Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Elusive Sound Of Silence

One of the things that I have learned being stuck at home trying to heal is that I am horrible about being alone with my thoughts.  Instead of using this time to think about something profound and meaningful, or plot some passionate work on something that could makes the lives of millions better, what am I doing?

Sitting around with a blank brain and then turning on the teevee to watch old re-runs.

I get that this is comfort watching of the highest order in some cases (the BBC mini-series Cranford, for example, which I had missed and am delighted to say I've discovered and am enjoying with the Judi Dench-awesomeness of it all), or catching up on crapola (For example, don't bother trying to watch therecent Rock of Ages movie, it is too painful and I could not force myself through the first 30 minutes without having to turn it off...ugh) that I had mercifully missed.  And I also understand that my body is healing and requiring pain medication and such, and that I shouldn't be too hard on myself because I'm recovering from surgery for breast cancer...but I'm not certain that at this stage of my life that I can be content just marking time.

Shouldn't I want to DO something?  Work on something meaningful?  Have a serious and profound purpose to work toward?

There has to be an inner voice somewhere, just waiting to get out and propel me forward to some honorable mission in life.  Or else, what is the point, right?

The last couple of days, I have tried meditation.  "Tried" being the operative word here.

For I find that I completely suck at it.  My brain starts making a store list or comes up with something that must be done immediately that I might forget if I don't get up and do it now...and I'm off somewhere else in my head and trying to re-center and having trouble wrestling myself back to square one.

Which clearly shows that I need to do more meditation, that this is worth working on, since I cannot even control my own thoughts long enough to make a meaningful stab at stillness these days.

For most of my life, I have exerted a lot of energy shutting up my own inner voice in favor of trying to glean what others wanted or needed from me and doing that instead.  It was a sort of survival mechanism in part, but also a symptom of my larger people pleasing personality that was encouraged at various points by folks along the way until it blossomed into a force of its own.  I am utterly and completely out of practice in hearing my own inner voice, so much so that I'm not certain if it even exists any longer as its own entity, or whether it is just an adjunct of what I think someone else wants me to hear.

Sad, isn't it?

But I figure having cancer ought to free that up, right?  If I am ever going to figure out how to focus on and live my own dreams, shouldn't it be now?  Because, let's face it, "down the road" has particularly bleak significance at the moment and ought not be depended on as a certainty -- if I have learned nothing, it ought to at least be the importance of carpe diem's "seize the day" admonition, right?

Yet here I am.  Struggling to find a path through the elusive sound of silence.

Anyone have a recommendation for a good meditation prompt?  A CD perhaps that guides you through learning to do this?  Because I could use a hint or two...

(Photo via likeablerodent.)


Michael in Redmond, WA said...

Hi Christy,

I have been meditating for over 30 years. I found that one cannot stop the mind, I still can't after all this time. It chatters seemingly of its own volition. I would not try to stop it. If I have a clear moment of silence, I appreciate it, but I didn't cause it.

The secret, I have found, is to be a witness, an observer of the thoughts.

Watch them drift by like you are lying in the grass watching the clouds drift by overhead on a clear day. Feel the sun on your skin. Feel the breeze, the warm temperature. It's so peaceful and relaxing. You catch a bit of your husband's voice. Your daughter's laugh. Your dog's growl. It's all part of what is happening now.

A few bars of a favorite song. The joy that exists in you. The love for your family and for who you are as a person. The love that those of us that have been reading your writing all these years have for you. Because that is part of what's happening now.

Loving every cell in your body as you feel them inside you. Loving even the cells that are growing in a way that isn't healthy for your organism. Loving them so they change and become the healthy kinds of cells. Because that is what is part of what's happening now.

Focus on your breathing. Listen to your heartbeat. It's all part of what is happening now.

Let the feelings come. Laugh if that's what you feel. Cry if that's what you feel. Get angry, get sad, or be thankful if that's what you feel. Because what you're feeling is part of what's happening now.

That's all meditation is. Witnessing what is happening now.

Michael Harner at has CDs and MP3s for sale that people use to do shamanic journey work, shamanism being the oldest kind of medicine there is, but they are just great for meditation. I like the didjeridu, personally.

Christy Hardin Smith said...

Michael, this is really helpful stuff. Thank you so much!

Like everything, I think I struggle with trying to do it perfectly. Letting that go and allowing myself to just feel my way through it instead is a great way to start with a more nurturing meditation. Thank you so much!