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Meditation is a practice of remembering. It is taking the time to sit still and get quiet enough to have the memory of peace. We all have it. True peace rests waiting in the center of our beings. I picture the quiet, expressive eyes of a gentle child watching all the bustling and working and posturing and passion that whizzes constantly in circles. Peace just watches and waits. Waiting, tranquil enough for the world to stop spinning is good practice, but sometimes more is necessary. Sometimes taking it back—active reclaiming—is the essential next step.
On Monday, November 29th I took my annual silent retreat. It is a midnight to midnight time for no speaking, no music, no news, no flashing screens. Entering into the cone of silence is walking full aware into the echoing voices. When you get quiet, which voices echo for you? Mine tell me about how I ought to be so much more efficient. They worry about the winter heat bill. They ask me if I’m crazy. They wonder if I’ll ever be worthy of love. They show me pictures and sing me snippets from the vast and ridiculous catalog of rock, folk, new wave, and punk that lives in my head. Then they quiet down. Gratitude and meditation happen. I notice the warmth in my room created by altar candles. The touch of the air on my arms and chest feels so much more physical than in the chattering times.
The only word I’ve been able to come up with to adequately describe the silence, once it really settles in, is delicious. It gets easier each time to enter into silence, and if it weren’t for outside demands clamoring to get in, I could let it go for days. There may have been moments of delicious this time, but that was not mostly the case. This was a difficult silence. I did not have the usual tools to stuff down what had been circling in — nervous tears and caged-animal uncertainty.
My friend Elisa once said “Whenever I come to your house, I feel like I did yoga.” I loved that observation. That was the problem. My home had lost its yoga and it needs it back. In the midst of the erratic every day, I was forgetting the essential yoga in my being. Showing up again on the zafu to sit still more and more often is a first step. I have discovered that the Universe is fond of placing obstacles in the way of those who ought not to forget to meditate.
I have other more physical actions in motion: changing the current living situation, managing and releasing old family items, honoring my need to be free of disarray. Depression had its hooks in deep this summer, and I am letting go of punishing myself by lack of exercise and stupid food. It’s back to Ballys for me, and I love it. I will chant and play guitar and boogie oogie oogie openly in the living room again. It doesn’t always take a seismic shift to take back what you need. Sometimes we dwell just a half step to one side of our essentials.
At the Integral Yoga Institute holiday party in Princeton this Saturday, Jayadeva told the crowd that we are never alone. If we are all One and all Love, how can we ever be abandoned? I wonder if I made my cameo at their Holiday Hoopla just to hear that message. It was another moment of returning focus.
There has been chaos in my household over these past few months, but that will be changing. I am taking back the yoga. The Christmas cactus by the kitchen door is blooming right on schedule.