"Peter left the boat and walked on the water to Jesus. But when Peter saw the wind and the waves he became afraid and began to sink ..."
This morning my seated meditation practice was simple, oh so simple. On the inhale as I witnessed the expansion of my body I simply applied the mantra "expand" and on the exhale as I sunk back into my flesh the mantra "contract" was my anchor. And so it went, I would inhale expand into my heart and feel my hearts energy begin to slip beyond the boundaries of flesh, I would contract feeling the power of my belly. So much power in the belly that it would burst upward into my mouth relaxing the jaw and perhaps increasing my potential for lovely words. The breath became a rhythmic wave both shooting me beyond my body and anchoring me firmly back in the body. my breath reminding me that there are only two places we can find God: inside of ourselves and outside of ourselves. And we must explore both. Indeed the "kingdom of God is within us". But to remain centered in our internal experience can be a breeding ground for narcissism and delusion. And indeed paradoxically we "find" God by developing a servants heart and that heart can only grow in relationship to serving others. But again if we remain others centered we can quickly become depleted and have nothing to give. We must take refuge inside ourselves. And so we breath and we ride the wave of breath. And we go in and find that indeed the Spirit of God is in our hearts and our bellies and our toes and our fingers. And we go out and we find the eyes of God in every face we see. Sometimes the faces shine back brightly gladdening our hearts and sometimes the glances sting and hurt our hearts, but we mustn't stop looking. The human soul does not want to fixed it wants to be seen. Can you see the Divine in your neighbor? If you cant see Divinity in yourself it will be harder to see in others. And so we go back inside again and again.
My seated practiced was sandwiched with the reading in Matthew about Peter walking on the waves. At first with eyes on Jesus he did the seemingly impossible, but quickly he turned his eyes to the waves and began to sink. A relational metaphor I adore is that God is an ocean and we are a wave. To be "closer" to God we must simply relax into the ocean. However there are waves that are smooth and rhythmic and lull us into this relaxation and choppy fast waves that crest into anxiety and separation and duality. These dangerous waves tend to take shape in our minds. We cannot help which thoughts arise but we very much can help which thoughts we surf. Allowing thoughts of the future to swell in our minds takes us away from the internal wave of respiration and spirit and into the dark waters. And so again and again we must return to the breath and perhaps a mantra. Each journey is unique but a unifying factor is that a mind running amuck makes for rough seas filled with dangerous hooks. Present moment mindfulness and compassion make for smoother seas and surfable waves.
The longer I investigate spirituality the simpler it becomes. Religion is a great place to start, but beware lest you stop there. Religion is exclusive, Jesus is inclusive. We all ultimately share the same breath. The exhale of the Buddha will become your inhale. The sigh of Christ will become your gasp. And so we breath. And on the inhale perhaps you feel the expansion of your heart and mind. perhaps you take a moment to go beyond your self and remember that you are not the center of the Universe. And on the exhale you settle back into your self and realize you are indeed home. And we keep riding the wave of breath so the tsunami of life doesn't wash us away. Peace to you on the journey.