By Chuck McNab
For me, meditating often involves going out in nature, taking a nice quiet walk and really hearing Mother Earth.
I’ve been living at Yasodhara Ashram for three years now and this winter I took the three-month Yoga Development Course. In many ways it has shown me what I already know. As I learn more about different systems and forms of meditating, I look back and realize more and more how the times when I’ve quieted my mind or sat still and listened to nature have been meditation.
My experiences with meditation reinforces that new beliefs are replacing old ones, making me more practical and solid. I grew up in a city and it’s hard to find that stillness and quiet. Here it’s non-stop quiet. I am able to hear the cycles of the earth.
I bring in my cultural understanding of Mother Earth and Creator into the teachings of the Ashram and it’s really interesting to see the similarities. I relate to a lot of the teachings—even though they’re from the East, they’re still open to everyone. That openness really draws me in and I connect from a level of deep feeling.
Smudging is one of my meditative practices. Burning sage takes up prayers to the Creator and allows them to flow with the smoke. The shell, sage, match and smoke represent the four elements with the smoke moving up through space connecting to the ethereal as well.
In satsang we practice aarti, a symbolic purification of the senses. Smudging does the same. It takes all the negativity away and takes our prayers up to Creator.
Photo: via Yasodhara Ashram