In 1992, a Native American shaman recommended that I gather several pounds of stones and put them into a bag — and then hold this bag in my lap when I meditated. This was to ground me — literally — and to help get me out of my head and into my body, to more consciously and deeply feel my connection to the Earth.
It was a great suggestion, and not just because I went overboard with it. The shaman had suggested I collect about five or six pounds of stones. Instead, I gathered close to twenty pounds of river rocks into a pillow case, and meditated with them in my lap for several years.
I’m not quite sure when I fell out of that habit, but I gradually started meditating without my bag of rocks — and after a while just stopped meditating. I’ve made numerous attempts since then to get back into regular practice. Looking back, I see that the only times I really got back into a routine meditation practice for any length of time was when stones were involved.
For example, I made myself a string of prayer beads in 2000. I went to Bangles and Beads in Carytown (Richmond, Virginia) for fifty-four labradorite beads and one carved jade bead to act as the guru bead. I spent several hours stringing the beads, knotting the silk cord between each one. After the guru bead went on, I attached a silver charm — an ankh — instead of a tassel.
(To learn more about stringing prayer beads, read Bead Here Now, which I wrote for Spirituality & Health.)
Meditating with that mala in my hands — whether counting the beads in mantra repetition or just feeling the cool, smooth weight of the beads against my skin — always sets me straight. But I sometimes get out of the habit of reaching for them.
In recent weeks, I’ve noticed that I’ve wanted turquoise or other polished stone in my hands when I sit in meditation. But that wasn’t enough. I knew what I needed.
I took an old purse over to my boyfriend’s house, and I collected about ten pounds of river rocks.
If you want to meditate on the planet and on the environment, I don’t know any better way to get in touch with the Earth than to literally have a piece of it with you. Rocks are older than we are, and these same stones that aid my meditation now will be around long after I’m gone. But for the time being, they are my partners in prayer, my companions of contemplation — and probably some other keen turns of alliterative phrase, too.
To be really hokey…. Meditation rocks with my meditation rocks. 😉