Silence as Practice

This entry, seems to very perfectly follow in the footsteps of yesterday's posting...In fact, I almost titled it, "Life as Practice, Practice as Life Part 2!"

I finish the first phase of organizing my books, a feat that has consumed several weeks in stops and starts - many arms filled with them, and boxes carried down to the basement - others juggled and redistributed from one room to another, but now the organization and rearrangement is much more logical and methodical, and volumes will be easier to find. All my theology and spirituality books from many decades of teaching and study, occupy one wall - with one shelf for example, exclusively dedicated to my massive collection of Thomas Merton writings, and multiple offerings by other authors, now all gathered together. Everything now feels right...

I find that I have two copes of Inviting Silence: Universal Principles of Meditation by Gunilla Norris, and though I have read this brief volume many times before, I curl up with it once again, and imbibe its nourishment for the soul, vowing to gift the second copy to a treasured soul friend...

And so, I share some of its insights, for silence - is perhaps the most important spiritual practice - and it permeates all the others. While I have meditated continuously in silence for twice a day for over six years, after practicing on and off for decades, I now crave it throughout my days at home, and during my yoga practice as well, and so miss it when life gets too busy...

Yes, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta once noted,

"God speaks in the silence of the heart, and we listen..."

Or, as Meister Eckhart, once wrote,

"Nothing in all creation is so like God as silence..."


And from Gunilla Norris, these beautiful excerpts, which are nothing more and nothing less than a meditation in themselves. I invite you to consider reading the whole book:

"Within each of us there is a silence
--a silence as vast as the universe.
We are afraid of it...and we long for it.

Silence is our deepest nature,
our home, our common ground, our peace.

Silence reveals. Silence heals.
Silence is where God dwells.
We yearn to be there.

One of the hardest lessons of any inner journey
is to understand that our ideal sense
of how things should be and the actual experience
are miles apart.

To be with our being...
is the most simple, direct, truly human capacity,
and it is the most difficult to sustain...

Pausing often helps us remember
and value our ability to choose.
Doing so with awareness, remembering to ask
What's enough here and now?
takes us deeper. We will find ourselves
ripening into another way of being...

Asking the simple question:
What will serve my life today?
is a penetrating practice...

Whatever circumstances we find ourselves in,
this question can help us focus our intentions.
It is so fundamental it should lie within
every small choice we make, not just the big ones..
What will serve life today?

Each of us can make a difference.
Politicians and visionaries will not return us
to the sacredness of life...
'Remember to breathe, remember to feel,
remember to care...
Let us practice for life's sake...'

When we make a place for silence, we make room
for ourselves. This is simple. And it is radical.
A room set apart for silence becomes a sanctuary
--a place for breath, for refreshment...for healing...

Silent spaces invite us to go to the inner room
--the room within ourselves.
By making room for silence, we resist
the forces of the world which tell us to live
an advertised life of surface appearance,
instead of a discovered life - a life lived in contact
with our senses, our feelings,
our deepest thoughts and values.

When a space is reserved
solely for mindfulness practice
the silence seems to deepen. A room devoted to silence
honors and invites the unknown, the untamed,
the wild, the shy, the unfathomable
--that which rarely has a chance to surface
within us...

In silence we discover ourselves, our actual presence
to the life in us and around us. When we are present,
deeply attentive, we cannot be busy controlling.
Instead we become beholders - giving ourselves up
to the mystery of things. We become more willing
to let things be. And as a consequence
we can also let ourselves be...

Many of us have become uncomfortable with silence.
We do not regard it as friend...

Through silence our days are illumined - like rooms
filled with light - so we may inhabit our lives...

Walking, eating a meal, dancing, breathing, chanting -
anything can be a practice so long as we are mindful,
so long as we are fully present...

To bring silence into our bodies and minds,
we must learn to be quiet. We begin by being still.
If a period of physical stillness is all we can muster,
that is enough. We have begun to practice...

If we can simply learn to follow our breath
in a steady way - we have grown in practice.

The point of practice is not to perform,
but to participate...
Practice reveals that we are immersed in joy.
Practice also reveals what is blocking the flow...

The lessons of silence are myriad...

When we sit in silence we are profoundly active.
Keeping silent, we can hear the roar of existence...

We become present..."

"Silence is the friend,
that never betrays."
~ Confucius

"Every soul innately yearns for stillness,
for a space, a garden where we can till,
sow, reap, and rest, and by doing so
come to a deeper sense of self
and our place in the universe.
Silence is not an absence,
but a presence.
Not an emptiness
but a repletion. A filling up."

~ Anne LeClair

Comments

Doug said…
Thanks Olga. Have been sitting quietly with my grandmother this afternoon. These are some great words of wisdom today.,.thank you!
Olga Rasmussen said…
We certainly write of what we need to be reminded of! Blessings to you!

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