Oddly enough, lately I’ve been doing a lot of meditating. For most of my life I’ve tried to do it almost out of a sense of duty – as a “spiritual” person I was obligated, right? Well, as you can guess, that went over like a turd soufflé with my psyche, who is essentially a cosmic six-year-old: if you tell her she has to do something, she’ll stomp her foot and give you the finger.
Still, the more the world seems to be skipping merrily to hell, the more necessary I find it to seek some sort of inner equanimity or peace, so I keep trying.
Then about a month ago I found this book:
Meditation for the Love of It by Sally Kempton. This book offers a different way of looking at meditation: rather than spiritual drudgery, it’s an exciting and fun way to delve into both your own awareness and through that into the Universe itself. A quote:
In the end it is the direct, naked encounter with our own awareness that shifts our understanding of who we are, and gives us the power to stand firmly in the center of our being. No one else can do this for us. Only meditation unlocks those doors.
Kempton writes from a Tantric tradition (though her ideas and exercises are useful for most any tradition), meaning there’s no “eliminating” thoughts or trying to transcend reality, at least not with the goal of eradicating the Self – she wants to befriend and enjoy the Self, while understanding its limits, and treats thoughts as mere energy that can be transformed or used instead of pushed away. Her tone is knowledgable but enthusiastic – and it’s contagious. I found myself wanting to put the book down and try out her exercises, and amazingly, every one I tried yielded results at one level or another. It’s a long book, but worth every minute.
I rediscovered a fantastic tool I had forgotten about: MyNoise.net. MyNoise is a sound generating website, but it’s so much more than just rain and random flutes. It offers nature sounds, meditation sounds, voices, industrial background noise, you name it – including the usual white noise generators. You can customize nearly every sound by moving sliders, so if you’re listening to a forest generator and want more birds, you can hear more birds.
You can also calibrate the site to your own hearing range, which according to users is amazing for tinnitus and other hearing issues, and there are brainwave-type sounds like isochronic tones that are apparently good for migraines and other issues.
You can animate the sounds so that they constantly shift, making them more realistic and immersive. And you can stack generators on top of each other, so if you want the sound of chanting monks along with the sound of an airplane cabin and a cat purring, bam! you’ve got it. There are even RPG sound generators you can play in the background of your games.
I seriously love this site. The “Healing Water” soundscape has helped me sleep better, and the “Sleeping Dragon” is fantastic for meditation. The site owner tells stories of when and where the sounds were recorded, how they were created, and what they can be used for, and each one has several precalibrated variations to play with. I’ve never seen a sound-generating site with so many options. You can create a meditative garden with birds and wind chimes and a pond full of frogs – or you can create the Starship Enterprise and practice Kolinahr, whatever gets you there.
And it’s free! If you donate a few dollars you unlock the really complicated generators, but 90% of the site is totally free. I kicked in a bit just as a thank-you for all the work that went into the site.
My favorite generators include:
Even if all you need is some background noise to help you concentrate, do yourself a favor and check out MyNoise.net. It also has a free iOS app.
(I was not paid to say any of this, I just love it that much.)
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