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Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Archive for May 23rd, 2010

Silencing for equanimity 1

Posted on May 23, 2010 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated May 23, 2010 12:00 AM


I am trying to decompress from all the consuming thoughts, projections, scenarios and feelings that the collective political fever has visited upon us these past few months. While I still check the Internet several times a day to see if the vice presidential race has been decided with finality, I am slowly loosening my grip and focus on the electoral standing and situation of my candidate.

“Que sera, sera, whatever will be will be,” as the song goes. If I were a sea captain, I now would be slowly but consciously navigating out of these turbulent waters and forcibly steering my ship into a direction that is less stressful, more placid.

After reading a review of three books about silence a few hours ago, I thought that silence would be a good topic to write about, as I try to regain some of my equanimity. Of late and often, I have been just a hairline away from flying off the handle. I need some silence and centering after the political turbulence that we have just been through.

In the morning, when I do my meditation sit, I try to notice what is happening around me. It is an act of being present, or cognizant of the different things and events that are playing out within my sensory field. The birds are chirping incessantly. The electric fan is whirring. There is a distant sound of a dog barking. There are also crickets humming constantly. The sun’s rays enter through my window. I often ask mentally if that produces a sound or vibration, however inaudible to my human faculties. Bursts of hot wind ruffle the blinds softly.

It is such a calming experience to just be in “noticing” mode. Things are arising in the world. I am not trying to judge, much less change anything. Things are merely unfolding and I am noticing them as they do. What a great feeling.

After a few minutes, I notice a palpable silencing happening in my body. Physically, my body is calmed down, and seems to have found equilibrium. I am sitting in a lotus position, and my hands are in mudra stance where the fingers on my left hand are over the fingers on my right palm and my thumbs are meeting. My breathing is slow but deliberate and it is getting even shallower as I notice that I am breathing less. There is hardly any effort in my breathing now even as I notice my lungs taking in less and less air as the minutes go by. My heartbeat is almost unnoticeable. It feels great knowing that I am not clinging to anything, not even to oxygen.

The sounds of the outer world begin to fall away from my realm of concerns. The louder noises are now playing in my mind. These are thoughts that seem to act on their own and suddenly crash in, much like remembering an urgent “to-do” item that suddenly jolts my consciousness.

It can be jarring. I notice that most of the time my mind controls me, and not the other way around. But soon, even something that seems urgent like an important “to-do” loses its pull and becomes just another phenomenon arising in the space of my mind laying its claim as something to be concerned about.

A few more minutes pass by. The struggle against more thoughts trying to capture my attention continues. I remind myself that I must not resist them, nor get sucked in, but merely observe them. Soon, I find myself watching a stream of thoughts come and go like clouds passing. I notice them but am not moved in any way. I notice that I am in pure observer status. They make no claims on me, or vice-versa.

Soon enough, a spaciousness is created. My mind seems like the open sky — bright, clear and endless. Some thoughts still pass but like clouds they do not leave a mark. There is a vastness, and it is alive and awake to itself like a shimmering crystal.

At this point, silence bares itself as the witness to the noises made by the outer and inner worlds. One could even say that the silence has made itself noticeable. And it becomes prominent because the noise or thoughts do not matter anymore. The background of silence has now become the foreground for everything.

Silent moments bring lucidity. They allow things to arise, including thoughts, issues and concerns, but one has the unique perspective of not being attached. And when we do not identify with sides and outcomes, we see things in a clearer way.

And often, another remarkable thing occurs: compassion can arise. We relinquish the need to judge, punish, attack or defend. One might say that we are coming from our true, free selves. This is our essential self that is whole and does not need anything or anyone to feel complete. This is freedom and it feels like home.

But after meditation, as we go out into the world, the push and pull of concerns resumes with the same ferocity. That’s why it is crucial to have periods of silence.

Some meditation schools of thought define equanimity as akin to muscle building. One has to build up a reservoir of it through practice in order to walk unaffected through the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Sometimes I wonder whether nations and societies should be practicing meditation in order to chart mankind’s evolutionary trajectory into a place that is more peaceful and conscious.

I have often marveled at how the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans can be so placid and relatively peaceful in the face of China’s brutal actions against their people and traditions. They must be blessed with a generous supply of equanimity.

May I suggest that all electoral candidates and their followers work at attaining equanimity. It is a most effective way for both winners and losers to maintain their dignity after the results are announced.

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I have three upcoming workshops:

1) Basic Photography Workshop in QC on June 12, 1 to 7 p.m. at 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. Call Ollie at 0916-8554303. Cost: P3,500

2) Basic Photography Workshop at White Sands Resort, Cebu on June 19, 1 to 7 p.m. Please call Shirley at 0917-6207424. Cost: P3,750.

3) Tapping the Creative Universe, June 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 28 from 7 to 9 p.m. at 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. Please call Ollie at 0916-8554303. Cost: P5,000. Visit http://tappingthecreativeuniverse.com for the syllabus and FAQ.

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For reservations, questions please write to emailjimp@gmail.com.

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