Red Mud

Accepting the strangeness


Sometimes, the images and experiences that can occur during meditation can be strange and unsettling. It can take courage to embrace what emerges, and accept it as a part of yourself to be acknowledged, rather than threat to be defended against. Yesterday was such a day for me .

The mood took me to meditate in a standing position. I had recently gone from a a job where I was on my feet and moving around all day to one where I had to sit at a computer. Suddenly the idea of sitting in my leisure time seemed intolerable. The traditional standing meditation position for tai chi is one I am reasonably comfortable with, so I stood, feet at hips’ width, knees slightly bent, arms open as if gently embracing a beach ball, hands falling down from the shoulders, head rising high, relaxed, and established connections with earth and sky.

During the initial few minutes of breathing, my legs and feet felt almost intolerably heavy. When I looked with my inner eye, they seemed to be filling up with thick, red mud, like the fine silty sediment in Oklahoma and Mississippi. As I watched, the mud rose higher and higher, and I began to feel a little panicky. Usually, during meditation, I feel weightless. I turned my attention to the sky, thinking to pull in some of the cool blue sky energy, and


to achieve my accustomed sense of balance. The cool purple-blue spiraled like clear water into the rising level of the red mud, and I could, with effort, force the mud which by now had reached the center of my chest, to go back down. I pushed the mud all the way down into the earth again, filling myself with sky energy all the way to my toes. It occurred to me then, that perhaps I was worrying unnecessarily. If I could control it, then it was not a threat. Maybe it was there for a reason. I relaxed and the red mud immediately began once again to rise inside me. I felt so heavy all over, so very heavy. As the red mud rose up to the top of my head, I was filled with a sense of joy. I remembered that the earth, the root chakra, red, are all connected to the sense of stability and security. Even though I might be changing everything about my life - and I am, the earth will not go away. I can take my sense of stability with me. I can call upon it wherever I go.

This is the gift of earth.




“The Meditation of the Red Mud” pastel on paper, 18 x 24”

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