Our Healing Ways article this month, “Sacred Silence: Discover the Benefits of Quiet at a Silent Retreat,” by April Thompson, sparked a new curiosity. I’d like to give it a try. I’ve been hearing lately how spiritual teacher David Harshada Wagner characterizes silence as a “powerful energy… roaring within.”
It all got me thinking about my own meditation practice and the discipline it’s taken to solidify it into a full-fledged habit. Only now am I beginning to experience the celebrated deeply felt energy associated with a quiet mind.
It likely took longer for me than it could have to get comfortable about “doing it right” because I didn’t take any short cuts in the way of formal training or classes in developing my practice. I appreciate that through trial and error I’ve been able to let go of any previous expectations of what’s “supposed” to happen during meditation.
These days I set a meditation app timer for 15 minutes and then settle into my seat with a few relaxing deep breaths, easing into counting breaths, with three counts for the inhale and five on the exhale. I’ve learned to allow thoughts that inevitably pop up to be acknowledged and swiftly released before they pick up momentum. Instead of becoming distracted, I can gently shift back to focus on breathing and counting breaths. So far, it’s what works best for me.
There are as many styles of meditation including diverse approaches explored through teachers, workshops, Internet searches and books as well as in this magazine. I encourage anyone interested in meditation to try different styles before throwing in the towel, a common occurrence for those new to the practice. Once you find what works best for you, I can promise that the rewards are internally transformative.
Living life from a place of underlying calm changes everything. When life throws curve balls, it’s easier to process through them from a firmly grounded emotional state. Even the highs feel different and increasingly more balanced.
Greater intuition and inspiration are wonderful benefits. It’s becoming easier for me to distinguish “monkey-mind” noise from inner knowing. I find the thoughts that feel really good and seem to come from out of nowhere (unrelated to recent thoughts) tend to arise from the place of inner knowing.
I’m now able to even break for a moment to jot down a note on an inspiration that’s surfaced during a session. I love having an agreement with myself that there are no rules for meditation other than to do what feels right in the moment. This approach is proving quite valuable to an overall sense of well-being.
Meditation is renowned as a deeply personal and individual adventure open for unlimited exploration. It’s one of countless paths for developing inner peace and an enriching one.
May we each deeply know and spread peace,
Maisie Raftery, Publisher