I am running through a forest; a mature forest filled with maple trees, beech trees with smooth grey bark, and birch trees with white papery bark that shines in the light. The air is cool and fresh. I am headed for the cliff; the wall of limestone that protects the valley. I reach the face of the cliff, find the hidden crevice, and slip into the dark. I begin my descent down rocky stairs that spiral into the earth. My hands slide along rough walls on either side of the stairs to guide me through the dark. I count the stairs in my head…1, 2, 3 … until I reach 20 and the floor of the cave.
It is my cave; a place known to no one else but me. My sacred place; a rock cave with woven blankets on the floor and flaming torches mounted on the walls. I move through the cave to a doorway and place the palms of both hands firmly against the door. An old woman emerges. She is small with intense eyes and black hair that is bound in long braids that fall to her waist. She picks me up under the arms and spins me around as if I were a small child. As always, she is both thrilled to see me and mad that I have waited so long to visit.
She rushes me to a small room that is lit only by a small candle on the floor. We sit on a woven blanket on either side of the candle; she in the east, the place of spirit, and me in the west, the place of the body. In front of each of us are pipes with bowls carved out of stone and stems carved out of wood. Together we fill our pipes; offering a prayer and pinch of tobacco to each of the eight directions and the centre of the wheel. With each prayer, my consciousness drops deeper into my being; my mind grows quieter; and I touch the centre of my being. I know my deepest longings and my greatest fears. I am peaceful. I am nothing and everything.
After a little while, I will reverse my steps, close my pipe, hug my “grandmother” good-bye, come up the stairs counting backwards, run back through the woods in the daylight until I reach the parking lot.
This is a place in my mind; a place I can visit almost any time that I choose. It is an exercise that I have been taught; one that I have fine-tuned and made my own over the years. It brings me closer to myself. It calms me. It gives me peace. So, why do I avoid it? Why do I find it so hard to make time for this meditation? Why do I allow so much time to pass between sessions? Why do I fill my life with so much activity, so much work, so many distractions? What am I afraid of?