Read an Excerpt
Meditation Secrets for Women
Celebrate Your Senses
Self-care, yep, I could use some self-care.
A million things to do today, but meditating will help.
Off ! go into my Regeneration Chamber . . .
A little lazy, too tired to sit up straight . . .
I'll just prop myself up with lots of pillows all around.
Some music would be good-gentle and nourishing . . .
Yes, that's the perfect ambient sound to feed my soul.
Hmm, have to remember to call the dentist . . .
Stop at the market on my way back from the bookstore.
Oh yeah, and the post office and bank . . .
Okay, okay, may as well spend a minute to choreograph the day,
Then I can relax . . . . Now, what do I want as my focus? What tone do I need?
Comfort and ease . . . yes, just let me bask in pleasure.
Mmm . . . the music caresses me, soothes me like a healing balm.
And my breath is so soft-filling me, billowing me,
Massaging me tenderly inside. How can it be so sweet?
My whole body is washed with sweetness, inside and out . . .
Ahh . . . my heart lifts, spreads open, and smiles.
I breathe the sweetness in, again and again.
So many sensations of joy . . .
Whew, it's almost hard to take!
Now I imagine the course of my day guided by this pleasure.
I take it with me into the world, with that secret smile inside.
A Feast for the Senses
Although meditating is often thought of as going beyond sensory experience, it is really a journey through the full range of the senses. Our senses bring us into the present moment, and it is only in the present that we can trulyreceive life's gifts. This ability to be more present is one of the profound benefits of meditation.
Meditation is a feast for the senses. It is outrageous and extravagant, like a banquet of exquisite delicacies with the best company, the finest orchestra, the perfect dance partner, the most elegant ambiance, the greatest sense of leisure, the most considerate attendants, and the most expensive wine. It is a state of extreme wealth and luxury in which you are completely saturated in pleasure. It is over-the-top lusciousness that would probably be illegal outside of the privacy of your interior world. But far from harming anyone, it only benefits the world—especially you. As you breathe in this lushness, you open to the gush of life, to how generously life gives you the next breath and fills you with its sustenance.
The pleasure of meditation induces a dilation of the senses. It is a state of heightened appreciation that enhances our ability to see the details of life with fresh eyes. This opens us up to an aesthetic perception of our environment and ourselves—a poetic, nonliteral sensibility that transforms experience. Everyday reality takes on new meaning: we are living inside an ever-unfolding creation of beauty and mystery. This is certainly something to celebrate!
Outer and Inner Sensuality
In this chapter you will learn how to let your favorite sensory pleasures be the focus for your meditations. There is a loop of enjoyment between the outer pleasure of activity and the inner pleasure of meditation, a positive feedback through which each amplifies and informs the other. Think of some sensuous activities:
- Gardening in the warmth of the sun
- Going barefoot in the grass
- Eating a scrumptious meal
- Grooving to music
- Singing your heart out
- Making love
- Cradling a sleeping child in your arms
- Holding a soft purring cat on your lap
- Taking your dog for a walk
- Riding a horse
- Smelling a rose or gardenia
Each activity has a special tone that is a clue to your health and satisfaction and to your personal meditative style. Meditation can take on these vibrant textures, intensify them, and even augment your appreciation of those very same acts.
The more senses you engage in meditation, the more interesting it is. Let's take a minute for a little experiment. Right here and now, just as you are, sitting or lying there, what feelings of pleasure can you find? What are the little sensory clues that give you that feeling? Maybe there's the cushiness of the couch or chair you're sitting in, providing a sense of comfort or support. Perhaps as you breathe you notice suddenly you want to take a fuller breath, and it feels good. Or you look out into your environment and appreciate something from the colors, shapes, or movement in the world around you. You may smell someone's cooking, or flowers in a nearby vase. Maybe you can hear the voice of someone you love in the next room, or the sound of the wind in the trees outside. Take a few moments to just let yourself drift, enjoying these impressions. Which senses are at play in the pleasure of this moment?
Each sense is a world of wonder that we usually take for granted, and each mode of sensing awakens different parts of the brain. There are many more senses than the five we have been taught to recognize smell, vision, touch, hearing, and taste. We also have senses for balance, motion, temperature, the position of our joints, the oxygen in our blood, and many fine subtleties of touch. Most activities are actually synesthesia, the combination of many senses simultaneously. Dining at a restaurant, for example, involves not just the taste and texture of your food but its presentation, its smell mixed with the other aromas of the place, the decor and the particular ambiance of sounds and movement, your dinner companion and the quality of your conversation. There is also your own body kinesthesia—how you reach to take a bite, breathing in the aroma, the act of chewing and leaning back to savor, internal sensations of excitement and satisfaction. Your enjoyment comes from this rich panoply of impressions.
Some of the most profound meditations occur in the presence of great art, music, or performance. In September 1998 my friend Carol and I . . .Meditation Secrets for Women. Copyright © by Camille Maurine. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.