Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


Finding my sacred space

Posted on April 11, 2015 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 12, 2015 – 12:00am

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Sometimes I feel like a geographical area that’s been rained on and flooded. But instead of water, I feel like I’ve been deluged by posts on social media. There is a lot to read out there. People are sharing many things online that, in truth, I mostly don’t care about.

Instead, I feel like I am marooned in a swirl of voices, each one of which is trying to engage me. I feel surrounded and trapped in the social media world where I am spending a lot of time. I scroll mindlessly through Facebook and Twitter, passively reading other people’s posts, many of which are pretty useless, if not dumb and a waste of time. But they are hard to resist, because they have become a habit.

At times like this, I feel I am losing my sacred space. I am being pushed and pulled in all directions. I am exchanging real living for a virtual life.

A sacred space is something one can go to and get centered and revitalized. It is a place where one can get in touch with himself in a comfortable and healing way. It is a sanctuary from all the noise and dust of the world. And this place is not found on a laptop monitor or a gadget screen.

I know a lot of people who constantly say they need to get away. They have jobs, obligations, responsibilities that they wish to leave behind for a while in order to feel relaxed and rejuvenated.

The mountains, a quiet lake, going to a new place here or abroad, new surroundings, can really help. This works for me, too. I often feel lonely, bored, stressed and distracted and going somewhere helps me unwind. It helps to be in some version of paradise and chill.

But a physical journey alone will not really solve anything. We all need an internal journey as well. In my case, in order to de-stress or find my balance, more than being in an actual place, I need to engage in some activity. I need to go inside myself.

Without caring for my internal needs, I am easily stressed when I return from a vacation. I find myself yearning for another escape. That’s because while I may have been physically somewhere, enjoying new sensory and tactile sensations, something inside me was not really there. A part of me was not awake to where I was.

The sacred space I need is the one inside me where I am present to myself. It is a state more than a place — a state of silent awareness where I let things settle. I purposely and willfully stop myself from worrying, grasping, wanting or achieving anything. I do not try to “feel” happy or sad or any emotion I am capable of feeling. I just allow things and myself to be.

This way I begin to know myself again and discover much of the fine print that makes me who I am.

The internal journey is like peeling an onion. I peel away layer upon layer of various identities that I subscribe to and invest in, in my everyday life. I peel away the superficial me which often represents me to the world. I peel away hurts, pains, fake feelings. I peel away concerns and causes that pull at me in everyday life. I peel away my default modes, among them the one that says I must make the world a better place. I peel away as much as I can until much of the non-essentials are removed.

Then I feel light and spacious inside myself. I begin to look at things with fresh eyes and feel things with real intensity. I go as I go. I smell the flowers. I connect two points not in a circuitous way but with a straight line. I see everything with more vividness and intensity. I am awake sensually. I feel the radiance of being alive. I am present to where I am and what is unfolding before me.

“The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.” These words from the American author Robert M. Pirsig resonate with me deeply. To control the world, don’t look for the switches outside you. Look inside.

The idea of an internal journey is not so much to change yourself but to be in touch with who you really are. To others, it may seem like nothing has changed with you, despite your introspection. But to yourself, you know when you are being true and when you are being less so. You are not confused about your motives.

And that is liberating.

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