Do You Ever Feel Like You Need a Quiet Space to Get Away from Stress?
Here’s How Space Will Keep You Stuck and Limit Your Spiritual Growth.
By Jordan Myska Allen - 12:09AM - 02/19/2014
A lot of people like to have a quiet place just to themselves when they meditate or pray. It feels like the only way to escape the stress of the day and the myriad distractions calling them away from peace.
Fine, but if a person relies on their sanctuary, they are missing the point of meditation and prayer. They are guaranteeing more stress in the future. They are imposing a huge barrier to the flowering of their contemplative practice, and like Moses they will see the Promised Land, but never be able to reach it.
People must realize that the sanctuary they seek is not dependent on what is happening. True peace is not dependent on anything.
True Peace is Liberated from Circumstances
I was tempted to write that the sanctuary is “inner,” and not dependent on “external circumstances,” but the true practice is to find a sense of peace regardless of inner and outer circumstances.
For meditators, this means being aware of feelings like fear, anger, and depression, without attachment to them staying or leaving, changing or remaining the same.
The same is true for prayer—one communicates with God equally in the midst of a storm as much as a sunny day, whether that storm manifests as actual rain or a sense of despair or frustration inside oneself.
Put another way, if your goal is to de-stress, you will never overcome stress. You must find peace instead, and you must be able to find it even in the midst of business, stress, and overwhelm.
Make Your Practice More Like Everyday Challenges
If you have already created an altar in your home, or have a sacred place where you find the most peace and surrender, I am not asking you to get rid of that or give that up. That would reinforce the very error of thinking that I am pointing to.
Instead, I ask that you begin to expand your practice. Start to pray in traffic, and sing songs of hallelujah at work (maybe just in your head). Try meditating with eyes open so you can adopt the attitude of non-judgement when you are in conversation, at the grocery store, and with your family.
If you use headphones and music to meditate, try silence, and then try a public park. If you always meditate in silence, try doing it with the TV or radio on. If we can be so bold as to define a “goal” of meditation, prayer, and contemplation, it is to bring forth divinity—either in ourselves (namaste), or in relationship to the God—at all times in our lives.
Transcend and Include the Fundamentals
A sanctuary or safe place is like doing drills in sports practice. Even the best players never stop doing drills—practicing the fundamentals. Yet if all they ever did was drills they would be ill prepared for the real challenges of playing the game. They have to scrimmage to be able to put those fundamentals into practice. They need both.
So feel free to create or keep your quiet, safe place for finding peace (or however you define your spiritual practice), just make sure you start to scrimmage—practice with distractions, even in challenging situations—or you will have really good fundamentals and no way to actually include them in your life.
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