In meditation it is common for thoughts to impose, for ideas to form, for stories to spin. The antidote is to bring attention back to the breath, to a mantra, a chant, any predetermined anchor will do the trick… until thoughts reappear. Then it’s back to the breath, to the mantra, to the chant or the anchor.
Life, I have found, is much like the process of meditation. We can so easily be overwhelmed by life, by forgetting why we are here, our purpose often impossible to locate and often harder to actualize, as our daily intentions go flying out the window as soon as something enticing comes along. The desires and demands that come during the unfolding of a day are like the thoughts that impose during meditation. In fact the thoughts that come during meditation are all about life—the figuring and planning, the conniving, reminding, and determining of what we want and how to get it—as the two intermingle, quite naturally.
Over time, as we learn to sit quietly, in meditation or otherwise, we enjoy a peacefulness that may only exist because we are removed, for a few moments, from life, from its plans, needs and wants. We discover that we are simple beings, just sitting still, part of it all. The more we achieve such moments of sitting still the more we experience ourselves as simple energy, needing nothing. No matter how we came into this world, what our experiences have been, and who we think we are, we can all achieve the same simple pleasure of quietude in sitting still.
It is in such quiet moments that deeper realizations come to us. It is in such quiet moments, when we are no more than a breath of air, that we might discover our deepest and truest needs. They might not be what we think. The quiet truth, learned in this manner, might shake us as violently as the truth learned in a harsh or abrupt and painful manner. The quiet truth is often the catalyst to real change, just as tragedy or trauma is.
And then there are times when nothing seems to change us. Nothing that we do, nothing that happens to us has any effect. We might be truly shaken or we might enter a state of bliss, but such moments of opportunity pass us by. Perhaps we are just not ready. Perhaps we are afraid. Perhaps this is not the lifetime that such things will be accomplished. Perhaps we really do want to come back and do it again. Perhaps that is our deepest truth after all.
Perhaps we haven’t achieved quiet sitting very often. Perhaps we haven’t given ourselves the opportunity to hear our deepest truth. Perhaps we feel we’ve been shorted, that life just isn’t very exciting and we just don’t have any hope that it will change. But in taking a different look at who we really are, we offer ourselves a truth that is hard to ignore. For, in truth, the being we are in the world, as we go about our lives, is only one part of us, a different being from our sitting quiet self.
It’s not hard to determine that the worldly self experiences life one way, but our sitting still self experiences it another way. It’s also not hard to determine that both of these selves exist simultaneously. We might notice how we present one self to the world and another only to ourselves; though both exist in our physical body they are two different beings.
It is our quiet self that asks us to sit still and it is our worldly self that interrupts with those thoughts, ideas, and stories. It’s our quiet self that reminds us to breath, to say our mantra, our chant, to anchor ourselves in some way when we meditate. Or we might be sitting outside, quietly listening to the sounds of nature when thoughts interfere. It is our quiet self that shuts them down, intent upon having a moment of peace. Once we realize that we are these two selves all the time, we realize they each have an important role to play. They are the knowing selves, our closest guides through life.
As we shift our awareness away from finding one or the other as problematic, and connect to both of them, we are more aware of how they work, and how we can work with them to stay focused, sometimes quiet and sometimes active, for it is only in a balance of the two that we can really live in this world. And then the challenge becomes giving them equal time, listening to both of them, and acting appropriately.
And that is the true work of this lifetime, to know who we really are—all parts of ourselves, fully—to work with what we came into this world with, striving always to make this life be the one where we solve and resolve all that has haunted and challenged us, perhaps for many lives. Our ultimate goal is to fully transform and actualize our fullest potential, in this world and the next. Now that is something to sit quietly and meditate on!
Actively sitting quietly,