I once listened to a podcast from OnBeing.org. Krista Tippet interviewed David Whyte, a poet-philosopher. He recited  “Everything is Waiting for You”, a beautiful example of philosophy in a poem. My take on it is that entering into what is the Ultimate Reality is as simple as just being aware of what is before you.  Not complicated. One way to meditate.

A second way is how I usually practice. This way is sitting for 10-20 minutes with the intention of  being present and letting thoughts go by. The practice is known by many names  with slightly different means of quieting the mind. It’s impossible for me to actually quiet my mind, and I have heard this isn’t the real purpose. I’ve heard that the purpose is to be aware of what is happening in my mind. I’ve had a few outstanding immersive experiences doing this form of meditation, but have been disappointed trying to duplicate them. Those experiences are also not the purpose of meditation. But we sure do love those nice experiences, don’t we?

So these are two ways: One is being aware of what is there before me and the other is to get to stillness and not be aware of what is before me, but of my conscious mind. It seems to me that one need not choose between the two ways.  Rather this is a good example of both/and.  I have found myself experiencing the same thing through each of these ways.  Simply holding and feeling a glass in my hand and allowing myself to stay with that for a short while, lit a spark in me one day. It was the same feeling I have sometimes had during silent meditation. It is a feeling of aliveness. I felt that aliveness inside once in a power so strong it had me rolling on the floor laughing with tears as I babbled in tongues, something I had found so off-putting just minutes before. And I’ve felt the same thing so gently as on a silent retreat I could see a flower in awe and cry.  In meditation there have also been the overwhelming power as well as the gentle beauty. Mostly there are no great shakes and even upsetment.

So, there are two ways… but are there really? Chewing on this a bit it comes to me that these are the same way. And the way is awareness rather than thinking. (And thinking is a very good thing and part of good practice.) When I looked at the flower in awe awareness captured me out of thinking.  It does not require a silent retreat; it can be like holding a glass in awareness. In sitting meditation one is also aware–aware of inside, not outside. In both ways I think that being aware means simply “being”. It reminds me of the way James Finley began our meditations on a weekend retreat I went to years ago. He slowly said: “Be still and know that I am God.” Pause… “Be still and know that I am.” Pause… “Be still and know.” Pause… “Be still.”  Pause… “Be.” Soft gong sound…

To just BE in ANY setting. There is no one way, but probably infinite ways, to be aware.