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Publisher'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

The Department of Meditation, Etc.

Passion, You Say?
by Constance Wilkinson, LMHC, MFA

I hear that passion is the theme of all seasons. Passion? Passion, you say? What passion? Passion as in passion fruit? Passion as in "the passion of Christ"? Passion as in the physical act of love; passion as in lust, one of the seven deadly sins?

Passion as ardent affection? Passion as in devotion? Passion as in an outburst of anger, a fit of passion someone flies into? Passion as in the three conflicting emotions: "passion, aggression, and ignorance"?

I'm thinking we're addressing not passion, per se, but shining an investigative light on things we may (or may not) be passionate about. Persons, issues, concepts, states of mind, ideals, phenomena about which we feel and care deeply. So far, so good.

Seems to me like we're wandering into the noble territory of Joseph "follow-your-bliss" Campbell, noted scholar of myth and elucidator of archetypal meanings. Said Campbell, "My general formula for my students is 'follow your bliss. Find where it is, and don't be afraid to follow it.'"

Later, discussing the subject with Bill Moyers, while the two were putting together the justly-famed PBS series, "The Power of Myth," Campbell added, "If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be."

The late Nobel Prize for literature-winning author, fabulous writer, fabulous Sufi and all-around passionate person, Doris Lessing, once gave some similar advice: "Whatever you're meant to do, do it now. Conditions are always impossible."

Not to keep passively waiting for outward things to improve and coalesce prettily in some preconceived way before you start picking up the pen, sitting down at the keyboard, making a goal and beginning to begin.

In order to follow your passion and follow your bliss, the first step is to begin looking. First, you must open your eyes. Next, you must open your mind. This is where meditation might fit in very nicely, because one of the many beneficial results of meditation is increased clarity of mind.

The Center for Change

Constance Wilkinson, LMHC, MFA

mindfulness-based, solution-focused
expressive arts--EMDR--clinical hypnosis

Brewster, MA

How does this occur? Imagine a glass bottle filled with clear, pure water. Imagine dumping two handfuls of dirt into the bottle. Cork the bottle. Now, shake that bottle up. Keep shaking it until the glass bottle becomes a bottle of muddy water and don't stop shaking it. Is the muddy water clear? Of course not. Keep shaking. It's not clear at all; it's just the opposite: it's muddy.

What can you do to increase its clarity?

You can stop shaking the bottle.

Yes, exactly.

Stop shaking the bottle; the dirt settles down and the water is clear again.

It's quite the same with mind. More agitation = less clarity.

Simple sitting meditation, as we've described, is like putting the muddy water bottle down. Put mind down; let it settle. Just let it settle by itself.

Having done that, you might next act in a way to expand your view.

You might take a stroll on the beach, enjoying a literally widened horizon.

You might sit out in your garden to bask and enjoy the sun.

You might lie down in a comfortable open space looking up and looking into the sky. Just noticing. Not doing anything. Just noticing.

Having let mind settle naturally creates an open space of clarity. Within this clarity and openness inspirations may naturally arise. Adding an aspect of physical openness and comfortable relaxation - using the sky, the beach horizon, the lush garden as support - can deepen your experience.

Ask your heart to let you know what it wants and what it needs. Ask it to reveal the secret to following your bliss. Your bliss, not anyone else's. Your passion, the real passion, not something imposed upon you nor something you're imposing upon yourself.

The Herring Run in Brewster

Take time to slow down.
Find an open space outside.
Spend some time there.
Spend some time on purpose.
Plan for it. Schedule it in.
Find an outdoor space of comfort.
Do a few minutes of simple meditation.
Then relax.
Notice what comes to mind.

People on the Cape are very lucky in this regard: we have access to so many open spaces. Bay beaches, beaches on the sound, beaches on the Atlantic; lakes and ponds and streams.

Go to Nauset and spend an hour synching with the sound of the waves. Go to the old mill in Brewster and spend ten minutes at the herring run listening to the rushing of the run's small waterfalls. Warming sun, spacious sky, moving wind, waves of water - letting mind just settle down a bit, naturally relax and then expand.

In this clarity, you can search and find your passion. Having found it, you can pursue your bliss. Why would you want not to? What would be the point?

Photograph by Nicola Burnell

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

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