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Inner Radiance Blog

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In being a storming ocean, and never a calm blue sea.

Recently, in celebration of my father and his life, I participated in a seven-hour silent meditation. I suspected that sitting in silence might quell the intensity of grief I felt about the loss of my father--that I would again feel a sense of peace--and let's just be honest, that my life would go back to normal.

I am very glad I did this silent meditation; and yet, it was not at all what I had expected. My day of silence was full of emotion--emotions of every shape and color and sound, emotions of every state of being.

Experiencing raw, unfiltered sadness, anger, and loneliness was healing for me. But it was in allowing these emotions in their full force, in not hiding from them or minimizing them, that enabled me to let the emotions move through me and transform me.

There was a sense of embracing truth, whatever that was in any particular moment. Truth in memories of my father's strength and love. Truth in feeling that my life would never again be the same. Truth in feeling I did not have enough time with him. And truth in knowing that I have to go on and live my life and my dreams, even though I will miss him greatly.

After my experiment finished, my friend who participated in the silent meditation with me shared that a famous Western meditation teacher once talked about accepting whatever you are feeling moment by moment and learning to be at peace with that.
He was, of course, talking about Jon Kabat-Zinn and the book "Wherever You Go, There You Are," which reminded me of something I wrote many years ago about the challenge and beauty of meditation. I would like to share that piece with you here.

"You have always been a storming ocean, and never a calm blue sea…” (2006)

I was looking out at the ocean, thinking that I felt more at home there than anywhere else. I always have. It’s powerful. Awesome. Beautiful. I was wondering why I felt so comfortable. It’s as if part of my soul is fragmented and only comes alive when I’m at the ocean. I’m a Cancer and we love the water? No. It’s almost a full moon? No.

I remember what someone dear to me whom I dated for a very long time said to me once, “You have always been a storming ocean, and never a calm blue sea...”

I wonder what it would be like sometimes—to be like a calm blue sea. Soothing. Peaceful. Not turbulent, wild, unpredictable. That peacefulness, the stillness, is something I long for and yet I wonder if I would be more content living a life that was more constant, not prone to such fluctuation. Such great highs and incredible lows.

On the drive home, I listened to Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn, where he talked about mindfulness meditation. He says that many of us try constantly to “push the river.” But you can’t push a river.


He mentioned qualities that can help with a path of mindfulness meditation. Patience. Concentration. Generosity (of self). There was a long list. I think I struggle with many of them. I don’t know how to stand in the middle, to not be swayed by extremes of joy and sadness.

Recently, I was reading about my numerological profile to a friend of mine. It said that people with the number 9 as their life path number swing between depression and ecstasy. “You don’t do that. Swing between depression and ecstasy."

I laughed. “Sadly, yes, I do. Very much so.”

Maybe the calmness comes with practice. Jon Kabat-Zinn mentioned that you can’t aim to obtain a more peaceful state with meditation, but really the purpose is to be fully aware of all moments and emotions exactly as they are. In joy. In anger. In sadness.

In being a storming ocean, and never a calm blue sea.

Visit Inner Radiance Blog again soon for helpful articles, tips on relationships, poetry, inspiration, and insight. Author Elizabeth Rightor, MA, MEd is a family therapist in private practice who specializes in working with couples and women suffering from anxiety. You can find more about her and her work at www.elizabethrightor.com.


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