Day 8 – meditating with Chinese medicine balls

I wake up at 8 so that I can have a shower and meditate before I go to the 10am yoga class. I try the Meditation incense which is a blend of sandalwood and rose. I also take a pair of Chinese Meditation Balls. Apparently they were originally developed in the Ming Dynaste (1368 – 1644) by a weaponry Blacksmith who was “guided by the gods [to] fashion these iron balls to produce the sounds of a roaring Dragon and the singing fabled phoenix.” The “Jingluo” theory states that the fingers are all connected to the heart, cranial nerves, vital organs and blood stream so the balls stimulate various acupuncture points in the hands to help blood flow, the flow of Chi (life force), and assist in good health, intelligence and memory. Rotating the balls in the hands uses all the joints and the forearm muscles are contracted and relaxed harmonically. They apparently strengthen the immune system and can prevent arthritis. They are also used as a focus piece for meditation as they relax the mind, drown worries and release stress. The leaflet enclosed in the silk lined box claims that “Health balls prolong peoples lives and are a necessary treasure to relieve fatigue in this modern world.”

I sit up straight, take five deep long breaths and begin with my right hand, rotating the Meditation balls in a clockwise direction. I tried going the other way but found it nearly impossible. I find myself quickly focused on the task at hand, but as the mind got used to the motion, I find myself listening intently to the sound the balls make. The vibration of the gentle bell inside is travelling through my entire body. After about five minutes I switch to the left hand and have a little more trouble getting a flowing motion with that hand, but eventually find the same focus as my fingers stretch and contract rhythmically moving the balls around each other. After about five minutes, I take a ball in each hand and hold it still so that I can feel the vibration through each hand. When they came to stillness, I start to roll them back and forth between my palm and fingers so that they continue to jingle, sending the vibration of that sound through my body. Eventually one rolls out of my hand so I just put the other one down and sit with my eyes closed, visualising the two balls spinning around and focusing on the sound they made.

Suddenly I realise my right arm is itchy. I know that scratching it will pull me out of my state of meditation so I send it some breath and look deeper into the darkness behind my eyelids. I can feel my wet hair dripping onto my lap, which would normally irritate me but I send it more breath and look deeper. Now I realise my right food has gone completely numb and so I look deeper until I am no longer aware of my physical body, just the breath and the dark stillness I find myself in.

After eighteen minutes my eyes open and I try to stand up, but stumble. Oh, that’s right, my foot is still numb. I give it a little shake and the life comes back into it.

I feel as though the past week has been a sporadic experiment of meditation techniques, so starting tomorrow I will be doing a week of different Pranayama, breath work, exercises that can be used for meditation.

Day 5 – white light meditation

I have been doing some research into the olfactory tools for meditation, such as incense, scented candles, balms, essential oils and resins. There are many blends that can be used to increase concentration, relax the mind and help find stability and focus. This morning I use a hot coal in a heat proof dish to burn Benzoin resin from Sumatra and 100% natural Camphor resin. The benzoin is a ‘warm, releasing and calming resin. It has been known to stimulate imagination and is good for use in creative work.’ The camphor is used ‘To strengthen awareness and in maintaining concentration. Often added to morning meditation incense mixtures.’

The smell of the benzoin is earthy and pleasant. The camphor is refreshing and I can instantly feel my sinuses clearing up. My breath becomes easier and I soon find my mind still and clear. I begin to count the inhale and exhale slowly, inhaling for a count of six, exhaling for a count of twelve. As I feel my mind focusing entirely on my breath, and I allow myself to simply notice the length of inhale and exhale, without trying to control it. I steadily inhale for about four to six counts and exhale for six to twelve counts. The natural variation in breath is steady and I feel as though I am meditating from a place just above my brain, in my crown chakra. I feel as though I am in a pure white light with my awareness sitting just above a river of thoughts. I feel a sense of enjoyment and contentment and sit here in this space for close to twenty minutes before I allow myself to return to my physical space. I close the space and allow the resin to burn out. I know the charcoal will still be hot so there is no point clearing it away for a while. I get ready and go to a yoga class where I feel myself flowing through the poses with ease. The yoga class actually feels like an extension to my meditation, a moving meditation.

On a side note, I got my period last night and it suddenly occurred to me that I haven’t experienced the temporary insanity that usually occurs before it. The last 3-4 days have been entirely peaceful and harmonious- no mood swings, inexplicable hostility, anger, frustration or teariness. The things that would normally send me into emotional turmoil haven’t even affected me in the slightest. I haven’t even been craving chocolate to the usual extremity and have experienced no cramps or pains. I have no other explanation for this other than the meditation.

Incense purchased from Embrace at Miranda Westfield: