My 4-Hour Stillness Meditation - Outside on a Windy Night
(This experience happened several years ago, but this is one story that I find myself repeating over the years. So, I thought I would post it here. It is, for me, a powerful story - both as a person and as a teacher. I hope you share your thoughts - and how it affects you.)
I lie in total stillness in the midst of a wildly gesticulating tent on a very windy night on a hilltop over the ocean.
Okay, it began earlier. We were in a perpetual June gloom, remember? This was my 4th night here (of my 12 night stay) all alone on a hill, and after days of sameness with the grey light of a cold June Gloom, on this night I awoke to the sound of … what was that?
At first it sounded like little pellets were being dropped but it was happening with no wind in a way that didn’t make sense. The sound seemed to be only on my tarp & tent, I didn’t detect it in the ground all around. No one could be throwing that many things. These impacts were too big and loud to be rain drops but on further investigation, indeed they were. Huge gushy raindrops.
Cool! Those big slow raindrops that come before a downpour on the East Coast – I always felt they were God’s hug with a wink – warning us to take cover because a deluge was coming right up – while also giving us a bit of time to play first with those wonderful huge raindrops. (I flash on my childhood in Ohio, we lived in the woods, where the moments before storms were my favorite thing in the world. So exciting and magical.)
So as these drops started hitting all around me, I was quite awake and only in my sleeping bag because it was dark and so friggin' cold, so I decided to make the most of it. I was going to lie there and receive, to open to every single drop of rain. I’d feel the sound impact my body, it would be a “hear/feel” meditation (in Shin-Speak - i.e. restrict my focus to only external sounds and internal emotional & physical body sensations. Everything else would be in the background. It's a favorite meditation - especially when in a marvelously sound-rich environment as this one.)
Since it didn’t sound like rain and sounded like stronger pellets, this was a great exercise – other subtle connotations may get worked through. I’d also be sure to include all emotional body sensations. This was bound to be fun & productive.
I was opening to each drop as you would to the steam from the rocks in a sweatlodge. (That steam is considered the breath of the stone people/grandfathers kissing us with their wisdom.) I was receiving whatever wisdom or just plain ol’ sensory experience these raindrops wanted to bring me. I felt the affects of the sound in my body. I allowed images to flow – but stayed with the sound in the body. It became a massage. I’d feel my emotional sensations also getting massaged as they got activated. I’d be flashing insights of compassion and acceptance – but kept returning to the direct experience – sound, feel – complete
My body/mind goes into a deep wonderful journey. After a period of time, the rain begins to stop and winds start to pick up.
(My camping site is on a piece of land that juts out into the Pacific Ocean just above a huge outward shift in the peninsula. So the weather from the south is coming straight north but the weather that hits me out here is what the weather was a mile out into the ocean further south. Cold stuff.
And because of this unique geographic position, winds will shift here – sometimes dramatically, suddenly moving from south to north to east. Whole days will have intense wind from one direction – only to have it from the opposite direction 12 hours later – or it may stop on a dime and nothing for hours. You just don’ know. And I’m speaking from 13 years experience on this spot at different times of year – and during every imaginable weather condition.)
So at this point, I’m lying in my sleeping bag in corpse position, having just received rain drops for 45 min or so in a lovely meditation when the sounds shift to that of gust of wind through trees, then my tent and tarp being wildly blown. It was quite dramatic. And loud.
I started an eye-open “See Flow” meditation (restricting my attention to moving visual experience) – watching the tent sometimes bend to half it’s height as it bows to the superior force of the wind – then it pops back up only to be moved in a new direction. Yes, it was dramatic – and exciting.
As the world around me grew fluid and wild, the contrasting stillness of my body – which seemed totally untouched by these events around me – became quite interesting. Ah, to be totally still and meditating on stillness – in the midst of … this movement.
Okay. I now want to focus on my stillness amidst that. That is now more interesting than the flow of the world ripping around around me.
I allowed my momentum of presence and stillness to continue and I allowed the object of my meditation – surrounded by motion & chaos – to be Stillness.
It was delicious.
I kept seeing the image of me from above – lying in this light pool of stillness (with darker movement & dancing all around) – allowing the stillness to do the talking.
Was I the eye of the hurricane?
All I know is that in the OUTER PHYSICAL WORLD – it seemed there was a violent wild wind that would arise like a giant and subside like a revengeful dragon leaving my poor tent which-is-showing-signs-of-age-that-even-gaffers-tape-can’t-fix wobbly but still trying. I didn’t know if my body was the reason the tent hadn’t blown away or not. Quite possible. The sound of the tent flailing was one that would have, in the past for me, been an alarm – like the cry of a child to a parent. (Working through that – and alarms in general – was part of what was processed, I’ve no doubt.)
My older tent actually started to rip - and by the end of the night there was a huge slash hole in the top where some of those raindrops came in but the wind kept them from getting things really wet. But, in the midst of this storm, I was lying there with stillness as my tent ripped in the wind wildly around me.
And my INNER WORLD PERSPECTIVE …. Well, my stillness just had such a deep momentum and was so strong. I felt I was contributing my part to this storm. It was easy & a delight. And I felt a spreading warmth as I also saw in the overhead visual that the light was spreading a bit into the surrounding space – was my stillness spreading out into the wildness? Just a passing thought as I rested, I parked in the center in the Special Stillness – almost suspended, yet alive. I was doing nothing. I’d just found my place to park. I felt grounded and so present.
All sounds around me seemed to be muted, softened – maybe because I just wasn’t allocating enough consciousness to auditory as I was more visual & somatic based in my meditation – I was seeing the movement, hearing the noise, but feeling and seeing peace, stillness. It was easy.
Again, I’m sure this is due to the momentum I’d gained from my previous rain-drop meditation. I just dropped into stillness.
This continued. No words can describe this next period of time.
At one point I wondered how any human being could be this still – what about the movement of the breath? And I stopped and realized I could detect it like the feint pulse of a sleeping baby – but it was a tiniest of murmurs in a vast stillness. I was hardly breathing – hardly needing to breathe – I was enveloped in stillness.
An hour or so later – the wind was down to normal levels and I was no longer completely absorbed in the meditation – I had begun to process what that meditation had been. About 4 hours had passed since the first rain drops. I could still feel it in my body. That Stillness was tangible – like a new flavor – it was warm and wide and JUST … NO … NEED … TO … MOVE.
The momentum of stillness just carries you – I’m sure I could have done that for a couple more hours – but only because the elements were so perfectly guiding my awareness.
That 3-Hour Stillness Meditation was maybe the stillest I’d ever been in my life. An empowered stillness.
Not sure why that’s what’s coming to me to say about it, but yes, an empowered stillness.
I’ll reflect more on that later, for now, there’s just a lot of present moment I’d rather not miss.