You likely know the benefits of meditation by now: reduced stress, strengthened immune system, overall mood improvement, ability to handle challenges better, etc. (If you are curious to know more, this great article lists out 76 different benefits with citations.)
Mediation brings us into a state of being that my coach trainer, Martha Beck, calls “wordlessness.” In her book Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, she says “silencing the thoughts in our heads and opening to the experience of the body and emotions is the basis of all healing. It’s the only means by which we can reclaim our true nature or feel the subtle cues telling us how to find our way through life.”
Maybe you, like me, are a little dismayed at this statement. Maybe you, like me, think mediation is amazing and wonderful and blissful…and never actually do it.
Happily, there are multiple paths to this state of wordlessness, and my favorite from the book is sacred play.
Martha defines real play as “picking something hard doing it at a level that is almost too difficult.” If you’ve done any yoga, you might think of this as going to your edge with whatever it is you are trying to learn.
What we truly love, what makes things exciting and fun, is the challenge. Games you already know how to play quickly become boring. This is why MMORPGs are forever expanding and adding more difficult content. This is why you grow out of tic tac toe the moment you figure it out. This is why there are Mensa word puzzles in airline magazines. Challenge is fun.
Good news, fellow mediation-shirkers – doing something that is almost too hard naturally puts us into a very intense state of concentration, and we enter wordlessness without even directly trying.
Martha lists out four types of sacred play:
This is my personal favorite – put on some music and lose yourself in the wild joy of dance. If you don’t just do this naturally, you might want to try out a few different teachers who can help you move out of your head and into your body. I personally love Jaclyn Lacey Foster (my favorite dance teacher, ever) – you can find one of her videos here.
I also love the practice of shaking – you can find Kim Eng’s version of a shaking practice here. You can also try something more structured, like Qi Gong (a great one here from Lee Holden) or martial arts. For those of you who hate dance, your form of sacred dance might be running, swimming, skiing – any physical activity where you lose yourself in the movement.
Your karaoke routine might have more value than you thought – allow yourself to get into wordlessness by singing your favorite song, or learning to play an instrument (something that is definitely at the very edge for me!)
One of my favorite versions of this is chanting, and my go-to artist for beautiful chant meditations is Snatam Kaur. She generously partnered with Spirit Voyage to make a beautiful healing chant available to all people for free here.
This might be visual arts for you, painting what your eye truly sees. Or it might be something usually considered a craft – knitting, weaving, sewing, glass blowing – anything that allows you drop into a wordless state and just create.
Storytelling is one of the most interesting ways to become wordless, as it involves words themselves. Allow your right brain to take over and just tell a story, focusing on the absorption of it. Let yourself write poetry.
Though Martha doesn’t mention this, my favorite form of wordlessness through storytelling is reading great fiction. A truly excellent book is like a gateway to guaranteed flow for me.
Have you ever experienced wordlessness through sacred play? Leave a comment and share it with us!