In the Silence
Susan L. Taylor

  

Living in balance is vital to our well-being.  Without balance, much of the beauty and grandeur of our existence is lost.  But a balanced life doesn't just happen.  It is a state of grace we create by staying connected with our thoughts and feelings and consciously measuring what we do.  Just as feeling fit and flexible demands physical exercise, just as expanding your mind requires intellectual effort, so bringing you life into balance and maintaining your spiritual equilibrium require focused awareness and daily retreat from the stresses of the world.

The wisdom and strength you seek await you in the silence within.  Awakening to our deepest desires, to our needs and to our truth requires reflection and inner listening.  We must create the space in our lives where our physical self and our spiritual being can meet.  The more we nourish our internal world, the more powerful we grow in the external world.  Retreating doesn't free us from the concerns of the external world, but it delivers us from the pain of living in it.

Look to the light within you.  It's awaiting your attention, longing for your return.  You may have lost sight of your inner radiance as you turned to look outside yourself for validation and meaning.  You may have forgotten it as you gave authority not to your inner voice, but to the dictates and opinions of others.

Yet no matter how far you wander or how long you stay away, the divine light never flickers or dims.  You are host to the eternal flame.  It glows in the silence of your being to illumine your life and light your way.  The tempests of the world can never eclipse or snuff it out--just as you don't diminish the light of the sun by pulling down the shades.  The radiance within us is always shining, and solitude opens wide the way.

We would probably be more zealous about retreating from the world if it were a complicated task, requiring great effort.  But, in fact, the task could not be simpler, because there is nowhere to go, nothing to do.  To retreat, you need only be.  How?  By giving yourself to yourself before you give yourself away.  It's amazing how a simple fifteen minutes or more of quiet inner listening each day creates such abundant peace and joy.  My life works beautifully when I start each day in communion, when I draw a warm bath, lace the water with fragrant oils--frankincense, jasmine, lavender, or patchouli--light a single candle and retreat.  During this precious time, the tiny bathroom in my small Manhattan apartment becomes a grand and healing space for me.

Choose your place.  Any place that's quiet and where you feel completely comfortable--your bed, an easy chair, a mat on the floor--will do.  Stretch fully for a few seconds from head to toe before you settle in.  Sitting or lying down, close your eyes gently.  Allow yourself to breathe slowly, deeply, exhaling longer than you inhale.  As you exhale, feel yourself letting go.  Consciously relax each part of your body separately, starting with your feet.  Tense and tighten them as you inhale.  Release and relax them as you exhale.  Continue to breathe deeply and fully as you tense and tighten your calves, thighs, and buttocks, then your torso, your arms, your shoulders and face.  Is there any tightness in the areas where stress normally takes hold--your upper back and shoulders, your neck and jaw?  Breathe deeply into each of these areas as you tighten and release those muscles again.  Let go completely.

Stay with your breath, breathing slowly, deeply and rhythmically, consciously inhaling joy and peace and exhaling stress and strain.  Feel yourself descending deeper and deeper into your breath.  You are completely at ease, your body limp and relaxed.  Listen to the rhythm of your breath whispering in the stillness.  This is the Holy Spirit, the breath of life in you.  You are now in touch with your inner light.  Feel the love, the peace at the center of your being.  Feel its healing light caressing you, filling you, renewing you.  Feel its glow enveloping you and radiating from you.  This is your own loving-kindness, embracing and restoring you to wholeness.

Now is the time for asking questions of yourself--and for listening for your deepest, most intuitive response.   You need only attune your ear.  There is no problem too trivial or concern too great to bring to the spirit within.  God resides within you for this very purpose.  In this place you can lay your burdens down.  So surrender your worries and fears, releasing them into the care of your own inner wisdom.

Continually questioning ourselves is essential to making wise and conscious choices throughout the many stages of our life's journey.  We should periodically pause in silence to ask:  What is my purpose here?  We must answer this to stay true to our path.  And there are other questions:  Who am I?  Do I feel happy, healthy, and whole?  How can I expand the promise of my life?  Have I erected defenses and barriers that are limiting my vision?  Am I making choices that encourage my growth?  Am I kind to myself?  Am I loving to myself?  Am I living my truth?  Some of the answers to your questions and challenges will come swiftly; others are revealed over time.  But God will never fail to inspire and guide you.  Have faith and don't try to hurry spirit.  The answers always come at the right time.

When you are ready, open your eyes.  Remain still for a moment and experience how at peace you feel.  You may feel a smile from your very center.  Try to hold on to the tranquil point of light glowing within you as you move through the day.
   

Using experiences and insights from her own life, Susan Taylor explores the intimate themes and concerns that have long been her unique territory:  self-empowerment, the exploration of love and self-worth, issues of faith and commitment, the celebration of the journey of life.  As she makes clear throughout her writings, life is not easy:  It is full of difficulties and challenges.  But it is through grappling with the challenges that life presents that we are given an opportunity to grow.

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Meditation is, first of all, a tool for surveying our own territory so we can
know what is going on.  With the energy of mindfulness, we can calm
things down, understand them, and bring harmony back to the conflicting
elements inside us.  If we can learn ways to touch the peace, joy, and
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Thich Nhat Hanh
Living Buddha, Living Christ

   
 

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