While the PM Blog does not endorse or proselytize for any spiritual tradition, well, ’tis the season, however truncated by the current viral peak mess we’re all wrestling with. While some seasonal music can upon repetition generate in me a kind of anti-matter of holiday cheer, “Silent Night” moves me every time. Aside from the potent, specific nativity narrative, the contemplative aspect was something I was especially attending to this week while fiddling with it on the piano. (I’ve been working up a slow gospel vibe to it lately.) Anyway….
Silence. Calm. Peace.
Whatever faith or absence thereof that you rest most comfortably in, there can be a place for practicing mindfulness by “sitting with” an aspirational feeling or idea. Back to our no-nonsense, secular definition of meditation: it’s the cultivating of mindfulness, the capacity of awareness. We can practice that with some phenomenon of our experience. We attend to something, then lose and regain that attention.
That “phenomenon” (or more than one) can be anything, really. We use the breath for its familiarity and ease, but in PM we walk through a broad spectrum of “stuff in the landscape” – physical, emotional, thought, and even that landscape itself (the perceived space in which experience is occurring in mind) and the observing entity (our own sense of “watcher”, watching, with its own qualities).
In the last part of PM, we tiptoe into the benefits of sitting with powerful, universally accepted positive attributes of conscious life. Gratitude, peace, compassion, equanimity, kindness. Big, abstract notions, certainly; but each one another “phenomenon” of our momentary experience to be observed and worked with as we learn to meditate. In that sense, an intention of, “I sit in observation of the idea of peace” is no different than, “I sit, watching my breath.” It’s more complex, as observing an idea and how it operates in us – emotionally, physically – can be a challenge in terms of running off into more discourse thought on peace. But it’s a fruitful practice.
Take good care and stay safe in this most unusual holiday season. GCS