I can still clearly
remember the day back in 1997 when I set the intention to deepen my meditation
practice. I was sitting in a Quaker church in the middle of an Iowa cornfield
at A Course In Miracles retreat led by Tara Singh, a deeply inspiring teacher
from India who had spent three years in complete silence before learning about
the course and beginning to teach it.
My meditation practice up
to this point had been in the tradition of A Course in Miracles. But, I knew I
wanted more…more of something. Tara had written a quote up on a big poster
board in front of the class room that was captivating me and touching something
deep inside. “In silence are all things answered,”I read, while outside the
window I could see the golden hues of corn husks waving gently in the wind and
the cornflower blue sky behind them. A spell was cast and a new life began for
me. How could I learn to deepen that “silence?”
The answer came quickly. Within
a month, I was introduced to the local Buddhist sangha (community) where I
began intensive study in Buddhism which has continued over the years and I was
introduced to Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine,
Healthcare, and Society and began training to teach the Mindfulness-Based
Stress Reduction Program. Both of these lines of study and practice have
transformed my life and shaped my career. Mindfulness, in its many forms, has
been at the basis of both.
Mindfulness, put simply, is
being present for each moment without judgment and with kindness and curiosity.
It is this skill that we use in relationship to our bodies, our minds, our
emotions, and the experiences outside of us—the world of other people and
things. This skill enables you to meet the moment as if for the first time
(instead of with the baggage from your past!). It helps you to step into a new
relationship to the moment—one that you choose instead of the automatic
reactions you often have. Life is fresh in each moment when you look at it
through the eyes of mindfulness.
Meditation practices are what train you in the skill of mindfulness, stillness, and peace. It is the formal practice of meditation and yoga, that you cultivate in a time set aside so that you can then bring the skill into your everyday life. It’s like anything else. If you want to get better at it, you have to practice it. Practicing loving presence in time set aside each day prepares the ground in which to have a life you consciously create with clarity and gratitude.
Join me in January as I lead four one-hour sessions on Tuesday evenings at alleyCat Yoga for anyone wanting to start a meditation practice, jump start an existing practice or take advantage of the opportunity to practice with like-minded people. Learn how to make meditation a part of your spiritual life and experience the blessings and answers of deep silence.
here and I’ll see you soon!