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Dec 18

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Toyin Wura Oke

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Managing Stress in Troubled Times - The Sound of Silence - Executive Stress Clinic - Dr. Yomi Garnett

In this article, I am offering you a gift from my book titled: “THE BISHOP’S TESTAMENT: A classic tale on the spiritual basis of wisdom and wealth consciousness”

In this book, which is a first-person narrative of my year long encounter with a great ecclesiastical personage, simply referred to as THE BISHOP, is a most illuminating chapter on spiritual meditation. What I now offer you are excerpts from this chapter whose contents will teach you the enormous utilitarian value inherent in the application of meditation as a great stress-reducing tool, and although the subject is approached from the Christian view point, its basic principles will be of equal and inestimable value to people of other faiths.  I invite you to enjoy the literary excursion.

................Between the bedroom and the study was another door, and The Bishop opened this to reveal a small room about a quarter the size of the bedroom. The only furniture in this room were two small tables, each with a lone chair. On each table was a clean sheet of paper and a pen. The room was very cool and I could see two vents in the roof from which air-conditioned air came in soundlessly.

The walls were completely covered by some sort of leather padding interspersed at regular intervals, both vertically and horizontally, by large buttons. It was a beautiful room, principally because it was all done up in a pristine white colour. Everything in the room; the tables and chairs, walls, roof, and even the marble floor, were of a brilliant white colour.

Seeing my look of appreciation, he murmured audibly, “White, the eternal colour of purity.” We sat down of the two chairs, adjacent to each other. “This is my thinking room”, The Bishop explained. “Any man who will aim for extraordinary feats ought to have a room like this, to which he can retire at least twice a day for contemplation and meditation”.

 Photo: escaperoommaster

Photo: escaperoommaster

“This is also my meditation sanctuary. I retire here twice a day to go deep into myself, to mediate. As you can see, the room is completely sound proof, and even the air-conditioned air comes in soundlessly from a central cooling system. The paper and pen are kept in anticipation of sudden and unexpected inspiration, for inspiration can be very fleeting indeed.”

The room was eerily quiet, and the profound soundlessness can only be illustrated with the phrase: ‘as silent as a grave yard’. He looked at me and asked, "Son, have you ever heard the sound of silence?" “The sound of silence? What was the man talking about. How could silence have a sound which described its very own nature? I nodded in the negative. “Listen very carefully. You will soon hear it.” I sat very still, listening. But, of course, I could hear no sound. After a couple of minutes, however, the realization hit me. The silence was so profound, unlike anything I’d ever experienced, that the very experience of it was deafening, and certainly, almost frightening. I looked over at him and nodded. “That is the sound of silence,” he said simply. “Many years ago, there lived a man called Pythagoras. He was a great mathematician. He authored, you might recall, the famous Pythagoras theorem. He was however also a great philosopher. He once said, and I quote, “learn to be silent. Let your quiet mind listen and absorb” Indeed, son, silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves, as Carlyle, another great thinker said.”

He continued. “Power lies at the heart of tranquility. Are you aware that at the centre of the great typhoons of Asia, and even cyclones, lies a very calm centre? Well, this is where the power of those winds really lie, and as surely as power lie at the centre of a cyclone, so does power lies in that silent, centre of your being where your mind and soul meet God”

“Initially, the experience of silence can be quite unsettling. Your internal dialogue will tend towards even more turbulence and you will feel an intense need to talk. Infact, some of my pastors have confessed to a feeling of urgency and anxiety when they first stated learning to commune with God in silence and meditation. But as time passes, your inner dialogue will begin to quieten.”

“Also, in our lives, silence and calm connote relative peace and stability. Anytime we go through turbulence, don’t we usually crave a return to the crisis-free tranquil times?"

“Sir, what does it really mean to meditate?”

“Meditation has been a spiritual practice known to man from time immemorial. It involves intense concentration on a word, prayer, a phrase or a bible verse to the exclusion of all other thoughts. In a way, meditation is very much a cerebral process because it is the art of thinking about not thinking. It allows the mind to experience more and more abstract levels of the thinking process, and ultimately when you have mastered it, to transcend to another and more abstract level of awareness, what I choose to call ‘spiritual consciousness’

“Son, as a physician, you will appreciate my more mundane reference to the effects of meditation on one’s physiology. Scientific studies have proven that the consistent practice of meditation has beneficial effects such as: Blood pressure is lowered, basal metabolic rate goes down, and stress is alleviated. Meditation is also known to counteract states of extreme anxiety and other psychosomatic disorders. And because during meditation, there is increased brain wave coherence, there is a marked improvement in attention span, creativity, learning ability and memory function. Meditation is a spiritual discipline you will have to work on for the rest of your life, since it is not a flash-in-the pan type of activity. Each time you meditate, you become a calmer person, since your internal dialogue and turbulence quitens down through your absolute focus on just a prayer or a bible verse, and because of this calming effect, the effects of meditation last into one’s daily activity, and soon, after a few years, your activity tends to become saturated and influenced by the serenity, tranquility, graciousness and God-like regality that you carry over from your sessions of meditation. How can you possibly, in a meditation, say out the name of God two hundred times, constantly for two years and not develop God-like qualities? This is because by a conscious experiencing of spirit we become it, and once we become it, we begin to embody all its characteristics and properties.”

“Are you saying, Sir, that in meditation, it is always better to repeat the Name of God, over and over again?”

“Each person will have to determine what suits him best for a meditation. Take me for instance. I would sometimes take a bible verse and repeat it over and over again, and at other times I would simply repeat GOD over and over again. It is because I have used bible verses in my meditations over the past two decades, and don’t forget that in meditation the subconscious mind is at it’s most receptive to information, that, as you rightly observed, virtually all the contents of the Bible are now familiar to me. It is in meditation that you turn a new verse over and over in your mind until you come to a full comprehension of its meaning and essence. It is also in meditation that you say very fervent prayers, petitioning God, and asking for His blessings.”

“Meditation needn’t necessarily be a complicated process, and its insinuation into your daily spiritual routine ought to be equally simple. My own routine should serve as a guideline for you. I have found that the best times for me to practice quietness are those times when the rest of the world is still asleep, or about to go to sleep. Consistently, for the past twenty years or so, I have woken up at 4am to meditate for thirty minutes. I also meditate at 11:30pm for thirty minutes before retiring to bed, at midnight except of course for those times when I am unavoidably compelled to effect an alteration in this schedule. Usually, I would have during the day decided on my subject of meditation. It might be a bible verse, or perhaps even a new teaching. My first meditation for the day is at 4am when I awaken. I use this meditation to put my petitions before God. In it I express my desires and ask God to show me favour and bless me with my heart’s desires, believing with faith that those desires have been granted. With the firm conviction that having created in the spiritual realm, all I have to do is simply wait for manifestation in the physical realm I call this my meditation for manifestation. It is also in this meditation that I engage in the creative visualization of what I want manifested in my life.”      

I interrupted the great man.

“Sir, I can imagine how powerful such visualization will be in meditation, since as you earlier mentioned, it’s during meditation that the subconscious is at its most receptive to information.”

The Bishop beamed at me, obviously quite pleased at my astute grasp of the subject. “Precisely, son, precisely. Your observation becomes even more valid when you realize that subconscious activity, which is at its peak during meditation, is especially receptive to images and mental pictures.”

“At 11:30pm I do another meditation. The day having ended, usually on an auspicious note, I focus mainly on expressing gratitude for all that manifested during the day. I thank God for his mercies on me throughout the day, expressing no desire at all. I merely say ‘thank you, God,’ over and over again. And because of this, I call it my meditation for gratitude.

Gratitude is the most potent platform for invoking more of the Father’s blessings.”

“Of course, son, sometimes during the day, I escape to this room just to experience silence and to rejuvenate my soul. Also, anytime I have a major decision to take, I retire here, sometimes for hours on end, to empty my mind and place my self wholly at the disposal of the Holy Spirit, to guide me, and to counsel me.”

With this, The Bishop and I lapsed into a lengthy silence which lasted for about an hour. For me though, the tranquility was so profound that I fear I must confess with some shame that I fell into a blissful sleep and only came awake at the sound of a discreet cough from my mentor. “Now, son, let us go into the practical aspects of meditation.”

As I adjusted myself, imitating him, to seat more comfortably he continued.

“Remember that meditation is simply the act of being quiet with yourself and shutting down the constant, mindless monologue that fills the inner space of your being.” His voice dropped to almost a whisper as he tutored me. “Sit comfortably, placing your hands on your thighs near your knees, closing your eyes. Take long, deep breaths and exhale. Become aware of your pattern of breathing and the filling of your lungs filling with air. As you exhale, consciously feel your muscles relax with each exhalation. Deep muscular relaxation is the prelude to relaxing your mind. As your muscles relax, you will continue to say your word, or prayer, or bible verse continuously, so as to keep your mind from wandering. The mind is like an untamed animal, so you must continue to gently, but firmly bring it back to the present moment anytime it threatens to wander. Your natural self abhors discipline of any type, and it is at this time that you’ll remember that you have to take the car for repairs tomorrow, or you have to visit your troublesome mother –in-law. Don’t let such distractions bother you much. Anytime your mind wanders, just bring it back, repeating your prayer or verse, over and over. With practice, you will soon become adept at this elementary form of discipline. And of course, your body is feeling more and more relaxed. Soon you will feel yourself sinking into a profound state of relaxation, both in body and in mind. You will start to experience an uncommon sense of bliss and peace with your Creator. Blot out all conceptual thought and fix your mind on your prayer or verse. When you are sufficiently relaxed, you may no longer need to repeat your prayer or verse, and you can start praying. If it’s a meditation for manifestation, present your requests to God, asking Him to bless you and show you favour. While saying your prayer, add the mental picture of what you want manifested in your life. In your case, I’d like you to see your book being successfully published and its eventual emergence on the market occurring with a resounding success. Don’t focus on the details. Just see the book in your mind’s eye going through all the expected processes. It’s left to your faithful God to orchestrate all the details. Your role is simply to trust absolutely in Him. “If, on the other hand, this were your manifestation for gratitude, you would simply be thanking God for all that has manifested in your life. You would mentally picture all that you have received from God, and say ‘thank you, Father, ‘over and over.’ Try and experience that God is pleased with your expression of gratitude and even smile with pleasure at this knowledge. Now, son, I shall stop speaking. We shall spend the next hour in a meditation for manifestation, and the next hour in one for gratitude.

And with this, I joined my mentor in what was to turn out one of the most deeply satisfying and soul-enriching exercises I’d ever undertaken in my life. I was to adopt this discipline with uncommon affinity and passion, and it remains with me to this day. Friend, it is my fervent and sincere hope that my precise recount of the events of that day will have the same tremendous impact on your own life. It was during that day’s session with The Bishop that a still, small voice instructed me to write a book titled: ‘The sound of silence’  I was to follow through on this directive a few years later.

 

 

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