When people ask me if I meditate I usually either say “No” or “Of course”. Both are true. It’s a bit confusing because I don’t sit, but I do meditate.
My personal definition of meditation is simply communing with your own spirit. It involves closing your eyes to the outside world and opening them to the inner world.
In the words of one of the central figures of the Bahá’í Faith, Abdu’l-Bahá, “In that state of mind you put certain questions to your spirit and the spirit answers: the light breaks forth and the reality is revealed.” We are “immersed in the ocean of spiritual life and can unfold the secrets of things-in-themselves”.
Of course, you don’t need to follow any one method in order to meditate. You do need to calmly focus, whether it’s on your own breath or on a question, a word or phrase. And, it seems to me that if your method involves focused reflection, you need to listen and be in a receptive state.
Given the enormity of creation with its unimaginable expansiveness and drama, it’s one of life’s stranger paradoxes that the way to connect with “all that is” is to look quietly inward. It’s also a strange thing, as well as the most normal thing, to commune with your own spirit. When we’re quiet enough to find it, it’s like finding our own voice; we recognize it. And perhaps you recognize this: it’s like finding a tiny porthole to the universe, to the source of creativity and wisdom.
Many excellent meditation methods are taught and used in the programs at the UVic Interfaith Chapel, so a while back we added weekly “Spirit Walks”, based on this simple method. It seemed a natural addition, and since the location is the SW corner of campus at the entrance to Finnerty Gardens, it couldn’t be more beautiful.
We meet at 9:30 a.m. Thursdays in the lobby of the Interfaith Chapel and begin with a “virtues pick” using a special deck of cards or an app called Virtues Reflection, with articulately and thoughtfully written reflections. The cards often seem to choose us more than the other way around, and provide much fodder for reflection.
As an example, someone might choose the card “Courage”.
Courage transforms fear into determination. It is embracing life fully, without holding back, doing what must be done even when it is difficult or risky. When we are tempted to give up, courage supports us to take the next step. It allows us to face adversity with confidence. Courage opens us to new possibilities, and gives us the strength to sacrifice for what we love.
There are a couple more sentences but that gives you an idea. When you flip the card, or double click on the image, a quote from Rumi comes up:
“Heart, be brave. If you cannot be brave, just go. Love’s glory is not a small thing.”– Jalal-u-Din Rumi
The walk begins at Finnerty Gardens with a 10-minute silent walking meditation and usually traverses nearby Mystic Vale, in a return loop.
One question I often silently use during the meditation is, “What is nature telling me about this?” and the trees and plants faithfully oblige with beautiful stories. The remainder of the walk, about 40 minutes, is spent sharing thoughts and insights. It’s led to some great and often enlightening conversations. There’s almost always a surprise and very often incredible richness and depth, either in the cards, the insights, the people, or all of the above.
Normally the group would be publicized on campus only. But summers are quiet, so community members can feel especially free to join us for a Spirit Walk, any Thursday morning, 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Consider this an invitation. Come while it’s still summer!
Sheila Flood is a member of the Bahá’í community of Saanich and Chair of the Victoria Multifaith Society.
You can read more articles from our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking, HERE