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Welcome to the God of Honeybees Podcast. I’m Justin Herb. This is episode three; Rock Meditation. In this episode we’re going to talk about how we can use rocks as a way to improve our meditation practice. At the beginning I wanted to start with some announcements. If you are following me on Twitter or Instagram, you will know that I have been sending out free stickers for people that are signing up for the newsletter. So why should you sign up for the newsletter? Well, aside from getting one of these stickers, you will get the links for any sources that I reference in an episode. If it’s a book I’m talking about, if it’s a publicly available pdf and online article, a video, whatever it is, all of that extra content is going to be condensed into the email right in your inbox so you don’t have to listen back through the episode to find the name or anything like that. It’s going to be right there in the email.
Over the weekend I had two people sign up for the email newsletter, which was awesome. I wanted to thank them personally at the beginning. Rebecca from Springfield, Missouri, if you’re reading this, thank you very much for signing up. Your sticker is on the way! Next, I’m sure you’re a great person, but I don’t want to butcher your name. It is spelled An-Ngoc. You have signed up from Albuquerque, New Mexico. So thank you very much for signing up. I’ve also got your sticker on the way. (At the time of this edit, Tracy Kelly from twitter signed up, so thank you as well Tracy!) If you’re interested in getting one of these stickers, sign up @godofhoneybees.com so not only will you get one of these, you’re going to get some excellent source information on these new exciting ideas that I think you should know about. I also want your feedback on the content so you can reach out to me on Anchor and leave me a voicemail, which would be dope. You can reach out to me on Instagram and now you can get to me on Twitter. Also, there’s a contact page on godofhoneybees.com where you can get in touch with me directly and let me know what you think. That would be fantastic.
For anyone that may have just come across this content, I am writing a book. It’s just about done and it’s under the same name. The title of the book is The God of Honeybees. I’ve been working closely with an editor and we’re about ready for the last round of edits or who knows, maybe the next round of edits. I also found an author that I won’t name drop yet in case they’re not comfortable with that, but I am a big fan of their work and they’ve agreed to read the book and let me know what they think. So that’s awesome! This book is on the verge of being ready to go and once it drops, it’s going to be available on www.godofhoneybees.com. Let’s get on with episode three about rock meditation. I made that mistake in the last take and I called it episode two numerous times.
What I wanted to start with is what I think is the most common misconception about what meditation is supposed to be. I think the most common idea is that meditation is supposed to get you to be able to stop your thoughts entirely, which if that does happen, great, but that’s not necessarily the point. I think the point is getting you into this mental posture that helps you be able to observe your thoughts. If you identify with your emotions, identify with your thoughts, let them carry you away and get all wrapped up in them that that takes you out of that grounded centered state. Meditation is a form of practice that helps you realign that perspective so you can see what your true nature is and how it relates to your thoughts. Not that you are those thoughts and not that you need those thoughts to stop entirely, but you can choose which thoughts to engage in and entertain. There’s a number of ways that you can improve your meditation practice. And this applies to a daily prayer, whatever it might be, whatever your spiritual ritual is for your spiritual self care, it’ll apply to all of it. However, for the sake of consistency, I’m just going to say meditation over and over again because that’s what I use it for.
There’s a number of different ways that you can improve focusing on the current moment, but I just want to touch on three of them. The first one is focusing on your breath. These are all old ideas of course, but focusing on your breath has had a real resurgence lately. If you look at the work of, for example Thich Nhat Hanh, he’s got a lot of explanations on why and how to focus on your breathing. This helps keep you focused on on something you can consciously control. And if you get carried away with a thought, it carries on unconsciously. Breathing in and out, reciting a chant as you breathe in and out, helps you stay grounded in the current moment.
Another method is prayer beads, but this also has the added purpose of keeping count of whatever it is you might be doing. Especially if it’s liturgical prayers. The prayer beads are going to help, but the physicality of the beads in your hand, moving the necklace or the bracelet through your hand, that physical-ness of the interaction is what I think helps keep you focused on the current moment.
Lastly, chanting. Chanting is a way that you can improve your focus on the current moment because you’re thinking about singing, you’re thinking about the words, you’re part, especially if you’re doing it as a group. It’s an affirmation. You’re participating in this group liturgical process. So chanting can really help you get focused on the current moment and what you’re doing and not get carried away with your thoughts. What I want to do in this episode is just throw another one your way. Another method of staying focused on your current moment, clearing your mental chatter, letting your mind relax, giving you something to focus on. That’s using rocks. If they fit in the palm of your hand, this is great because it’s not obvious that you’re using it. You could literally carry one of these in your pocket into church, into the temple, or to yoga, whatever you’re doing. If it’s fitting in the palm of your hand then you know what’s up and you can just focus on your practice. Let’s talk about the steps that I think you should use for the rock meditation.
Obviously find a rock that’s visually appealing. Also a key is to get a rock that you cannot manipulate with your hand. One I can’t break apart or chip at with my fingers. If it was a piece of dried out slate, I could break that with my hands. So, you should get one that you cannot alter with your bare hands.
Once you’ve got your rock, get into your meditation position or go to your church or your temple, whatever it is that you’re doing for your spiritual self care. Then hold the rock in your hand while you’re meditating and focus on the sensation of the rock in your hand. Like I said, observing the rock, I find, is helpful. We’ll get more into that later. But if you look at the rock while you’re doing your meditation, this can be helpful.
Do this over and over again with the same rock until you start to associate your practice with this rock, almost like working out with equipment. It becomes part of the process and you’re comfortable using this rock for that process, for your meditation. Then the last step, which I think is the key step, is to let the rock go. Either by collecting it in a nice bowl in your house or in your garden or just returning it to the earth. When I’ve done it in the past, I just toss it into a field or a stream, just giving it back to the earth where you got it. The key is letting it go and not using it anymore. Now I want to explain why this might be helpful..
First, your mind isn’t going to necessarily have the opportunity to get distracted with thoughts such as, how this rock may have looked in the past or how it might look in the future. This rock has probably looked this way a very long time, well before we came across it and it will look this way for a very long time after. I don’t have the opportunity to really get lost in that thought. Secondly, the feeling of the rock in your hand, especially if it’s cold when you just start meditating, is going to provide input stimulus for you to stay focused on. Also, you can’t alter the shape of the rock. That’s why we are saying don’t use one that’s brittle like slate or Mica that you can alter with your hands. Since you cannot manipulate the shape, the mind doesn’t have the opportunity to get distracted with thoughts of how it may have looked and how I might be able to make it look. The rock is this kind of stable, static object.
Also, you can work on observing without labeling when you’re using the rock for your meditation practice. This is what I was talking about earlier. The idea of seeing without labeling or categorizing comes from J. Krishnamurti, a thinker and speaker from the late seventies. The links to his work will be in the email newsletter, but he has a number of videos where he explains how and why looking at things without attributing labels to them can be really helpful. You can start to see things for what they really are without the lens of category that your mind has applied to it. Consider your rock for example. There’s a lot of color that that I could start to try to mentally label. Texture, weight, temperature, all these things. If I look at the rock while meditating, it provides an opportunity to practice looking without labeling.
Again, the last topic is getting rid of the rock by returning it to the earth or putting it in a bowl or the garden. Why is this important? Well, for one, it reminds us of impermanence. Just as this rock is helping you now, everything is going to change. Once you get used to using this rock, you will get comfortable with it. That’s why you have to do it over and over again. When you let it go, that reminds you of impermanence. It’s like if a church that you used to go to is now gone and you can’t attend anymore. Impermanence. If the pastor that you enjoyed hearing from, or the guru that you watched no longer is there or has passed. Impermanence. This is the idea that we are trying to mirror.
Most importantly, we never want to confuse the finger pointing at the moon for the moon. This is an old idea, but it’s still really pertinent to this concept. The rock here is just a finger pointing at the moon. It’s a tool pointing at the larger idea that you can do this on your own already. The calm, clear sense of awareness that you really are, is already there. This rock is just a tool to remind you of it. So using this rock can, once you get comfortable with it, create a sort of dependence because you’re associating this rock with your practice. That’s why you have to let it go because you don’t want to confuse the finger pointing at the moon for the moon. Using my own background as an example, while it might be an uncomfortable example, imagine someone using a cross when they’re doing their prayer and then they get rid of the cross by giving it away, sending it away, tossing it in the field, etc. That cross itself bears no significance outside of what you give to it. It’s a tool pointing at something larger but itself is not that thing. In the same way, with this rock, you have to let it go so you don’t confuse those things.
Lastly, I want to talk about why placing it around your house or returning it to the earth is an important thing. I’m going to try to find the exact source for these studies and I’ll include them in the email newsletter, but I remember hearing about a study where a researcher took two samples of water and isolated them. With one they interacted strictly in a positive nature. They were saying positive things to it like affirmations, all that kind of stuff. Then, with the other sample of water, they did exactly the opposite. Only negative words. Then they froze the two samples of water and examined the ice crystals. The ice crystals of the water that had all the positive interaction had a geometric form to it. A kind of beautiful layout, almost looking purposeful. It was a beautiful crystalline structure in the ice, whereas the other one, total mess. Chaos. No geometric form. Think about this study, assuming it’s a good study and that we can take it as fact, in the context that we’re talking about-using these rocks to be part of our meditation practice. Say you meditate every day and you use your rock over and over every day. You will have this ongoing, positive interaction with the rock. You’re doing what you love to do for your spiritual self care and you’re using this rock as a tool to do that. If that study is true, you are literally influencing this rock in some way, right? So, if you’re collecting it in a bowl in your house, you’ve got a bowl in your house full of positively charged rocks. Also, if you’ve got them in your garden, you’re placing a bunch of positively charged rocks in your garden. That might be a positive thing that might help the plants! If you’re returning it to the earth by putting it in a field or in a stream, you’re just spreading positively charged rocks, positive energy all over the place. That’s just kind of an added benefit to this practice. If those studies bear out, you are literally influencing these rocks in some way because you’re associating them with this positive thing of meditating or prayer or whatever that ritual might be. What if you passed one of these rocks to one of your friends? That might bear out some positive influence on them. If it doesn’t, they’ve just got a really cool rock with a story. But if it does, then you’re helping them in a way that goes much deeper.
One question I want to leave you with is, how do you meditate? What tools or practices do you use to help keep yourself grounded in the current moment and get the appropriate perspective on things? You can leave me a voicemail on Anchor through the app! That would be awesome to hear from you. You can contact me right through the website, www.godofhoneybees.com or on Twitter or on Instagram. Let me know what tools you might use to improve your meditation practice!
I don’t want to just make episodes telling you things, I want to hear back from you! I’m trying to craft a connection and a conversation with you. I want to hear what you think about this stuff, what you might have to add to these points, etc. We’re crafting that kind of conversation that’s ongoing and I love that idea. So reach out to me in any of these ways or firstname.lastname@example.org you can send me an email directly. Also, go to www.godofhoneybees.com and sign up for the email newsletter. The next eight people that sign up will get one of these stickers of our logo from www.stickermule.com. I will send that to you for free! Again, keep an eye out for the book. When that drops, that’s going to be available through the website.
This has been God of Honeybees Podcast. I’m Justin Herb. Thanks for listening.