I had no idea there was a word or tradition to being quiet and listening to my inner stories.
I found my home life at times just too noisy. Actually, my neighborhood and certainly, extended family was too noisy much of my life. Even my Jewish School along with evening and Saturday services were noisy. This left little room for reflection in my growing years. Quiet, in the conventional Shabbat services was an interlude, rather than the chatter, whether songs, recitation or Rabbi’s sermon. Then after service, more chatter over finger food and sweet wine.
Encountering Quaker meetings was a shock to a system that had no idea what to do for an hour of quiet. No one stood in the front, no one told me what to believe or hymns to sing standing and sitting at prescribed intervals. And, if God forbid, I wanted to ‘waste time’ with daydreaming, louder injunctions were tossed my way. How does a group of people beg God for help or guidance when there’s no speaking or directed strategies?
Years of guilt and mind chatter interfered with my inner quiet, but through illness, life questions and headaches from everyone “yelling” I continued listening till I found my own way in to a gentler place. I went to meditation classes, each sharing their strategies for ideal life strategies. The classes were wonderful as each offered tidbits for what was going to be my way in.
Today, whether walking or sitting or singing and writing, I can sink into a place of quiet and feeling. I give myself a gift of Shabbat, an intentional break from ordinary time, anywhere or any time I desire. This gift is outside the realm of commerce, I don’t need to go somewhere special, like a Cathedral or classroom. I don’t need to wait till sundown Friday night. I used to invite this gift of amazement in at prescribed times, so I knew I would be there. I now welcome at any time, sometimes it just comes in without my interference at all.
And I experience:
- moments of grace, lessening tensions or moments of crazy thinking
- relaxing my body, giving it regular moments of healing
- allowing my mind to chill from always making decisions and running amok
- knowing that my being doesn’t need to always be on, that it can feel so good doing dynamic nothing
- appreciating that not doing can actually produce extraordinary results
- moving at a new pace is healthy
- listening over time shifts the inner talk and critic
- that I take things in through my heart now
- that I love me