Saturday, December 12, 2015

Meditation Reflections: What I Learned in Seclusion Last Week

I just returned from my annual week of private, silent seclusion. We are blessed to have a home on Camano Island, the "Hermitage," that we make available to other meditators, friends, and family. My week, weather-wise, was very dark and dreary, rainy but unusually warm for this time of year. Perfect, in short, for long meditations. Sunny days would have been, hey, just awful!

I wanted to share with excerpts from a note I wrote to friends here in Seattle about my seclusion experience.

“As the years go by, a week's seclusion gets shorter and shorter. The more inward, God peace-space comes back and envelopes you like a warm and comfortable old sweater; or, like sitting on a couch with an old friend, sitting in silence, content just to be together. 

Among the dear friends I was fortunate to have a reunion with included:

1. Eating very little and mostly fresh and uncooked. My mind cleared, my heart slowed down, and my meditations stayed focused and sweet.

2. Exercising a little bit every day is refreshing, relaxing and blesses one with contentment. 

3. It is easier to feel the invisible presence of God in the expansive vistas of nature. (At the Hermitage one looks out over the bay, Port Susan, and up onto the high volcanic peak of Mt. Baker at 10,781')  

4. Practicing slowly and deeply one's meditation techniques is like re-learning to chew your food slowly and consciously. They really work when you concentrate, with devotion!

5. Having the time to pray to God in the form of one's guru, especially with a picture or painting, makes God’s presence more real and personal. 

6. Getting perspective on your life. One's responsibilities continue to be important, at least to oneself, though hardly to anyone else and certainly nothing to the vast universe that surrounds and inhabits us; but, yet, somehow, you know things will work out. "I'm not indispensable. I'll try my best.” In all things "karma rules" while the guru's grace over-rules. Both, indeed, are far more true than most of us are aware. 

7. Opinions are like trash: useless and best disposed of quickly. Listen, observe calmly, consider both sides, but odds are most people, including myself, are wrong most of the time, and,..........well, who knows what is true, anyway.........instead, stick to the task at hand and don't overreact. Simply BE....."you have to be Present to "win" (to know)." A word of caution: apply this counsel primarily to your own opinions!

8. When the conscious mind isn't needed, dump it; instead, train your mind to chant (silently or aloud) whenever your conscious mind isn't needed in what you have to do at that moment. Lift your vibration with prayer or mantra or japa. Nothing else is important. You won't remember your thoughts from two minutes ago, so why pretend now they have any real value?

9. Attunement to God (through the guru) is everything. Nothing else is important by comparison. We cannot find happiness anywhere else; peace, anywhere else; success, anywhere else. Feeling His presence is everything. If I die tomorrow this world and its problems and my duties and my problems are gone, at least for me, for the time being. But as I awaken, my vision grows, my heart expands, and the power of God working through me increases. Only then can I be or do anything worthwhile.

10. Everyone is entitled to their craziness. Leave them alone and not judge, unless they are causing trouble to others, and you happen to have both the duty and ability to do something about it. Otherwise, let them be and appreciate their highest potential as if just waiting, hidden, in the wings of their heart to fly out and surprise you.

11. As the world around us seems to get crazier and more unbalanced, be careful that it doesn't affect you, as each of us, too, have our own craziness to deal with. It's very easy right now to think that the whole world is in line at Disneyland for Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. So get God attuned, stay positive and avoid gossip like the proverbial plague. Imagine the worst to come and turn to God, within, and to God in selfless service without (in the world around). “There’s no getting out alive,” I like to say.

12. Ananda's worldwide spiritual directors, Jyotish and Devi Novak, have just returned from India inspired towards longer, deeper meditations. It would be wise for us, too, to take advantage of this holy season and prepare ourselves to be ever greater instruments of peace and healing to others in need. 

Oh, and, go on retreat or take a seclusion! See if your wise-old-friends come back to be with you and to render comfort and spiritual aid."

Until we "meet" in seclusion again!

Swami Hrimananda