Do you struggle with mindfulness and meditation? It could be normal.

Not everyone is “water”. We need a different approach for different personalities.

Lucy the Oracle
11 min readMay 10, 2024
Photo by Martin Dawson on Unsplash

First of all: a warning if you’re already rushing to the comments to say “nonsense”:

I know a wide majority of people will be scratching their heads at what I’m proposing here. I’m used to being ahead of my time.

Back when I was having powerful insights about coping with a narcissistic parent, NOBODY talked about this topic. Mind you: I went to therapy even back then, and they were all ethical therapists at that, but the study of personality disorders (such as NPD) was something so rare, so specialised, so out of the curve, that many of them hadn’t even heard of it. So I don’t blame them for not fully helping me! But it was frustrating. I’m talking about the early 2000s. Fast-forward to today: the topic is trending, isn’t it? Everybody talks about it. Whenever I tag one of my posts as “Narcissism” or “personality disorders”, it gets viewed by a lot more people than usual. In fact, my one and only viral post is about NPD. Do you think the information I shared there, all these things that resonated with so many readers, are insights I had in the 2020s? No, guys. Most of what’s in there, are things I have known about ever since the early 2000s. I’ts been two decades! But back then, when I talked about it, I was constantly dismissed, ignored, made fun of, and redirected back to the beaten track. I didn’t even know the name of what my mother had — narcissistic personality disorder — but I talked about the symptoms and what worked and what didn’t work when dealing with her. Nobody would listen. The few who paid attention told me I was an attention-seeker “trying hard” to have a rare problem nobody knew about. Except… Is it rare? Was it ever rare? Again, click on my link, take a look at my viral post, look how many people liked it. If I was talking about something “rare”, I wouldn’t have gotten as much interaction there. So, my issue was never rare or special, it was just underexplored. It was “too new”. Too out there. Too ahead of my time.

But you see… *sigh*

Aren’t we letting a big population down when we get stubborn that “this one way is the only way” instead of listening when people say “the impossible” is happening to them (ie, the beaten track is not working for them)? A lot of millennials had to make do with a vague intuition and next to zero psychological guidance when dealing with narcissists… Because the topic was considered fringe back when we needed professional help in this area. And TODAY we acknowledge all of these people who would have otherwise been considered special snowflakes or liars or [insert dismissal here]… But it’s too little too late, isn’t it? Only the newer generations are receiving the specific support they need — a great thing, to be celebrated! But we have collectively let down a lot of people. Unnecessarily.

Is that fair? Is that loving, kind, helpful? I don’t think so, guys.

I ended up deleting my early content; As I did with my old musings on why Ireland is a fertile ground for racism and fascism and we shouldn’t take our peace for granted — and lo and behold, nowadays we’re seeing this “prophecy” come true, despite the dismissals and cries of “nonsense” I received when I was first talking about it. I’m a bit of a Cassandra sometimes. There are a few other examples I haven’t even cited here.

A similar phenomenon is happening now.

Whenever I talk about the fact there are [at least] two kinds of meditator, and we can’t force-fit the round pegs into square holes so to speak… I am not taken seriously. I’m having a dejavu, emotionally, which reminds me of where I was at in the early 2000s when I put so much time and effort into “decoding” people like my mother for the sake of my own well-being and the well-being of others who might relate. Different situations, completely different topics, but same feeling.

I don’t know, at this point in time, what technical words to use to articulate this divide I’m seeing in the population whereby “continuous stillness” in meditation works best for some, and “continual stillness” in meditation works best for others. I’m calling it “personality” as a placeholder for now, for lack of a more specific term. I’m comparing it to elements in alchemy, for lack of something more specific too. I was never the best with finding words that perfectly communicate what I wanna say, to begin with. Add to that the fact I attract orthodox people who aren’t willing to join me in the exploration of unchartered territories (even when they look like they would, at first impression), and you can probably understand my frustration.

However, I have matured since the early, and even the mid, 2000s. Back then, I used to let my frustrations get the best of me. Now, I have acquired tools, with help from teachers here and there, to cope with the aloneness I feel when I pioneer something. And thanks to these tools, I am once again braving this sea of inflexibility to try and put my content out there ANYWAY — so that amid this majority of discouraging responses, I can hopefully help and provide some relatability to the few people who are perhaps feeling as lost as I am, outside the beaten track.

And in the future, who knows, I can unearth this article and tell the world “you should have listened”.

This isn’t to say everything I talk about is new or out there. In fact I fit in with the majority in a bunch of areas of my life. I just happen to have a new perspective to offer every now and then. That’s what I’m bringing you today.

It’s not about me, either. I’m sure many others wrote in vain about the same exact topics I did, didn’t get heard, had the same frustration I had, and deleted it. Once again, believe it or not, none of what I’m saying here is coming from an overinflated ego. I’m genuinely in search of answers, but… Alas… Most people are too attached to their comfort zones to even listen.

Now… is today’s topic (meditation and mindfulness for “non-watery” people) a matter of personal safety for me and others? No. It’s not as “heavy” a topic as the other ones I mentioned above. That’s why I’m choosing this unchartered territory first — the stakes are lower. Nonetheless, it can still be interesting for those who relate.

I hope this is helpful.

Photo by David Lusvardi on Unsplash

Continuous stillness vs Continual stillness

It’s being a nightmare to keep track of these two terms because they read so similarly. My dyslexic brain is working overtime here, and I’m keeping the dictionary near me at all times in writing today’s article, because holy fuck… #SendHelp

I have the 2 concepts very clearly settled in my mind, ever since I learned the distinction between them in Physics, back in secondary school. (Yes I’m a nerd and love Physics). Their names, though… Ughhhh.

Anyway, let’s do this for a good cause.

  1. Continuous, says Merriam-Webster, is:

marked by uninterrupted extension in space, time, or sequence

The batteries provide enough power for up to five hours of continuous use.

2. Continual, the same dictionary says, is:

recurring in steady usually rapid succession

a history of continual invasions

A somewhat more niche terminology can be found in classical music: Legato is a continuous sound (like the one a violin is capable of producing, a melody without “little silences” throughout), whereas staccato is a continual sound (like the keys on a piano producing sounds one after the other which together form a melody). I was tempted in going for the musical terms, not only because I love music, but also because they sound different enough not to cause confusion in my mind. However, they aren’t as straightforward as the scientific terms (some piano/harp sheet music does in fact mention legato, more as an effect than as an absolute goal — which would be impossible — but anyway). Musicians reading my article would be confused.

If it helps at all, imagine a piano and a violin playing together. The violin is like a “water” meditator, and the piano is more like a “fire” one. Both can be in the same room, making the exact same “music” together, and be just as valid as each other. In fact, they can duet pretty nicely. But you know what CANNOT be done? Ask a piano to function like a violin, or a violin to function like a piano. They’re different instruments!

Similarly, there are certain people who resemble water when they’re meditating: they can thrive in a continuous (uninterrupted) stillness without feeling out of place with their nature; Much like a violin is great at sounding violin-ish; But if you ask it to sound like a piano… Well… Maybe it can, at times, with a lot of difficulty, but it will never EVER compare to what an actual piano achieves.

Water likes to be still. It feels good, feels in its element, it is happy when it is allowed time to just sit in one place and go nowhere. In fact, if you don’t apply any pressure, heat, or blow to water (such as wind), it DOES NOT move much. It will still somewhat circulate, but what prevails is stillness.

Photo by yucar studios on Unsplash

See the water above? It’s still made of H2O. It’s still perfectly usable for the purposes water is normally used — swimming, drinking, diluting and mixing compounds, etc. The fact it is relatively still and motionless did not impair its ability to “be water”.

What about fire, though?

Well… try “calming it down” for an extended amount of time and see what happens.

Okay, let me look for a fire image and I’ll explain what I mean as I would to a 5 year old:

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Does the above picture look still? Yeah, exactly, it doesn’t. You can imagine, from a photo like this, without even looking at a corresponding video, that this fire is going in all sorts of directions quite fast. If you draw a line starting from the bottom and follow any of the flames seen above, your finger will make random curves and even collide with neighbouring flames. It won’t just go up in a straight line again, and again, and again. That’s quite rare for fire to do.

The only way to “calm fire down” is by killing it. Literally. Throw water, or muff it, and you’ll get your desired straight line moving upwards in a relatively still motion… But that will be smoke; it’s no longer fire. Can smoke cook your food? Can smoke bring light? Can smoke melt and reshape glass? Rarely; And not nearly as well as fire.

Let’s not be literal. “Fire” and “water” are just metaphors.

When I compare people to water, I’m not saying they’re always calm unless something external agitates them. That’s humanly impossible. I know a lot of people who are comparable to water, and they’re very often taking their own initiative in life. They also get restless, display anxiety, etc — like any other human.

Similarly, I know a lot of people who are comparable to fire, myself included, and we sleep well! We’re also perfectly capable of deescalating an argument, being diplomatic, thinking before acting, etc — again like any other human.

So I’m not saying certain people are LITERALLY capable or incapable of any given thing. What I am saying is their process for learning and practising certain things becomes more efficient when they “match” it to their element of comfort… Instead of forcing and struggling with the opposite element just because the one-size-fits-all model told them so. Also, “water” people will feel happier and more fulfilled with water, whereas “fire” people will feel happier and more fulfilled with fire… Even if both are practising the exact same thing, in the exact same tradition, from the exact same starting point. (Always remember: the violin and the piano, at the same time, playing the same piece of music).

What is continual meditation, after all?

Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

Intermittent quieting of the mind, without a need for a calm environment OR freedom from stimulus.

This probably sounds unthinkable (or very “advanced”!) if you’re a more water-inclined person (and indeed, it is! Water requires a totally different approach. Remember: it’s dangerous to bend yourself out of shape in an attempt to “become a different instrument”). Only follow the instructions here if you do, in fact, fit into “fire”.

You know what fire DOES NOT do? Absorb and dilute. That’s definitely not within its realm of possibilities. If you throw something at a fire, it will get burned and transformed, it won’t be gently absorbed or have its essence slowly extracted in a painstaking process of dilution. Right? This is very basic science.

Similarly, “fire” people are not sponges. We don’t feel easily swayed or caught-up in the “current” of an environmental disturbance. We can, in fact, be highly sensitive — but differently from “water” people, in that we feel deeply but let all these feelings and sensations flow away from us in a fraction of a second. Nothing lingers. Nothing sits in the depths to be slowly diluted and made sense of.

In fact, we are so used to this fast pace (both emotional and spiritual), that when we’re deprived of it, we feel dead. Not LITERALLY dead, but spiritually dead. We don’t know how to “slowly steady the melody in a decrescendo”, so to speak, because we do not have a goddamn bow in the first place. We’re like pianos and harps — once you stop plucking (or pressing), it’s sudden silence. And not silence in a good way. Silence in a “the music is over” sort of way.

I’m doing what I can with metaphors here. Hopefully you get it.

Without ANY practice of mindfulness or meditation, of course a “fire” person is going to be reactive and anxious like human beings usually are. But I’m not advocating for that. What I’m suggesting is a new approach to these 2 things: instead of your stereotypical “sit still and relax for as long as possible”, I suggest (for “fire” only) “bring your mind to a still and relaxed place in between the phrases you utter” (or between the bars of music you play, or between the movements in a dance, or whatever it is you’re doing — starting with low-stakes and low-danger activities, of course).

Fire is, after all, also made of space. In between the sparks and the flames that intertwine in this frenzy or energy, there is empty space. Mindfulness is about paying more attention to this space than the fire itself.

Amitabha. 🙏



Lucy the Oracle

Oracle learner / spirit worker based in Ireland. Buddhist/polytheist. I don't read minds. I don't change minds. I don't sugarcoat. Take my message or leave it.