The space of meditation, at least Zen meditation, involves a realignment of the self with the universe. Getting caught up in activity can invite me to assert the self against the world, especially when I care deeply about the activity. I get busy trying to understand, maneuver, express, create, change, hurry, finish, resist, and come up with an effective plan. My actions may even be fruitful, but operating like this takes its toll. My perspective shrinks. My sense of ease and joy become contingent on the outcomes of my activities. A subtle but pervasive sense of imperative starts making everything more stressful.
When I sit in meditation I allow myself to just be. I am completely silent internally as well as externally. I am not commenting on anything – not judging anything good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, righteous or terrible. This silence is not about refraining from judgment because judgment is bad, agitating, or will interfere with my pleasant meditation. It’s not about pushing my legitimate concerns out of my mind so I can feel happy and calm. This meditative silence is about connecting with my living body-mind, a seat of awareness that doesn’t want to be constantly commenting, evaluating, and deciding. My living self finds this moment inherently worth it, even with all of the suffering happening in the world. Not despite all the suffering, as if I were deciding, on the balance, that life has more good in it than bad. No – in that silent aliveness there is a vibrancy and willingness independent of conditions.
Since I started my journey of conscience, I have had to sit more often. I am exposing myself to more of the suffering and need in the world, arousing my compassion and concern. I am allowing my imagination free reign to come up with ways to help, arousing my excitement and ambition. It’s pretty easy to start asserting the self against the world. Before I know it, this little self is stressed… and frankly, less effective. So I renew myself in silence and reconnect with the aliveness that is always there under all the activity.
How do you make space for silence in your life?