“In silence we leave the many and return to the One.” Mama Maggie Gobran
Silence is a state of mind. It is a choice that I make regardless of my circumstances. It is a reservoir deep within my being. A soft and comfy landing that always awaits my return. It feels like home, and I have worn the path to its door countless times, sometimes gently strolling while other times running for my life. The more I turn in and visit this inner place of peace and power the more easily accessible it is in the midst of daily challenges. Finding the silence within my heart has not always been and is still not always easy. It is a discipline and has taken years of practice to hone the skill of returning to the stillness of my soul and quieting my swirling mind.
I began meditating regularly when my 4th child was a baby; 10 years ago. I felt as if my life depended on it, and I was terrible at it. I struggled and wrestled with every moment of it, and the judgmental voice within me was brutal. Instead of gaining a calm respite from my chaotic reality, it felt like going into a boxing ring with Rambo who bludgeoned and mocked me with every breath. I clung tenaciously to my new tools that I had learned and eagerly anticipated the sound of the harp on my telephone which excused me from my time of torture/ training. For some reason, I kept coming back for more, like a glutton for punishment.
I remember praying that God’s peace would be in me. I remember catching moments and glimpses of this glistening stillness pregnant with possibility, and then like a pin prick on a bubble it was gone.
I would search desperately to find the quiet, and it alluded me. The peace that was as strong as a river one moment evaporated in the very next, and I was back to my agitated reactionary self that I was trying desperately to take out with the trash. There were impatient and reactive places in me that were as real as the nose on my face. The more I tried to erase them the stronger they got.
This game of sitting and tasting stillness that was fleeting went on for years. I am not sure when the shift happened, but it did. One day I tasted a banquet of the peace that transcends human understanding in my quiet time, but the real gift was the fact that this stillness stayed with me as I got off my cushion and stepped into the world. As I made breakfast and lunches for the kids and the familiar chaos and noise began to kick up dust and press my buttons, I returned to the stillness of my heart. I breathed deeply and hummed a tune in my heart “I got peace like a river in my soul…”
I have moments of forgetting every single day, but I have learned to be kind to myself in this lifelong journey toward abiding in the presence of God. He is ever present awaiting my return. Some days I need to turn back to him moment by moment and breath by breath and other times, His presence is so strong and steady that I couldn’t miss him if I tried. My hope in telling you this is to encourage you to stick with it as long as it takes, because the quality of life anchored in this stillness is worthy of the wait.
Jesus healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, turned water into wine. He was a very busy man and yet he made stillness and quiet a priority. He retreated regularly to be alone with his father. This is meditation, and we are called to follow him. I have made excuses and have heard every excuse in the book as to why people can’t or won’t meditate. I challenge you today to begin. Start small; a minute or two will do. Set your phone timer, close your eyes and turn your attention to your breath. Just begin to notice the breath entering and exiting the nose. Let all of your attention rest on your life giving breath.
Breath translates as Spirit. When you meditate in this way you are choosing to connect to the Holy Spirit that is within and all around you. With each inhale, breathe in and invite the Light. Soften to receive it. With each exhale, let go. Release the tension and the stress you are carrying in the form of thought, fear, control, bitterness, and pain in the body. There is a Chinese proverb that says “stress is who you think you are and relaxation is who you really are.” Just BE in God’s peace!
Jean Masukevich is a special education and yoga teacher. She holds an advanced certificate in grief and trauma from the Allender Center of Psychology and Theology and is passionate about facilitating healing spaces for individuals and groups in need of care. Her therapeutic approach incorporates yoga, meditation, art and the use of narratives to help people integrate mind, body and Spirit. Jean loves to play outside and enjoys quality time with her husband and four awesome children. You can find her here: www.sowthat.com