When I taught high school English, I had a poster centered above the blackboard which said: “Listen and Silent are spelled with the same letters.” I wish I had a dollar for every student throughout my teaching career who said, “Really. Wow!”
To listen, we first need to be silent. Many people wish to be effective listeners, although we aren’t always as effective as we’d like. Whether this has anything to do with technique, I don’t know for sure. Yet, the most effective way I’ve found to listen is still the advice Jesus the Christ gave in the “Sermon on the Mount” (Mt. 6:6), when he said, “Go into your room and close the door . . . .”
To be effective at anything we truly wish to do in our lives – as well as to be our own guru – we need some sacred, silent time apart, to commune with God (however we understand God) and ourselves. Jesus and every other master mystic did it. So can we – if we’re willing to gift ourselves with the time, place and space to make it part of our lives.
So, as we begin the season of Lent, when many people fast from particular indulgences, consider which activity, event or thing you could give up, relinquish, or “unfollow” (see “Be Your Own Guru – Part 2” for more about that). Then, use that newly liberated time and space to be silent.
Many types of silent meditation practices are available, so choose one which is most comfortable for you. However, if you’re someone who’s struggled to meditate because you thought you were doing it “wrong” or nothing was happening, remember that the true goal of meditation is two-fold: to connect with God and with ourselves.
Despite what we may believe, silent meditation isn’t about stopping our thoughts or finding bliss, although on occasion, both of these things may occur. Rather, meditation in the silence is a way for us to understand our own minds, thoughts and feelings. Even when it seems that nothing is happening, or that our minds are scattered and spacey, daily time in the silence opens our inner pathways so we can listen when our inner guru speaks, however softly.
The truth is, to be our own guru, we need to turn within. Otherwise, we’re constantly distracted by all the noise, commotion, drama and uproar around us. Even if the time for ourselves seems indulgent or selfish, ultimately, it allows us to be more present to ourselves and then to the other people, places and things which are most important in our lives.
Our silent time honors us, so then we may honor and be present to others. When we choose to embrace time in the silence, we put our own spiritual oxygen masks on first. Then we can support and serve others, as we choose, with renewed energy, clarity and strength. And sometimes we discover that the journey becomes easier also.
© 2016 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks. All rights reserved.