|Last week we explored the life of an atom in an exercise from Writing as a Sacred Path by Jill Jepson. This week: an exercise from the monastic path section that’s designed to encourage you to embrace silence and solitude. It’s not easy to allow yourself to be silent, especially when there are so many distractions, but there are benefits. You never know what you’ll learn from the silence.
This exercise is called Listening to the Mystery and it involves finding a space where you can be alone and quiet for a little while so you can listen to the silence and allow the mystery to speak to you:
“Psychiatrist Jacques Castermane says silence is disturbing because it is a ‘door opening to mystery.’ When we are away from the noise of everyday life, we have the opportunity to hear the great voice that permeates the Universe. We can call it the voice of the Void. It is not easy listening to that vast and mysterious voice – it can be terrifying. But we must allow ourselves to hear it if we want to grow spiritually and creatively. Rather than shattering the silence, this exercise has us face it:
- Sit in solitude. Centre yourself and settle into the silence. When you feel centred, visualise yourself in a very solitary place: a mountaintop, a desert, a deserted island – anywhere that you can imagine yourself entirely alone. Make the place vivid. See, hear, and smell it. Allow yourself to be in that place.
- See the voice. Visualise the dark and mysterious something. You can see it as a shadow cast by some invisible thing, or it might be a cloud or wind or some other indistinct, inscrutable form. Watch it approach slowly.
- Allow it to speak through you. When the voice is before you, say nothing. Instead, write. Allow it to speak through your pen or keyboard. Its words may be simple, soothing, shocking, or incomprehensible. It doesn’t matter. Let it speak. You will know when it has finished: when you have written all you can.
- Allow it to retreat. Put your pen down and wait. Allow the voice time to move away. Watch it disappear.
- Read the words of the voice. Read what you have written with the gentle intention of understanding it. That is, contemplate it, but without straining. Don’t think, “I need to figure out what this means! I must!” Instead, allow the meaning to come to you when it will. If it doesn’t at first, set it aside for another day. Keep the words of the voice and reread them each day – but only when you’ve been sitting in silence for a while, so your mind will be open to mythic meaning. Eventually, the message will become clear.”
Next time: an exercise from the shamanic path...