Photo taken at Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center, Seasonal Juncture Retreat 2013
One of the most important practices for the Sadhaka is the daily practice of stillness and silence. On the path of Sadhana, we must uncover and observe with deep attention and awareness, the workings of our own heart and mind. In doing so, we touch with awareness the seeds of our personal conditioning and begin to observe how it affects our own well-being and that of those who live around us. A Sadhaka in practice must take this into consideration, as Ahimsa is at the heart of our journey. Through silence and stillness, we enter into the realm of the Great Mother, the nurturing and holding womb of the Feminine. Connecting to Her space through our practice of meditation is essential for nourishment on the path, so our daily visit to the meditation cushion is so important in the practice of Sadhana.
Vac Tapasya, the disciplined awareness of our speech, is the Sadhana of our Voice-both inner and outer sound. Thoughts are the precursor to our inner voices, which then become our external speech and actions. This includes both the inner and the outer expressions of our mind and heart. As we begin to take pause daily, and our capacity to sit in stillness and silence increases, we will begin to notice the constant movement of our minds. The mind will always move back and forth between the opposites-this is the function of mind, it will never cease bouncing back and forth. We must experience the vastness of Pure Consciousness beyond the dualistic movements of the mind.
Allowing feelings to move through our being is necessary for healing. Feelings and physical sensations are the responses to our experience, and necessary to allow and acknowledge. We must take it all into our practice of Sadhana, for our time on the cushion gives us a safe space to do so. We need to stop and be still daily. We need to stop talking outwardly to others and come home to meet our own selves and our own condition. The continuous movement of inner talking and chatter in our minds needs to cease in order for us to truly touch inner awareness. If we can come to the meditation cushion, take our seated posture, chant our opening prayers and quiet the breath, we will begin to let down. This is the moment to be still and quiet, to take pause and allow ourselves to rest, to relax and to open. Here we will find ourselves in the “Isness” of the moment, in the deep and utter stillness and vastness of Sacred Presence. It is here where can meet with utter honesty all our fear, anxiety, disappointment and unacknowledged experience, as well as all our inflations, anger, stories and exaggerations-all the emotions that drive the continuous movements of our mind. If we sit daily and enter the silence, we will learn to take pause through all emotional upheavals. We will also come to know all the inner movements of our minds and can begin to discern when we are wavering from our commitment to Ahimsa, inner and outer harmony.
Our practice of meditation brings us to the Space beyond all distinctions-Pure Consciousness. In this experience, everything comes to a full stop, and we experience an utter leveling, a total equality. It's not fraught with drama, gossip, “me over you”, and all the sundry and unconscious attitudes we carry around. So, with discipline, the enormous intensity will have to take pause and breathe, and that may not feel as exciting. It may even be a bit scary. Take heart. In Sadhana we host with a kind heart ALL that is...both dark and light, my feelings and ideas and yours. From the view of that seat, we are all just a drop in the vastness. Our conflicts, judgments, and fears will never be resolved with the mind that functions only by making distinctions and divides, we must touch the vastness that is beyond; and as a Sadhaka, we must look honestly at our own attitudes and behaviors.
It is through this practice that we begin to experience our Wholeness, which includes both the dark and light-the pain and the joy. If we can trust this experience for even a short while, without judgments, we will no longer be splitting ourselves. Fresh understandings and qualities will begin to emerge from this experience-this is our Essence Nature. At last, we are touching the well-spring of the Source at the heart! Wholeness is when the conscience and unconscious are flowing together and cooperating, and true Sadhana practice takes us to that level. It's not an easy path; we have to be disciplined enough to go to the meditation cushion daily, and journey through our own darkness. But, we can trust the journey and we can trust the path. As a Sadhaka you can enter the unknown safely, held by the Great Mother. You have a path of practice that holds you. It is authentic, and if faithfully lived, it leads us into sacred authenticity.
May your Sadhana be enriched and may all beings benefit!