Getting in My Own Way

Sometimes I have plans to sit quietly at home in the evening and enjoy a meal without television, internet or a book.  I usually am completely unsuccessful in these attempts.  At one point I thought I was avoiding the loneliness of eating alone again, and maybe that was a small part of it, but there’s more to it.  I have a hard time sitting still.

As I begin to study more about spirituality (in tremendous contrast to religion) I find that I avoid, run from, am maybe even a little afraid of that which I seek after the most.  I want to connect to that which is bigger than I.  I want to know my own soul and hear its truth and its direction.  I want answers I know I already possess, but I’m afraid to sit and listen.  I am afraid to be still and know that I am God.  (Typing that last sentence freaked me out because, as a partial quote from the Bible, my use of it will surely be interpreted as blasphemous by many. )  But it’s true– the thought of sitting and contemplating my power and my connection to everything, the thought of quieting my thoughts to find what exists beyond them entices and scares me at the same time.

I don’t feel trepidation or anything.  I’m not shaking in my boots when I think about meditating or praying or just being still and quiet – but I avoid it.  Even this weekend, as quiet and peaceful as it was, I had my books.  My mind had to remain constantly engaged.  You may have read the list in the previous post.  I am addicted.  I thirst for knowledge and am addicted to ideas.  I am beginning to realize that my addiction to ideas is impeding true knowledge—the knowledge that only comes from going within.  I sound like some freaky mystic, but I know that what I say is true.  I am avoiding myself.  I’m afraid that I am more than I ever could have imagined and I’m not sure how I’ll handle that knowledge.

I want to hear from folks who have taken the journey within.  Share your stories with me.  How did you get past the fear of the silence?  How did you force yourself to be still?  Is it incremental?  A daily practice?  A month long retreat?  Please share.

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16 thoughts on “Getting in My Own Way

  1. Well, coming from my own spiritual perspective, I believe the best way to be comfortable with the silence is to get away from the Self – which is an illusion – and to become part of the universal mind. That is where the peace is.

  2. @ Chani

    I am with you, but how? Please, tell me more. How do you get away from atman?

    This entire post came about as a result of my reflections on this comment in my previous post:

    A change for what matters is I think the road to peace within. 3 things: sometimes we get in our own way, your fit in the world will also change because you travel on a different road, Take yourself out of the picture and all you need will be there, it really is amazing.

    So, it sounds like both of you have at least gotten past the point where I’m stuck. Suggestions?

  3. The fundamental reality (at least for me) is that attachment and ego bring suffering. By releasing ego, we are more in touch with the universal mind. It’s hard to say exactly how I did it because it’s an evolutionary process rather than a managed one. I studied a lot, practiced a lot of meditation (since you find that difficult, as I do too, perhaps you’d like walking meditation).

    Ego is just an attachment to “me, mine and I” which is rather entrenched in western thought. That is where I part company with much of the “I am God” New Age thought that promotes egoism rather than atman.

    I’m going to recommend a blog to you. This guy practices my tradition but writes about it so much better than I can. 🙂

    http://forestwisdom.blogspot.com/

    He has a column on his sidebar called “Buddhism by Numbers” and he has covered many topics, including this one.

  4. I first started taking walks. Not for exercise, but to literally smell the roses. No headphones, no cell phone. I walked and walked and after a while I started noticing the different kinds of birds, how the air smelled, how many different types of trees there are on my path, how the turtles in the lake jump in and take peek of me sitting watching them.

    Eventually, my mind stopped thinking. I stopped wondering what I was going to have for dinner. What my day at work would be like. What I had to do that night. I walked and reveled in my silence. I resented the cars going by, the music blasting through their windows. I went deeper into myself.

    I started setting rules for silence at home. No white noise. No television unless I have something to watch. Actually, now that I have a DVR I only watch television at certain times.

    I allow no distractions when I’m eating. No eating in front of the TV, no music, no book or magazine. I chew and enjoy my food. I eat slowly.

    I even take baths in silence. No books to occupy my mind. I just sit and let my mind rest.

    If I must listen to music at home, it’s usually classical. I lay on the floor and allow my mind to wrap itself around the complexity of the music. This is when I usually see music in colors. A symphony of swirling colors.

    I only allow myself to be on the internet for about an hour at home. I’m proud to say that there are days when I don’t even open my laptop. I’m an information addict too. It’s very difficult for me.

    I keep a handwritten diary. Old school. I carry it with me everywhere. Sometimes the blinking cursor reminds me of someone impatiently tapping me on the shoulder as if to say, “Come on already with what you want to write.” My thoughts are sometimes shy and need to come out when they’re ready.

    And lastly, I drive without the car stereo on. Gasp!!! I know, shocking. But, it’s much more peacefull without a radio shouting annoying commercials at me or my trying to find the right song from my cd’s or ipod.

    Those are just my baby steps.

  5. @ Chani

    Thanks for the referral. I will check him out, for sure.

    And I clearly see where you part ways with New Age thinking. You’ve mentioned it here before. I guess I am still focused on seeing where different perspectives are saying the same thing. We can have an entire conversation just about where I see similarities in Buddhism, Christianity and New Age around man’s “godness” or not. Have you ready any of Eckhart Tolle’s books?

    @ Debbie

    Well, your baby steps are gigantic in my eyes, Lady. First, thank you so much for sharing this with me. I have tried every single thing you mention here, but it’s so hard for me to sit in it and stay there. Take Sunday, for instance.

    I love to be outside. I love nature. I have a great lake in my community and lots of trails. I went out Sunday for a walk and when I parked my car I realized that I had my Zune but not my earphones. Sheer panic! I almost drove all the way home to get them. I looked in the glove compartment to see if I could use my old hands free earpiece from my phone, but I couldn’t find that either. As a last resort, I chose to walk in silence. And guess what I was planning to listen to? A Shiva Rhea Yoga meditation CD. I freaked out because I didn’t have something to guide my walking meditation (I’m a lost cause!).

    Anyway, I went without it and it was as wonderful as I knew it would be. That’s what gets me. I know the benefits of the silence, but I can’t figure out why I avoid it so. I really feel like an addict going through withdrawl or soemthing. It’s nuts.

    I decided to have a silent lunch today. I went to my car … and read. I know. I know. But I finally was able to put the book down and close my eyes and meditate on my breath, on the signs of life I could feel in my body, on quieting my thoughts. I lasted about 13 minutes and that was a long time for me. I felt so much more at peace and unconcerned about the drama that awaits in the office.

    I’m learning and I’ll try again this evening. Maybe I’ll go sit and watch turtles and frogs in the rain.

    Thanks.

  6. It’s interesting how dependent we all become on distractions. Debbie’s ideas are really very good. Regulating it, putting limits on how much time we spend with things coming into our consciousness that are not wholesome or healthy. Advertising, mean-spirited joking, negative news, fearmongering – the airwaves are full of it. The idea of shutting all of that off is a good one.

    Yes, I have read Eckhardt Tolle’s books and think they are a good beginning. They at least put some of this discussion on the table, something to be considered in the larger community. That is why I’m glad Oprah is having her ten-week special webcasts. People are talking – and that matters. 🙂

  7. I come from a totally different angle on this and am the least qualified to even weigh in, but I will anyway.

    I’m not a Buddhist. I’m not beholden to any religion right now. I embrace a relationship that would take too long to define right now, but my journey might parallel yours right now, in that I am trying to learn me and who I am and where I fit in universally. I believe that I am called to be God-like, but am not God. If that were the case, the whole universe is in trouble! ;-D

    I also need to always be thinking in some form or another, I need to feel my mind taking in information, thus my love of trivia, reading, sudoku, word games, Discovery Channel and all things nerdy.

    I identify with what Debbie said about nature. I grew up in it, and here is where I find stillness and peace. It’s like God’s reminder that we are part of the earth and that we have strayed so far away from him when we get caught up in ourselves. His signature is on everything, including us. That grounds me. And I need constant grounding.

  8. @ Katrice

    Well, I certainly am not a Buddhist either, but I am very interested in how Buddhism and Hinduism define that journey of, as you put it so well, “trying to learn me and who I am and where I fit in universally.”

    The am I or am I not God question fascinates me right now. I don’t think I’m God either, especially in the Alpha and Omega, Creator of All Things, Judge of All Men sense. But, crazy as it sounds I do think God is me–or at least one of two me’s. (Now that really sounds nuts but stay with me.)

    My idea of God is much broader than the Christian context which, until the last year or so was the only one I was familiar with. When I think of God in the broader sense, as in the All that Is or the That Which is Bigger Than Us All or the Source, I can’t help but know that I am part of that. In that sense, as nuts as it sounds, I believe THAT is me and I am THAT. The me that I am most familiar with would most certainly wreck the cosmos should she be God. But there is another me that is and has always been and will always be part of that which is bigger than us all. That’s what I mean when I say I’m god or God is me or whatever. I’m part of THAT. THAT is part of me. It is my essence, in fact.

    I think the second we try to define THAT we diminish it. Yet, I believe that defining THAT is the sincere effort of every theistic religion, philosophy or practice that exists. We, as humans, try to explain for ourselves and our progeny the inexplicable and have come up with many, many metaphors and symbols to explain the same THAT — a THAT that we all know on some level, even if only molecular, we are all part of.

    And with all that said, I am still comfortable distracting myself from delving deep into an understanding of what THAT is, of who I AM.

  9. …and know that I am God.
    Every time I read that (and it may be just twice: Elizabeth Gilbert, I think, and you), I mentally freeze, knowing there are those who would deem it arrogant. But the freezing is mid-rejoicing, because I am so glad and almost relieved when people find their way there. I have never liked the Christian ideas of humility and subjugation to a power, what I consider demeaning the individual, as opposed to being part of a power and being powerful.

    A lot of your struggle sounds like me. I have considered meditating, but assume I’ll fall asleep; I’m afraid to go within because I assume I’ll feel how truly alone I am and become depressed.

  10. @ ~m~

    I have yet to fall asleep while meditating, but I share your fear. I am especially afraid to meditate in some kind of group setting. I can live with falling asleep if it’s just me.

    And I also understand your apprehension of what you may experience by going within. I have noticed however, that some how, meditating helps me separate feeling alone from being alone and feeling depressed from being depressed. I may feel those things at some points in my life (or in my day), but that’s not who I am. I am finding peace in realizing who I am.

    P.S. – As you can probably tell, I made it through another successful 15 minute meditation this evening. Ha!

  11. I’m avoiding myself right now, so I know exactly what you are saying – it rings true with me. My life is just too ‘noisy’ right now to really concentrate, or hear that voice I need to hear. I need to figure out how to do it soon.

  12. REading some of the comments, sounds complicated with a lot of confusion. Simplify is my suggestion. Ever notice a popular speaker. they will take one sentence And talk for hours about it, then you walk away dazzled, but it always was the first sentence. I really don’t want to speak of religion here. but it is awesome and simple, oh , how we love to dance around things. There comes a time to commit or else forget about it, it can’t be both. My concern for you is genuine, I have no other interest other than for you to achieve. the terms high esteem & low esteem are the seem thing, its all about yourself, and thats the problem, we walk around with this spotlight on us. The learning never ends , but you grow wiser, hopefully. If you wish to hear some of my journey email me please , I will only do this on a one to one basis,This internet business is really not to my liking, too impersonal, and many seem to be lacking in some basic social graces, I find hardly a kind word anywhere, but thats the world So pretty soon I will stop- keep smiling-fred

  13. Hey Lex!

    Just thought I’d stop by and say hello. I applaud you on what you are doing. Sometimes I think I need to revamp my life. I know I need to slow down.

    Much Love
    Tanilan

  14. “I am afraid to be still and know that I am God.”

    While that to most – is a blasphemous statement, I do believe the same. I am God because He lives in me and ‘hopefully’ guides my thoughts and deeds. I truthfully have never looked at spirituality so differently than since the night we talked on the phone for almost two hours discussing it. I think most of us are afraid to see the ‘power’ we are capable of because then we’d actually have to take some action and live up to it. I think for me, there is a sense of failure somewhere lurking. I also believe that we have all knowledge and truth – if we would but open our eyes and hearts to receive it. Until you are ready to deal with the real ‘Lexi’, she will not be able to reveal herself.

  15. @ LaShawn

    I am ready. This post was the springboard for me to get it in gear, so to speak. I have had silent evenings at home all week, quiet walks and meals and no TV.

    I have also found a retreat near Vancouver, British Columbia that is calling me. I’m planning to go for 2 weeks this summer and just jump in with both feet.

    Just when I think my life has taken an exciting turn, it gets more exciting.

  16. I’ve stumbled into the wrong post.

    I’m impressed by all of you guys, posting from your hearts about your spirituality and your journeys to find yourselves. I’m a cynical heathen right now.

    I love you though.

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