Today a storm has arrived in my world at the edge of the English Channel. Winds gusting strongly enough to blow a person over. The sea is wild with waves, churning up sand from the depths, changing its color to an eerie olive green. Autumn’s leaves are ripped from wildly blown branches. Rain, sometimes showers, sometimes fierce and piercing, batters windows and bricks and pavement. It’s wild and wonderful and energetic.
All the while, inside is calm.
All the while, inside is tranquil.
All the while, inside is in joy and enjoyment of the tumult.
All the while, inside there is connection.
All the while, inside there is space for retreat from the often overwhelming, relentless news of the day.
How is this interior space created and maintained? We are told that spiritual practice, of whatever sort, will allow this openness and serenity. The elders that have preceded us have offered us countless methods that lead to this peace. And many have shown us it is possible to live with this inner connection while keeping our contact with our outer reality. It is truly possible to find this profound inner space without living in a cave or an ashram.
There are many resources available to learn any one of many different practices. Some are connected to a particular faith path, others are secular. If you are connected to a faith, speak to one of the leaders for guidance. And, needless to say, the internet is an abundant cornucopia of information. I recently discovered a site that explained 23 different types of meditation!
You may still wonder if it is essential to sit cross-legged for interminable hours repeating words in a language not your own, bowing to statues and listening to crashing cymbals in order to reap the benefits of meditation. Not really.
We do, however, need to cultivate spiritual qualities…kindness, forgiveness, love for oneself and others, willingness to grow and a recognition of our connection to all. These can be cultivated with or without formal meditation practice. The cultivation becomes the practice if you choose not to engage in a particular traditional meditation.
It is from the elders of the past that we can learn and then carry the lessons forward to those who follow us. By the example of our kindness and compassion, our willingness to forgive, our expressions of love, and the connections we create and develop, we foster calm and tranquility in the tumultuous world.
Being conscious of our selves as kind, forgiving and loving sages-in-the-making changes our outlook on our world and our place in it. Suddenly, there is stability and meaning in our identity as older people. We are no longer relegated to the background. Instead we can claim our place in the foreground. And these qualities lend us a glow, an energy that is palpable to those around us.
Sitting quietly and comfortably for even five minutes helps us connect with these qualities in ourselves. My belief is they are hardwired into our human nature and we can cultivate them, just as we might cultivate a garden. They need sunlight and water, fertilizer and mulch, weeding and pruning. We give these qualities their requirements with practice, nurturing them, ourselves and the world.
Let’s take a deep breath…and begin….or continue!
We love because it is the only true adventure.
Felice Rhiannon is a Onespirit Minister and spiritual counselor in Great Britain. She can be reached at elderspiritblog.wordpress.com.