On the side of Mt. Parnassus in Greece lie the ruins of the ancient Temple of Apollo at Delphi. From 1400 BC -381 AD the temple was visited by leaders and kings and people from far away seeking wisdom and divine guidance from the Oracle of Delphi. Animal sacrifices, divination and rituals were performed by priests who sought messages from the god Apollo. The ruins of the sacred site is still visited today by people from all over the world. Inscribed over the door of the temple through which countless of spirituals seekers have passed are the words, “Know Thyself.”
While millions seek divine direction, look to sages, search out prophets and oracles, the time-tested maxim still lies etched in eternal stone above the entrance to the temple within. Our hearts, our bodies, our minds have infinite information to give us if we can learn how to listen. Maybe the secrets of the universe, but certainly how to better exist in it. My whole life I have spent searching for wisdom outside of myself and now I find that it has all been within me the whole time.
I want to spend my life learning how better to listen.
When I skip my daily sitting practice now I have started to notice the effects pretty quickly. After a couple of days I am feeling off-balance, unsettled, generally more anxious and less patient. After 2 or 3 days my family feels it too. I have become so grateful for this efficient feedback system. In the same way my body responds when I have not been feeding it well or resting or moving like I should, my mind and spirit give me similar clues to my state of health and alignment. Without these signposts, I might have wandered further away.What a blessing discomfort can be! As physical and spiritual beings we have innate wisdom about what serves our highest good. And sometimes you don’t see the full benefit of a habit until you veer off course for a little bit.
Since the beginning of my meditation journey, daily life, the season, our schedules have evolved and I am now finding time in the evening for a longer practice. With the summer sun lingering a bit more in the sky, I can watch the evening descend from my front porch after I have said goodnight to the little Acorn Scout and my partner is settled to his writing. As tempting as it is at the end of the day to zone out with a movie, on the computer, or even with a good book, I have begun to tease myself outside instead. Instantly I am rewarded: there is no bliss like the light, the air and sounds of summer evening. Sometimes I work with a mantra, a mudra, or a pranayama (breathing technique) like Alternate Nostril Breathing. Sometimes I just sit and listen the world around me and then inwardly – at what is bubbling and churning around inside, find longer spaces in between the thoughts that come and go.
If you don’t have a daily mediation practice but are wanting to begin, here is a great article to get you started: 5 Tips on How to Meditate for Beginners (You can also read my post: DIY.) Start with 5 minutes twice a day and work up to 10 minutes twice a day.Remember, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Like with any practice, every day is different. And you get stronger with time. Keep a journal for things that come up. Be consistent. Just see what happens. I would love to hear about your experience.
“We seek to know the moving of each sphere,
And the strange cause of the ebb and flow of Nile,
But of that clock within our breasts we bear,
The subtle motions we forget the while.
“We that acquaint ourselves with every zone,
And pass both tropics and behold the poles,
When we come home, are to ourselves unknown,
And unacquainted still with our own souls.”
~John Davies, from Nosce Tiepsum: of Human Knowledge
(In this photo I am using Surya mudra: Gesture of the Sun, for activating radiant energy and the element of fire. This mudra is useful for balancing the third chakra, for kapha and vata doshas, supporting digestion and metabolism, cultivating self-esteem and personal power. For more information on mudras check out Mudras for Healing and Transformation by Joseph and Lilian Le Page.)