Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sitting in Silence Serves Me - Day 11

I have been meditating for a long time. I started when I was in my early 20's with moving mediation, specifically Tai Chi. I did the long form, both sides, and it usually took me about an hour to finish.

Tai Chi remains one of my favorite forms of meditation, however it is too time consuming, and having not done it in such a long time, I have forgotten most of it. Furthermore, it requires so much dedication to truly do it correctly, there are many nuanced movements that need continual refinement.

I am not dedicated enough.

After I quit Tai Chi, I explored a variety of techniques, but wasn't able to "quiet my mind". I used to say, "how can I think about nothing when nothing is something and I'm not supposed to think of something" and so the circle continued. I did not do anything for a while, and then one day I happened upon a labyrinth.

Again, the moving mediation worked especially well for me. After years of walking labyrinths I finally had enough walking meditation under my belt, and was able to explore sitting mediation.

At first I thought it would be impossible, and then slowly, gradually I began to like the silence. It was "Insight" mediation with Sharon Salzberg that really got me to sit for longer periods of time.

I will never forget my first full day of silence. I thought I was going to explode. After sitting for 20 minutes, walking for 20 minutes, listening to the teacher discuss meditation, and repeating this pattern several times, by about the 4th repetition I was inwardly screaming, feeling as if I was going to go crazy. Practice is what has enabled these feelings to subside.

The key word is "practice" - meditators develop their practice.

Before, I had to have a timer when I sat. Now I sit without a timer, offering myself whatever I need in way of meditation. Usually, I sit for 20-30 minute increments.

There is a saying I have heard over the years:
"If you don't have time to meditate for 20 minutes, then meditate for an hour." I cannot stress the value of this expression.

I rarely do insight meditation anymore. Instead, I practice "centering prayer" though some would say they are the same thing. While they are similar, they differ in that Centering Prayer has God, and the insight meditation I was doing before, does not. Centering Prayer is sitting in the presence and action of God within me, as me and through me.

I love it. I find I am a kinder, more gentle person when I practice Centering Prayer.

Research abounds regarding the importance of meditation to health and well-being. Here is a link with "10 Important Reasons to Start Making Time for Silence, Rest and Solitude"

Lately I am called not only to centering prayer, but other contemplative techniques as spiritual practices. I will write more about this in coming posts.

Where do you find stillness in our busy world?

5 thanksgivings:
  1. I am grateful for Sharon Salzberg.
  2. I am grateful for InsightLA.
  3. I am grateful for Father Keating.
  4. I am grateful for Thomas Merton.
  5. I am grateful for God.

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