I've been having dreams lately where in the dream I ask a question.
I ask - "What is my spiritual practice?"
Whoever I happen to be asking responds by saying - "Mantra. Mantra. Mantra. Mudra."
These are words related to yoga and meditation.
A mantra is a repeated phrase you say again and again. A mudra is a hand position you hold either in meditation or as part of a yoga posture.
Here's how this dream message can be translated - "Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Hold."
I've gone through a lot of fiery transformations in my life.
I've gone no-contact with abusive people in my family. I've gotten sober, and I've claimed my life as a writer. These were all amplified fiery transformations that changed everything.
During these times I felt like a great dragon, burning everything down with the fire in my belly, so that a whole new, wonderful life could come into existence.
Right now, we're all in the midst of a dragon-fire transformation. I don't know what's on the other side of this, but I know our world is changing dramatically and quickly, and it feels like the hot, fiery energy of change.
My dream message reminds me of two spiritual practices that help during intense times like this.
It helps to do something everyday that can be repeated and relied upon. This can be absolutely anything as long as it's something that makes you feel a little better when you're done.
Maybe it's coloring.
Maybe it's yoga and meditation.
Maybe it's writing.
Maybe it's stopping for 30 seconds and feeling whatever emotion you're feeling in the moment.
Maybe it's saying again and again, "There is a path to freedom here."
It doesn't matter what the practice is as much as it matters that this practice can be a repeatable touchstone - a reliable moment of sanity in the day.
When everything is changing it helps to have one small thing remain the same.
When I first started meditating it was incredibly uncomfortable to hold the same position for sustained periods of time - 20 minutes, 40 minutes - however long the session, it was always hard to hold the position until the timer went off.
After a while of practicing, however, I realized that life situations often felt the same way.
I would be in a situation that felt uncomfortable and that wasn't going to change anytime soon, and I would think, "Oh, this feels the same as staying in meditation for a long time."
Meditation helped me get familiar with who I was when holding a sustained position in life.
Dragon-fire transformations can often feel like they're going on too long. They are a challenging position to hold. So, taking the time to get familiar with who you are when holding a position can help.
The position itself doesn't have to be hard - stand or sit comfortably. Choose any amount of time, even 30 seconds will do. The important thing is to stay in the position until your timer goes off.
While holding the position, breathe and get familiar with the feelings that arise.
Then, ask yourself three questions: Who are you when you are holding a position? What do you need? What would create a feeling of ease and care in the moment?
When everything is changing, and the change is going on longer than expected, it can help to discover who you are and what you need during times like these.
As I've sunk deeper into my spiritual practice of repeating and holding, I've been feeling a little better.
I have more creative energy for the writing I love to do.
My anxious edges are softening.
I am able to take deep, relaxing breaths during the day.
I am also remembering that dragon-fire transformations never last forever.
There will be a day when this is all over, and when that day comes we'll all be wiser, stronger, and more resilient than ever before.
We've got this.
We can do it.
Image: Dragon card from Kim Krans's Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Oracle