Dear Friends and Pagani,
So, in the midst of everything else lately, I finally made it to the Thursday Night Buddhist Meditation Group that meets at my local U.U….
Despite having written about meditation as a part of regular spiritual practice, and despite having regularly meditated in the past, and despite knowing the importance and benefits… I have a very noisy mind, and a great deal of trouble cultivating stillness within myself. I theorized that it might help to jump-start my practice, and break my noisy mind and fidgeting flesh to the twin yokes of Stillness and Silence to meditate with others.
It is, as I mentioned, a Buddhist Meditation group and they practice Vipassana (Insight) meditation in the Theraveda Tradition. Everyone sat in a circle of chairs in the Church library. We went around the circle and each of us checked in for the week or introduced ourselves. Then we meditated for 25 minutes. Then there was a short reading on the topic of Non-Attachment to Ideas and Beliefs. (here, and here, for more)
“Then we meditated for 25 minutes…”
Strange how simple it sounds…
You sit,still, silent. You should avoid moving, except for a slight movement if you start to feel some pain in the body you may mindfully shift position to relieve the pain. Your are silent, and focusing on your breathing, striving to keep it quiet. I settled into my oft turned too pattern of in-through-the-nose, and out-through-the-mouth.
Your mind may wander, and that is o.k., when it does so you are to let those thoughts go and return to your breathing, and the silence, and the stillness.
I thought I was relaxed. The lights were turned down low and there was a tea-light candle lit to help even out the amount of light in the room. I was seated with my arms at my sides and my, incredibly sore and work-tired-and-tense, feet up on a Zafu. Then we started…
My throat was the first part of my body to seemingly rebel against the program. The muscles in it felt like they desperately wanted or needed movement and speech! I swallowed a few times, trying to let this strange sensation just be and relax my throat and remember my breathing. My mind, however, wandered into thoughts of how much I speak during the day… how often I fill silence with speech, even when alone, rather than just thinking… and it’s usually stuff that on some level is meant to distract me from feelings or thoughts I am uncomfortable with… I fill my days with so much noise…
Then I realized that those were thoughts and I returned to my breathing and stillness and silence. In through the nose, and out through the mouth. Focusing on my breath and letting the rhythm of send me back to stillness and silence… then I started… somewhere along the way I had almost lulled to sleep!
I carry tension with me so much of the time! I am hardly ever really, really relaxed unless I am going to bed or asleep. When did I stop relaxing… was it related to the deterioration of my recently ended relationship with The Big Guy? What about….
Those are thoughts….
In through the nose, out through the mouth. In, and, out. Breath. Stillness. Silence.
My ears feel stuffed up, or, is that a ringing? My life is so filled with noise, in the absence of it do I simply find ways to create it? What is it that causes me to flee…. and I am thinking agian…
Nose. Mouth. Breath. ???
Stillness and silence and quiet and calm.
I didn’t sit in the hand of Goddess or anything, but I was able to reach a place of Deep Peace and calm, I still fidgeted a bit, but it was the mindful repositioning rather than thinking and reacting about it; and with mindfulness and attention, a sense of clarity and calm and quiet.
I did not fall into the Silence and Stillness so much as dive struggling into it, like trying to reach the bottom of a pool full of pudding, but I found some small measure of …calm.
After the after meditation discussion, I continued to have a feeling of deep peace and calm and joy. I decided to drive home without turning on the car radio… I enjoyed a measure of silence…
I haven’t sat in full meditation in the last couple of days… but I have… reached into the memory and experience of it? Focusing on my breath for a little while and trying to resettle to cloak of quiet and calm upon my shoulders once more.
I think that I shall sit tonight, at the close of the day… I wonder if my mistake before was to try and sit at the beginning of the day when my monkey mind is all unruly and…. those, are thoughts…
3 thoughts on “Practicing Silence and Stillness”
Lol, I can totally relate to this. A couple of summers ago I went to a meditation class for a while, and found it quite hard work! My head is just so full of spluff (a mixture of mental spam, stuff and fluff). But when it did SOMEHOW manage to still it, if only for a brief moment, I was enwashed with calm and peace =). Funny, when I think “Oh, I’ll do some meditating now” it so doesn’t work. But if I’m just relaxing in the garden, or listening to some chilled music, or even just looking out the window, I find that I enter a meditative state of mind much easier!
This happens a lot to me when I meditate. My throat itches, my muscles twitch, etc. I think the old masters knew this would happen and that is precisely why they insist on silence and a still mind, it’s a discipline. 🙂
By the wayyyy…
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Thanks for sharing your experience with meditation. Intertestingly, I recently made a posting on my blog of nearly the same title and topic. These are the lyrics to a song I have written.