Tag Archives: Tamara Milliken

Letting your inner light shine

By Contributor Tamara Milliken

Tamara Milliken

I walked into the bathroom the other day to get something, and I turned on the light. It was an unintentional move, a simple habit. I thought to myself, “you don’t need the light on, you know exactly where every thing is in here, you are merely wasting electricity, you aren’t being environmentally friendly.” However, when I left the bathroom and just as unconsciously switched off the light I again was uncomfortable with my choice. The space before me was no longer gently illuminated. “The light is so soothing,” I thought, “a way to ensure nothing has blocked your path (such as a stealthy dog I have a tendency to trip over).”

This act of turning on and off a light got me thinking, as you can tell. Many traditions speak of a light within. A small flame at the center of your heart, an energy, a divine spark, etc. As we go through our life, struggling to fit in while simultaneously trying to develop our own unique sense of self, we slowly hide that light deeper, making it darker, until sometimes we don’t realize it’s even on anymore. It is like putting one lampshade over a light, then another and another until it’s no longer a light with a job, instead it is a place to hang a mask.

On a side note, in the yogic tradition these shades are known as veils, or to be technical, Koshas. We have five of them, divided into the physical, subtle, and causal bodies, or body, mind, and soul. Not to take up the page going into each of these, we can take our natural sheaths and work at keeping them clean by eating well, studying, practicing selfless acts of service, meditating, taking time to mindfully breathe, etc.

We have a choice. We can live externally and take on all the struggle and strife of the world, of our ego or small self. When we do this the veils we accept are full of color, they seem pretty, full of energy and life. But as we put them on the brilliance may feel short-lived so we seek again. The veil we chose that was full of color and the world, is too dark for the light to shine through so it loses its vitality. Without a light to shine through it gets dull.

Now the other choice is to be mindful, intentional about the veils we accept. Bringing in things that are healthy: food, breath, vows, meditation (there it is! This is a blog about meditation, I had to bring it up sooner or later!), daily practices of compassion. These veils are clear. Theses veils allow light to shine brightly through. Meditation helps us disengage from all the desires of the world, all of the seeking for a light that we forgot we already had.

We have an opportunity to be our own gentle glow along our path, to be a gentle glow along someone else’s path. We have all that we need already. We can move through our day, life, world, moving habitually, using false external light. Or we can live intentionally each day, consciously using our own light, the light we find through a committed meditation practice, that leads to truth, to peace, to illumination. It makes me think of a child’s Sunday School song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”

So to end, turn off the lights in your house, it’s good for the environment. But let’s make a commitment to walk through the dark house of ourselves, cleaning house as we go, dusting and shaking out those veils. Let’s make a vow to never switch off our own light. That’s good for the environment too.


Om Ananda Atman (a blog about meditation)

By Blogger Tamara Milliken

Tamara Milliken

Namaste’ readers! I am most happy to be here, sharing my experience and words with you all.

I wanted to begin by giving a description of what the word meditation means to me. That way we won’t have to debate over this definition and  we all will know I am writing from a space that is personal.
I was asked the other day to do just that; define what meditation meant to me. As I prepared to launch into a lengthy word play, the questioner saw by the shape of my mouth and my deep intake of breath that he was in for more than he asked for. Before one syllable came out of my mouth he tacked on, “in one sentence.”
Oof. So, this is what I said, “It is a way to tune out the external so that I can tune into the internal, and all that entails.”
All that entails is where I SO could have gotten wordy! However, I did not. I choose to save the wordy for here.
I will use a quote from Shambhavananda ((Spontaneous Recognition, Swami Shambhavananda)  to establish a ground definition: “Meditation is a conscious process. You are accessing a deeper level of consciousness, which is the source of your energy. The Inner Self isn’t the property of any religion. No one owns it. Everyone calls it by a different name. The experience of the Inner Self is pure consciousness and is beyond religion. Try to have your own experience of it.”
To continue with that idea, meditation is not an exclusive practice and there are many different approaches to meditation. Whatever your approach to it is, the benefits are numerous. It can increase a sense of wellbeing, lower the heart rate, lower blood pressure, ease symptoms of stress and depression, increase feelings of compassion, increase harmony between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and give you an awareness of your connectedness to the world around you.
You can practice meditation while mindfully walking along a path or in a labyrinth. There is tantric meditation where you look at an object, usually a mandala or image of a spiritual teacher. You can use a mala (108 beads) to count breath, mantra, or just keep you from sleep. On an interesting side note, Albert Einstein would sit in his chair with a golf ball in each hand when he was looking for an answer or an idea. As the gamma waves in the brain relax solutions are easier to find. He used the golf balls so that if his relaxed state led him towards sleep instead of inner awareness his fingers would relax, the golf ball would drop and wake him. You can use mantra (repetitive sound to protect the mind from wandering thoughts) incense, candles, even soft music. You can practice alone or with a friend or group. You can practice at any time of day. However you choose, it is important to create a space that is free of distraction, and to find a seat that encourages a long spine and relaxed muscles.
My personal meditation practice starts with a physical yoga flow. Repetitive movement to loosen the body, preparing it to sit comfortably and begin the process of quieting the thoughts. Then I create my seat. I use a cushion or a blanket to elevate my hips slightly above my feet so I don’t start meditating on the fact that my foot fell asleep! I light an incense and a candle then read a short passage from whatever spiritual reading has caught my eye. Then I breathe. And breathe. And breathe some more. With the inhale I encourage length, growth, space. The exhales are about surrender, letting go of tension.  If my mind is still chattering away at this point I will then use a mantra and/or a mala. I soften my jaw, and with my eyes closed, gaze upward. I begin withdrawing my external senses to tune into my internal senses. It is not so much about not thinking as it is to not be distracted by your thoughts. Putting them behind you, making them unimportant background noise, not judging or condemning them, but not giving them priority either.
If I just made meditation sound easy, I apologize. Through this blog I hope to share some techniques, but also to make meditation real. It isn’t easy. It is a discipline. It’s a discipline that is worth all the struggle. To make time for you in your day, to make discovering yourself valid and important, to work at unveiling your beautiful radiant light creates a world that we are all happier to live in.

Meet Tamara Milliken, our meditation and yoga contributor

Tamara Milliken

Tamara Milliken has been practicing yoga for nearly 10 years and teaching yoga and meditation for a little over four.  She received her training from Shoshoni, an ashram in Colorado and returns every other year to take a new training, her favorite by far, being the  meditation training.

“I attribute my yoga and meditation practice with helping me through my compassion fatigue in my full-time job as a caregiver to displaced youth,” she said. “Since finding a consistent yoga practice I have learned to detach from that which I can’t control, and to trust in the universe around me.”

Through SpokaneFAVS she said she hopes to share her insights on what meditation means to her, her ups and downs, and the benefits of the daily discipline.

“I have decided to title this blog: Om Ananda Atman   (it means blissful soul).  These words are tattooed on my back to remind me that no matter what kind of day I am having or what kind of space I am in, that there is always a part of me that is full of light and bliss,” Milliken said.