Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!
The festivities of November and December are over. The earth has gone dormant under white, silver and black. The trees are bare, the birds have stopped their chorus, puddles of grey grass peek through the melted snow and the sunlight is faint. Life has faded to a dreamlike state from where creative ideas emerge. Muses awake. There is hardly a better time to write. These days when I am in the thick of writing, warmth glows within that is beyond any ordinary emotion. Writing lulls me and draws me within.
One of the many treasures of my life as a writer (and meditator) is being steeped in silence and solitude during winter months — away from noise and fast paced life. Through unhurried writing and sitting, I try to fine-tune the marvelous instrument that unifies mind, heart and body. It takes a while to get back to a state of stillness and inner vibrancy.
Sitting in silence and solitude is the discipline of meditation. If you practice it, I assure you by January 2012 the quality of your being would have improved in every area of your life. Meditation is the only common practice that mystics, saints, yogis, peers, monks and lamas of the world’s wisdom traditions experience with amazing outcomes. Each and every one of us can also be spiritually benefitted by the daily meditation that infuses sweetness and satisfies our spiritual yearnings. So, give it a try!
I am currently reading the autobiography of the Cistercian monk, poet and writer, Thomas Merton (1915-1968), titled The Seven Story Mountain. Merton’s favorite topics were silence and solitude but he also understood the importance of connectedness to others and community because he withdrew from the world only after he had immersed himself in it. Balancing the long periods of silence with connectedness to community is a practice that has a long history. At the time of the Buddha, during the monsoon months, the monks settled at one place reading, meditating, writing and contemplating. During summer months they traveled through the towns and taught the lay community. They moved with the cycle of the seasons.
I am revising my second novel, The Meaning of Our Lives. In the manuscript, I explore the human condition into which we find ourselves. Unfulfilled desires, lives ending too soon, the affects disease, death and separation have on the lives of the living. I also explore how community and connectedness help us heal. But the best healer, I argue, is the descent into our interior underworld that meditation teaches us to do. Scary and dangerous at first, here we learn how to befriend our own shadows. In this inner space we can help ourselves to heal and become whole. In this sense, writing is similar to meditation. Writing helps a writer face inner darkness and light and make them her own.
I pray and hope that, during these cold months, you start practicing sitting still and looking within. By this time next year, you will begin to feel the difference. You would have learned to envelope yourself with sweetness of quietude.
Madhu–I feel exactly the same way about winter. January and Febuary are my two favorite months of the year. I look forward to the calm and the quiet.