I am just putting my toe into the stream called contemplation.

I have yearned for contemplation or meditation for 23 years. I went to a Buddhist meditation center for 28 days and was immersed in meditation for nine hours a day. I learned a lot about the sitting on the cushion, paying attention to my breathing and being still in my body. But keeping my busy mind from taking over my time on the cushion was a struggle. I found fault with myself for being carried away with my thoughts. My strong sense of perfection caused me to find myself falling short.

Since leaving the center, I have tried over the years to meditate. The stick I measured myself by kept getting in the way. Of course thoughts were the other “problem”.

In 2021 during Covid, a new friend introduced me to what I call frequency music. The first one was 396 Hz (Hertz) and somehow while sitting on the cushion there was a shift. The Buddhist taught me to meditate with my eyes open which I have done all these years. I was employing a new way of breathing: breathing in through my nose and out through the mouth. The exhale was longer than the inhale. Softly my eyes went out of focus and I was in a stillpoint. There was no room for the blaming mind. The thoughts that came I acknowledged and then let go. This was unknown territory. In the fuzzy out of focus vision I was just breathing.

I have since learned that I have to be disciplined. No matter how long or short the time I sit on the cushion or chair I must take the time to meditate. I appreciate the sisters I live with who allow me to sit on my cushion in the basement. We don’t talk about it; they just let me be.

Recently I heard contemplation defined as “attentive listening”. I call it listening to the soft voice or whisper that I know is not me. Previously, I heard the voice. Once in a crisis where the voice pulled me out of the situation and gave me a view of a much bigger picture. The other time actually removed me from danger. The voice told me to “Get out”. I began arguing with this voice saying I couldn’t because of the circumstances. The voice said it more loudly. I was still arguing. Finally the voice was yelling at me saying: “Get out, get out, get out!!!” That did it, I got out. Later I found that if I stayed I would have possibly had physical harm.

Julianne Stanz in her book:Braving the Thin Places- Celtic Wisdom to Create a Space for Gracesays “Thin spaces are places in which you can feel the heartbeat of God. . . . Thin spaces bring to birth in us a greater yearning for God and also a sense of belonging.”

Meditation for me is a thin space. But the sense of belonging is not complacent. Julianne says thin spaces cause a breaking open. This tells me that if I am meeting with God then I must be meeting with all of humankind, nature, the cosmos.

Richard Rohr says in hisLetters from Outside the Camp:” Prophecy and Gospel are rooted in a contemplative and non-dual way of knowing- a way of being in the world that is utterly free and grounded in compassion.”

Even as I write this I know that a road stretches out before me. In his poem “Traveler, There is no Path, Antonio Machado says: “The path is made by walking.” I am a meditation newbie but I know that in meditation, the thin space, I will meet more and more the God of compassion. As compassion is shown to me, compassion will ground itself in me. Hopefully I will visibly act more out of that compassion.

One thing is for certain, I must as Cleo Wade says in the book What The Road Says: “Keep going"

Sister Mary Eileen Boyle