I don’t know about you, but one of my biggest problems is getting in my own way. With everything. Parenting, writing, living, you name it. So one of the best things I can think of for myself and my own sanity is to practice getting *out* of my own way. I learned how to do this at healing school, using a meditation called “Basking in the Light.”
One of my classmates observed to our teacher that what he was teaching us in class seemed to be mostly how to get out of our own way. And my teacher, who didn’t laugh like the rest of us, nodded gravely. “You have no idea,” he said, “How much of this is just that.” Then he taught us the meditation, which I’ll try to outline here.
Here’s a picture of the Tree of Life, or in Hebrew, the etz chaim, from Kabbalah:
It’s a long story, but each of the points on the tree, except for that very bottom one, emit light. They’re called vessels of light. But that bottom point (not really a point, more of a gateway), is called Malkhut, and Malkhut doesn’t make its own light. Its only job is to reflect the light from the vessels above it. Just like how our moon reflects light from the sun. It doesn’t emit its own light, but it can still light up a field at midnight, when it’s full. That’s the idea of Malkhut.
I typically think of this as “the Malkhut meditation,” rather than “basking in the light,” mostly just because it’s easier to remember. But lately, I’ve taken to calling it “the rock on the floor.” See, you can actually superimpose the tree pictured above onto the human body, so that each part of the tree corresponds to an area of the body. For instance, Tiferet in the middle of the tree, would be located at your heart. And below Tiferet is Yesod, which corresponds to the “root chakra” or genitals. Which makes Malkhut, if you’re sitting in a chair, the rock on the floor beneath you.
So for this meditation, you basically take the place of the rock on the floor. The mantra goes, “I am Malkhut. I have no light of my own. My only job is to reflect the lights of Heaven.” Images to help with visualizing this state include the moon, or a large rock in sunlight, or even a still, clear lake, which reflects perfectly the environment around it.
I repeat these words over and over and keep breathing deeply, and eventually, most of the time, I can feel myself sink into that imaginary rock on the floor under my chair. And then all of the striving, all of the drama, all of the tension of daily life no longer belongs to me. It doesn’t hook me anymore. I’m just the rock on the floor. What do I care about the chair, or the way the person sitting in the chair looks, or whether their hair is combed?
A similar exercise my teacher suggested was next time you go to a movie, right in the middle of the action, remind yourself that what you’re watching is just light on a flat screen. When you remember the flat screen, the drama just collapses. It doesn’t catch you up in its story anymore.
I’m not advocating the elimination of films or stories. I’m a writer, after all. But think of yourself as the screen. If all of the drama and tension of my life is only the reflection on a (three-dimensional, holographic) screen, maybe I don’t have to own it, anymore. Or maybe it doesn’t have to own me.
This practice has brought me a lot of peace of mind, and at least for a few minutes a day, I can get out of my own way. And once I get familiar with how it feels — how *blissful* it feels — I can make it more of a regular habit.