Silence. Ceasing The Mind’s Hold On Us. 2.10.20

“Our own awareness, our own interiority, runs deeper than we realize. If we turn within and see only noise, chaos, thinking, anxiety—what R. S. Thomas calls ‘the mind’s kingdom,’ then we have not seen deeply enough into the vast and expansive moors of human awareness. When the wandering, roving minds grows still, when fragmented craving grows still, when the ‘heart’s passions are rapt in stillness, then is ‘the mind’s cession of its kingdom,’ a great letting go as a deeper dimension of the human person is revealed. From this depth God is seen to be the ground of both peace and chaos, one with ourselves and one with all the world, the ground ‘in whom we live and move and have our being’[Acts 17:28]. This depth of silence is more than the mere absence of sound and is the key…’the silence holds with its gloved hand the wild hawk of the mind.’”[1]

 

The tough part about meditating is getting past this reaction: “I can’t stand listening to what my mind has to say!” When I first tried to meditate, I ran from sitting in the silence and listening to the contents of my mind.  It was a year or two later that I was finally ready to be in the silence and to let go of the mind’s hold on me. I practiced a form of meditation for a long time before I really felt comfortable sitting in the stillness. Meanwhile I was learning to recognize all the prompts of my mind to run, to be afraid, to be impatient and much more. As I got to know them, I began to see them as my old friends—with me since my childhood, but no longer really relevant to what was happening in my life in my 40’s and later.

 

Later that practice evolved into just sitting without a mantra and just accepting whatever thoughts my mind produced. I no longer was engaged emotionally in whatever it offered. Meanwhile I was beginning to hear and to identify God’s “still, small voice”[2] in my mind. And learning to just do whatever it suggested, once I got over the shock of what He was asking of me—it was always just beyond what I had imagined for myself. The more I listened and obeyed, the more I could see the benefits, the blessings He was offering me, especially the healing of my pain and suffering. I could easily sit for an hour in silence by then.

 

I do not have any meditative practice that I do daily now, only twice a month, but I am so tuned into God and what He asks of me, that I simply listen for His voice and follow it. It comes in suggestions of what to do next in pictures in my mind rather than in words all day long, in another person touting some book, sometimes in dreams. When my own thoughts interfere, especially my impatience when I am driving, I simply smile at its emergence once again and breath slowly to return to the peace I have gained.

 

The “silent land” that Martin Laird describes is a resting place and a launching place. It is stillness and the carrying out of God’s will. It is living in Christ’s mind[3] as Paul described. Once we rest in His mind, we are a captive of His thinking, His kind of acting in the world, and most of all of His love and forgiveness. There we grow into the fruit of the Spirit: peace, joy, love, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.[4] I love this image of doing everything in a spirit of goodness, kindness, and gentleness. In peace and joy and love. In patience and faithfulness. And what a grace, a blessing that would be for each of us and all those lives we touch! Thanks be to God!

[1]  Martin Laird, O.S.A., Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation, Oxford University Press, New York, 2006, p. 23

[2] 1 Kings 19:12

[3] Philippians 2:5-8

[4] Galatians 5:22-23

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