To be a human means to be a human with and for others.
Only alone it seems to me, I am free to be a human.
It’s this loneliness, which let me become a human again.
These days after my illness I have a curious feeling of being in a kind of an open loop: Relaxing maybe is the wrong expression. Let’s put it this way: I hear much more during the day. I have arranged my books. Arranging, putting things in order but not obsessive, has a calming effect on me. Also empty rooms. I slowly get my peace back. Like a pendulum which is standing still after strong oscillations. Now I have fewer duties, which I could use as pretense to escape from silence. The tours to the shopping-centers have finished. I admit, that my living room and my bedroom look like niches of ikea.
After a long time I started meditating again. Sitting in front of a white wall. My bedroom has no pictures, and I’m not going to change that. So I’m sitting here, looking at the white wall, with a border of beech skirting board, on a black pillow, under it a black blanket, which is lying on the timber flooring, and I stay sitting. My hands are lying together, my attention is on my mind, my breath and I’m trying to be totally present – and I’m listening.
Silence compresses itself in front of my ears, I can nearly hear it. Through the closed windows I hear like the rush of a river the muffled sound of passing cars. In the other flat someone is closing a cabinet door. Slowly my calves are falling asleep. In the living room the alarm clock goes off, time is up. (2006)
To keep your identity in the fast, loud dog-eat-dog society it’s most important to discover and to cultivate your inner life. We are torn between Instagram, Facebook and Millions of images and opinions. To hear my own voice again it’s absolute necessary to go into silence.
Here I show you a way – my way – to develop your own spirituality. We have much more to offer – and intuitively we know that – as a nice face and fancy clothes. The world needs our whole personality, which is precious and in spite of all its stains and failures it’s worthwhile and lovable.
Me in my 13thfloor studio
First I thought “nicely done” and “that’s it” but half an hour later the painting seemed to me to be too figurative and not abstract enough. I felt that my feelings, which I wanted to express, were still in me and that I was still nervous and not satisfied with the result. Sometimes when I paint I’m somehow in a rush or in a thrill of ecstasy until the painting is done. And here I felt that the painting wasn’t completed. Fortunately the paint was still wet. So what to do? Adding a different color? No the colors were perfect: Black symbolizing death and red symbolizing love. I added a little bit more of these two colors and folded the canvas. As long until I was satisfied with the result. By the way I made a big mess in my flat because I accidentally stepped in the color and spread it through my whole apartment. But it was worth it.
I like this painting very much. Especially the round part in the midst. It is so vivid and organic like a pulsating heart. The transformation of the painting became to me to an awesome symbol of our spiritual journey. Let me put it this way:
Praying transforms a normal heart into a mystic heart.
It is important to me, not to live lost in thought, but to live aware and intensely.
That we practice with meditation. We don’t focus on something specific such as breathing, but bring to all a wake and open attention: to the siren of the passing ambulance, the aching knee, the breath, the posture, the room, the thoughts and feelings.
To practice this attention or mindfulness, we do not need special meditation clothing (Kimono, Robe), but comfortable clothing (jogging pants, sweatshirt).
One uses a cushion (Zafu), the other a little meditation bench. Best for me is a chair with seat wedge.
In “Meditation (Part 1)” I told you something about my physical and spiritual problems as a Christian to use the Zen practice, which originally became popular around the whole wide world through Buddhism. But Buddha himself found meditation in his religious environment at his time and adapted it to his needs. And so I did too. I adapted meditation to my needs as a Christian.
On the first picture you can see my little “altar” with a picture of Christ that I like – especially the position of the hands which symbolize: “Listen!” Next on the right you see a candle, which I only light up, when I’m in the mood for candle light. I always light up an incense stick because I like the smell of it. Originally it meant to be a sacrifice to Buddha, I understand it as a sacrifice to Christ.
I bow two times, my hands laid flat together in front of my chest. First facing the room to honor Christ and the “other people” who meditate with me. Actually they are imaginary because I’m used to meditate alone. Then I turn around facing the wall and bow to honor the meditation practice, which I’ve always done before. It’s a good starting point before the meditation begins.
I sit down on my chair so that I have a comfortable position. You see the sitting position on the next picture. My hands lay loose on my thighs. I don’t close my eyes but look slightly down to the wall, without locating anything. And than I wait for the gong, which I’ve started before with a lead time of 1 minute. You find the link to the sound file in the following schedule.
After that I do nearly nothing. I don’t regulate my breath, but I try to stay in the presence. I’m aware of my breath, aware of my body, aware of my arising thoughts, which I let pass by like clouds in front of a clear horizon.
I hear the noises around me: the siren of the ambulance, the drilling neighbor in the flat above me. I’m aware of my thoughts, feelings and memories. “Can I never meditate in silence.” Anger. Feeling to be exposed to the sounds.The tension in my neck. The ease when the noise is over.
And suddenly the skin above my right eyebrow is starting to itch. Sh*t. Don’t move. Anger. Don’t touch it. Tension again. “What a bad meditation today.” and so on.
But between the disturbances, which aren’t disturbances but part of the meditation, I have moments of no thinking, moments of clearness, moments of being totally present. When I say it this way, I don’t want to describe the targets of meditation because when you formulate a special target, you start to get ambitious and you compare one meditation session with another. But every meditation is as it is. As your personal form is different every day. It makes no sense to compare or to push.
I don’t want to describe the walking meditation now, but you find a lot of videos on youtube.com. I do my walking meditation according to the style of Soto-Zen.
Usually I meditate 20 min sitting on this chair. I do it using a gong (freesound.org THX). This is my time flow:
After 1 min: bell strikes 3 times
After 20 min: bell strikes 3 times
After 1 min: bell strikes 1 time
After 5 min: bell strikes again
Then you can sit down again…
(if you pressed the endless loop of your player before.)
You can use the meditation timer online or you can download my mp3-files to meditate 10, 20 or 30 min from here. (Don’t mind the automated warning for bigger files.)
The freedom of the heart comes from the heart of silence.