I was recently playing with my 3-year-old granddaughter when she got overly excited and broke some rules. Her mother immediately put her in a 5-minute time out. Upon being released from her time out, she confidently ran back to play with me proclaiming, “Grandma, grandma, I want you to know I am changed; I am a completely different person now!”
Despite her confidence, I have no doubt that my granddaughter will spend many more 5-minute periods in time outs as she grows to adulthood. Each time will be an invitation for her to remember a different way to be as well as a time to reflect on who she wants to be.
Meditation is much like a self-imposed time out. For those moments we leave our interactions with the outer world to enter a world of silence. By doing this we put ourselves in a position to remember who and whose we are. We touch the essence of a different “me”.
My granddaughter, at 3, carried the illusion that a miraculous change had occurred in 5 minutes. According to her account, she had become an entirely different person.
For us, meditation might not seem quite so miraculous. We may even wonder if anything much is happening, but that may be the saving grace of it all. The changes brought about by meditation sneak in so unobtrusively that we are changed without really knowing it…and that in itself is pretty miraculous.
In the beloved story of the Bhagavad-Gita, a corrupt and narcissistic king sits on the throne. He is selfish and greedy with little concern for the welfare of the people he rules. As a result, everything is out of balance and suffering prevails.
Enter Arjuna, our main character. Arjuna is a warrior, and it has fallen to him during these difficult times to lead a battle against the forces of self-interest in order to restore wellbeing to the whole kingdom.
A study was done at the University of Virginia showing that 67% of men and 25% of women would rather endure an electrical shock than to sit alone is silence. Startling, isn’t it?
The school shooting in Florida is now history, and the nation is buzzing with controversy. The students who survived the massacre are saying, “No more.” The NRA is waving its freedom flag. Our President is suggesting possibly arming the teachers to “solve” the “problem.”
I have been thinking lately about a quote by T. E. Lawrence, known to many as Lawrence of Arabia. It goes like this: “All men [sic] dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men [sic], for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”
T. E. Lawrence is reminding us that not only does it matter how we choose to act moment to moment, it matters what we can and are willing to imagine with our choices. It matters what we can dream, what we can create in our imaginations. Can we, do we, engage in a rich imagination that can reach into the present and shape the life process?
It’s hard to miss. Another New Year has called us to social celebration and quiet reflection. We can feel the turning of time and with it the longing for meaningful change. We are in touch with hope, with possibility, and with failure. We are reminded of what might be different or at least a little better in our lives, in our world, in our character. And for most of us, this hope turns into resolutions.
There is much written about how to make resolutions, how to succeed at keeping resolutions, or how to not have any resolutions at all. We forget that there is no right way or even one way to enter the New Year. As much as we read the “how to’s” and the “what’s”, this is OUR life, and we are mortal.
In his poem called Tripping Over Joy, the poet Hafiz gives us much to reflect on regarding surrender. He portrays life as a chess game with the Divine. Most of us, he notes, take playing the game much too seriously. We can feel this seriousness in the rigidity of our shoulders or the tight set of our jaw. We can feel it in a sudden outburst of emotional turbulence. The mystic, he notes, has a very different experience.
“Don’t look for peace. Don’t look for any other state than the one you are in now; otherwise, you will set up inner conflict and unconscious resistance. Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender.” ― Eckhart Tolle
Do you ever feel guilty for having moments of deep happiness, like somehow you missed the part where the world is falling apart? Or, do you ever feel guilty because you are caught in despair and hopelessness, like somehow you aren’t being spiritual enough?
“Know yourself as a breathing being.” -Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
What comes to your mind as you hear these words from Pandit Rajmani? I am taken back to my years in seminary, sitting in my Old Testament class. The story that comes to mind is from Genesis 2, where God fashioned a human being out of the dust of the earth and then breathed into this being the breath of life.
In this story, there is an image of tenderness as the human being is carefully crafted. There is also a grace-filled intimacy as breath is breathed into this being. And it doesn’t end there, for as we know one breath doesn’t keep us alive for very long. We require a continuous sustenance of this intimate gift we call breath.