“Be still. Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity.
When there is silence one finds the anchor of the universe within oneself”
― Lao Tzu
“Space and silence are two aspects of the same thing. The same no-thing. They are externalization of inner space and inner silence, which is stillness: the infinitely creative womb of all existence.”
― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
Flowing through days and evenings full of visitations and gatherings and meals and excited flurries of paper-ripping, my meditation cushion seemed like an oasis.
Touching Stillness, even for a few brief moments, is like sipping clear, crisp, spring water on a steamy summer day. Paradoxically, it's also like feeling the warm glow of a fireplace, snuggling at home on a snowy evening peering through the window at the moon. In Stillness, the Presence emerges. In a silent whisper, it sings of the Ineffable, that space where the fundamentally mysterious and completely ordinary meet to form the fabric of Life itself.
More often than not these days, this serves to bring me into deeper contact with the ordinary magic of the present moment.
Sitting Still, we will notice how the focal point of our attention wanders off into thoughts and images and memories and daydreams. Again and again. Yet, as we continue to gently and persistently return to the direct experience of breath/body/mind, a more relaxed and concentrated quality of consciousness emerges.
In time -- or perhaps in this very moment -- we become truly Present. The Truth of the moment becomes self-evident.
Being Present, the heart and mind open to the Presence. Resting in the Stillness, we sense that everything exists in the embrace of an infinite and gracious spaciousness. In those moments, we touch and are touched by the One Love, the Ongoing Miracle, the Sacred Reality of Life Itself. With Practice, we find that our ability to love and be loved deepens as Mindfulness of the One Love imbues our lives more and more -- even in the midst of activity.
At other times, you may, instead, choose to focus directly on these specific experiences.
Engaging the practice of "breathing through", you gently let go of the story lines running through your head and open to the actual bodily sensations and emotional energies underneath the level of thought and draw them into the heart on each inhalation. Rather than avoid them, you experience them fully. Then, on the out breath, you can relax and release them. They, too, emerge from and return to Life As It Is.
In a related Practice, a simple form of Tonglen, an ancient Tibetan Buddhist practice, you can breath into your heart the feelings that have surfaced with the recitation "may I and all beings be free from this suffering and the roots of suffering." Then, on the out breath, you can recite the aspiration "may I and all beings be at peace." If the thoughts and feelings that have emerged are directly related to particular people and events you can be more specific, using your own words to identify the nature of the suffering and its release. Tonglen can be especially helpful when there are thoughts/feelings that occur repeatedly or with particular intensity. (A brief YouTube Tonglen instruction with Pema Chodron here.)
As we devote more time, effort, and heart to the Practice, as Mindfulness broadens and deepens, I've found that things really do smooth out. Sitting Still gets easier -- and ever more interesting. More and more, a simple and mysterious Knowing, without words or beliefs, emerges.
Not having a structure of fixed concepts, this Knowing could just as readily be experienced and described as Not-knowing. (Go figure!)
In the Stillness of those moments, the simple wordless wonder of Just Being Alive becomes self-evident --both on and off the meditation cushion.