During this time of political struggle and worldwide human suffering and strife, I’d like to begin this week’s practice in conscious living by sharing a quotation from Steven Charleston, a Native American elder who posts messages on Facebook. Here is one I read recently that I feel speaks to this time in our lives:
“There is a spiritual skill that many of us will probably need in the days to come: the ability to maintain a sense of calm in times of trouble. While I cannot predict the future, common sense and the front page both tell me we have more economic and political white water to come. Therefore, I engage my focus on serenity now in order to be prepared. I intentionally sit still, breathe slowly, and look to the Spirit in meditation. I steady my soul. I become the calm I need.”
I have seen other spiritual teachers echoing this same idea—that this is a time when being able to access a state of calm, as well as steadiness, is something that can benefit each of us. Because of my belief in collective consciousness, I also feel that when we are able to be steady and calm we contribute those qualities to our human collective and, for me, that is an important form of subtle activism.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to deepen your familiarity with calm and your ability to access it, as well as to deepen your access to the steadiness that lives at the core of your being, a steadiness that cannot be disturbed no matter what happens. For me, one of the important aspects of orienting to calm and steadiness is that these qualities in no way detract from also being able to act in whatever ways you feel called to do in response to what you experience in your world. It’s a both/and kind of thing. You can be calm and steady and also take action you feel is necessary.
I emphasize this because sometimes we think that being calm and steady equals not being engaged or moved by what’s happening around us. Nothing could be further from the truth. I feel that the calm and steady presence naturally lead to a powerful orientation to our heart space, where we open ourselves to the suffering in the world, to injustices that need to be challenged, to whatever situations we feel called to respond to.
Here’s a brief guided meditation to support accessing an internal calm and steadiness. I’m also offering a link to a meditation I have on YouTube that focuses on returning to steadiness:
Return to Steadiness Guided Meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8Lh0WtxYYM&t=134s
- For the brief meditation here in this practice, I invite you to begin by settling in a position that allows you to be comfortable and alert.
- Follow your next out-breath down to the bottom of the breath and find your natural internal landing place, your internal home base.
- As you breathe naturally and easily, take some time to experience settling in even a bit more.
- Notice any sensations of calm that may arise as you take time simply to settle. Notice how your body receives and settles into the support under you. There’s nothing else to do right now.
- Bring to mind an image, sound, color, or word(s) that, for you, conveys a sense of calm. Take some time to be present to what has come into your awareness and notice how it can support a deepening sense of calm.
- It can help to identify the sensations that tell you that you are calm or moving into being calm. As you identify the experience, it becomes easier to deepen it.
- Next, notice that there is a steadiness in the core of your being that is never disturbed. It is always just what it is—steady.
- In whatever way makes sense to you, deepen your awareness of the quality of steadiness that’s always there. If you’re not feeling it directly, ask yourself what you would notice if you could experience the steadiness.
- Now, simply be present with your experiences of calm and steadiness in whatever ways are natural and helpful for you. There’s no right answer here. This is just an invitation to practice settling into qualities that are powerful resources to have available as you move through your everyday experiences.
- When you’re ready, let yourself reorient to the space around you, wiggling fingers and toes and perhaps letting your eyes open and look around, finding what they want to focus on as you come all the way back.
As with all these practices, please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise, allowing them to move on through without your having to do anything with or about them.
Here’s an audio version of the meditation part of this practice, if you prefer to listen to it.
As you listen, please press pause when you need additional time to do take in the practice.
And, please remember never to listen to recorded meditations when driving or using machinery.