Thank you for your thoughtful and prompt responses to my letters. Your Sufi responses to my ramblings exude your personal calm. I thought of you when I watched recently on ABC News a piece on meditation and recent research about the health benefits that come from only 30 minutes of meditation a day including lowering one’s blood pressure. The commentator took Diane Sawyer through the essential elements of meditation and described how one is easily distracted, and how to bring yourself back to quiet meditation. The meditation he described was much like Centering Prayer and what you have described to me as part of your Sufi discipline.
The ABC News reporter explained how easy it is for random thoughts and feelings to arise from your unconscious, and distracting you. I have certainly experienced this during Centering Prayer ; and although, I want to enter a state of peace and serenity, I find myself agitated; and the more agitated, the more distracted. I read recently that a simple biological principle helps explain my agitation. The author suggests there are two body settings. One in which the body has been primed since the dawn of our existence. We are primed to stay alert and on guard to survive. The second, is where we feel so protected and comfortable our body no longer has the need to be on guard, we relax and consequently able to enjoy the benefits of meditation. This is why mentors recommend that meditation be had in a very comfortable and peaceful place. We are more successful in meditation when our body is not on alert for outside “noise,” and we can accordingly, listen to our heart.
I think one secret to living a spiritual life is to take a hint from meditation and find that place where we aren’t on guard, where we feel safe and comfortable with silence. It might be a garden, a park, a beach, or a library, or even a comfortable chair in a quiet room of your house, although personally being at home offers a lot of distractions. I have friends who find that place on a sailboat, or in a convertible cruising down the road. Wherever it might be, visit your place as often as one can and then just listen to God. The more we visit that place in our lives, the more we will find other places that offer the same comfort, until at some point we are comfortable anywhere we are. You will literally become “comfortable in your shoes” wherever they take you.
Your Friend, Webb