Silence and stillness
It might be that our planet is one of the few places in the universe where sound exists. To have sound we need an atmosphere through which sound waves can travel. The ‘Big Bang’ is thought to be a misnomer – everything would have happened in silence – and much of our universe beyond Earth’s atmosphere will be silent. Philosophers, poets and priests tell of there being a silence and stillness within us where deep insights, decisions, and ‘knowing’ develop and can be recognised (for example; De Mello 1990, Jamison 2008, Jung 1964, Merton 1973, O’Donohue 1998, Rohr 2012).
Diarmuid Ó’Murchú (1997), Ursula King (2008) and David Tacey (2003), among others, map the meaning, extent, and search for spirituality throughout history. They point to people and movements that have brought the practice of meditation and contemplation back to us in the Western world, often from the East where the tradition has not been lost or broken.
There has always been a tradition of meditation in the Christian tradition (Williams 2004, Merton 1973). For those who would like to begin or develop their own meditation as a spiritual practice there are guides. Different guides will suit different people.
The World Community for Christian Meditation, founded by John Main and taken forward by Laurence Freeman, recommends a particular method of meditation.
Stillness is what creates love,
Movement is what creates life,
To be still,
Yet still moving –
That is everything!
Do Hyun Choe Japanese Master
(in Rohr 1990)
Books about meditation
There are many books about meditation; here are a few to consider. Many are available for Kindle, or second hand from online book stores, or can be borrowed from libraries.
Martin Laird’s Into the Silent Land – The Practice of Contemplation – this is very practical and thorough. It tells you how to meditate and how to deal with distractions – a useful book to read.
Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul – How to add Depth and Meaning into Your Everyday Life. Moore puts meditation within the broader framework of really getting to listen to yourself, your body, your dreams. He writes gently and compassionately – a liberating and nourishing text.
Joel Goldsmith’s The Art of Meditation. A writer before his time, Goldsmith’s text is serious about promises in scripture, and can be liberating and challenging. Perhaps a text for those already practised in meditation.
Other books exploring these themes
De Mello, A – Awareness
Honoré C – In Praise of Slow – how a worldwide movement is challenging the cult of speed
Jamison, C – Finding Happiness. Monastic Steps for a Fulfilling Life
Jung, C – Man and His Symbols
King, U – The Search for Spirituality. Our Global Quest for a Spiritual Life
Merton, T – Contemplative Prayer
O’Donohue, J – Eternal Echoes – Exploring our Hunger to Belong
Ó’Murchú, D – Reclaiming Spirituality
Rohr, R – From Wild Man to Wise Man – Reflections on Male Spirituality
Rohr, R – Falling Upward – a Spirituality for the two halves of life
Tacey, D – The Spirituality Revolution – the emergence of contemporary spirituality
Williams R – Silence and Honey Cakes – the Wisdom of the Desert