I had been looking for it, requesting it, seeking it out, and then demanding it for some time. I know better than to seek it out. I know better than to demand it.
I know that I have to do my part, be still, quiet my inner chatter and allow it in or out.
Quieting the inner chatter is the hardest part. This is the chatter that keeps talking about yesterday and last week and last month and a couple of things from last year. The same chatter talks about tomorrow and next week and next month and even years from now. Most times, the chatter is embarrassed or angry or fearful.
It yammers on, “Why did I say that?” “Why did I do that?” “Why did they say that? Why did they do that?
It says, “I didn’t deserve that and well, maybe I deserved that.
It says this is gonna happen if you do it this way or this is gonna happen if you don’t do it this way. It says this is gonna happen because it’s in your genes or because you’re not safe.
It says you’re the only person who can save this person; you’ve got to do something.
It says you can’t save anyone; you blew it.
It says you are at your end.
It’s especially hard to stop the inner chatter when everyday you are surrounded by people just like you who have their own inner chatter going on.
The chatter collides. Their chatter frequency overlaps yours.
It’s kind of like a radio that’s between stations. The words or music of the various frequencies merge into a crackling static mess of sound.
Other people’s fears and frustrations and feelings of anger get mixed up with your own until you’re not quite certain what is theirs and what is yours.
It gets really hard to hear your own station.
I’ve practiced meditation for over 20 years and this dialogue still happens to me from time to time. It always happens after a period of complete bombardment. You know those times when one thing happens and then another and another. The time when you say, ok I’ve had enough. I can’t take one more thing and then….one more thing happens.
Some people turn to another station. It might not be the music they enjoy but the song is clear and they eventually find themselves humming along.
Some people, like me, are a little more stubborn I guess. Some people like me refuse to listen to any station but their own. That’s when we start fiddling with the tuning. When that doesn’t work, we grab the antenna and start moving it up and down and side to side; wildly at first and then slowing the movements until we’re tapping the antenna ever so lightly determined to tune in.
Sometimes that works. Carefully we turn up the volume and tip toe back to our work or our lives aware that the slightest vibration of our next steps can throw us of our station again.
Sometimes though, when all else fails, we resign ourselves realizing the only thing left to do is turn the radio off.
It’s hard to do, turning that radio off especially when you are afraid you might miss an important news break or you faintly heard the guitar lick from your favorite song. At some point something inside tells you, all the tinfoil in the world bunched on top of that antenna isn’t going to help with the fine tuning today.
(If no one has ever tried the tinfoil on the antenna trick besides me…..well, that I suppose is an awkward revelation. I promise I haven’t started wearing it on my head…..yet!)
I turned the radio off and then went to my room and shut the door; figuratively and literally.
I lay in the first layer of silence for less than half an hour; the layer of no outside sounds other than the wind against my window and the faint tick of the clock. The chatter still buzzed in my head like those schools of bugs that hover over the sidewalk.
Do you know the bugs I’m talking about? They are very wee and they cluster together about 5 feet off the ground. You’ve learned to keep your mouth shut when you walk through them- one or two always seem to fly right to the back of your throat causing you to sputter and spit and choke. I’ve even seen them in the winter months- unless my floaters are just more obvious against the white landscape. What kind of bugs are those?
Anyhow….I relaxed in the next layer, the one in which your thoughts become quieter, slower, as they drift in and out through that invisible door in your mind.
I was satisfied to be there although this is usually the layer that impatience kicks in.
There is a tendency to start to engage with these automatic thoughts especially if they are startling or had been fueled with a lot of emotions in the past. This is also the layer that it becomes tempting to start talking or asking or begging for whatever higher power you believe in to give you your answer or a sign or to come to you right now and fix everything.
This is where I sometimes drop off to sleep, but not before I say something really enlightened like, “You’re probably not even there!”
Then there are those nights, like the other night, that sleep doesn’t come. The chatter slows until I become aware of the space between the thoughts. It is dense.
Then, by no power or guidance by me, the silence comes.
Like a warm blanket,
Like resting your head against the chest of someone you love.
Like soaking up the sun,
Like breathing a long slow breath and releasing a longer exhale
Then under the blanket, and under the heartbeat, inside the warmth and in the stillness beneath the breath, It is and there is nothing else.
It encompasses everything and all of you. You cannot decipher at what point it entered; if it came from outside or from within or both.
It just is.
It says, without words, “I am here”
I reply, without words “I knew you wouldn’t leave me” and “Thank you”
Nothing matters then. There is no chatter. There is no past. There is no future.
You know the truth then. That this is what is real.
And in the silence, you begin again.