My meditation practice has evolved over time as I learned (and continue to learn!) what works for me — the when, the where, and the how. I shared my thoughts (and challenges!) on that in a previous post, Meditation as Healing.
Meditating in my special place at home is my usual practice: preparing the space with an aura cleansing mist, setting a timer, sometimes playing some soothing music, sitting on my mat… pure heaven, both relaxing and energizing.
And yet, I am still so drawn to the meditative and intuitive focus that comes to me when swimming, especially in summer.
For the longest time, I just accepted that as “it is what it is”, as a special type of meditation, and did not explore the why. I just knew that I loved swimming outdoors in the sunshine, relaxing and swimming long uninterrupted laps at our local seaside outdoor pool, Kitsilano Pool here in Vancouver (pictured below), where I can swim a kilometre in just four laps, and that when I swim, new insights emerge.
When I swim, my mind engages in a very different way. The rhythm of the strokes gives me focus and stillness, and allows my mind to focus more deeply, connecting even more to my intuitive self. I have no outcome specified, but accept that my subconscious mind will bring me what I need to know.
For me, it also generates subconscious problem solving and a heightened creativity. Once a swim is over, the deep wisdom rises into my consciousness, often birthing new projects, new plans and new ways of doing things.
But as I swam this weekend, something shifted and a sense of a new knowingness bubbled up… perhaps the “why” or “how”.
I pushed off from the deep end of the pool, gliding without breathing for the initial strokes, tasting the somewhat salty water, finding my rhythm as I travelled the surface.
It was a cloudless day, the sun shining through the surface of the pool. As I looked down with each stroke of my arms, the sunlight captured the ripples on the surface of the pool, a myriad of geometric shapes moving below me. I could sense of the presence of other swimmers as those shapes shifted and blurred. I connected with the water. At that moment, I am the water.
As I breathed, I turned my head and looked up, hearing the seagulls and the splashing of the water, and pulling in the air of the sky, connecting with its rhythms, its energies, its beauty, bringing that oxygen into my body, fuelling my mind, lungs, heart, and cells. At that moment, I am the air.
And that is when a new insight emerged so very strongly. There was another factor I had not appreciated until that moment. Not only was it the rhythm that freed my subconscious to share with my conscious mind, it was the place itself… skimming across the surface of the water, a liminal place where Water met Sky/Air, neither fully in both but with both. Below me only water, above me only sky. As I looked down, I connected with Water. As I looked up, I connected with Sky.
As I finished my swim, touching the deck again at the deep end, words from an old song favourite from my teenage years popped into my head:
A circle in a spiral A wheel within a wheel Never ending nor beginning On an ever-spinning reel As the images unwind Like the circles that you find In the windmills of your mind From “The Windmills of Your Mind”, music by Michel Legrand and English lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman
And yet another insight emerged… the images will continue to unwind, new insights will continue to emerge, as all that emerges is also connected… by its source, by its intersectionality, and by simply being part of me, in an every-spinning circle.
So today I am once again acknowledging the magic of liminal places, places of transition and intersection between different elements. It could be where the elements of Earth, Air, Sky and Fire meet; or the three worlds of Land, Sea and Sky such as a riverside or oceanside (or swimming pool!); or the perimeters such as forest edge; a town vs field; and even inhaling vs exhaling.
Those liminal spaces are for me those silent places where I (we?) connect with that intersection, connecting the deepest wisdom within to the flow of universal energies and spirit.
Perhaps Emerson said it best:
For your Soul Work . . .
What or where are the liminal spaces to which you are drawn?
What are the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind?
How do they help you connect with the energies around you?