"Mindfulness and Meditation allow us to open our hearts, relax our bodies, and clear our minds enough to experience the vast, mysterious, sacred reality of life directly. With Practice we come to know for ourselves that eternity is available in each moment.

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call:
Musings on Life and Practice
by a Longtime Student of Meditation

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Be Still and Know

As the holiday season continues, I looked back at a few Posts of Christmas Past to get some perspective and, hopefully, alleviate any tendency to incarnate as the Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge this year.  This post, written the day after Christmas three years ago, was a helpful reminder of what the Real Deal is.  I hope you find it helpful as well. 
One Love, Lance
Originally Posted, December 26, 2013   

“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 

In the midst of the holiday season  scurry, often adrift in a sea of   noise and activity, I was especially aware of how precious each morning's meditation was to me this past week.  (I'd forgotten that many folks leave their televisions on, running in the background.  Sigh.)

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.  

Although I use a variety of meditation techniques, I've found that the foundation of Practice for me these days is to simply Sit Still for a period of time, allowing my attention to rest lightly on the actual experience of breathing.   Also aware of the other ongoing sensations of body/mind and the space that holds them, I simply sit upright with the experience of what  Zen teacher Norman Fischer calls "the basic feeling of being alive."

More often than not these days, this serves to bring me into deeper contact with the ordinary magic of the present moment. 
Being Still

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.  

And Yet...

As one devotes time and effort to meditation, there will to be some "bumps in the road" along the way.  Even as we more readily access the Stillness, periods of restlessness and bodily discomfort can and do occur.  Long repressed feelings and memories also sometimes emerge.  Habitual patterns of thought can run on and on, as well.   At these times, you can simply return to your breath/body.  Each moment of noticing and refocusing emerges and returns from Mindfulness. 

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.

Time on Task

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.

It just takes Practice.


Lori Knutson said...

Thank you for the reminder of the importance and benefits of stillness this bustling holiday season. A great post!

Unknown said...

Good one Lance....Blessings!