Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An Opening between Thoughts

In the silence of our Quaker meetings, I’ve long sought to find a way to turn off my open spigot of thoughts and concerns.

I’m happy to report that, at last, I’ve found it.

Now I have to figure out a way to keep it from putting me to sleep.

Let me explain.

Recently a group of us gathered and shared how we went about “centering” or settling into the silence of our traditional Quaker worship. How we each turn off that spigot of thoughts. We shared a remarkable, if predictable, variety of methods. Focusing on breathing was popular. Some said mantras. One said she tried to connect with those in need and to “hold them in the Light.”

I offered a method I recently picked up from reading Eckhardt Tolle. What I said must have been new to the much of the group as several actually wrote notes on my brief description.

To call it a method makes it seem complex. The practice is quite simple. As simple, Tolle points out, as a cat’s riveting its attention on a mouse hole.

All you have to do is — contemplate your next thought, but never think it.

That’s it.

What has happened to me is that I fall into the deep void between thoughts.

I find myself suddenly cast into utter nothingness.

Now I’m trying to get used to it, to settle in.

I’m new to this. I’ve even thought that I should beware what I wished for. This nothingness is alien territory.

And yet, the first time I found the space between my thoughts I was hardly frightened. I fell asleep. Which, come to think of it, makes sense. Where else are we when we sleep than beyond our thoughts?

But sleeping is not exactly what I had in mind when I undertook Tolle’s exercise. That cat, despite sleeping most of the day, is far from asleep as he gazes at the mouse hole in anticipation of “his next thought.”

So where do I go in my newly discovered “nothing” space between thoughts? Perhaps I should employ the techniques the others cited. Breathe. Or learn from the cats — I have one, after all. Be alert to every sound, every movement.

Be alert to the moment, Tolle would say. Be present.

Get into the animalistic part of existence, but in a good way. Make this opening the gateway to spirituality, not human spirituality, but the over-arching spirituality of all. Of one.

I have no way of knowing where this will lead. I do know that it is important not to think about it.

My silent Quakerly leading tells me to be one with it.

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