Almost a year ago, I attended a conference on Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, sponsored by Harvard University. I was going through one of my all-too-frequent periods of physical challenges, so all I could manage was to get myself to the lectures in-between resting in my room. Fortunately it rained a lot, and the friend I’d planned on meeting had to go elsewhere, so resting in the cool darkness of my room was perfect! I’m glad I made the effort; the quality of the talks and their speakers made it all worth-while.
One of the speakers was Willa Miller, Founder and Spiritual Director of Natural Dharma Fellowship in Boston. She began with a stretch, and then a meditation, so that we could be supported in being present for what she wanted to share with us. A beautiful, and highly meaningful way to share her talk on Mindful Intimacy with us. This isn’t, after all, a topic that can be truly appreciated without bringing the audience along. She lead more meditations during her time up there (I can’t recall how long she was up there – it felt like no time, but was probably an hour and a half). With each one, she spoke of and demonstrated the intimacy of solitary meditation.
How so? In 5 ways, we all shared the moment:
- Learned from a teacher – Ms. Miller was up there, leading us all one meditation at a time – something we all shared in as a result;
- Our relationship to the breath – since this was her focus, it was also ours;
- Our relationship with the present moment – there is no intimacy without presence, and being mindful is all about being present;
- With our immediate senses – similar to breathing together, we were, each of us, aware of hearing her voice and feeling our breathing;
- With our mind’s content – because she was teaching us as we meditated, we had something to focus on and think about, while at the same time, being fully present.
This kind of meditating practice is often called Relational Meditation. Its surprisingly intimate, and perhaps for this reason, energizing. I left that lecture feeling well for the first time in a week. I’m not claiming it was the meditation, but we do know that connection heals; that connection is, indeed, essential for human growth and wellness.
And so I leave you with this suggestion: experiment with meditating by yourself and in groups, then note how you feel energetically. I’d love to hear your feedback, and invite you to leave a comment below.