Friday, December 31, 2010

Music and Tarot

Last week was beautiful. Monday night I met some friends at Grace Cathedral Church to listen to a Christmas music performance by their choir. None of us are religious, so we were just there to enjoy the music and the atmosphere. I love how, with good friends, you can just pick up again as though it wasn’t two or three years since the last time you saw one another.

Earlier that day, as I walked to work I noticed a sign advertising “Tarot Readings.” Funny how you can pass by a building a hundred times without noticing it. Seeing it reminded me of the friend of a friend – apparently, she performs a daily tarot reading, not so much for divination purposes as for the purpose of creating a meditative, ritualized time each day to check in with herself, to stay grounded. It’s almost a spiritual moment for her, my friend says. And yesterday morning when I looked up and saw that “Tarot Readings” sign, my mind immediately jumped to that thought.

About five years ago, my dad made the passing comment that meditation would probably help me manage my insomnia. You should really try it out, he advised. You’re probably right, I agreed, but it just doesn’t feel like the right time in life for meditation. Recently, I’ve been hearing whisperings – from within, from the universe, from the subconscious, from wherever it is these promptings emerge from and then are heard – that 2011 may be the year to tackle spirituality. I’m not a religious person and was not raised in any defined religion, so what I think of as “spirituality” probably falls closer to creating a quiet space in my daily life, a space to listen to myself and listen to the universe, a temporal, physical, or mental place for reflection, meditation, or introspection.

It’s really easy for me to get caught up in the small things – this idea wasn’t well received, that girl at work doesn’t like me – and I frequently lose sight of the bigger picture. I think my quest for “spirituality” is a search for a way to let go of the small anxieties and dramas before they invade my entire consciousness like a cancer. Now that I’m working again, I feel like I need constant reminders of the bigger picture – what’s going on in the world besides my own small problems, perspective on my place in this world – a way to focus on all that I do have, instead of what I do not. I guess I think of this spiritual quest as a gentle reminder to hold fast to those pipe dreams, to live life as the best possible version of myself, to laugh more, give more, forgive more, play more, create more, explore more, celebrate more.

So as I was sitting among friends and in the midst of all this beautiful music, I decided to try it out. An ex-boyfriend of mine used to close his eyes when he ate so as to better concentrate on the flavors in his mouth, and, remembering him, I, too, closed my eyes through this performance, letting their harmonies ricochet off the walls and flow over my consciousness. Instead of meditating on emptiness, I meditated on the music. While I did that, I held onto the successive images of the people I am grateful to know, eventually just focusing on the music itself.

I’ve had a spotty track record with New Year’s resolutions in the past, and this year my friend has suggested a series of “goals” instead of “resolutions.” Goals like “attend a meditation retreat,” or “plant a garden” (there’s nothing as meditative as digging your hands into soil!). I’m not exactly sure where any of this is headed, but my friend just lent me a pack of tarot cards, and I’ve been thinking of trying out some meditation on the train ride home, maybe to jazz or classical music or such. We’ll see. I do know this. Inspiration, hope, joy, beauty, and serenity all lead me to live life as the best possible version of myself, and right now, the thought of creating some space in my life for rituals that promote my particular brand of spirituality, are filling me with those very qualities.

To 2011.


Myrna said...

Journal writing is another process that has helped me considerably, not so much with insomnia as with dealing with the "stuff" of life. There is something about the flow of the pen and putting those negative thoughts on paper that takes them out of me and makes them less toxic. Positive thoughts are given a voice and energy. I shred my writing immediately after so that I feel completely free to write whatever it is that I am feeling.

Ali said...

What a wonderful outlook to have. I think being grounded is one of the best traits a person can have.

It's easy for me to get mixed up in the details, too, esp. ones that are largely unimportant and usually are ego bruises (real or imagined). But still, it's been hard for me to keep up with any sort of regular practice, though for a while I was good at rising each day and walking a nearby park. It allowed me the mental space I needed, and it was where I returned when I needed to figure out a writing problem on deadline. I could always figure it out in the walking.

But a friend, who's written a memoir, writes about the idea of being present and mindful in everything you do, which is something that appeals to me, not only because I'm lazy but because I (culturally and personally) place a great deal of importance on doing. Sitting is difficult for me. But she told me to be present while doing the dishes, while preparing a meal, while gardening (I'll help you if you plant a garden! :) To bring mindfulness into your daily life.

And frankly, I think crafting provides this, too, if we keep ego out of the way (read: the deadlines I'm so fond of). To a remarkable mindful and grounded New Year!

Violet said...

I'm no good at meditating in the traditional sense, but I have experienced the 'flow' - when I'm thoroughly engrossed in something I'm enjoying and there's no room in my head for anything else. But it doesn't help my own insomnia though, so sooner or later I will have to try 'proper' meditation.
Good luck with yours, and happy new year!

Jamie said...

I like this.