Sherlock sits on my lap eyes fixed on shards of light cast by cracks between slats in blinds (that is how the light gets in, you know, through the cracks.)* I have only to look in his green oval eyes to know what he sees- cracks of light dance there on the surface. Sherlock’s meditation becomes mine:
If we let it, cracks of light from outside will dance on our inside, casting colors clear and keen illuminating the eyes of our souls.
The most powerful form of prayer, and the one which can gain almost all things and which is the worthiest work of all, is that which flows from a free mind. The freer the mind is, the more powerful and worthy; the more useful, praiseworthy and perfect prayer and work become. A free mind can achieve all things. Conversations With Meister Eckhart Meister Eckhart, Simon Parke
What does the Meister mean by a free mind? Single-minded, focused on God, no distractions? Yes, but he also talks about ichgebundenheit, a state of mind in which we are bound to the drama of the ego, so a free mind would be a mind unchained to ego. Eckhart also says,” I pray God that he may quit me of God,” so it means a mind free of false images of God.
A free mind is an empty mind, detached from all that enters, even from sacred moments gifted in contemplation.
For me it means that for just a moment I stop clinging to that which clamors for my attention. A common little drama which plays out in my everyday life is the distraction of noise. I live in a spralling apartment complex where maintenance needs generate constant loud noise. Tuesdays at 7:00 the city garbage trucks subject us to 20 minutes of an automated machine emptying one can after another. Wednesdays bring a grounds maintenance crew wielding their monstrous lawn blowers. The list goes on, but we musn’t. Most often the noise closes in on me taking over all of my attention. I rant and rave and denounce “progress,” as environmental injustice until I have allowed the noise to become me and there is no space for the divine. My mind is not free. Buddhists have an excellent way to free the mind. They would tell me to see the garbage trucks as a mindfulness bell calling me to meditation. My practice has become a variation on that advice. In this practice substitute “garbage trucks” with whatever threatens to take over your being.
Spiritual Practice: Freeing The Mind
The distraction presents itself, threatening to take over thoughts and feelings.
Acknowledge it’s presence saying, for example, “Garbage Trucks.” Acknowledge the thoughts and feelings.
Establish a rhythm to your breathing saying, “Breathing in I acknowledge this noise and it’s hold on me, breathing out I release it.”
Breathing the intention will eventually create a space for the divine to enter. Say, “Breathing in God is here. Breathing out, I am peace.”
When you feel yourself resting in God’s presence continue breathing and wait for the Spirit’s prompting.
Listen to this gift from Marge Piercy. Find the rhythm in your breathing as you take in the essence of her words. Let feelings rise as they will.
Open, love, open. I tell you we are able I tell you we are able now and then gently with hands and feet cold even as fish to curl into a tangle and grow a single hide, slowly to unknit all other skin and rest in flesh and rest in flesh entire
Come all the way in, love, it is a river with a strong current but its brown waters will not drown you.
Let go. Do not hold out your head. The current knows the bottom better than your feet can. You will find that in this river we can breathe we can breathe and under water see small gardens and bright fish too tender too tender for the air.
You are content to lie on the surface of the cobalt Maui ocean, cocooned in the embrace of warm trade winds, buoyant and safe. Relax and enjoy the carefree feeling of being carried aloft. Continue to synchronize your breathing with winds and waves. In out in out. Feel the warmth of the sun kiss your skin. Breathe in out in out.
Now let your mind wander to regions below the ocean’s surface, to places less placid where fear warns you away. Take some time now to explore those fears which threaten to take your breath away. Name each one as you breathe in and let out the fear on the wave of your breath. In out in out.
You have now dared to leave the surface. How is it for you down there? What small gardens and bright fish do you see? Your breathing becomes deeper and flows evenly throughout every cell of your body. You are the ocean. As the fish is in the sea and the sea is in the fish, you are in the ocean and the ocean is in you.
Ever so gently now, let your body slowly float up to the surface as you continue to breathe. Breathing in I am whole. Breathing out I release all fear. Breathing in I am peace. Breathing out I offer peace.