Editor's Note: Welcome to the Department of Meditation, where you are treated to the ageless wisdom and inimitable wit of our very own meditation guru, Constance Wilkinson, psychotherapist and card-carrying Buddhist.
Constance welcomes your feedback and questions about meditation at firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Meditation
by Constance Wilkinson, LMHC, MFA
Generally speaking, holidays are all about cooking. Thanksgiving certainly is cooking-centric – whether stuffed-turkey-traditional, vegan, or vegetarian. So are Christmas, Channukah, and New Year's.
Main dishes, side dishes. To every holiday side dish, there is a season – hard-to-find Eastham turnips, acorn squash baked with butter and just a dab of pure Vermont maple syrup, creamed onions made from a million little teeny onions (each one so impossible to peel), fresh cranberry-orange relish, pilaf with wild mushrooms, glazed carrots, delicate haricots, Yukon Gold potatoes mashed to a high fluff, retro-odd-Southern sweet potatoes smothered in marshmallows (omg)…
There are desserts – glossy spicy pumpkin pies, yummy strawberry-rhubarb pies, Yule logs, red velvet cakes not actually made from red velvet, or the very traditional, very New England special dessert — fresh white snow topped off with (once again) pure Vermont maple syrup.
Okay, so, um, holidays, side dishes, vegetables, marshmallows – gentle readers may well be asking themselves at this point, yo, what is she on about? Isn't this column supposed to be "the Department of Meditation"?
It is. Yep, it is.
The link here is cooking and meditation. Here's how that works: sometimes I run into people who tell me, "I like to meditate." To which I reply, "You do? Great."
But here's the other thing, which I don't go into unless the time and place seem right – what does that actually mean? Meditate? What specifically is it that they're doing?
Now we swing around, right back to cooking. Someone tells you, "I like to cook." Based that phrase, how do we know what it means? We know that it might mean just about anything. You like to cook. You like to cook – what? Hand-gathered widgety-grubs from outback Australia? Golden Persian ice cream with rosewater, saffron, sultanas, pistachios? Glorious lamb Bolognese simmered for five hours with just a dusting of nutmeg? Baklava? Sushi? Uni? Kelp? A whole side of beef, freshly slaughtered, roasted on a spit? Live lobsters boiled in salt water from Maine til they're unalive? A green bean on a toothpick? There are just a thousand possibilities.
Meditation is like cooking. There are a thousand ways, a thousand styles, a thousand lineages, a thousand methods, a thousand techniques.
There is sitting meditation and walking meditation; there is meditation with form and there is formless meditation. There is meditation involving visualization and meditation without. There are Hinayana methods and Vajrayana methods and Zen methods and Cha'n methods; there are Christian meditations and Hindu meditations and Buddhist meditations. Some styles have you keep your eyes open; others you're your eyes shut. There are contemplative methods and breath-based methods; methods to develop compassion and methods to calm the mind.
Whatever style and method and tradition you choose to follow, it is important to know what you're doing, and why, and what the point is of doing it. It's important to learn proper technique from someone who knows. It' important not to do just any old thing with your mind on the assumption that doing any old thing counts as meditation. It does not.
Constance Wilkinson, LMHC, MFA is a licensed psychotherapist who uses a mindfulness-based, solution-focused approach to help reduce symptoms of dysregulation, as well as to develop clients' personal goals and strategies to achieve them. She is trained in EMDR, clinical hypnosis, EFT, and expressive arts.
She has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College in creative writing and an MA in clinical mental health counseling psychology from Lesley University. Since 1978, Ms Wilkinson has been practicing meditation and studying with distinguished Tibetan Buddhist refugee teachers in the United States, India, Nepal, and Tibet.
Constance Wilkinson can be reached at 508-648-8105 Or by email: email@example.com
Constance Wilkinson, LMHC, MFA
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