Shapeshifting a Meditative Life: The Magic of Meditation Beyond the Moment

By Chelcee Johns. Photography by Deun Ivory. 

The EMS siren is more than likely blocks away, heard even if faintly. The old man with thick hands and a heavier voice is singing in a language I do not know, but feel, on the street below. There is the toddler I often see in the elevator telling her mother to turn the channel in the apartment adjacent my own. There is work that needs to be done. The Trump and Kanye tweets. The grandmother I will  call and check on today.

And then, there is the fire escape I’ve claimed a balcony - because if you live in New York you know that personal, outdoor space is hard to come by. I sit here. With all of the noise of the world beyond and behind me, there is a guided meditation playing in my earbuds, a Bible flipped open. There is a peace, a calm, a stillness among what can sometimes seem like the chaos, or simply the constant pull of life. It is an intentional practice of seeding the day-to-day with stillness. It is a practice I am still earning. While it can’t always look like a makeshift balcony on a Saturday  in Harlem. While it is sometimes the internal woosah at your 9-5 or holding your thumb to index finger to shift the pressures. This month at BGIO we’re exploring ways to ‘ Shapeshift a Meditative Life.’

In many spiritual practices, we at times try to move outside of our body in order to achieve enlightenment, stillness, reflection. But, Ekhart Tolle would say, “Transformation is through the body, not away from it.” With meditation, we use our mind, body, breath and spirit to become more self-aware, shimmy away the stress, learn to see our thoughts, feel our feelings, increase our focus and so much more. It is a way we can  preserve ourselves. Shapeshifting is noted as the ability to completely transform our physical shapes. We believe this is possible through our daily wellness practices, our spiritual magic, our conjuring the internal. 

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” - Audre Lorde

While you may not be able to breakout into your favorite yoga pose on the subway or boardroom, there are many ways to transform your life to one that embodies the motives and modes of meditation. And, what are the motives of meditation? They are different for each, but at its core meditation opens the gateway to see and preserve your inner-self. A meditative life has the opportunity to do the same.

 I’ve tried many the meditation apps from Headspace to Insight Timer (all great), and I remember one guided meditation stating, "Even in the grey skies and gloom, there is always a blue expanse beyond what we see.” A meditative life reminds us to see beyond the temporal.

When we create internal stillness, it has no choice but to show up externally.  

At BGIO, we pride ourselves on creating a space for women of color to breathe easy, and we know that this can’t just be a moment but a movement in our daily lives. If you’ve been following the Black Girl In Om social media accounts, you know that our team just exited a transformative retreat, where bonding, thriving, and empowerment were at the center. Retreats are often a dedicated space and time where we are able to  shapeshift, revitalize, transform, be still and more. How we do we work to instill in our daily lives meditative practices that move beyond a moment? (We’ll be answering that question and many more this Tuesday, for our BGIO Twitter chat.)  

To start, recognize what modes of self-care and meditation work best for you in constant practice. Maybe you don't practice yoga daily, but you do journal. What allows ease into your schedule? To capture the magic of meditation beyond the moment is to find a practice you enjoy returning to with frequency. Is it the traditional seated meditation you carve a space for daily? The walk to work with your favorite mantras playing? (These can and often shift in season). At one season, taking a few intentional breaths and reciting a small reminder ('No weapon formed against me shall prosper, even if I am that weapon' - I know, right - it was a rough season) worked. Today, it looks like many notes to self, breath-work, turning off the news after too long, muting the notifications, long chats with God, and diving deeper inside.

A meditative life beyond the moment, is what the elders would say, “this joy that I have, the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away.”

When we perch ourselves on a branch within, we feast on the abundance that comes from the internal and not the external. We learn how to hear before we react. We get in tune with our unexpressed feelings.  Our Twitter fingers are at bay. Our souls on a ship that stays afloat no matter the tide. And no, this does not mean we won’t ever feel the sinking moments, or that the anxiety and depression disappears, it means we learn new modes to process, new tools to walk through a world that can feel tightening. It allows us to stretch the parameters  that have been set by society. To shapeshift. 

Or, as Audre Lorde would say, “For once we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of.”

I'd call that the magic beyond moments. 

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Are you ready to move your meditation practice into a lifestyle? To feel deeply? To weather the world with your internal joy? Join us as we shapeshift a meditative life.  Interested in sharing the ways in which you manage the world that we live with the mode of meditation? Have you uncovered design aesthetics we should try to slow down and connect internally? How has your mind, body, spirit work evolved by slowing down?  Send your pitch to editor@BlackGirlInOm.com. We can’t wait to share your wisdom with our community.

Chelcee Johns is a digital nomad, publishing professional, Detroit native, editor/content strategist and word & world-loving soul. She is based in Harlem and recently called Bali home for a year. Her passion for the power of the written word & highlighting often policed narratives has led her to work in publishing for the past 7 years with organizations such as Moguldom Media Group, Serendipity Literary Agency, the New York Times and writing for the likes of Ebony. In a rupturing political climate and blooming social change, BGIO is the place Chelc is able to create a community of safe space in our collective stories as Publication Editor. She is empowered by the (inner)work! With that said, her self-care go to is journaling, prayer and meditation.