My primary interest has always been in helping people access their own inner wisdom. The regular practice of meditation — sensing in, following the breath — creates space for that inner wisdom to be heard, but it’s helpful to actively invite it in. So this week I initiated a variation on our class format, incorporating a post-meditation free-write session.
Instead of taking a five minute break for silent walking or communing with nature, we spent 25 minutes, notebooks in hand. I was available for anyone who needed me, but everyone seemed to take quite naturally to this new addition. It was such a pleasure to see them all having their quiet alone time out in the garden, gazing at a tree, the waterfall or the mountain, and then finding a comfortable private spot to sit in the sun or shade to write down a few inspiring words from their own experience.
Back inside in our circle, we slowly transitioned into discussion. The pleasure in silence was palpable, but eventually each student felt like sharing her writing or a comment on how the experience was for her. Their words confirmed that this was the right change to have made in the class format.
One student spent time deeply looking at certain elements in the garden – a particular plant, a tree, the waterfall, and then wrote down attributes of each. I have no doubt that her inner wisdom was actively highlighting the very attributes within herself that would be most helpful at this time.
Another student was able to see options to her standard line of thinking. Meditation creates a sense of spaciousness so we are not stuck in a linear mode, but can recognize more subtle offerings that bring a different slant or a new insight.
Two students were able to gain new creative clarity on what’s up for them: for one a business plan, for the other a solution to a challenge in her living space. Lots of creative thinking!
While wise words from sages through the ages may resonate and have meaning for us right now, the wisdom that rises from within ourselves when we really listen in is exactly what we most need to know in this moment. This only works if we have learned to cultivate a spacious inner quiet, to distinguish loving wisdom from the fear-based cacophony of judgments, opinions, memories, plans and attitudes that tend to fill our thoughts throughout the day.
If you have a regular meditation practice, consider adding a little extra time at the end for this kind of spacious creativity. If you meditate when you first wake up in the morning, as I do, you might be eager for that first cup of tea or coffee. No problem! Just make it part of your silent retreat mode, brewing it with a sense of ritual and really being present to the feel of it in your hands. Likewise with your morning wash-up, dressing, walking the dog. Extend your practice of mindfulness into the day. Why would you stop being mindful?
And if there is time to commune with nature, to pose yourself a timely and intriguing question, to make jot down notes in your journal, then that too is a wise extension of practice.