Richard Dama, LPC, Counseling & Clinical Hypnotherapy

The Silence Within

Let’s face it, we live in an indifferent, if not hostile universe. Time flows and the stars and planets follow their orbits heedless of our very existence. On our own planet we face a regular tide of natural and manmade disasters.

Our short lives are filled with a continuous and seemingly random series of joys, tragedies, boredom and the struggle to build not only a living, but a life. We have more labor and time saving devices than have ever existed in all of human history, yet we all seem to have less time to spend with each other and ourselves. Most of us try to be decent and compassionate beings, but nature simply doesn’t care; shit happens constantly, absolutely heedless and indifferent to our desires or very existence.

But, have you ever noticed that some people seem to weather this constant storm of existence with more calm and grace than the rest of us? Have you ever seen someone experiencing absolute turmoil in their lives, yet somehow seem to be not only able to deal with the situations in an effective, straightforward manner without shaking their fists at the heavens and cursing their circumstances, but also seem to be able to show genuine care and compassion for others?

What makes these people different? Are they saints? Are they oblivious to pain and tragedy? Are they absolutely out of their minds?

I would argue the exact opposite.

I have found that these unflappable souls are that way because they have been able to cultivate an area of silence within themselves from which they can draw strength and peace when everything around them is in pieces. They have found and nurtured an internal area of silent peace that gives them the experience of being grounded and firmly connected with the very core of their being.

They have come to realize that they are more than their bodies and have gathered resources that help them endure periods of seeming chaos without being overwhelmed by their external environment. They know that whatever is happening to and around them is simply the cost of living and these events, whether they be joyful or tragic, are experiences to live through, but that cannot ultimately destroy or defeat that which they are at their most fundamental level.

I would also argue that most, if not all of these people weren’t born this way, but chose to work very hard at becoming the people they are.

So, if you accept my argument, you’re probably asking, “how did they manage to find and maintain this silence?” It’s my experience that these people found or developed a method of moving their awareness inward through contemplation. Religious people pray; spiritual and secular people meditate.

I’m willing to bet that many of you are now imagining a bearded guy in a black robe, sitting on a mountaintop chanting. And while a very few people do meditate like that, most of us don’t.

Meditation itself is simply the practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, object, visualization, the breath, movement, or attention itself in order to increase awareness of the present moment, reduce stress, promote relaxation, and enhance personal and spiritual growth, That’s it; no black robes and no mountaintop.

I recommend meditation to all my clients; I have done so for as many years as I’ve been in practice, but I’m still surprised and amused by the responses I get.

“I’m too old to stand on my head.”

So don’t.

“Sitting on the floor is too uncomfortable.”

So sit in a chair.

“I can’t twist my body into a pretzel.”

So keep your feet on the floor and your hands in your lap.

“I’m too busy.”

Really? Are you really so busy that you can’t find 10 to 20 minutes to just sit quietly and experience your own life? If so, I would suggest that you at least reexamine your time management skills if not your priorities.

Meditation doesn’t have to an arduous exercise in self-denial or pain. In fact it can be as simple as going outside and looking up.

On days when the weather allows, go sit in your backyard and simply look up at the clouds. Use your imagination and see shapes in the clouds and when you see an interesting or unusual shape, ask yourself what is it within yourself that caused you to see that particular image in that random accumulation of water and ice droplets.

On overcast days, look at the gray sky and lose yourself in the uniformity of the color. On cloudless days, allow your mind to absorb the crystal clear blue of ocean of light overhead.

When it’s raining or snowing, sit in front of a window and watch the beauty of the show that nature is putting on just a few feet in front of you.

The trick to all this is to simply experience the experience in the moment without judgement. Remember that nature is naturing and couldn’t care less if you see it or not. Choose to allow yourself to become lost in the beauty that is unfolding above and around you.

When you do this for a few moments you will find that you begin to calm down. Your breathing will slow and deepen. Your heart rate will slow and your blood pressure will go down. If you allow yourself to become fully absorbed in the experience you will begin to hear and feel a small spark of silence begin to glow deep within you. With further practice you will nurture that spark into a flame and eventually into a blazing ball of silence and peace.

Admittedly, this takes time and effort, but you’re going to spend that time on something. Why not spend it on doing something that will give you the peace, strength and understanding that will allow you to weather the storms of chaos and pain that you will surely experience? Why not spend the time to develop the ability to recognize, savor and save the moments of beauty and bliss that are also a part of living?

The choice is always yours.

I hope you have an intentionally great and contemplative day.

Rich

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