Sunday, October 21, 2007

Stillness behind, below, between, and inside

Two things, linked:

1. Yesterday, I got around to listening to this podcast at Speaking of Faith. It is an interview of Matthew Sanford, a yoga teacher who has been paraplegic since he was in a car accident at the age of 13. The entire interview is well worth the time needed to listen to it, but one of the points he made in several different ways really resonated with me: that there is, at the core of us, a quality of experience he calls "silence" that he learned to discover, and then to perceive even in the active aspects of his life in the body and mind. I won't try to elaborate on his point, as I wouldn't do it justice. Listen to the interview.

2. Last night, I went to sleep listening to the rain falling on our roof. At some point in the night, I awoke to the sense of absolute silence. Of course, it wasn't really absolute -- I could hear my heart beating, the sound of my breath across my nostrils and through my broncheal tubes, of the shifting of sheets and blankets in the bed. But at some point in the night, the rain had changed to snow, and the snow absorbed all of the sounds that usually form the baseline that my mind has come to accept as "silence" -- traffic from the not-too-distant freeway, that sort of thing.

So this morning, I get up, shower, and decide to do my meditation practice before finishing getting ready for Church.

Usually, my meditation practice starts with about 15 minutes of mind-tennis, as my mind tries to volley with "thought" or "judgment" or "desire" each idea that flies in across the net. Then it settles into a kind of quiet vigilance.

But this time, three or four breaths in, I find this lake of silence. Then, as thoughts or desires or whatever arise, I perceive them clearly against the stillness of the background.

Yoga occurs when a body moves through space aware its interbeing with that same lake of stillness.