“Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.”
I live in a world fraught with noise.
The noise of normalcy: sneezes, inhales, footfalls, jangles, barks, meows, twitters, exhales, coughs, sniffs, ticks, snuffles, whispers, tocks, clinks.
The noise of routine: alarms, engines, brakes, keypads, keyboards, excuses, papers, phones, pads, pods, dog food in a metal bowl.
The noise of chaos: crying, laughing, whining, screaming, singing, swearing, giggling, loving, destroying, sighing, breaking, rebuking, forgiving.
The noise of judgment: better, worse, rude, bratty, stupid, smart, rich, poor, trashy, annoying, pathetic, hateful.
The noise of doubt: not good enough, not smart enough, not fast enough, too loud, too absent, too present, too detached, too attached, spacey, ditzy, cold, nerdy, needy, weak, failure . . . failure.
As we enter the Lenton season each year, my religious leader sends out a list of suggested ways to observe Lent. There is of course the fasting and abstaining, the latter of which is usually my only real Lent commitment. But this year I looked over the list and considered another suggestion, aside from giving up diet sodas: personal reflection and meditation.
Meditation, centering, focusing–however you elect to label it–has never been something I’m good at. On occasion I can quiet my mind and relax into it, but it is not something that comes easily to me. I realize now that this is because of the noise. Not just physical noise, but the mental noise as well. All of those doubts and judgments that seem to flow through me steady as a river, they remain in the background as my own white noise.
The problem, I believe, is that I try to do as I mentioned: I try to quiet my mind. But that is not the true task. Instead, I must not just be quiet; I must be still.
I recall my first yoga teacher telling us during a guided meditation once that rather than banish thoughts and judgments, we should acknowledge them and let them go. So this morning I sat in my living room, before my world woke up, and tried not to be still, but to allow my mind to acknowledge those doubts as they appeared before letting them go, sending them off like dandelion pods blown into a warm summer wind.
For a moment, a very brief moment, I managed not to shut out the noise, but to let it go. There is wonder in the noise and chaos that fills my life.
My hope to find the wonder in stillness as well.