Learn to be Quiet
Learn to Be Quiet
You need not do anything.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
You need not even listen, just wait.
You need not even wait,
just learn to be quiet, still and solitary
and the world will freely offer itself
to you unmasked.
It has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy
at your feet.
For many years, I wanted to develop a meditation practice but struggled to clear my mind. I would sit and immediately become distracted. I tried staring at a burning candle; visualizing a beach; counting my breaths; saying a mantra…it all led back to my to-do list and whatever I was most focused on in the past or future.
Then I discovered a few techniques that made a big difference for me. The first is the realization that I’m not supposed to empty my mind because minds are made to be occupied. My wisdom circle helps me focus my thoughts on becoming my best self instead of drifting from idea to idea. I try to keep a sense of detachment as if looking at someone else so that I allow time for insights without demanding them. This is usually enough to then let go of thinking and focus on sensation instead of thoughts, a kind of floating along with my breath.
If I’m not able to let go of thoughts, I pay attention to them. I once read that the distractions that pop up during a meditation or prayer practice are the very things we should pay attention to because they are the things closest to our heart. I’ll look more deeply into what’s calling attention to itself. Why am I angry? sad? confused? What control do I have over the situation? What do I need to do with my feelings? I spend time to reflect without blaming or judging.
And now, after so many years of focusing my mind in these ways, I am able to sit quietly without the need of additional “tricks.” I feel lighter, calmer, more accepting of myself and others. Meditation leads me to a sense of integration and engagement with life. Just like becoming aware of and adjusting my postural alignment, meditating takes time and continued practice to find the “sweet spot” where I can’t imagine life without it.