meditation

~Sri Chinmoy

 

We all go through rough patches.  Life gets busy and stressful, and that can affect our ability/desire to meditate.  Worrying about work or school, trying to stave off a cold, and trying to plan life in general, does not exactly create a Zen mood that is conducive to meditation.  So maybe you tell yourself that you’ll meditate when you “have more time.”  Go ahead…raise your hand if you’ve done that.  *raises hand!*  Well, like me, you’ve probably found that this can lead to loooong periods of not meditating at all because you keep thinking you’ll be able to find time the next day.

What would really help, is if you do something simple every day (or every other day) to keep your spiritual life healthy.  So, the next time you get stuck, try using some of the methods discussed below to help maintain your meditation practice. 

  • Work with something that you connect with easily and that you enjoy using. For me it’s usually crystals and tarot. Even when I have trouble meditating, I just lay down with a crystal (or several) and let them do their thing!  When you are stressed, try not to do too many actual tarot readings because it’s hard to stay objective; and you might just end up confusing yourself more. Instead, you can pull a card each morning and meditate on that card. It helps give you some focus and guidance during the day.  (If you aren’t comfortable using the Tarot, you can purchase Oracle cards.  Some of them have messages written on them are especially good for daily guidance.)
  • Light candles instead of turning on the lights.(But make sure you don’t end up straining your eyes.  Go ahead and use a lamp if you’re going to read!)  Candlelight is always so soothing, and it puts you into a relaxed and receptive state. So even if you don’t meditate, your consciousness is still being brought into a state of openness and creativity. Just think of the Goddess Brigid’s flames of inspiration. 
  • Write in your journal, or write a letter to God/dess or your Angels.  It’s a wonderful way to sort through your thoughts.  Write what you are grateful for, what you are nervous or fearful about, what you need guidance about.  Write about the big things and the little things.  Just let it all out.  It’s between you and your Spiritual Team (and they love you and want to help you!  Just ask!)
  • Listen to music and dance.  Sound is such a powerful tool.  Ohm:  the sound of creation.  So listen to music that soothes, uplifts and empowers you. Listen to songs that you connect with good memories that’ll make you laugh!  And dance!  Your entire being (including your body) is a manifestation of Spirit’s creative force.  So using your body as a way to connect with the Divine through dance is not wrong.  Dance like a god/dess.  Dance like you are the wind soaring over plains.  Dance like you are a thunderstorm.  Dance by yourself, with your partner, with friend…just dance!  (And of course playing an instrument falls under this category!!!!!!)
  • Pray.  Say the prayers or invocations that make you feel reassured.  Say the Rosary, recite mantras, read the Charge of the God/dess, state affirmations, read from Sacred Texts.  Write your own prayers
  • Make sure you bless your food and water. It really helps. Appreciate and be aware of the food you are putting into your body.  I personally find tea to be incredibly comforting. Plus I love the blend of water and earth! The way the herbs infuse the water and transform it into something else entirely is a magickal process – alchemy. 

These methods don’t require a lot of time, and they can help you regain and maintain your spiritual, emotional and mental balance.  Give it a try!

What other methods do you use to maintain your meditation practice?  Comment below!

 

Art Meditations – The Sensual Surrender to Art September 16, 2009

Filed under: Author: Tree,Uncategorized — Mermaid Tree @ 12:05 pm
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Artwork:The Open Window, Matisse

I realize that art on a spiritual blog may not be quiet expected.  However, it is one of the many mediums that humankind has used over the centuries to reach the Sublime.  I’ve found that looking at art is a way of absorbing the collective creativity and passion of generations before.

The more obvious choices for art meditations would be religious art, and I will definitely be using those later on.  But I wanted to start with a secular piece in order to highlight that Spirit is incorporated into every work.  Every manifestation of Inspiration, Beauty and Creativity is a work of the All Creator.

I am experiencing art in a new way.  As a student of art history I have had the privilege of learning remarkable facts and stories surrounding works of art and the artists who brought them into fruition. When I look at “The Open Window” I realize that there are many things I can tell you about it.  I can give you information about Matisse himself and his companions in the Fauvist movement.  I can tell you the date it was painted and the medium that was used, and what significance it plays in the world of art.  But those things are for the classroom where I learned them.  That time of my life has come to an end and I realize it’s time to see what significance art plays in my world.  How does this painting transcend the limits of time to become an active part of my reality?  It is time to go beyond facts, and beyond the awe of seeing a work of art in person.  In order to grow and truly understand the works I must absorb them into my very psyche; break them down and perceive them through the illumination of my own experiences.

When you do this, the work becomes a personal reflection of your life and your relationship is undeniably intimate.  You understand the work in a way nobody else ever will.  A secret exists between you and the art.  Tangible.  Alluring.  Frightening.  Arousing.  Unforgettable.

Surrender to art and you will forever be changed.

“When I put a green, it is not grass.  When I put a blue, it is not the sky.” ~Henry Matisse

"The Open Window"  Henri Matisse, 1905, Oil on Canvas

"The Open Window" Henri Matisse, 1905, Oil on Canvas

Take the time to meditate on the painting and see what happens.

Pay close attention and analyze as many details as possible.  Be a
critical viewer.  When you have thoroughly examined the painting,
allow yourself to relax and sink into the image.  Don’t consciously
analyze things anymore – just let it flow.  You’ll start to realize
ways in which the painting relates to aspects of your own life.

**There is NO right or wrong way to do this exercise.  Just relax, enjoy and appreciate whatever comes to you.**

If you would like, feel free to read about my own meditation experience:

When I enter “The Open Window” I enter into a world of vitality, potential and serenity.  My Inner Child responds to the bright colors and texture of the brushstrokes.  By connecting with my Inner Child I am able to experience the painting more fully.  It is not just my Middle Self (or Talking Self) that is engaged.

As I am absorbed into the painting I realize how well I resonate with the imagery.  I can place myself in the work.  I am standing just in front of the window.  While it is a beautiful view I am not able to see everything.  I am only capable of seeing the one path in front of me.  In order to see the entire panorama I must move beyond the window.  This is a reflection of a life lesson I must learn.  In order to really see what options are available to me, I must go beyond the limitations I have set for myself.  The window is already open for me, but I must follow through and ACT.  Otherwise I will continue to sit and observe the ships (opportunities) come and go.  It is comfortable to stay inside the room because it is familiar and non-threatening.  Just as in life it is easy to stay where I am because it is familiar.  Even though I might yearn for a change…I might yearn to leave the window and actually find a way to go outside and get on a boat…it is so much easier to stay where I am.  Because when I make a change I am taking a chance and taking charge of my own life.  And that is scary.  What if I make a mistake?  What if I choose the wrong boat (wrong direction to follow)?

Then I realize: even if I choose the wrong boat at least I am still out on the Ocean.  At least I am still having an adventure and can now see all the options and beauty around me.  I am no longer passively watching, but acting and taking chances.  I might have to switch over to many other boats, maybe even take a rest stop on an island somewhere, and then start sailing again to get to my end destination.  But the voyage is necessary and worthwhile.  I use my joy and passion as a compass, and sail on fearlessly.

What was your experience like while meditating on The Open Window?

 

Water: Meditation, Protection, Manifestation September 15, 2009

Filed under: Author: Mermaid — Mermaid Tree @ 12:34 pm
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Along the path of alternative spirituality, I have often remarked to Tree, “It is so expensive to be enlightened!”  I am always joking, of course, because true magick doesn’t need any tools to happen (though they can be very helpful in channeling energy), but it can sometimes feel that way when you are out shopping in the metaphysical stores and all of a sudden your intuition insists on you buying something that is a little out of your price range.  Or, maybe you find the perfect book to explain what has been going on with your meditations and dreams lately, but it seems a bit pricey and you still haven’t paid rent yet…

There is something to be said about working with the basics, though.  As I said, true magick need not all the funds in the world to manifest itself in your life.  It just needs your energy and intention.  Maybe a little bit of focus.  So, here are a few uses for a resource we all have, either flowing nearby or straight from the faucet:  Water!

Meditation     Water can be very useful in meditation, and not just for hydration!  When clearing out the negative energy from your aura, try placing a bowl of water at your feet or simply in front of you.  You can place different crystals in it as well to help in transmuting any energy that you place in the bowl.  Then, starting at your head, slowly work your way down your energetic systems and visualize the negative energy flowing into the bowl.  When you are finished, make sure you transmute the negativity with love energy if did not put any crystals in the bowl and then use it to water some plants. 

Another way to use water in meditation is to mix it with your favorite herbs.  They all have different meanings that can be found in several books and on many websites.  Alternatively, you can mix in the loose leaves from your favorite tea.  Allow the herbs to mix with the bowl of water completely and then use your fingers to “smudge” different energy points on your body with the mixture.  For example, putting some on your third eye could highten your awareness during the meditation.  Or, you could place some on your palms and the bottoms of your feet to open those chakras.  During your meditation, try to feel the herbs at work.  Connect with their energy and try to pull from their individual uses to gain the insight you are seeking in your meditative practice.  This can also be used simply to clear out your energy by using sage in the water (this technique is especially helpful if you are not in a place where you can burn something).

Protection     Water is a great way to transmute negative energy, and what better time to take advantage of that then when we are at our most vulnerable?  If you are having trouble with sleeping due to bad dreams, placing a bowl or water on your bedside table can really help!  I used this technique when I was going through a tough time a few years ago and was just getting frustrated because I wasn’t waking up feeling rested.  It worked really well for me.  I suggest dumping the water down the drain or clearing it of negativity and using it to water plants in the morning. 

Manifestation     As an alternative to all the ways in which words can be used for manifestation, water can also be used to bring things into your life.  I came up with this method during a meditation one night and have since then passed it on to friends in need of some spiritual help.  Once again, start with a bowl of water and clear it of any negative energy.  Then meditate on what you are trying to manifest while holding the bowl with both hands.  Feel the intention flow through your palms and into the water.  If you like, you can even write it down on a piece of paper and place it in the bowl for more help.  Water is great for amplifying energy so by using this method, you will be adding some oomph to your menifestation. Place the bowl by a window.  Now, I connect more with the moon and water is generally very connected to the moon (ocean tides, feminine energy etc.) so I did this at night and allowed the moon’s energy to carry my intentions to the Universe, but if you are more connected to the sun, I say go with that and do it during the day.  If you are giong to use the moon, I suggest doing this during the time leading up to or of the full moon.  I would recommend concentrating on whichever energy you are going to use during your initial intention meditation as well.  You can leave it there for as long as you want or put a new bowl out every day/night.  What is important is that the intention is set and you have sent out into the Universe what you would like the manifest.  Sometimes it may seem pointless, but trust me, the Universe is listening!  I cannot even count how many times this has been proven to me over and over again in my life.

 

Do you have any other spiritual uses for water?  Are there any techniques that use basic tools you would like to share with other readers?  Comment below!

 

Meditation With Lyrics September 13, 2009

Filed under: Author: Mermaid — Mermaid Tree @ 5:20 pm
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In the first Poem of the Week post, I mentioned how powerful words can be in practicing manifestation (search for “Art Psalms” to read the full article), but they can also be used in lyric form to aid in the meditation process.  Traditionally, meditative music is considered to be instrumental or to have a guide’s voice recorded over it in order to keep the listener focused.  Secular music heard every day on the radio isn’t usually considered useful in entering a meditative state or vibrating at a higher spiritual level.  Words that are normally used to aid in meditation are chants, repeated over and over again until you become part of the sound, but sometimes we are so familiar with the lyrics of a song that they are like a chant, exclaiming our emotions mixed with melody. 

The next time you are having trouble meditating or if you are looking for a change in your spiritual routine, I recommend going through your cds and playlists for a song you know completely by heart (generally, unexpected sounds can jar someone from a meditative state) both lyrically and musically.  It doesn’t matter if the song has a strong beat or a soft, slow tune, as long as you are familiar with it inside and out and can connect to the emotions portrayed, it will do.  You can even use the soundtrack to your favorite movie!  Try putting it on repeat or making a playlist full of songs that meet that description, though be aware of the transitions between songs.  This is supposed to aid in meditation, not make it more difficult.

Start by laying down or sitting in a comfortable position, as always, and try closing your eyes and resisting to urge to sing along or move to the beat.  Clear your mind and try just saying the words along with the song.  Focus on the imagery that comes with every verse and allow yourself to be consumed by that imagery.  Eventually stop saying the lyrics out loud and just let your mind drift and your thoughts flow. 

It may take some time to get used to, but this is a great way to change up your meditations!

As a side note, I would like to thank Dan for our first comment on the Mermaid Tree!  He is a photographer that created an app for the iPhone that pairs scenic meditative pictures with quotations.  It is inexpensive and a great tool for meditation.  To check out the link, look for the comment under the “10 Best Free iPhone Apps for the Spiritual.”  This is another way to use your phone in your spiritual life as well as use words in your meditative practices. 

 

What sorts of music, if any, do you listen to when meditating?  Have you ever had a deep meditation to a song with lyrics?

 

Crystal of the Week – Smoky Quartz September 8, 2009

Filed under: Author: Tree — Mermaid Tree @ 3:02 pm
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Crystals and gemstones can be very beneficial in your meditation practice as well as in everyday life.  Each stone possesses certain properties that can help with various areas of your life.  Learning to work with crystals is an ongoing and rewarding process.  There are lots of books and websites that list the properties of stones, but it is always best to learn how to tune into the stone yourself and see what response you get from it. (For more information about how to work with crystals please check back soon for articles dealing with: connecting with your crystals, how to cleanse crystals, and different rituals you can do with crystals.)

Since there are so many stones that you can work with, we thought it would be helpful to choose one crystal each week and discuss its properties.

To get us started I decided to pick Smoky Quartz as the first Crystal of the Week!  Why?  Because it is one of the most useful and gentle stones that I have worked with!

Keywords:  Cleansing, Protection, Purification, Transmutation of energy

Smoky quartz is an extremely powerful but gentle crystal that pulls negative energy out of the user and transmutes the energy so that it is harmless.  Unlike with some other stones, I’ve never had smoky quartz give me the “head rush” that occasionally comes from toxins being released, or energy fields being activated.  While I can definitely feel it’s purification properties working, it is always a very relaxing experience (just make sure you are breathing deeply and keep affirming that you want to release all energy that is not for your highest good.)

I like using smoky quartz to ensure that all the energetic debris from the day is out of my system before I go to sleep.  Before going to bed, stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart.  Place a piece of smoky quartz in between your feet and let your arms fall gently to your sides.  Take deep abdominal breathes and with each exhale mentally push any negative energy out of your body and aura and into the smoky quartz.  (Even if you have trouble holding the visualization the smoky quartz will still clear out your energy).  When you are done, you can place the crystal on a windowsill where it will be cleansed by the lunar energy.  (We’ll discuss other clearing methods soon!)  If you feel that you’ve really cleared out a lot, then it may be helpful to have a few sips of water before retiring to bed.  This helps additionally flush out your system and brings hydrating balance.

I’ve also found smoky quartz is a wonderful crystal to place around the home or office.  It helps protect you from other people’s harsh thoughts and emotions and transmutes them into harmless energy.  Place a piece in your office, in your school locker or desk, in your living room, etc – you’ll really see a difference!  If you are holding an energy healing class, or doing any other kind of group energy work, it is a good idea to have smoky quartz in the room as an additional environmental cleanser.

Another great property of smoky quartz is its ability to remove nightmares.  Place a piece under your pillow or bed and enjoy a restful night of sleep! (Do not place the same piece of smoky quartz under your bed that you used to do the Standing Clearing Exercise described above without first cleansing it!)

How has smoky quartz been helpful for you?  Let us know by leaving a comment below.


 

Meditate with your eyes open September 6, 2009

Filed under: Author: Tree — Mermaid Tree @ 3:33 pm
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“Watching birds has become part of my daily meditation affirming my connection to the earth body.” ~Carol P. Christ

 

I know we have discussed how deep breathing can help you slip into meditation.  And it’s true – focusing on your breathing is a simple and extremely effective way of centering yourself and entering meditation.  But what do you do when you have a cold?  

Your nose is all blocked up, your head feels like it’s full of cotton, and keeping up good posture is the last thing you want to focus on.  Plus if you’re taking cold medicine, closing your eyes will invariable lead to you sleeping instead of meditating!  So what are you to do?  I faced this problem yesterday afternoon.

I was in my living room sitting in a half lotus position, eyes closed, and breathing deeply.  Or I was trying to anyway.  As soon as I attempted a “deep breath” I had a coughing fit.  My body felt all achy so staying in half lotus was not going to work.  And I really really really wanted to go to sleep.  So there I was:  slouched over with my eyes closed – a perfect picture of lethargy.  

I would have just thrown myself back into bed, but I wanted to clear out my energy in order to help speed the healing process.  Since the traditional form of meditation was obviously not effective at that moment, I decided to try something else.  I got a cup of tea, went out on the balcony, and looked at the trees.  Simple.  I looked at the tall trees, the freshly mowed grass, the patches of blue sky, the light of the sun as it moved in and out of the cover of clouds.  I listened to the crickets, the cars passing by, and the children calling to each other as they played.  And I just let myself Be.  Sometimes we forget that our very existence is sacred.  And we don’t realize that every moment of appreciation is a moment of prayer and meditation in it’s own right.  You can connect with the Universe by traveling inwards; but you can also connect by taking the time to appreciate the Universe’s physical manifestations.  

As the sun came back out I absorbed it’s energy into my skin.  I said hello to the trees (I have a MAJOR connection with the element of Earth, and trees in particular are very good friends of mine).  I let myself be caressed by the wind and serenaded by the crickets.  Nature helped ease me and clear out the stagnant energy I was holding onto.  I set the intention that the Sun was transmuting all negative energy and filling me with healthy radiance instead.  

I still have a cold, but it’s passing through my system much faster now and I’m not as lethargic and achy as I was.  And my energy feels a LOT better!

So if you also have a cold – or are just having trouble with more traditional meditation techniques – try looking at nature and go ahead and meditate with your eyes open!  It really helps.  And if you do it often enough you will find it becomes easier to connect with Nature and the Nature spirits.  And the best part is that you can ALWAYS fit it into your busy schedule!  When walking to and from your car just take a moment to tune yourself into the nature around you.  You will definitely begin to feel the balance and healing it brings to your life! 

 

Would you like to share which form of meditation works best for you?  Comment below!