Monday Mantra: Silent Night

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“Though my soul may set in darkness 
it will rise in perfect light. 
I have loved the stars too fondly 
to be fearful of the night.”
 – Sarah Williams

Young children are often fearful of the night and adults report that their deepest fears present themselves in early morning hours.  You may have personally experienced waking up in the middle of the night and having a thought that seems horrific and hopeless.  When you wake up again a few hours later in the daylight, that same thought usually transforms into not that big of a deal. Our minds work with different material at the night than they do in the day.

Winter nights seem the darkest of all.  For several days now, I have been waking up at 4am for a special round of seated meditation. I wanted to try this practice during Winter this year as often as I can as I have some deep work which must be done.  Without getting too detailed, I will just say my present work is about silencing old fears and subconscious story lines that are not useful to me anymore.  Sounds like the material of nightmares, doesn’t it?  It turns out this season is particularly supportive for this work.  I do realize 4am seems early.  The night is quiet and dark but it has also been a welcoming time.  I sit on the edge of my bed wrapped in a blanket, light a small candle, and face towards the night sky just beyond my window.

So far, I have discovered when the world is asleep that I become acutely aware of my presence.  I hear the fullness of each breath cycle.  I also hear the sweet breathing of my cat sleeping nearby and appreciate his life.  I notice the flicker of stars and trace the articulation of the tree branches beyond the perch of my 6th floor apartment.  I can similarly watch my thoughts with precision and curiosity.

I have always lived with an early-to-bed-early-to-rise mentality but the Winter night has presented me with new possibilities in my meditation practice that daytime could not.  Where the night meditation path will ultimately take me in doing my “work”, I do not yet know.  But I know that a silent night is an integral part of this new journey.

– TaraMarie Perri

Comments
7 Responses to “Monday Mantra: Silent Night”
  1. Brandi-lea Harris says:

    I love the image of stillness that this brings to mind. It sounds wonderful and peaceful and I can imagine it here in the country where I am now. Although, I feel that I’m not in a space to commit to waking that early – but it inspires me to find the same stillness and commitment for my daily practice. As usual, TM – you inspire me!

    • Jonathan Matthews says:

      I am very much in agreement. I longgggggggggggg for the day I can have my own space to wake up at 4am without bothering anybody, but until then I love the idea of applying this elsewhere…especially on the mat…Lately in our classes, just like how certain thoughts like certain times of the day to come up, we’ve been noticing more what thoughts like to consistently come up in certain postures or time periods of class…and how certain sequencing screws these up…doing a backbend before savasana versus a more relaxing easing into the final moments, for instance. The mind has such an independence and energy in how thoughts fluctuate from my self’s actual energy level I feel it doesn’t even need me in it half the time and it will go on functioning, but those moments of noticing that independence and then going deeper have really shown me the importance of keeping those relationships strong and never inert.

  2. Gwen Gussman says:

    Thank you for this post! I too have been experiencing the power of the sky at night. Being back home, I am blessed with the Colorado sky that has a plentiful amount of stars to see. Every night on my walk from the garage through the backyard to our house, I find that no matter how cold, I stop. Standing there and staring, my vision expands, forced by the vastness of the dark sky and sprinkled stars. I’m finding these moments of pause,in the middle of the dark night, to be my best time for quiet contemplation and in a regard, a short meditation.
    I once read that celestial spheres are the place on which the stars turn. Before the new year begins, this next cycle, I am playing with the image of my life being a type of celestial sphere on which the stars are turning, changing, shifting slightly.

  3. Callie Ritter says:

    My parents say 3am is when the world seems most bleak. My 93 year old grandmother makes sure she doesn’t go to bed before 10pm, so she doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night. I too feel the disquietude; sometimes acting like a little kid and distracting myself with some mindless activity instead of fully forfeiting to the pillow into sleep.

    It’s funny, because I had always been an outdoor cat person, but began living with one this Fall. My roommates’ cat would be awake in the queer hours of the night when I woke up and couldn’t sleep. We befriended each other deeply during this time, and I always feel we share something special because of that.

  4. Brianna Goodman says:

    I’m really appreciating these entries on winter as a time for meditation and reflection. I’m noticing a difference from previous years in how I’ve approached this winter break, and I think that’s due to a new understanding that to rest and just be is not at all a waste of unscheduled time. Though nights in NYC can be so lively and exciting, I’ve always enjoyed walking around my neighborhood early in the morning before the rest of the city has awoken. It never occurred to me to find this same quiet before the sun rises! Though a 4am alarm isn’t something I could do regularly if I want to keep my roommate from resenting me, I’m inspired to try this early early mediation while I’m still home in Maryland (and while I can still see the stars!).

  5. Tara Lynch says:

    I love that you wrote about this- it’s something I’ve been interested in but am nervous to commit to. I think living in the city that we do night time can be battle. I live across the street from the fire department- many nights I find that sleep is out of my control and notice that I approach it with built up resentment. But night time has much to offer. There is something about the lack of exposure that the sun provides, more suggestion of ideas that allow for clear, less disrupted/distracted thinking.

  6. Traci says:

    I envy the fact that you can wake up at this hour and sit quietly gazing at the stars. I have never known such an act to be possible during my 11 years living in Manhattan. Lately, I often find myself wanting to go to sleep but staying awake as long as possible in order to avoid the darkness and the thoughts that come up during that time. These last few months I have been having strange dreams. Maybe I am afraid of what the nighttime brings? Sometimes when you are waking up to do a meditation, I have just fallen asleep and I am resting with my thoughts in a different way. I often feel like I have the best sleep once it is light outside and the fear of the darkness has gone. I did read that when someone is grieving, insomnia and bad dreams happen often. I feel like I have reverted back to being a child in some ways.

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