…continued from Becoming Aware 1:6 – Your Quiet Voice
While much of what we do to be in tune with our own true voice involves action, the most important activity appears on the surface to be one of nonaction. Yet it is the key that unlocks our hearts and minds and awakens our voice. This activity is, simply, just sitting. Sitting quietly and concentrating on your breath—this is the cornerstone of Quiet Corner practice, from which all else flows. So incorporate some Quiet Corner sitting into your daily schedule and prepare yourself for some quiet miracles.
The first thing to do (this will appeal to all of you who feel you must always be doing something) is to find a space in your home for sitting. A section of the floor with cushions is ideal, but if that does not work for you a chair can be just as effective. You need to find a position that keeps your spine erect and allows your breath to flow easily. If you choose the floor, sit cross-legged, with your buttocks propped up on one or two cushions so that your butt and your knees form a tripod to support your body. Your tummy should be pushed slightly forward, with your spine perfectly erect and your hands clasped gently in your lap. If you choose a chair, make it a straight-back chair and not one that you will sink into. Sit on a small, flat cushion with your tummy relaxed and your spine upright. Then place both feet flat on the floor and gently clasp your hands in your lap. Do this in bare or stockinged feet and place a small cushion under them if that is more comfortable. Keep in mind that each of us has a natural curve to our spine, we’re not attempting to achieve a straight spine here, just an erect one. Now you are ready to sit.
Bring your attention to your breath. Notice your inhalation and your exhalation. Count each exhalation up to ten, and then begin again. Keep your eyes gently open so as not to fall asleep or daydream. Gaze softly at a spot just above the floor, about three feet in front of you, with nothing in sharp focus. And just concentrate on your breath. Your thoughts will not cease. This is perfectly normal.
Just let your thoughts be thoughts and your breath be breath. Let your thoughts float by without following them. Just breathe.
If you lose your count, begin again. If counting to three works better for you, then count to three. If counting each inhalation and each exhalation works for you, then do that. There are no rules here except to sit and breathe. You will develop your own style—whatever works to keep you sitting and concentrating on your breath.
Don’t be too strict with yourself as you begin sitting, but as you grow more accustomed to the activity try to move less and less during each session. Begin slowly with ten minutes each day and gradually increase that to twenty, then to thirty or forty-five minutes. Don’t rush it. Don’t push yourself so fast that you stop altogether. Know your limitations and accept them. Be gentle with yourself. The rewards of sitting will be yours if you follow the suggestions here. The physical act of sitting completely still may seem awkward, painful, and even ludicrous at first. But if you make the attempt, you will learn a great deal about yourself and your world. The physical discomfort that you may experience will focus your attention on your physical pain and away from the chatter in your head. Your mind obsessions will stop as you become aware of your body. And then, if you just breathe into your pain, it will lessen. Your mind, body, and spirit will become calm. You will just breathe and sit still in the quiet of your being, open and ready to hear your own true voice.
Your Quiet Corner
Just as you have set aside a small space in your home for your Quiet Corner paraphernalia—notebooks, question bank, mind ashes container—you might think about setting aside a larger space in which to spend your Quiet Corner time. Perhaps you could make some pillows of your own to put in this space or designate a special chair just for Quiet Corner sitting. If you cannot set up a permanent space as yours, create a Quiet Corner space each time you retreat to it.
By using a special piece of fabric, a favorite scarf or shawl, some cushions, along with candles and incense, you will immediately transform the everyday into the sacred.
A Quiet Corner space is possible anywhere. You needn’t limit yourself just to the place you set up at home. While it may be impractical to carry cushions and incense with you every day, you can certainly bring such things with you on vacations or overnight business trips. And during your everyday life there are plenty of opportunities to grab some Quiet Corner time even if your tools are not accessible. Commuting to and from work, sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, rocking your child to sleep at night, spending lunchtime in your office with the door closed or in a nearby church or park—your Quiet Corner is transportable. Be imaginative. Be resourceful. Because you are.
To be continued…