Silence and Meditation

Accepting life by working with my thoughts.
Accepting life begins in my mind

How does my inner monologue affect the world I live in? Can I create a different world by accepting life?

With these questions in mind, I started to look at how I affect the reality in which I live. I found that my thoughts, feelings, and attitudes have a lot to do with how I experience life. This happens no matter what life’s circumstances come my way. When life presents a new circumstance, my mind immediately checks in— “Good or Bad?” “Like or don’t like.” I have affected the circumstance simply by observing it.

Stuck in a Mental Box

Thus, my observation changed my perception. Up until the moment I opinionated on what was happening, it was a neutral event. I took an experience which may have potential beyond what I can imagine and placed it in a box. It was a box of preferences, beliefs, and old mental habits. Thus, instead of taking the opportunity to learn something or expand my consciousness, I put it into a category of what I already know. Why am I reluctant to ask, “What’s new?” “What can I learn?” “How can I offer myself?”

I think I’m not alone in this.

Formerly there was a time when those living in the Western civilization believed that the Earth was flat. This belief held them to the limitation of known territory. What lay beyond the limits of this belief? The mind came up with many ways to deal with the fear of the unknown and the unexplored. On maps, monsters were prominently drawn beyond the known limits of exploration. To go beyond these limits was certain death. Therefore, nobody questioned it. The Earth was limited to the perceived flatness with certain known limits. There was no going farther.

Why live in the flat world of my learned and conditioned perceptions? Why not choose the reality I want to live in and then create it?

In a Rut

As I said, I observed how my thoughts and feelings interpreted what was happening to me. This constant interpretation kept me in a rut. I may react to a situation in a habitual way, thinking it is the same as another situation I experienced. But the situation was different. Life is never the same. Life is flowing, ever changing. Why don’t I see it that way? I began to question my automatic responses.

Asking questions gave me a new opening into life.

Instead of automatically coming up with an answer, I asked a question. I questioned where my answers were coming from. Answers were coming from what I already knew, opinions I hold, and my beliefs.

Accepting Life: Being Grateful

Looking for questions, I practiced gratitude. The question that usually worked for me is, “What can I be grateful for in this situation?” Indeed, asking this question immediately sent me on a different course. I don’t like getting wet on a rainy day. However, I’m grateful for the rain that will water the trees and help them be healthy. Another example: when I have to wait a long time to see the doctor, instead of complaining, I’m grateful to receive health care. An unpleasant noise? I’m grateful that I can hear at all.

Even though asking what I was grateful for changed my point of view, it still limited me to what I already knew. What don’t I know about this situation? What I do know about the situation is that it is new. Besides, it has never happened before. Life is not repeating itself.

My life is in my hands.
Accepting life as change

Life is always changing

Looking for a new way to interpret my experiences, I realized I needed to accept that life is not always the same. Life is always changing. Life is a flow of time, experiences, energy which continuously take me into the unknown. Because life is always changing, there is no reason that my interpretation is always the same. This is a new, unknown experience in life. What can it teach me? I open my mind. I start by accepting life as it comes.

Remembering that life is fluid and always changing is important when I meet someone I know. Often, I assume she is the same person she was the last time I saw her and the way I have always seen her. This assumption puts limitations on her that may not necessarily be true.

For instance, over the years of my acquaintance, I have regarded her as capable, judgmental, knowledgeable, and flighty. What I don’t actually know, I fill in with biased information. I have crafted an image of her in my mind. Maybe she has changed? When I continue to see her as someone who is always the same, I am putting my limits on her. Perhaps she has worked hard to overcome her tendency to judge others. Although she has a lot of knowledge, has this knowledge become outdated? I set aside my preconceived ideas and I’m open to how she is now. I want to see the best of her.

What do I really want?

In this constant change of life, how can I create the reality I want? What is my aspiration for the life I’m living? To do this I need to set aside my judgements of what a good life should be. The instant I become the “Judge,” I start to see what I consider fair for me. I judge whether someone or something is good enough. What I think I am entitled to becomes a priority. Is there anything that really is my entitlement?

Setting aside the Judge, I encounter the Resister. The Resister rejects what she didn’t expect. She complains about what she doesn’t like. Complaining, comparing, and criticizing are part of the Resister’s repertoire. No thank you, Resister. That’s not what I want.

What’s next? The Pleaser. Obviously, the Pleaser wants to please. How others see me and what I think they think of me is important. The Pleaser cannot be happy, because she can’t please everyone, all the time. And besides, the Pleaser loses sight of who she really is. She remains at the mercy of what she thinks others want.  

The Influence of the Past

There is another important way that I negatively influence my present reality. It is the Monster of the Past. Sometimes loud and boisterous, sometimes sneaky and subtle, the Monster of the Past colors my present moment and keeps me in its grip. That’s if I let it. As long as I don’t pay attention to it, the Monster of the Past will continue to affect how I experience life.

My past traumas, failures, and suffering remain present because instead of facing them, I try to ignore them. When I can bravely face the Monster of the Past, I see it for what it is and recognize its influence on me still. The Past can’t hurt me now. Accordingly, if the Past continues to hurt, it’s because I let it. I’m reluctant to face it. It continues to hurt because I haven’t processed it fully. I instinctively avoid the Past because it hurt.

Escaping the Present thinking of the Future

How could I avoid the Past so long? Because I allowed myself to be taken over by the Future. I’m habitually thinking about what’s coming next. I plan. I run scenarios through my mind. Planning for the future distracts me from the Present. This is to my own detriment. Thinking of the Future and allowing the Past to influence me obscures the Present. The Present is where I really live life. Then, the Present is the only moment that is truly mine to respond to.

I can live in the Present when I accept life in the past and the future.
Facing the Past and the Future

The Present is the Moment where I Live Life

Observing these different personas, I can decrease my identification with them. I’m not the Judge. The Resister I resist. Being the Pleaser does not please me. The Past and Future have no place in my present reality. I see those personas as ways I define my life and how I live it. When I let them define my life, I am giving up my capacity to learn and unfold to these identities I created long ago. They are no longer useful. I can leave them on the shelf and say, “No thank you.” I open myself to the Present.

The Opportunity of Mistakes

I’ve come to realize by taking responsibility for my mistakes, I learn how I could have responded in a better way. Not only do I learn a better response to the mistake, but I also learn about myself. I see how my impatience got in the way of considering a different way of responding. Not paying attention is usually key to making the mistake. Not asking for help shines light on my pride. For when I think I know, I fail to take the time to consider other options to my habitual behavior.  

There’s another way to accept life as it is: learning from my mistakes.

That’s when I accept my mistakes and learn from them. There are many ways to respond to mistakes that are not useful. One is to become the Blamer. When it’s someone else’s fault, I can avoid responsibility. I’ve become very skillful in finding excuses that absolve me from anything to do with the mistake. I’ve come to realize that by doing this, I’m rejecting life as it is. Not only am I rejecting life, I am also wasting an opportunity to learn.

This is another aspect of accepting life:

Getting to Know Myself

Getting to know myself is an important part of accepting life as it is. This self-knowledge helps me to create a reality based on my authentic self.  To do this, I need something to replace the personas that I no longer want to identify with. I have no use for the Judge and the Resister. The Pleaser and the Blamer have no place in how I want to experience life. Excusing away responsibility no longer works for me.

What reality do I want to create? Who do I want to be? These questions are not answered once. They are questions that I need to keep always before me.

I would like a peaceful life. Can I do that without accepting life? Avoiding or ignoring conflicts will not help me unfold. In fact, conflicts are essential for unfolding. Knowing this helps me to approach conflicts in a different way.  Instead of winning, I can understand. The Winner has no place here. When I strive to have my opinion prevail or my point of view be the only one, I’m stuck there. With some reluctance, I let go of thinking I am right. The Winner steps aside. I remind myself that there are more ways of seeing things then the way I perceive them. And they all have value. Therefore, I no longer judge who is right or wrong. I’m open to different points of views based on a diversity of life experiences. Just think how enriching this is.

Changing the Storyteller

Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I find I am in a bad mood. Why am I being inflicted by this bad mood? This mood is coloring how I see life. It is affecting my relationships. This mood is taking energy that I could put to better use. I listen to the monologue that is going through my head. It is sad, negative “Eeyore” that turns everything into bitterness. I don’t want this Storyteller. Time for the Fairy Godmother with her Magic Wand. Just changing the story changes how I experience the moment. Accepting life now.

Changing the story helps. But there is no Magic Wand. Changing my inner monologue can help improve the tenor of my life. But it doesn’t change my life. My granddad had an expression that has stayed with me. “Ain’t Life Grand!” I thought it was just an expression of his sunny optimism. Now I see that it is based on a broader vision. There is no one word that can describe life. But “Grand” is a word that encompasses a broad spectrum of experiences. Grand has many nuances. It is broad enough to include much of life.

Accepting Life as it is with Meditation

In this grand life, I want to participate. Life is not for defining and limiting what I know. I need to get down from the “grandstand” and stand in life. Present in life I experience life as it is at this present moment. With this experience comes accepting life no matter what’s happening. This experience is without my personae. It is Life lived without the Past or the Future. To simply be in the Present.

I simply am.

How can I be simply who I am? I can get a glimpse of my true self in Meditation.

In the Discursive Meditation, I become the Pilgrim. In the first step, the Invocation, I ask for Divine help. I dispassionately observe my various personae and story tellers. Realizing that these inner voices blur my experience of life, I search my inner depths for the strength that lies within.

In the second step, I wait in silence. Patiently, I observe the noise of my mind. I know there is a response that I’m ready to hear.

In the Response, I persistently dismantle the shrines I have built by my inner voices.  Gradually I’m aware of the silence which is covered by my inner voices. In this Silence I will encounter Life as it is in the present moment. Accepting life as it is comes from this Silence: this grand life comes with the pain and joy that is part of the human experience. It is here in the depths of Silence I can become whole.

About the Author(s)

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Diana Autumn lives in a spiritual community in Southern California. She likes trees, walking and being with friends.