Sunday, June 14, 2009

Going Inward

If last summer's theme was to raise my vibrations, this summer's is about going within. It's not a new theme but it's gotten to the point now that it's popping up SO frequently and in so many diverse places that I just have to giggle and tell the universe, "Okay, okay. Message received. I'm on it."

But what does this mean exactly? I take it to mean the following: meditate, pray, reflect habitually enough so that you can eventually come to a place which transcends even silence. There, in that space, the answers will come. Insight will come. Peace will befriend you. Anxiety will melt away and creativity will blossom.

And I know that this works because I've followed this practice before, even religiously so. Humanoid that I am, I have fallen OUT of this practice the past several months and am feeling the effects. My efforts are sporadic now, so I take the universe's message anew and will address it.

Over the weekend, I went on silent retreat at a monastery and relished its natural beauty, rhythm and proffered silence. It was good to be still and silent and to follow my soul around for a few days, reminding me of a curious puppy content to do one thing one moment and then do something else 30 minutes later. During my time there, I felt pulled to walk the monastery's grounds after meals and the habit allowed me to run, hop, and skip through fields and dance with the wildlife there. I saw blue herons greet each other in the morning with loud squawks which I translated as, "Morning, Tom. Morning, Fred." Bluebirds and woodpeckers flitted about, white and yellow butterflies hovered in verdant fields and cows lowed to each other at dusk.

The silence tempered my thoughts and allowed me to go within unhindered and unhurried. Joseph Campbell and the Upanishads were within close reach. Rilke, too. I smiled when Campbell began to discuss the need for inward journeying. "So there are two stages to this: one is going inward, and finding the relationship of your own deeper self to the ground of being so that you become transparent to transcendence; the other is bringing this realization back into operation in the field, which is the work of the artist--to interpret the contemporary world as experienced in terms of relevance to our inner life (An Open Life, p. 22).

Later he says, "And what the Orient brings is a realization of the inward way. When you sit in meditation with your hands on your lap, with your head looking down, that means you've gone in and you're coming not just to a soul that is disengaged from God: you're coming to that divine mystery right there in yourself (p. 89).

Rilke counsels the young poet seeking advice in the following manner: "You are looking outward, and that above all you should not do now. Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself...ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer...What more shall I say to you? Everything seems to me to have its just emphasis; and after all I do only want to advise you to keep growing quietly and seriously through your whole development; you cannot disturb it more rudely than by looking outward and expecting from outside replies to questions that only your inmost feeling in your most hushed hour can perhaps answer (Letters to a Young Poet, Letter One).

I am moving towards stillness. I have been reminded. The stay at the monastery didn't answer my questions (I knew it wouldn't) BUT it has fortified me for the inner journey ahead.

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