Second in a 4-part series.
Delight: Along the way of our practice stillness finds us. We feel it descend like a cool breeze on a hot sunny day. Our body relaxes, our mind and emotions take a time out, and to our own surprise, we are experiencing the sweet taste of stillness. I find this phase intoxicating; stillness carries its own sweetness. The body enjoys it too as the blood pressure lowers, the parasympathetic nervous system goes to work repairing and building the body, the muscles relax, and the heart and breath find ease.
Stillness is our first taste of the deeper delights meditation brings, but it carries its own cautions. We have spent all the years of our lives training ourselves to go to sleep when our eyes our closed. This is what we have learned to do and this is what wants to happen to us now. Sleep is ever ready to descend on a still body with closed eyes. And if we don’t stay alert, we will miss the deeper gifts of meditation and soon find our heads nodding and our mind vanishing into sleep.
The other precarious place stillness can take us is what I call the rabbit hole. This is a place the mind likes to visit where it can run a whole scenario of its own choosing. This scenario gives us the impression we are meditating, but in reality we are lost in a sort of mirage of our own making. The rabbit hole is a long series of dreamy thoughts that can either be a sort of pleasant anger which leaves us feeling contentedly self-righteous or it can be a self-created bliss that portrays itself as a sweet meditation experience. We usually come out of rabbit holes feeling quite content, but we have not been meditating, we have been visiting self-created scenarios in our minds.
When we catch ourselves nodding off to sleep or lost in a rabbit hole, we simply return to the practice of holding our attention on our breath or with our mantra.
Notice where you can find and cultivate moments of stillness. Notice the quality of this stillness; take time to feel it in your body. Breathe in the sweetness of these moments.
When you find yourself in the delight phase of your practice, be alert: sleep and rabbit holes are eager to creep into these moments. Stay particularly interested in your breath or mantra and let your heart be part of this interest.
Next week Part 3: Dragons