Every honest examination, into the requirements of living a value-filled life, contains elements of self-honesty. We cannot hope to live a life that has meaning if we are not able to be honest with ourselves. The challenge with self-honesty is that we must be able to be quiet in order to question the assumptions and truths guiding our daily experience, which are typically unexamined.
Anyone can learn to sit and listen quietly to life. We don’t for a number of reasons:
2) We fear that we are not “doing” anything when we sit quietly. Somehow we have been conditioned to believe that the life worth living is the life in which we are always doing something.
3) Finally, we are afraid to be alone with our quiet minds. We do not like the person we are with, when we are alone, or we do not like what we hear when we are the only one talking.
Listen to Toni Packer’s words about sitting quietly: “It’s simple to listen quietly, yet it’s not easy, because there is a tremendous momentum of habit to create stimulation through fantasy.” ~ Toni Packer
Living, moving, and having your being in a field of constant outer noise or inner fantasy, leaves no room for quiet contemplation. This realm of quiet is absolutely essential if we are ever to open ourselves to the possibility of change. Consider the words of Ramon Panikkar: “Contemplation is that activity which situates us in an open space from which we can observe and contribute to the course of the universe..”~ Ramon Panikkar
Contemplation, sitting in the quiet and becoming the observer, creates an opening in our hearts and heads for ideas on how we may contribute to life. We can participate with the Universe by co-creating lives that bless us and the planet or we can just exist, being victims in an out-of-control existence. If we are to create the space in which to actively participate in life, we must learn to sit in the quiet.
For those who find contemplation virtually impossible, I offer the following five suggestions:
1) Open yourself to the possibility that sitting in the quiet will be worthwhile.
3) Get comfortable. While many meditation teachers insist that proper posture improves results, I invite you to make this practice enjoyable. The more you look forward to it, the more likely you are to stick with it until you begin changing your life.
4) Don’t try to stop or in any way control your thoughts. You have no power over which thoughts are going to appear. You do have power over which thoughts you will invest in, which thoughts you will empower.
5) Become the observer of your thoughts. Realize that you are not your thoughts. They do not run you nor do they define you. You are the Power which decides which thoughts receive attention and which are allowed to rise up and pass on through with no energy.
Practice being quiet at least once a day. Early in the morning and late in the evening are best, even though the threat of falling asleep is the greatest at these times. Falling asleep causes no harm, it just means that you were nice and relaxed. Eventually you will stay awake and you will begin to notice you are able to spend more and more time in the quiet moments between your incessant thoughts. As this gap widens, so does your freedom. I will write more about that later.
Being quiet is the fastest way to discover/remember who you are and why you are here. It is the wisest investment of your time, regardless of what your chattering mind insists. Give it a try. Resist nothing. Learn from everything.