“Meditation is looking deeply into things and to see how we can change ourselves and how we can transform our situation. To transform our situation is also to transform our minds. To transform our minds is also to transform our situation, because the situation is mind, and mind is situation. Awakening is important. The nature of the bombs, the nature of injustice, and the nature of our own beings are the same.” –Thich Nhat Hanh from Peace is Every Step
I love this quote from Hanh as it expresses much of why I incorporate meditation as my main form of daily prayer and have done so now for almost ten years. When I started meditating I didn’t really know what I was doing, I was simply drawn to the stillness. Looking back I preferred listening to God rather than talking to God. Growing up in Texas meditation was not something you heard about, but you definitely heard about big ol Southern Baptist prayers filled with all kinds of great words and weaving references of Scripture throughout. These forms of prayer always intimidated me a bit so as I shied away from talking prayer, my soul slowly discovered God’s rest and presence in the stillness and quiet of meditation.
I then learned about the Christian mystics like St Julian of Norwich, Pseudo Dionysius and those of our more present culture in Thomas Merton and Father Thomas Keating. When I discovered their writings and expressions on meditation I couldn’t get enough of their voices helping guide my practice. It was the beginning of what Hanh describes here, “looking deeply into things and to see how we can change ourselves and how we can transform our situation. To transform our situation is also to transform our minds. To transform our minds is also to transform our situation, because the situation is mind, and mind is situation.”
I began seeing how resting my mind into Gods on a daily basis began this transformative process of self and situation, but first it all starts with allowing the mind to rest and to begin “looking deeply into things.” I think the struggle I am finding now is how to let go of the depth and return to play. Now after practicing meditation and this looking deeply into things much of my life and many of my situations have been transformed. After all we are creatures of habit so what we do becomes our habit and our habits become who we are. As a result of meditating daily for almost ten years now I see life in greater depths and complexities, but I find that now I want to let go of many of these complexities and enjoy life’s simplicities…almost in many ways return to the childlike being.
Hanh also shares quite a bit about this, how once we have settled into our depths and grow accustomed to living more mindfully then we become aware that our childlike playfulness and simplicity still remains within us. He unpacks how if we were ever happy, playful, life giving children then those same happy, light and playful qualities still live within us, we just haven’t cultivated those parts of ourselves in many years. I loved reading this portion of the book, but I always thought for some reason that I needed to explore or experience something “out there” to achieve those states of pure bliss once again, when in reality those simple pleasures and joys of living are within…I just need to almost in a sense explore deeper the practice of mindfulness to touch those childlike moments again and invite them to resurface.
I’ve started recalling many of these memories and it’s been quite the journey of flashbacks and stories…some pleasant others not so pleasant, but as Hanh and Brené Brown point out these stories are all part of our present story. The trick is how do we allow these stories to rise, be greeted in love and integrated creatively into who we are in a mindful and playful way?