“When you sit in meditation, you fulfill all my desires for you. You stop. You listen. You merge your mind-body-spirit into the unity of my creation. You let go of thoughts which divide. You become one and experience the love at the center of life.” – “A Letter from the Earth on Learning to Sit in Awakening: A Contemplative Primer on Learning to Sit, Page 37
Meditation! What a gift! What a learning process! What a struggle! What a blessing! I am writing this short blog to encourage you to find time for meditation.
Our society pulls us far away from the still, small voice of God. And yet, perhaps because our society clamors with so much urgency, so many images, so much stuff, we find ourselves drawn to leave the frenzy for the silence. The contemplative practice calls to us, leading us into the Center where our minds, bodies and spirits harmonize into the heart of God. Meditation is a gift available to all of us and so helpful. Research teaches that it helps the immune system, provides clarity of thought, calms the body and lowers blood pressure.
This practice changed my life from inside out. In the early morning, just a few minutes of concentrating on my breath and letting go of thoughts transforms my perspective and calms my spirit. Suddenly, anxieties, worries, stress melt away.
Serendipities happen and life unfolds more easily after meditation. I will express an intention to do something. Then as I walk through my day, the ducks line up to make it happen. People I need to help show up unexpectedly. Life blossoms in miraculous ways.
And, I encounter God as I meditate. In our scripture, there’s a verse that when we know how to pray, but sighs intercede too great for words (Romans 8:26). That’s what I think happens: I am just putting myself into God’s presence and then God stays with me through my day. Simply sitting into the presence of God provides a space of infinite growth and love. In this sacred place, one joins the Biblical pilgrims in the prayer of listening and being still before God. One connects with a deep wellspring of energy and inspiration for caring action. One cultivates harmony that leads to internal and external healing. And one becomes conscious of the unity of all beings, the earth and the cosmos.
So, yes, I am learning to sit. For about nine years now I have started every day with 20 minutes of meditation, and then I journal and write.
Like most people who meditate, I found it difficult. At first, I expected instant enlightenment, sterling new insight, and deep inner peace. Actually, as I began, I lear
ned that I shouldn’t look for great insight, just letting go. And in reading Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila, I learned that in order to get to the deep inner peace, I must first cross the moat. The junk of our lives tends to surface when we work to become silent. The demons and dragons may disturb the waters of our practice. What also is true, though, is that as we let go of these pains in our lives, we will find stiller waters, not only in our meditation time, but also in daily life.
Right now, most of us in America find life challenging and confusing. The pandemic turned our everyday life upside down. Regular events screeched to a halt. To be safe we must keep our distance from others. The economy buckled and many are without work. The graphic murder of George Floyd also brought racism front and center, begging for us to make deep changes as a society, to confront our own evil and find a path forward with justice for all.
I believe meditation catapults us into the spaciousness of God’s love, where infinite possibilities emerge for a path forward. I believe it’s just what is needed for this time.
If you would like to incorporate meditation into your life, there are a variety of ways to enter the silence. The Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation recommends some form of body prayer to begin. Focusing on the breath, relaxation, a chant, a time of reading scripture or nature may be helpful. An infinite variety of entry points are possible. Whatever assists you into the spacious silence of love should be followed. Experimenting with different tools may help you find an effective practice.
The goal is to still the monkey mind and let thoughts slip way. This, however, can be a difficult process. So be gentle with yourself and the thoughts that come. Just observe them and imagine them floating on down the river may be one way to let them go.
As the contemplative practice grows in popularity, there are myriad resources available to assist those who seek this way. When the student is ready, the teacher arrives. So ask, knock, seek, and you will receive, the door will be opened, and you will find. I suggest that you:
- Make a commitment to meditate every day and choose a time that works in your schedule. Try to dedicate 20 minutes, but if that is too difficult, start with 5 or 10 minutes to begin. Set a timer, so you don’t have to focus on the clock. Most cell phones have a timer you can use.
- Find a place in your home where you can be quiet and sit. Most suggest that you sit erectly, either cross-legged or with your feet flat on the floor. However, if that position does not work for you, honor your body and be comfortable. The goal is to be alert into the silence. You might need to ask the people in your life to honor your time in silence. If you have young children, it’s probably easiest to meditate while they are sleeping.
My book Awakening: A Contemplative Primer on Learning to Sit (Higher Ground Books and Media, 2020) offers more resources on the contemplative practices of meditation, labyrinth walking, sacred conversation, Lectio Divina, gratitude, mindful eating, contemplative rituals, contemplative living, and contemplative action. It may help guide you along your path.
Visit my website at spiritualseedlings.com for more information and follow me on Facebook at Nancy Flinchbaugh, Author. If you’d like me to lead a retreat or speak to your group, email me at: nancy.flinchbaugh.com.