Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Sunrise over Price Lake, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

My wife Karen and I were introduced to the ancient practice of mindful meditation years ago. Frankly, it’s a wonderful practice of calming your mind to achieve a peaceful and cleansing goal of reducing the daily stress of life. Experiencing peace doesn’t mean that our lives are always joyful. It implies that we have found the path to calming the mind in the midst of a normal hectic life. One of the first teachings we discovered was to focus on the present moment by surrounding our senses with a calming environment such as aroma therapy candles, pleasant music or silence, a gentle breeze on the exposed skin, and the beauty of a magnificent landscape. We learned that mindful meditation can be practiced almost anywhere if we focus on our favorite “go-to” quiet place in our mind. We found peace and relaxation on vacation trips out into the serene beauty of nature.

Quietly standing next to the mirrored surface of a Blue Ridge Mountain lake surrounded by the reflections of colorful autumn leaves has become my latest quiet place of nirvana. As I stood at the waters’ edge, I could subconsciously hear the soothing sound of water cascading over the spillway in the distance. My previous quiet place was imprinted in my mind’s eye on an overcast morning in Israel on the Sea of Galilee. As our wooden boat motored out to the center of the water our captain cut off the engines and instructed everyone to remain silent as we simply drifted in this sacred place. A light squall slowly sprinkled rain drops around the boat and the accompanying breezes sent them gently descending on my face. My first quiet place remains vivid in my mind as Karen and I hiked into Maroon Bells National Park outside Aspen, Colorado. We emerged from under the aspen trees and into view of two magnificent Rocky Mountain peaks encompassing a still lake surrounded by the aspens and a few beaver dams. A gentle breeze rustled the leaves as they shimmered in the sunlight. All of these memories occurred in the early morning light near the calm waters of expansive mirrored bodies of water.

Deepak Chopra has noted that “Meditation is a way of entering into the quiet in the mind that is buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day”. The key to quieting the left-brain ego chatter which organizes our outside lives and dominates our thoughts is to calmly go within the right brain as an observer and discover our true soul that transcends this mortal life. We enter that present moment quiet place by simply becoming aware of our breath of life. I recently ran across a play on words related to mindfulness breathing that simply encourages us to “Inhale love, exhale gratitude”. When we focus on loving others and loving God in our lives and returning our gratitude back into the world, we experience the true joy of life. And we become more aware that we are all interconnected to the true power of the universe who reminds us in the Psalms to “Be still and know that I am God”.

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