Many of my posts touch on the need to clear the clutter of our workaday lives—at least temporarily—before we can truly appreciate Nature’s gifts. The same is true if we want to be fully present in our own hearts and spirits.
RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME
It makes no difference if you’re Anglican or agnostic, a Zen Buddhist or a Zoroastrian. Your relationship with your inner self is inseparable from how you relate to everything else. So, to know yourself as you might hope to know Nature, to discover some of the beautiful certainties and mysteries that dwell within your soul, the same two steps are essential: separating yourself from the constant demands of your mind, and putting yourself in the right place at the right time.
There are as many ways of embarking on this journey within as there are self-help gurus in California.
Call it prayer, contemplation, meditation or whatever you like. It’s the process of making time, turning off external stimuli, and putting aside your investments in past and future. Free of the confines of time and space, you ride a flow of consciousness and energy that’s both in you and beyond you.
It takes you to a place of humility, reverence and gratitude that can be reached only by surrendering your mind to your spirit. It’s the trip of a lifetime, and the only investment it requires is your attention.
There are as many ways of embarking on this journey within as there are self-help gurus in California. Perhaps the simplest (and far cheaper than the guru) is to find a quiet, comfortable place, sit down and concentrate on your breathing. Use its regular meter, its certainty, as a vehicle to a quiet state of mind.
Listen to the sound of the air going in and out; feel the cool rush through your nose and throat; notice the rise and fall of your chest. Imagine each inhalation filling you with good stuff like energy and light, each exhalation expelling tension, worries, self-limitation and all the other bad stuff. Keep doing this until your body, mind and spirit are at peace.
One of my favorite meditations is to imagine a wave of calming, golden energy starting on top of your head and flowing, like warm honey, slowly down your body. With each inch or two it flows, you let all the muscles in that cross-section of your body relax. You experience the weight of each successive “slice” as you release those muscles from having to support it.
At the same time, you feel your spirit being released from all the weight it has borne, free to take you where it will. Picture the soothing flow pushing any negative energy down and down until it pours out of the soles of your feet and dissipates into the cosmos.
It’s there, on the other side of thought, that everything that truly matters exists—love, peace, beauty, joy and creativity.
Another device for looking deep into yourself is the guided meditation. Here, someone else talks you through a relaxation exercise, and then leads you, through verbal imagery, on an inner journey to a quiet, contemplative place.
WHERE IT'S AT
The point of any of these techniques is not to deny your thoughts and emotions; it’s to separate yourself from them. Only when you’re able to position yourself as an observer of these mental constructs—not fighting them, but acknowledging and letting them be—can you be free of their power to kidnap you from the present.
Only then do you become aware of the sublime intelligence that lies beyond the grasp of the mind. And you start to recognize that it’s there, on the other side of thought, that everything that truly matters exists – love, peace, beauty, and joy.