Lighting a lamp


There is a stillness
simpler than silence
a peace deeper
than calm.
There is a shimmering
in the dark soil,
shades of trees,
in old moss, and the twisted
forms of branches,
that hold us, carry us
and nurture us.
In the flash of the eye,
laughter, or a tear.
No effort needed, no self to seek,
just grace remains.

~Svein Myreng

Has it really been two decades since I first asked the students in my grade 11 World Religions class to gather in the school’s chapel to do something that most of them had never done before?

No doubt, guided Zen meditation in a darkened, quiet setting was furthest from the minds of these mainly hormonal 16 and 17 year-old learners. Yet the experience was so foreign and far from the reality of the typical teenager’s daily routine that it had a profound impact on some of them.

The reactions to the soothing sounds of the ocean and calming voice guiding them to focus only on the ebb and flow of their own breathing, ranged from the silly to the sublime. Within a few minutes one or two students would make mock snoring sounds. Some of the more hyperactive students would fidget and giggle for a few minutes and occasionally, one or two would genuinely drift off to sleep.

After these initial minor disruptions and protestations, most of my students would let themselves be swept along in the rejuvenating current of Zen. Many of them seemed to luxuriate in and look forward to these weekly meditation sessions. I suspect for most it was a welcome, peaceful and refreshing relief from the constant noise that permeates modern life.

Which brings me to my own recent joyous encounter with a weekly restorative yoga class offered at my health club. The sense of peace and overall wellness that yoga or any form meditation or breath control exercise yields is well documented in numerous studies. The mere fact that the class attracts young and old members reveals the enduring power of these ancient eastern practices to heal and recharge mind, body and soul.

In the ‘always on age’ of internet, social media and ubiquitous wireless mobile gadgets – never in our history has there been such a visceral need for humans to periodically ‘disconnect’ from digital technology and reconnect to their families, neighbors and inner selves.

There is a Buddhist belief that if you light a lamp for somebody, it will also lighten your own path. Thank you students, for becoming the teachers and helping illuminate my way.

Photo Credit: ‘Solitude’ by jhoc


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