As I continue “Just Sitting” – my Zazen practice – I remain intrigued by what it’s doing, yet at the same time trying to be unattached from expectation that anything will come of it. This simple (and not so simple!) opening of the body, spirit and mind connects us directly to Source Energy, God, Spirit and when you think about it, that’s freak’n amazing!! I find myself more aware, looking to see what this silence will bring.
Most of the time I find it difficult not to think, and simply concentrate on my breathing. The mind, the ego will not easily shut up. It does NOT want to give up control! Yet, what a relief it is to stop the incessant chatter within! I can only imagine what this must do to the brain. I can’t help but believe that in the process of this silence of the mind, the brain is literally making new connections. I am convinced that in this silence I am more lined up with Source, and Divine will becomes my will. In this silence the ego is shut up and I somehow feel more directly connected to God – I let go of control. I get out of the way. Maybe that’s what “let go, and let God” means. Normally when I give up control, I find myself, at least apprehensive, if not downright fearful. Yet as a result of this silence I find myself looking forward in hopeful expectation to see what will unfold in my life – and that of the world (because it‘s not just about my life, but affecting the world). Instead of a problem to be solved, life is becoming a Mystery to be lived. I look forward to the journey!
The other day I was made aware of a movie called “Into Great Silence.” It is a documentary film directed by Phillip Groning which portrays the lives of the Carthusian Monks of the Grande Charteuse Monastery high in the French Alps. It’s known to be one of the most austere monasteries. I imagine that many people might be bored out of their minds by this movie, as it definitely takes one “into great silence,” as its title suggests. The movie is around two and a half hours long and most of it is silence. It simply shows the monks in their day to day lives – without offering commentary or explanation. These monks do not talk, except when they are in common prayer and once a week after a meal on Sundays. So it’s quiet! Disturbingly so! Yet, . . . Refreshingly so. Talk about counter-cultural!
After watching this movie I wondered how much we may all be seduced away from the silence by the incessant, and sometimes, unnoticeable noise all around us. I wonder if all the noise that surrounds us, or that we choose to be surrounded by – lulls us into a dull sense of living, and ultimately – in our society – a crisis of meaning.
When I enter into the silence, which is initially disturbing, I am lead to a greater sense of myself, a more peaceful place and, in the process, I become a more compassionate presence in the world. It is nothing short of hard work to stay with silence, but I am becoming more and more conscious of the tremendous difference it makes in my life and work. I feel as if I am slowly being seduced by it. In entering the silence I give up control to a Higher Power, which is initially disturbing. But now I am intrigued by it, curious and interested to see what happens. And something is happening. I don’t quite know what it is, but I know it’s good.
Today I was meditating, and, as often is the case, my mind gets going and I want to get up and start getting something done that I’m thinking about. Sometimes it is “work” just to sit there. Funny huh? “Work” just to sit there?
The White Robed Monks call this “Just Sitting,” a practice adopted from Zen, where one simply sits 15 minutes a day, concentrating on the breath and clearing the mind of all thought. When we do this our mind, our ego revolts. That little voice in our heads just doesn’t want to leave us alone.
What struck me this morning again is that when I want to heed that voice within, when I want to get up and start moving and stop this sitting – I am not trusting! In essence, when I break the meditation and start running, I am saying that I trust more in myself than I do in Divine Power. My experience, however, says that when I stay with this “work,” when I simply sit and make an empty space in my mind, I connect directly with Source Energy, God, the Spirit. Suddenly my work is given energy and much more is accomplished – and somehow – directly as a result of thinking no-thing, my thoughts are clarified and my life is given meaning and direction. It’s like I have suddenly been plugged in!
Can I trust enough to stay with the silent embrace and make a space in my life to connect with Source? Try it. And see what happens!
Did you ever pick up a little dog and hold it in your arms? Sometimes when you pick up a dog their paws flail in the air, until you put them down and they find firm ground.
Sometimes life is like that. Our “paws” flail in the air. We worry, obsess and seem to lack any grounding in life. My life of late has been this way as another major concern emerges. I am like a dog trying to find firm ground.
What I need to remember is this. When I feel like I’m in mid air I am being held by the One who will never let go of me. I am being held by the One who is able to take a seemingly negative, dark circumstance and bring me to a new place that I never imagined. I am in good hands and even in mid air I can find firm ground.
I am so grateful that in the midst of difficulty I have a place to go in meditation, a quiet place which whispers a word of hope: In your darkness I will never abandon you. No matter your difficulty I can use it to bring you to a new place. Trust the hands that hold you.
NOTE: Again, I have to apologize that I am not consistent in writing for those who read my blog. I am in the midst of a move and things are very busy. You might want to consult one of my previous meditations in the mean time. I hope that you find what I write here helpful and uplifting to your spirit!
I so wish I was one of those people who are always able to walk with a sense of peace in the knowledge that they will be taken care of, that it will all work out. I confess to you that I am not. When something comes up, be it financial, a concern for a friend, work or the world, my first reaction is to get all upset. I oftentimes get down on myself for reacting this way. Come on, after all, I’m a person of faith ain’t I?? Would a person of faith react this way? Does anyone else feel this way?
I hope one day to grow into being one of those people who always walk with a sense of peace and trust. It must be a wonderful way to live. In the mean time though, I have to realize that it’s a process. These times are good practice for me to grow into being that person. I am given lessons, again and again, to trust when matters are out of my control – and it’s precisely this “practice” that will lead me to a greater sense of trust and freedom.
So, if you’re like me and get down on yourself for not reacting in a better way, give yourself a break. It’s a process. The fact is, after a few days of fretting about this or that, I usually do surrender to trust and regain a sense of equilibrium. Sometimes it just takes a while.