Original Newsletter Post – 6/17/19
When I was at the ADA (Academy of Dramatic Arts) in my 20s, we did an exercise called “Sense Memory”. Each of us would recall something from our past, an important moment or significant event, and try to remember it with all our senses.
If anyone has been in one of my guided meditation classes or read one I published, then you’ll recognize that in each step I ask you to experience everything through your senses. For example, in imagining the White Light at the center of the universe coming into your crown chakrah to build a sphere of protection, we concentrate – one sense at a time – on what that beam of light looks like, sounds like, smells like, tastes like and feels like, both emotionally and physically. I took this technique from my initial class in Sense Memory.
When we did this at the ADA, one of the tough, young he-male students surprised everyone by remembering a moment from his sister’s wedding. He concentrated on the moment when she walked down the aisle to her waiting fiance whom he was standing next to. He recalled how beautiful she looked, how full of love. He could smell the flowers and the age-scent of the wood in the church, hear the music, feel the slight awkwardness of his rental tux, see/feel the sunlight coming through the stained glass windows. After making all this real for himself, he then got to the moment of seeing her coming down the aisle and it brought him to tears in front of the entire class.
When Sense Memory is done right and complete, that’s the power it has. That especially works in guided meditation.
While others in class recalled moments of anger or disappointment or rejection, the one I remember so clearly is this strong leading-man type actor in tears at the beauty and love he experienced at his sister’s wedding. That not only taught me about the great power of Sense Memory, but also the great power of unconditional love.
When I offer the Gandarvas Meditation in a group, we start by recalling with full sense memory a moment of unconditional love we’ve experience at some point in our lives. It doesn’t matter what/why/who. It can be the love of a parent, a sibling, a boy/girl friend, a lover or an animal. Or just Nature herself. This is the love that has no strings attached. It is love for love’s sake.
Then, in the meditation, as each of us recreate a personal moment of unconditional love, we make a sound, like an “ahh”, that sends that recalled love vibrating through our bodies out into the room. The “ahh-ing” can last up to thirty minutes. When everyone stops at the same time (through a signal), the group sits in awe of the perfect harmonic love-energy created by the sound of our joined unconditional love. The room is filled with a rarefied vibration that is akin to spiritual revelation.
It takes a long time before anyone is comfortable breaking that energy by speaking. And then, our voices are all soft and whisper-like because we want that feeling to stay with us.
In doing this meditation for myself, I have several moments of unconditional love I rely on. One of the clearest is a memory of my father. In honor of him and the Father’s Day that just passed, here is the moment of unconditional love I recall from my father.
I am in seventh or eight grade, in Detroit, during winter. It’s early morning and my father comes in to wake me for school. I am aware it’s dark, with only a faint light glowing from the bathroom down the hall. I am very warm under the covers even though I can feel the ambient cold as my nose sticks out of the blanket. I am in the lower half of bunk beds, so just above me is the bottom of the empty bed above. It gives me a cozy, cave-like protective feel.
I sense and smell him approaching. I smell the leftover after-shave from the day before. He is a big man, 6’1” and well padded like a polar bear (his totem animal) so I can see his presence as a figure in the dark room barely back-lit by the bathroom light. He puts a gentle hand on my shoulder. He doesn’t have to say anything, this is our routine. The hand feels large and comforting.
I pull my hand up from under the covers and spread my fingers out to indicate “five” as in “five more minutes, please”. We don’t speak. There is no need. He kisses the palm of my hand. I feel the rough whiskers of his mustache and beard on my palm, the softness of his lips and the warmth of his breath just for a moment. Then he is gone. I know he will come back in five minutes to wake me again.
That sense-memory when my father kisses my palm is my moment of unconditional love that I can easily recall, with all my senses. It brings tears to my eyes every time, no matter how many times I go there.
Whether you are in group meditation or doing one for yourself, I highly recommend using all your senses to participate, whether it’s recalling a past event or throwing yourself fully into the meditation. Or simply try using Sense Memory to recall that moment of unconditional love. You don’t need a group to achieve that rarefied energy.
With all the challenges and discord around us as we adapt to a new Aquarian Age normal, taking a moment to remind ourselves what unconditional love feels like is always worth it. Unconditional love is the strongest power in the universe. All we have to do is tap into it and it becomes a healing energy for our soul. Which then becomes a healing energy for those around us and can spread out into the world.
I offer this with love and gratitude…