Thursday, January 26, 2012

Meditation Mayhem

It's official -- when it comes to meditation, I'm just plain broken!

I do yoga.  I'm down with the Dalai Lama.  I recognize the value and potentials of regular intervals in a meditative state.  I say all of this and yet, when it comes to meditation, I'm just plain broken!

On and off over the sixteen years since finding my way to the well-worn path I have attempted to master the self-disciplined art of meditation.  And with each attempt, failure.  The problem is I happen to have "that" brain.  You know the one -- a quiet, peaceful moment comes along and suddenly "that" brain kicks into a thought-process marathon.  To-Do Lists unleashed! 

"Don't forget we're running low on milk.  And I better grab a strawberry jelly since grape wasn't the big hit everyone thought it was going to be.  Maybe I can print a coupon.  The printer needs color ink.  Or was it black ink?  Better get both.  Breathe in.  One.  Two.  Three.  Breathe out.  One.  Two.  Three.  Is there a load of clothes in the washer that I forgot about?  Oh! That missing Nintendo DS game must've gone through the laundry in my son's pocket!  Damn, not another one.    Oh yeah, Breathing.  And, I'm breathing.  One.  Two.  Three." 

And then the internal arguments begin.

"I know I bought that book of stamps the other day. Tell me THAT went through the wash too!  Great gatsby!  Focus!  Breathing.  In.  One.  Two.  Three.  Out.  One.  Two. Three.  Forget about the laundry.  The grocery store can wait.  One.  Two.  Three.  One.  Two.  Three.  Was that birthday party this weekend or next?  Gonna have to visit a toy store too.  And what does a seven year old girl like these days anyway?  For real?!  You can't even quiet your mind for a stinkin' minute?!  Not one minute?!  Let's DO this thing!  Shake it out.  Shake away the world.  In.  Out.  In.  Out.  And just... breathe."

This would be the time the kids throw the football into the sliding glass door and send the dogs into an eruption of barking and howling.

"Aaaaaand, I'm done." 

Jump forward to my latest attempt -- guided meditation.  I figured if the solo route was not one I had the will power to get through, maybe a group session with someone talking me through it would see more success. 

You're expecting me to say "well, it didn't work" but in actuality it worked quite well.  A little too well.  And ever since, I have been bombarded with enormous amounts of energy that I've no IDEA what to do with!  Not the sort that powers the body.  The sort that charges the emotions.  My empaths out there will know exactly the sort of confusing and overwhelming energy I'm referring to. 

So, as I stated early on -- this girl?  Meditation-deficient. 

I am now beseeching my readers and fellow bloggers who excel at this ancient art of inner light to please aid me in containing the current sporadic energy frenzy so that I might feel grounded and centered once again.  Patch me up!  Please!!!

Apparently my chakra doors are flung wide open and the hinges seem to be stuck.  Oh, lucky me -- there's a wind storm picking-up outside.  Auntie Em!  Auntie Em!  Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 

Namaste.  ;)
- Em

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Does Religion Belong in School?

There's been quite a bit in the news as of late regarding religion in our public schools -- from Ginger Strivelli's request for the equal distribution of religious materials to religious rally assemblies taking place during school hours. 

The Separation of Church and State is clear -- religion has no place in affairs of the state.  When it comes to enforcing this however, routine occurances in communities across this nation prove to show that it may not be such a black-and-white concept afterall. 

So where are we to draw the line?  It's easy to say "simple: no religion at all".  Yet the world itself is not free of religion, so how is it helpful to young minds to pretend it to be so?  We can't place students in a neutral environment as they mature and grow and expect them, at the same time, to know and understand the diversity they will encounter as they enter the adult world.

Exposure and explanation are necessary for these absorbant little brains.  Just as children need exposure to numbers in order to learn mathematics, they need exposure to the differences around them in order to know and understand the complexities of America's sociopolitcal state of being.  Send them into the "rat race" thinking everything is set at some homeostatic neutrality and they're going to be in for a rude awakening. Their school careers should be preparing them for a future in the real world  -- and this real world includes people of differing faiths, cultures, classes, values, hobbies and hair colors!  To teach them otherwise is counter-productive. 

Should we practice religion in schools?  Absolutely not!  But there is also nothing beneficial in pretending it does not exist.  We live among streets that boast a variety of faces, races, colors and cultures.  To feign that we are all alike is ignorant.  So how is it that we can express our nation's diverse collections and at the same time respect one another's differing customs and beliefs?  Ah, the million dollar question indeed! 

Past visitors to Pagan Presence may remember that I faced a situation in the fall where-in my son's school district sought to remove all celebrations from school in the name of political correctness. We would accept the stripping of our children's memories just to avoid the very diversity that founded this nation at its earliest beginnings?  Grow a backbone School Boards!

On the other hand, we also cannot permit the blatant disregard for the respect of all.  My nephew is growing up in the south [Pensacola Florida].  At a local public high school in this gulf coast area teachers were citing The Bible as fact in the classroom.  Such actions brought a lawsuit to the school board, resulting in the protection of the first amendment rights of the student body.  The court ruled that "School Officials shall not cite to the Bible or any sacred text as authority for  historical or scientific fact ."  A press release by the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] stated that Pace High School students "not only face overt compulsion to adopt the religious beliefs of school officials, but also must contend with subtle, coercive pressures to conform their religious beliefs to those favored by school officials,". 

Teaching about differing cultures and beliefs is a far cry from pressuring students to convert.  And that's where the line gets blurry.  The intentions of the educators will make all the difference.  I think it would be beneficial for my sons to go through school learning about the amazing flavors that exist in the unfolding story of humanity but not when the objectives become conversion. 

Educate; do not coerce, and then you can provide nothing but knowledge to the open minds before you.

But I gather school boards would rather take an easier path by excluding beliefs and customs from their cirriculum.  Well, as they say, "ignorance is bliss" but is it really what we want for our children?