Meditating in public can be daunting, but critical to spiritual growth if you find a setting that inspires you. Here’s why and how I managed to meditate amid a clusterfuck of selfie-taking tourists in Sequoia National Forest.
Hypotheses: Obsessed with improving my posture, I found yet another muse for verticality among the Giants of the Sequoia National Forest. Many of these sequoias predate Christ and stand over 250 feet. I was surprised to find these giants have roots go only 5 feet deep. How do trees with such shallow root systems become giants? What left a deeper impression on me than the sheer size of these trees, were the beauty of their burn scars. Each one shaped differently, outlined in black char. Some reminiscent of spaces between toes, nostrils, vaginas, cave openings, fairy castles, and cathedrals. These two phenomena were food for meditation. I saw the trees as time machines whose secrets were mine to unlock with the right amount of concentration.
Methods: I headed away from the mobs around General Sherman and into the forest, breaking the rules (always), and went off the trail to find another giant. This one had a burn scar that looked like a bucket seat. It would be from this seat that I would steer my space ship.
Level one: Getting situated! Sit comfortably. Either hide or put on headphones so people will not interrupt and ask what you’re doing. Shed the concept of time and unplug. Protect your journey inward because any interruption will likely bring you back to square one. Then there’s another level of protecting that has to come out to deepen this precious state. A bubble of golden light works.
Level 2: Set an intention. Mine was to ask the tree for its secrets of uprightness. Reaching the cellular matrix, the place that understands energetic language – that’s gold. Call it prayer, call it flow, call it Samadhi, it will leave you changed.
Level 3: Watch what presents itself. I suddenly remembered Valentine’s Day 2008, 1 am, waiting for a light to change and listening to John Legend. Within one second, metal crunched, the radio skipped, a river of blood ran down my chest. Completely disoriented, I thought I was seeing myself like Patrick Swayze in Ghost until my friends voice came through. “Get out of the car Liz” Tasha screamed. I hoped out of the car as if speed alone would save me and looked back at where I could have remained. I stared at my mangled seat and felt wind blowing through a hole in my lower lip. That fucking redneck was asleep at the wheel, and nearly killed me, the innocent bystander. Life felt very unfair. The last thing a spine like mine needed was the soft tissue damage that comes with a car wreck.
Level 4: Accept the challenge. In my meditation inside this tree – it became clear that I needed to forgive this man or that twisted car seat would leave its impression on my spine forever. Somewhere in a Texas road house, I imagined Darryl complaining about the bitch who raised his car insurance by seeing so many chiropractors. By forgiving him, I’d cut the karmic cord he has that’s tugging on from Texas. I wanted to end the energy that has him believing I owe him something. How many of these cords do we leave uncut, to tug us and tangle us relentlessly on a spiritual level we cannot envisage?
Results: Emerging from by bucket seat an hour later, I returned to the trail and read a plaque about how forest fires are vital to helping the sequoia giants outlive their surroundings. Their scars, in essence, can be thought of as milestones for their growth. For every time the tree burned, it made scabs that added to its volume. The newest layer begins to graft on at a different angle, so the tree is trussed around its core. Much like the internal and external obliques creating a strong enough weave in the human trunk – that has allowed us to keep increasing our distance from their earth while keeping our organs laced inside our torso.
Conclusion: Wouldn’t it be lovely if I could see my own scars with such appreciation – recognizing each one for the unique shape and story it contains. Indeed, our traumas are beneficial to our growth. Forgiving someone like Darryl would give me the power to let go of most anything in my spine still holding me back. I feel a little taller already.