Calling all Halloween party-poopers...try a mask meditation

I don't like Halloween.  And I'm done apologizing for it.  Actually, I started my Halloween boycott about15 years ago.  It wasn't a big declaration, I just never accepted another Halloween party invitation.  And I'm much happier now every time October 31 comes around.

Pretending to be someone else always felt creepy and inconsistent with the [perhaps disingenuous, but ever present mantra of my growing up] to "be yourself".  But nevertheless, not being one to make waves, I dressed up as ghosts, cat women, flappers, pumpkins for years.

Now I use Halloween as day as inward "dressing up".  In 2005, my yoga teacher, Diane Featherstone led my teacher training class through a Halloween-inspired meditation on Oct 31 of that year.  Diane talked us through putting on a series of mental masks.

First she guided us through a hatha yoga practice (truth be told, I can no longer remember specifics about the sequence she led that day), then a 20 minute savasana and then she brought us to the "mask" meditation.  I was particularly relaxed that day (probably because I didn't have a Halloween party that I was stressed about going to that night).

The mask meditation began with putting on a mask of fear - exploring our mind and bodies'  response when we are fearful.  She asked us to imagine a fearful experience (real or not) and just be with it and notice everything about how we responded, any colors or patterns that came behind our closed eyes, any parts of our bodies that felt sensations and anything else we notices.

She went on to bring us through wearing masks of boredom, beauty, impatience, contentment and probably some others I'm no longer remembering. 

This meditation resonated with me and I noticed very different physical responses in my body from each of the masks. 

I've since expanded the mask meditation to practice compassion.  I now put on masks of people with whom I'm not happy or people I don't understand (one at a time, so my head doesn't explode!) 

I allow myself to experience the world from their perspective for a few minutes.  It's not possible to do this without seeing them through your own lens; but to the extent that you can suspend dialogue and judgment, just allow yourself to be in their shoes for a few minutes.  And the be sure to take off the mask!

So now you know what I'll be doing tonight....oh yeah, and giving out candy to trick-or-treaters....the part of Halloween I DO like (see, I'm not a total kill-joy)



Jill said...

i love this practice - i can really feel the changes.

i think it could also be very interesting to do a mask meditation 'in reverse'. who would you be if you took of the mask of teacher/mother/overweight/nice/etc...? how do each of these roles feel when we put them back on?


Florian said...

Jill-I love the "reverse mask" idea....I'm going to try it on! Deb