Poem of the Day: Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798 By William Wordsworth.
I’ve chosen this poem because to me it describes most perfectly the experience of meditation, of switching off the mind and making contact with the Divine. The resultant inner peace is immeasurably helpful in dealing with stress and uncertainty, such as we are faced with at the present time. Below, I analyse a few lines of the poem in detail, before going on to explore the theme of mindfulness and meditation and its application in daily life.
Laid asleep in body
In the poem, Wordsworth describes his return to the River Wye after five years’ absence. He is thankful, upon returning, for the sense of peace and harmony afforded him by nature: ‘that blessed mood…In which the heavy and the weary weight/Of all this unintelligible world,/Is lightened.’ Upon reaching the banks of the River Wye, he recounts a spiritual experience which reaches its climax in the following lines:
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
This is exactly how I feel when I use meditation to enter a hypnotic state. Up until very recently, I would go down to the beach to do this. However, faced with new circumstances I have found it can be done in the garden, on a terrace, or even in a quiet room. The place is less important than the ‘living soul’ we carry within us, which knows innately how to ‘see into the life of things.’ The key is to tune out the noise and clamour of daily life, and switch off the fears and stresses which block us from the Divine.
Mindfulness in Practice
I am by no means an expert in either meditation or yoga. I don’t pretend to be a yoga instructor or a spiritual advisor. I simply want to describe my personal experience of mindfulness and meditation. This has proved invaluable to me, particularly during times of great stress and uncertainty.
I became aware of the value of meditation when I was pregnant with my first child. I bought Maggie Howell’s ‘Natal Hypnotherapy‘ CD for £10; probably the best £10 I’ve ever spent. I would thoroughly recommend her program to anyone who is anxious about childbirth. Using the CD, I found that I was able to enter into self-hypnosis very easily. The techniques were so effective that during labour I was able to shut down my mental processes and let my body take over. This was something profound, especially for someone who was naturally an overthinker.
Sadly, after giving birth, I returned to the destructive cycle of stress, anxiety and self-loathing. My husband asked me why I didn’t practice self-hypnosis and meditation in my daily life to help deal with my problems? My answer was simple: I didn’t have the time.
Take time to make time stand still
It was only after some serious mental health difficulties and several more years’ suffering that I realised I didn’t have time to leave meditation and mindfulness out of my life. I went to the doctor and he gave me benzodiazepines: this made me much worse, and I almost became addicted. I’d also had bad experience with SSRI antidepressants so knew I had to find a way to heal myself, instead of medicating my problems.
Instead of taking any more medication, or going back to alcohol, I took myself down to the beach; I listened to the waves; I breathed deeply in and out with the motion of the sea. I closed my physical eyes so that my spiritual eyes could open, and I felt the earth heave up to meet my body even as gravity pulled it down.
I know I’ve entered into a hypnotic state when my eyes start to see the colours of the sunlight through my eyelids, and I achieve a feeling of bliss and total peace of mind. Thoughts come. I let them come, but I don’t focus on them. If you can achieve this, even for only 10 minutes a day, it will help you immeasurably. The result of your practice should be a conscious contact with:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.
It might sound crazy, but this poem has stood the test of time, and if we’re to meet the challenges ahead, we must stand the tests presented to us in the current time.