It was during a seated meditation that I looked into the eyes of the melting face of love.
I was just back from Estes Park, Colorado, where I’d gone with 10 family members to scatter the ashes of six people who had loved that place—my parents; an aunt who died this year at 101; and a second aunt, her husband, and their daughter, who had died long before they did in her 30s.
I had never been to Estes Park before, but I could see why they had so often spoken of it. It was so beautiful, and so different from Chicago and Maryland and California and Seattle, the places where they and I had lived.
A few days after returning home, during my seated-meditation-with-cat, I found myself chanting the words “mountains, rocks, trees, earth” in my head, with each word bringing a remembered image from Estes Park to mind.
I may have been slipping towards sleep because I have no sense of leaving those images and arriving elsewhere, but suddenly I was seeing a face, looking into eyes, and as I looked into them, the eyes softened, becoming warm, totally loving, totally accepting. Actually, I don’t know if the eyes and the face melted, or if I melted into them—but then they were gone and I felt a wave of almost palpable energy, white, like water vapor, leaving the face and settling onto my shoulders and upper chest. It was warm and lovely. I felt a smile and it may be that I actually did smile. And I felt good all day.
But the face was gone. It had been a woman’s face, clearly. I cannot now bring it to mind’s eye, but it wasn’t the face of anyone I have known—not my mother’s, not mine, not a Chinese face, as might befit my qigong practice, not a brown Native American face, as might befit Colorado.
But so nice, so warm.
I of course wanted more.
I tried going back to chanting “mountains, rocks, trees, earth,” adding “sky, clouds and moon”—and I’m not sure why I didn’t have the moon in there from the beginning, because when I was in Estes Park there was a full moon, and it was everywhere in the night sky, unlike in the Seattle area, where you have to find a place where there are no trees to see it.
I knew that trying to experience the face again wouldn’t work. All of my powerful energy experiences have been one-offs, things that came completely out of the blue and never returned. But I did so want to feel the love of the face again that I tried anyway.
On the third or fourth day of trying, I recalled Dr. Sun (Dr. Guan-Cheng Sun, my longtime qigong teacher) saying that when you visit a place and feel its energy, you don’t ever have to go back because it remains with you. He was referring to geographical places, like Estes Park, but I felt he could equally have been talking about internal visions and energy experiences.
I decided that I didn’t need to look upon the face of melting love again, because I now had its energy within me. It had been given to me, or I had created it, whatever.
My meditations could assume that it was me and mine; they didn’t have to be quests for more.
This may sound silly, but for me it was quite profound.
I had been struggling with conflicting views as to which direction qi travels in the small universe (microcosmic orbit) in women, whether it travels up the back and down the front in women, as it is considered to do in men, or whether some or all of the time it flows in the reverse direction.
I had also been dragging my feet at getting started with a meditation given me by a qigong therapist that involved visualizing golden energy streaming down around and through one’s body from above, followed by visualizing a taproot shooting into the earth, generating side roots and then sending earth energy up the back, over the top and down the front of the body to the lower dantian, below the navel.
It is a lovely meditation. But now I feel that it is basically a man’s meditation and that that perhaps was why I had been dragging my feet at getting started with it.
In the meditation, energy comes first from above, from the heavens, which are considered yang (the “masculine” opposite of yin), and it is the color of the sun, which is also yang. The energy of the face, and the energy I have “seen” a number of other times, was white, the color of the moon, which is yin. And the energy which came to me from the face came from in front of me, to the area of my heart, rather than from above, to my head.
As well, when I tried doing just the roots portion of the meditation, I found I didn’t want to do a taproot; my roots immediately wanted to branch and extend outwards. Hmmm…. It’s hard not to think of a taproot as phallic.
I am always wanting “experts” to tell me how to practice since I have never trusted my own intuition and, indeed, I have argued on occasion that I have none. In qigong, the experts are generally men, and although they may be doing their very best to help their female students, they can’t help being men any more than I can help being a woman.
I suppose I could just find a female qigong teacher, and maybe I will.
But maybe it is time to trust more in my own intuition and experience and also to fully acknowledge and embrace that I am an old woman and that my qigong practice should be that of an old woman.
“Old” is a difficult adjective for anyone to embrace in western culture. “Woman” can also be challenging, at least for someone who has always, despite her best efforts, felt that things that were “feminine” were second best.
I reached most of these conclusions during a meditation session. Yes, I was thinking, which seems to be taboo during meditation. I think a lot when I am attempting to meditate, and much of this thinking is, regrettably, obsessive thinking. But sometimes, as in this instance, ideas come to me, or thoughts/feelings fit together and I realize something new.
Perhaps this latter type of thinking is as valuable as non-thinking….
And perhaps being an old woman on an old woman’s spiritual journey will be amazingly rewarding….