Applied Meditation – What is it?

I was introduced to Applied Meditation when I was 26 years old. I was living in Vancouver’s Commercial Drive area and was a regular at Joe’s Café. I went in one day and noticed one of my friends in deep conversation with a woman whom I’d never met. I was waved over to join their table and as I sat down, I noticed a printed document on the table; as they resumed their conversation, I started to read it after receiving a nod of consent from the stranger. As I scanned it, I tuned into what they were saying and realized the topic was a modality the woman I did not know, Joan, practiced called Applied Meditation, and the document was her entry into an anthology on feminist alternative healing modalities. I asked if I could borrow the document and take it home and later that day, as I read the play-by-play of one of her sessions, I realized this was what I had been looking for my whole life without even knowing it!

This is how I embarked on my healing journey with Joan O’Brien – two years that radically changed my life and helped me heal and integrate my childhood, which I qualify as having been “privileged and difficult” and which was once described by a therapist as a blend of “ritual abuse and prisoner of war camp”. I started by seeing Joan twice a month for about a year and then once a month for another year – the last six months of which were focused on training me in the modality. Since then, I have led over 70 sessions and the resourcefulness and endless permutations of this modality, as well as its deep and lasting results, continue to amaze me to this day.

Applied Meditation was developed by Margo Adair, with whom Joan trained, and who in the words of her publisher, Judith Plant: “…was an engaged social change maker. Her life’s work was all about the hands-on social tools of community building that we need so very much during this time of Great Turning.” I was lucky enough to have a phone interview with her in 2010, six months before she passed, during which she kindly grilled me on my technique and then gave me her seal of approval and the permission to call myself an Applied Meditation practitioner.

(I explain all this because Margo was not one for awarding diplomas or certificates as she believed in experience, grassroots organisation and a more horizontal mode of functioning. For more info on Margo Adair, please visit her memorial page)

Applied Meditation is a hypnotherapy technique Margo described as “weaving together three approaches to consciousness: intuition, creative visualisation, and mindfulness”. It is designed to delve into our inner world in order to identify beliefs, imprints, and defensive mechanisms acquired from our traumas, losses, and other difficult events, so we can feel them, validate them, and transmute them. No session ends until all pieces that have been examined are fully reintegrated or transformed, and one feels balanced and at peace.

As much as there are many similar techniques out there, Applied Meditation contains specific elements and processes that are unique to it – a very specific landscape that gets established in the first session and to which we return time after time that forms a protected and grounded platform from which we can explore. For me at the time, what was revolutionary was twofold: first the incredible safety I felt, and second, the fact that I was not trying to reach my inner child per se as much as engage in a conversation with my body memory… and not through my adult intellectual construct but rather by using spontaneous imagery and the language of the child I had been… meeting her – and myself – on our own ground and giving a voice to what had been buried within my body.

If you have any questions about this work or would like to have a session with me, please feel free to contact me. I use a sliding scale and also do partial payment.