“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Friday, 8 January 2016

Seeking the Quiet Centre

This afternoon on Facebook, my friend Hay Quaker posted one of my favourite Advices from the  Quaker Advices and Queries: 

"Do you try to set aside times of quiet for openness to the Holy Spirit? All of us need to find a way into silence which allows us to deepen our awareness of the divine and to find the inward source of our strength. Seek to know an inward stillness, even amid the activities of daily life. Do you encourage in yourself and in others a habit of dependence on God's guidance for each day? Hold yourself and others in the Light, knowing that all are cherished by God."

I love this a/Advice on so many levels. Especially perhaps the last sentence: "Hold yourself and others in the Light, knowing that all are cherished by God."

So many spiritual teachers I admire talk of the importance of stillness and contemplation as the surest way to connect with the divine. They talk of just noticing thoughts as they arise, and letting them go, and returning to the silence. But I find it difficult to get into the silence at all. Letting go, surrender, these things are so very hard for me. I feel like Anne Lamott, who writes in her wonderful book Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers: "People ... might say jovially, 'Let go and let God'. Believe me, if I could, I would, and in the meantime I feel like stabbing you in the forehead." The first time I read that, I laughed out loud in rueful recognition.

And I try, I really do. Which I guess is half the problem. Every morning for nearly the past year, I have sat for 20 minutes, and tried to "find a way into silence". But as I said to my friend, most of the time "my washing machine mind goes round and round", and stillness, tranquillity elude me.

So I asked him whether, as a seasoned Quaker, he had any tips about finding a way into the silence. This was his response:

"The only tip I can give to using a silence is to imagine a big empty table with a white cloth in front of you, and just wait for things to be laid upon it. (PS do not put the table cloth in the mental washing machine!)

How do you find the quiet centre?

1 comment:

  1. I find priceless the use of a mantra - a word or a two- word phrase such as "so" with the inbreath and "hum" with the outbreath. Or you might prefer "God" with the inbreath and "love" with the outbreath? Mantra occupies the 'monkey mind' rather than leaving it blank.