Finding Your Inner Stillness
As a teacher of meditation, I find that often times people get caught up in the concepts or even the more logistical parts of the practicing, and actually miss the meditation experience altogether. There are many ways to work with the mind or body or our life experiences that can aid us in finding a more genuinely peaceful and happy state of being. The following is one way that I have found over time works pretty well to get to the heart of the matter: Finding the inner stillness. Try it out, and see how it works for you.
As you sit reading this, realize that you are composed of many layers that you have built and added to yourself over time. One way to recognize some of these is by cataloging the roles you play in life whether they relate to your job, relationships, hobbies, committees, degrees that you hold, political or religious affiliations, etc. Do any one of these roles truly define you? Do they all in aggregate define you? Let's keep going.
Start by peeling away your job. If you didn't do the job that you do, would it change your sense of who you are? Imagine for a moment you, just as you are now, but with no job at all. Who is left sitting here?
Next, peel away your familial roles. If you were not acting out the role of mother or father, brother or sister, husband or wife or partner, cousin, uncle, aunt, you get it... Notice who remains sitting here, free of your job, and free of all familial roles...
You are building some momentum now. What if you had no political or religious interests? What if you had no hobbies, no ideas of what you liked or didn't like, not even a name or gender identity? Who remains seated in your chair? Is anyone even home at this point?
The fact is, at some point, you were born. In those brief initial moments of life, you had no expectations of life, no thoughts of what should or shouldn't be, no deadlines, no judgments, and no sense of a family or social structure. You just were. You just existed, and everything was new and fresh, and all was happening in real time, because you didn't know there was another option.
Then, the labels began. Girl or Boy. Name. You were an only child or a brother or sister. Son or daughter. On and on it has gone since that moment. You became part of a family structure. Later on other social structures emerged. You realized you had needs, and concocted ways to get those needs met. As you got older, the needs got more complex, as did your methods of getting them fulfilled. Some of these are skilled, others quite crude, but your toolkit is your toolkit. You identified with your friends, your interests, your degrees, your job titles, relational or spousal roles, parenting, memberships to organizations or clubs, etc.
While there is tremendous value in all of these things, realize that none of them are who you really are. The point of the above exercise is to show you that your story can be deconstructed and reconstructed in many ways if you sit and do it. In fact, many of our memories that we identify as the evidence of our own stories are highly inaccurate. So who's story are you living?
Let's go back to the birth moment one more time. Imagine that, in that moment, I gave you an assignment of looking in the mirror every 10 years for the rest of your life and identifying your appearance, clothing, thoughts, friends, family, beliefs, etc. You would undoubtedly notice that each time you look in the mirror your appearance will have changed, your tastes in clothing or hairstyle will be different, people in your life will have come and gone or at least changed roles for you; your own thoughts about yourself, your life, or the world around you will have pretty dramatically shifted; your peer group and relationships will be different; your beliefs and even your identity may be completely new. You may even have changed your name. The question is, who is noticing all of the changes? Who is aware that at 10 I looked, acted and felt this way, while at 20, 30, 40, etc it was different. And has that knowing part of you really changed all that drastically? Maybe it is more wise or tolerant or whatever, but is it as drastically different each 10 years as the rest of what you see?
The awareness that knows and observes everything else is your truest, purest self. When your life lines up with what allows that part of you to thrive, you are happy. When life is discordant with it, you're not truly happy. Notice how this works for you. Pay attention to what happens and the knowing or observing of what happens. Every day, do something that feeds that deepest essential part of you that has always been there, but you have lost track of under all of the layers you have piled on top of it over the years. It's still there, it has to be. Where else would it go?
There are many ways to work with this, but for me, this is the way I can reliably cut through all of the BS in life and in my practice right to the core of what really matters. I hope this helps.
That's all for now. As always, thank you.