"Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself."
These are the words of Herman Hesse and perhaps describe the aspirations of so many of us today. We feel a victim of a merciless routine of doing where there seems no escape. Finding a stillness in my inner sanctuary sounds so attractive; a place where I can really be me and take away all the pressure from trying to be something and look good; a place where I don't have to impress; a place where I can strip away all the collected baggage and feel the authentic me; a place where I never feel "on guard". This sanctuary is like coming home to where I really belong.
As sweet as this place sounds, we live in a world of speed, noise, and busyness. We wake in the morning and turn on the TV. We drive to work with the radio. We sit in front of little screens all day and finally return to the TV again. The mind is under a constant bombardment with the noise of information. We know so much information, but how much is real wisdom.
And this is just the outer noise. What about the inner noise; the constant self talk to make sense of what is happening around me and in me; the fears, the insecurities, the inner critic? It is a chronic chatter that does not even stop when we put our head on the pillow.
On the one hand the noise is sending us crazy. We crave stillness, silence, quiet, peace - but we fear it also!
The noise has a purpose. The speed has a purpose. The busyness has a purpose. It is a form of denial and avoidance. It helps us to not look too deeply to see what is really going on. Who am I really? The stillness becomes a mirror into my inner world. The inner voice of truth can be heard. For so many of us time is calling us to journey to this sanctuary of stillness.
But is finding this sanctuary of stillness easy? When I look inside there often seems to be a jungle of unprocessed thoughts and feelings. It can be quite daunting, so I am tempted to return to my old forms of denial by losing myself in busyness and work and perhaps hope it will all go away. But if I persevere to find my sanctuary, I begin to see three "I"s or personalities vying for power and control inside me. Two of them seem to be increasing the noise, but one is the guide to my sanctuary of stillness.
The first "I" is the one that presents a façade, an image to the world.
This "I" can be very clever and can fool most. It is so clever it can even fool me because sometimes I start to feel it is me. This is the ego façade I build up to protect my vulnerable self. It is the "I" of superiority that always compares with others and thinks my understanding is the right understanding - I am right.
This "I" will easily criticise and find fault in others and craves attention and praise. But when it seeps into my feelings, it is then I know when this "I" is ruling me inside. Whenever I feel insulted, disrespected, under valued, easily hurt, and over sensitive, know this "I" of arrogance is ruling me. I have lost my inner sovereignty. The emptier I feel the more I build this mask. The noise of this "I" prevents me from finding my stillness.
The second "I" is the vulnerable "I". Behind the mask, the façade, lies a vulnerable and fragile self, fearful of being exposed. This "I" can chant the mantra, "I am not good enough, others are better than me, others don't want me, others don't love me." This "I" is so fearful of rejection. This is the "I" of lack of self respect.
Once again, it is when the power of this "I" seeps into my feelings then I know it is ruling me. I can feel hopeless, inadequate, unworthy and inferior. This "I" distorts my whole outlook on life. It becomes a filter through which I see everything and am convinced I am seeing reality. But, in fact, I am being deceived by this false identity I have built up. The noise of this
"I" also drowns out my sanctuary of stillness.
So what happens? We swing between the highs of the "I" of arrogance and the lows of the "I" of lack of self respect. The noise is so constant I wonder if stillness can really exist.
The path to my inner sanctuary is to connect with the original "I" or my permanent identity. When I connect and taste the feelings of my permanent identity, it is like coming home to where I really belong. I am a soul. I adopt a body and work through it. When I forget myself and think I am my body, this is when the games of ups and downs, fluctuating between ego and lack of self respect begins. The mind becomes overactive and the chronic mental chatter never stops.
Becoming soul conscious is the middle path. Rather than swinging from the ego "highs" and the lack of self respect "lows", I experience the stillness of my eternal self, the soul.
The soul is a point of life energy residing in the middle of the brain, behind the forehead. When I realise the true self and experience it, automatically I experience peace. Eighty per cent of Australians believe they are something more than a body, but are not sure what that may be. Meditation is converting this belief into an experience. This is the wisdom we need to find again, not just to know and believe, but also to experience the permanent self.
The natural byproduct of experiencing myself as the soul is a deep and stable feeling of peace and stillness. It becomes my natural state, not a fleeting experience. The inner sanctuary is not a seemingly inaccessible dream, but something I can access in a thought.
This relationship with my original self as a soul is the first relationship of life. If this relationship is dysfunctional, it pollutes everything and robs me of my stillness. When it is re-established, it will automatically begin to create the stillness I seek.
Once the connection with my inner self is established, I can take another step toward a deeper stillness, to explore the one relationship that is permanent, the relationship with the divine. It is true love that will take me into the heart of stillness.
It seems the mind is on a constant search. It is the search for love, but not an ordinary love, instead a love that quenches the thirst at the core of my being. Until the mind tastes such a quality of love it can never rest.
The agitated mind never stops its search. This love is the first need or desire of the human soul and when it is not found, a thousand other desires emerge to compensate the first need of life, to be truly loved.
We search for this love in our family and relationships, but there is a huge dilemma - none of these relationships is permanent. Whether it is through change, conflict, separation or death the object, of my love goes. I cannot find true stillness till I taste this love. This love is the union of I the soul with the divine, the supreme soul. Through the eye of the mind, I see a radiant jewel of light and with the power of pure thought I connect. This is not just a philosophical concept, but a real relationship with another soul but a pure soul, the ocean of love. When I taste this love, the relentless searching of the mind stops and it stills naturally. It is a stillness filled with the feelings of belonging, the feelings of a love lost but now found, the feelings of coming home to my natural inner sanctuary. There is such a relief in finding this stillness. This relationship of soul and supreme soul is at the heart of the meditation process.
When I resonate with the supreme I experience the richness of this stillness. The mind is still active but now cool. The self doubt, the questioning, the fighting, the restlessness stops and a pure flow of elevated thought takes over that soothes and calms. The stillness of the mind is not an absence of thought. It is an absence of negative disturbing thought. In this stillness there is peace, a deep understanding and clarity. I can hear the sound of my truth and I feel the power to apply it in my life.