After 58 years of daily meditation I’m still learning. I discovered something this morning about staying in deep stillness.
I usually meditate after showering and having my coffee and a leisurely chat with my wife.
I also meditate again just before going to bed.
While my wife goes to bed about 9:30, I don’t get to bed until a little after midnight.
So when I get up and showered she’s already dressed, made the coffee and prettied herself and wants to chat.
And of course, why shouldn’t I want her good company?
My morning meditation is usually short, fifteen minutes or so.
I follow it with prayer and about another ten to fifteen minutes of spiritual reading, to set the tone of my day.
Meditation at bedtime is much longer, usually a half-to-three-quarters-of-an hour or more. Then immediately to bed.
Flipping the Tables
This morning I got up earlier and meditated as soon as I arose.
And I found it was a much different experience.
Since my darling wife was preparing for her departure to California in search of our next puppy, we skipped our morning chat,
What I noticed most about my meditation this morning was the indiscernible decisions my intellect was making, at a very very subtle level, without my seeming involvement in the decisions.
Like a computer’s binary numeral system, using two symbols — 0 (zero) and 1 (one) — to create complex programs, the intellect was making indiscernible choices between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ whenever the subtlest ideas attempted to rise in mind to take me from the sweet, dark depths.
This was real surrender, at that deepest level, which Buddhists call ‘no-mind.’
We’ve all known this deep level that comes at times. But not been aware of the subtle functioning of intellect.
While I’ve known — intellectually — about this intellect making these decision during meditation, I’ve only been aware of it when ideas arise into full-blown consciousness.
No, this was oh-so-subtle that I’d never been able to observe it before. Nor did I even know that it was there.
This subtle play of yes/no choices took me quickly back, every time, to that sweet, dark space where there was absolute stillness and that entirely different sort of awareness.
And some part of my subconscious intellect kept making those very very subtle yes/no decisions to keep the mind in check.
And here’s the beauty of it.
No one, not even me, needed to tell me that this was ultimate surrender of the body and mind.
I’m sure too, that the depth of this meditation was aided by the sacred sound of a cappella chanting of the Benedictine Nuns of Mary, Queen of Apostles that my wife was playing in the other room while I was meditating.
Wonder of wonders, the stillness stayed within me, enabling me to be centered as I showered, dressed and sliced an orange, poured a glass of veggie juice and a cup of coffee, even on to pausing in stillness before eating. And all the while, knowing at an intuitive level — all is well.
When I took my hike, it too was easier to stay in the moment, noticing my progress along the trail as if watching my own shadow. Although I have to admit, that by then, it was more touch and go, in and out of the present, as scattered ideas came and went.
What I Learned this Morning
I found out in real time experience what the Shankaracharya meant when he suggested the best time for morning meditation is as close to that moment we awaken as is possible. It’s no longer just words in mind.