Lisa Erickson, 4
Interview with Lisa Erickson
I would say chakra meditation and nature meditation have been the two constants in my path, and are what I do regularly. Daily I usually start my meditation with some chakra/energy work– I will generally rotate between the core 7 chakras, combined with either mantra or breath-work. Sometimes I use music, sometimes I don't. I will often tailor this part of my meditation depending on how I am feeling. If I am feeling at all frazzled or off-center, I may spend more time on my 3rd chakra.
If I am feeling off-balance or emotionally edgy or closed, then I might spend more time on my heart. If there is something I need to 'see', some issue or question I have going on in my life, I may spend more time on my third eye. For me, this is the value of energy work– that I can look at my awareness and help address things I find there. But after that I just sit.
I may start out focused on a particular chakra– usually the heart, third eye or crown, but then I let go of that focus and just sit, and let things unfold, let things settle in. The amount of time I have for that varies– during the week these days, with young kids, this lasts until one (or more!) of them get up and come in to get me. So then letting go of my meditation time, and tuning into them, is part of my practice. On weekends my husband takes the kids all morning, and I sit for as long as feels right.
I also try and get away regularly on my own, as I do find I need some extended meditation time on a regular basis, especially when I am teaching. Either way, I usually end my meditation with some kind of “metta” practice– sending compassion out to people in my life– ultimately the planet– and then gratitude practice. As I mentioned, I also spend time out in nature a lot, and meditate outside quite a bit. Sometimes I will connect with a tree, sometimes the ocean, sometimes mountains (depending on where we are.)
Do you sit in any particular posture during these meditations? And outside of music, and of course nature, are there any other tools that you make use of while meditating? Also, I am curious as to whether your young ones emulate you and join in meditating? It's so great that they are being exposed to it. I am wondering what their take is.
I do sit in a traditional cross-legged position, although more of a half-lotus than full. I do keep my spine straight throughout, which is usually taught as a requirement for kundalini and chakra work, since the energy moves parallel to the spine. However, I don't consider this absolutely essential– more of a goal. I always tell people to try and build up the core muscles around their lower back and abdomen to sit up straight during meditation, but by no means to sit in pain or feel like they can't meditate if they can't do this.
Nature, music, mantras, and breathe techniques are the primary 'tools' that I sometimes employ. I also teach visualizations associated with the various chakras, but honestly for myself, I don't use them much. I have never been very visual, although for some people visualizations are very useful as a starting point. As for my kids, they are still very young– 5 1/2 and then twins that are almost 4. Since on weekdays I typically meditate on my bed right as I wake up, they do come in and join me on the bed when they wake up themselves. Sometimes one of them will sit in my lap, or right next to me.
They don't formally meditate, but certainly I believe they feel and absorb the energy– as does my dog, and every dog I've ever had for that matter– friends and I have noted that meditation cushions and corners are usually the favorite napping spot of pets! With my kids, my approach is to expose them to meditation, both through my own practice and children's books that incorporate it, but not push it.
I want them to think of meditation as a natural part of life, and if they ask me to teach them more about it, I will do so, but I don't want to push it, for fear of them rejecting it because of that– like a baseball coach whose kids won't play baseball! I have taught them how to belly-breath to calm down, and how to chant 'Om' for the same purpose, and they are actually aware of the chakras because of some children's books I found on the subject (they love the colors of course), but they don't do any formal sitting meditations. We'll see if that evolves or not– I am trying not to have any preconceived notions about it, so I can just respond to them when the timing feels right.