“Silence is a source of great strength” ~ Lao Tzu
My attempt to quietly contemplate led to this week's musing on the tug and pull of silence and sound. Seeking silence in New York. Seeking silence in my mind. Both felt impossible. To the point where I shifted my attention towards the seeking of quiet, which felt more tangible. In my aim to cultivate quiet in my life I was met with noise - the chatter of my mind, the blaring music of my neighbor's TV, the screech of the subway tracks, the talk, relentless around me. And there is the necessity to meet social expectations and to engage (I’m quite chatty, did ya know?).
I realized that I could not alter my surroundings, so I focused on my own mind. I turned to meditation to hamper the chatter. At first there was a lot of lists- to dos, to wears, to packs. The bell would chime at 10 minutes and the organization occurring in my brain would just be slowing down. So I stopped the timer and let myself sit. At around the 15 minute mark my mind would tire. I could focus on my breath. I decided to try using sound to help focus my attention. I found a subtle crystal bowl and gong meditation that lasted for 20 minutes. I sat, I focused on my breath , and experienced the sound vibrations interacting with the energy released from the atoms of my own being. At around minute 17 I met with something. Something familiar, but also profound. Something that was of me, but also older, wiser, timeless. In the quiet, I met my spirit and it was so strong and wise and... 'wow I'm meditating for real! What should I eat for lunch?' GONE. This glimpse of what was lying at the core of a quiet calm mind was encouraging, if also fleeting.
I used to feel connected to my intuition, my inner wisdom and guide. I felt confident of decisions and allied with my true desires. After years of medical training my confidence has been degraded. I'm constantly reminded that to know something is to have proof; to be an expert demands countless hours of reading and years of experience. Like so many others in the field I became uncertain of anything except that which I have memorized, committed to memory, and studied thoroughly. What I used to feel intuitively I started to feel there had to be scientific evidence to prove.
Doctors are largely under appreciated, considering the selfless hours they pour into helping their patient’s; however, despite their years of training and expertise in the workings of the human body, many are also a little broken and isolated, and completely out of tune with their spirit. Today, doctors do not seem like the only ones who are fractured and undernourished by our collective unconscious. Men are taught to be unemotional and tough; women are taught to be small and scared. Children are taught to conform instead of express and create. Maybe this is why people want and buy to fill a void; take from Mother Earth without thinking of sustenance or preservation. Some become powerful by control and fear; others willfully let themselves be controlled despite the human desire for integrity and authenticity. I don’t know the answer to the world’s problems. All I know is that I saw my spirit guide for a brief moment and it felt good. I feel empowered and ready to connect again. To merge that quiet powerful force with the chatter box and grow towards my full potential – to face life's choices with less fear and confusion.
I went to The Big Quiet event today up in Harlem. Joining 1800 New Yorkers in a moment of meditation was incredible. After the meditation, there were performances by a number of musicians and singers. At one point a drum circle filled United Palace with soulful beats. One man at the front of the venue stood up and started clapping and dancing wildly. My body wanted to join him in moving to the primal rhythm, but I was shy. I was on my own at the event, and not comfortable being solitary, dancing in my row alone. Slowly one by one people rose - first as brave lone soles, then in groups. With the groups I stood, safe with the 25% of those standing to clap and sway with the beat.
Lao Tzu said, “Silence is a source of great strength”. I had a glimpse of this strength within myself over these weeks of contemplation. It will take practice, patience and more quiet moments to connect more fully, but I’m dedicated. One day I want to be the first on my feet to dance to the beat of the drums.