When I really love someone I’m deeply attentive to them – disposed to enjoy their presence. What they are thinking and feeling is important to me. When attending to them I may be aware my own thoughts, needs and feelings becoming quiet.
I meditate to still my body and mind so loving attention to God may grow in me. Listening and being loved calls for a stilling attention. But this is not the same as pushing away what is going on in me – it means loving attention to what IS, for that IS where God IS. When I am present to what is present, the surface ‘noise’ falls away and I am present to deeper spaces where God IS. The first place to be present is the physical body, it is very difficult to still the mind if the body is not still. Likewise when the mind is chattering away, the stilling of the spirit becomes a challenging task. Here are three steps that help to bring stillness.
Three Steps to Stillness:
1. Awareness of my Posture Stills my Body:
Take as much time as you need to do this. Sit comfortably and relaxed, but straight and alert.
Notice the sensations in your body – the feel of the floor beneath you, the air, your clothes…
Listen to the sounds around you, outside the room, inside the room, from yourself.
Relax your body.
Start at the top of the head and gradually move down to the tips of your toes.
At each part of your body stop and notice what is there – tiredness, lightness, joy, aching, heaviness, whatever the sensation. Bring a simple awareness to each place in your body. When each place has relaxed then go back over it again and again. With each outward breath (exhale), imagine all of the tension in your body draining away and leaving your body. Drop deeper within. Relax as fully as you can without losing your awareness.
2. Awareness of my Breath Stills my Mind:
Watch your breathing at a point where you feel the sensation of the air as it enters and leaves your body. Do not seek to change the breath. Allow your awareness to be as a sentinel at the security gates, watching what passes before you but not following it and becoming lost in it.
Simply watching. A gentle observation of all that passes through your mind and body as you bring your awareness to your breathing – in and out.
Let it be like an anchor for your mind – let it have something to watch. When your mind strays, don’t worry; just come back to watching your breath once again. Don’t become disturbed by what passes through your observing mind, notice it with a simple awareness and then let it pass.
3. Surrender Stills my Spirit:
As you relax and watch your breath, surrender yourself openly, generously, trustingly.
Notice what passes through your body mind and spirit in this time of waiting and watching.
But don’t cling to any one thing, simply notice, name, and be present.
We simply want to allow.
- Douglas Park & Hartzer Retreats 2011
- Wangari Maathai dies