Posted by: Sarah Lidsey | November 11, 2010

Looking out from Stillness

Be Still and Know that I am God’ ~ Psalms 46:10.

We live in an age in which the vast majority of us wear a uniform of sorts, maybe literally in what we choose or have to wear, but also in the ‘masks’ or personas we adopt that project an identity out to those around us, sometimes without even a single word being uttered. Riding regularly on the subway from the north of Manhattan down to Soho, I have plenty of time to be curious about my fellow commuters, and I often look to see who is there in the Stillness behind some of the masks being worn that day. 

Last month I attended a lecture in a huge Manhattan church given by author and teacher, Eckhart Tolle.  He starting off the evening with a scenario that he imagined any one of us gathered there might have been experiencing in some form.  He adopted our inner voice’s dialogue, berating the fact that we were sitting on hard pews, noting that our internal registering of the hardness of the pews and the soreness of our bums would give way to negative chatter, complaining about our neighbors – the depth of their breathing, their terrible choice of clothes, their annoying coughs, and so on … our egos doing anything rather than sit silently and drop into the stillness of the heart, the gateway through which awake Awareness emerges and the ego’s influence ceases.  It was a great analogy. He reminded me that the voice of the ego with its limiting assessments, judging, and complaining was what was keeping me separate from my natural state of being.  Tolle reminded us that it is only when you are completely still that the truth of existence, the truth of our natural state clarifies beyond doubt. 

A few days later the consequences of maintaining an attitude of separation was brought home to me after I’d traveled by train to Connecticut. While I was trying to decide which direction to take from the station, a friendly lady came up to me who’d also just got off the train.  She asked me where I was going and if I would like to share a cab.  We climbed in together and started chatting.  We had a lot of common interests, and I quickly learned which teachers my companion valued, how long she had been studying this or that, and all in language that let me know that she was an experienced ‘seeker’, serious about following a path of awakening.  She had about her an air of superiority which I found off-putting, but it was only when I dropped into Stillness that I could see that, in fact, she felt vulnerable and was using her superiority mask to cover it.  It left me reflecting on the fact that, in these fast paced days, more often than not we make quick assessments of the people we are with, based both on our own conditioned awareness, and on the mask they present us with.  How easy it is to pigeon-hole someone by, say, the type of jewelry they wear; the handbags or briefcases they carry; the low slung jeans; or the facelift, and styled hair.  I realized how easy it is to forget to look beyond that and see who is really there peering out from behind their mask. In forgetting this, there have been countless times when I have missed connecting.

In psychological terms, even when relaxed most of us wear masks that we set into place to cover up old hurts.  They help us survive and flourish in this world. Part of the challenge for someone pursuing a path of remembering is to gradually soften and then drop out of the habitual masks of our defenses and lifestyles so that the true essence of our unfettered nature, love, can shine out.  It can feel as if you are standing buck naked, vulnerable and exposed before a crowd.  Who are you without your familiar identity? I initially felt absolutely lost without mine (see Blog posting ‘The Life and Death of the Identity’, Nov. 2009).  

Our masks may be familiar, but it is entirely possible to be completely unaware of them.  One of the ‘faces’ that I show the world has this type of voice that goes with it … ‘Everything is fine ..I really LOVE it’.  It is a very well used serenity mask that is often enlivened by a smile, and it allows the uncertainty and the fear underneath to go undetected.  It is so deeply engrained that sometimes I don’t know I am hiding behind it.   It has taken a lot of work, and no small measure of courage, to be prepared to recognize when and why I put on that mask and others, and the attitude that accompanies each one, and then to make the choice to drop into vulnerability and allow the real Sarah to be seen.  As I have become steadier in my evolution and in my understanding that I no longer need to hold onto the old defenses that I set in place out of uncertainty or fear, I spend more time without my masks, feeling from my heart rather than acting from my mind.  It is a journey of learning to connect with my authentic self in each moment, and to deepen into a place of inner silence.

At a recent meditation retreat with my VortexHealing® group, we were encouraged to consciously drop into silence and embody our awakened consciousness both when sitting in internalized meditation, and also with the eyes open, taking in everything around us – Living it.  In that place where Stillness is complete, absolutely motionless, without even a sense of a heartbeat, the truth of existence shines out, and the small, critical, worried voice of the ego can relax and allow Presence to become the prevailing state of being.  A level of tension drops away as the sacred energies expressed through the heart take over from the relentless chattering of the mind.  

It sounds easy, but silencing the mind can be really challenging. The ego always has some diversion up its sleeve.  Moving deeply into the heart and staying there, giving stillness time to emerge may initially need to be a conscious choice, at least until the ‘muscle’ is built so that living from that place is the immediate, natural state of being.

One of the benefits of living from this awakened space is that I am looking out and feeling that place of stillness in others, more regularly seeing them for who they truly are rather than from the masks that they have put out for the world to see.  The conditioned reality I live from still colors that experience, but, riding the subway, I am now making a daily practice of living from the stillness in myself and honoring and seeing the stillness at the core of those nearby.  It’s a great and sometimes challenging practice.  It is one that naturally opens the heart and generates compassion. 

I like this simple meditation practice…I hope you do too. It helps me to find my way into stillness and deepen into the silence residing within. 

Sitting comfortably, bring your attention to your Heart center, in the center of your chest.  

Follow your awareness back into the middle of your being until you are resting at – what might feel like – a gateway into the infinite nature of Creation.   

Relax there, allowing your attention to drop deeper and deeper through the Heart and into that space.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

As you notice your mind wandering, bringing your attention back to the center of your Heart until it is lulled into silence and you can step through the gateway, and rest your consciousness in the Stillness of awake Awareness, into All that Is.

©2010 Sarah Lidsey. All rights reserved.


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