Retreat To Advance.
Lent is upon us. The 40 days before Easter that, for many people, represents a time of contemplation, of purification, resulting, hopefully, in some form of permanent change for the good. In this we retreat for a while to advance.
Many people practice some form of ritualistic withdrawal in their lives: meatless Mondays, a day of fasting or silence, precious time given at the local food kitchen. All designed in some way to assist us in becoming more thoughtful, caring, fully realized humans. All beautiful, offerings for both the practitioner and receiver designed to bring some form of light to bear.
Willingly, something that is enjoyed, that brings pleasure or whose renouncing we feel might in some way allow us, in its absence, to be a better person is put aside for a time. This works in two ways: withdrawing some sense pleasure creates space in its absence, space for us to ponder its place in life, its worth. Then either one of two things might occur, we come back to it with a renewed sense of gratitude or realize that in fact it no longer truly serves and we let it go. For most, whatever the result, it is only fleeting and we soon lapse back to our previous patterns.
Withdrawal also brings the gift of natural inward movement toward silence. In this the nature of the mind, its wants and needs of and for stimulation, comes into focus more sharply. This is somehow enlightening. In withdrawal, there is a sort of stopping or at least slowing down that feels restful, refreshing and rejuvenating.
At the heart of this withdrawal is the desire for metamorphosis. We intuit somehow that there is more to be had than what we sense on the surface. The mind is naturally drawn toward more. On the surface of life that more shows up as desire for a better job, a bigger home, more education, resources to assist; you get the idea. It is natural to want more.
If we turn the light of our mind’s desire inward, awareness is naturally drawn toward the more that is the source of all the mores that exist; the source of every creative possibility pulsing in dynamic stillness waiting to burst forth on the outward stream. That path out is spontaneously, naturally in operation, when we awake in the morning light streams out, we need do nothing, as long as consciousness flows, light moves. However, the path is rarely clear. It is full of debris. The residue, impressions left from every thought, every action, every experience ever had, good, negative and neutral blocks the road and this is what prevents the light that is always full from showing up as such.
When we practice some form of withdrawal, we, in a sense, take something off line for awhile. As beautiful as this is, it does not go far enough. In authentic meditation, we go deep; we rest our social persona in all its glory and pain, we temporarily melt our sense of individual self, and permit its natural merging with the source of its arising, potent and creatively alive with possibility. The limited sense of self melts into the unlimited source of everything.
The boon of precious time spent in deep meditation is invaluable. Not only do we rest and refresh but the daily practice of taking awareness in and then out, acts as a benevolent agitating mechanism that washes and clears the pathway of the light of our consciousness. It is cumulative in its effect permitting the light that is always whole, full and pure to flow unhindered. We are changed. Naturally we bring the light to all we do.
There is always something that rises to help us. A divine spirit that is spontaneously there in our darkest sorrow and most glorious joy. All that is needed is for the path to be clear, attention to be paid, to open and welcome. That takes practice. The beautiful natural practice of meditation. Retreat for just a few minutes and make great advancements in life. The world needs your full light..