When the mind is brought to stillness, and all our strategies of acquisition have dropped, a deeper truth presents itself: we are and have always been one with God and we are all one in God (John 17:21). The marvelous world of thoughts, sensation, emotions, and inspiration, the spectacular world of creation around us, are all patterns of stunning weather on the holy mountain of God. But we are not the weather. We are the mountain.
—Martin Laird, Into the Silent Land
I’ve been practicing centering prayer on-and-off for over a year now, but only recently has it evolved into a lifeline—essential to maintaining my sanity on a daily basis, and the key catalyst in my spiritual growth.
I simply can’t afford to over-intellectualize God anymore. I’ve spent decades doing so, to the point where my ideas about God eventually replaced my sensitivity to Spirit, active and at work in the world and me.
CP helps me let go of the mental constructs that trap me. (They’re so extreme that my head often physically aches when I repeat my sacred word.) It helps me remember that my thoughts and feelings, however keen and penetrating, are all just weather on the mountain.
I am the mountain.
I am God’s dwelling place.
My true self is hidden inside the mountain with God.
Weather. I’m not used to my mind and heart constantly checkmating me. Or perhaps I just haven’t been conscious of the extent to which my thought life has tangled me in a knot of fear and anxiety for a devastatingly long time—complicating/compromising my decision-making process, robbing me of any joy in the present moment, and sabotaging my attempts to be close to people.
More truth from Laird:
Because God is the ground of our being, the relationship between creature and Creator is such that, by sheer grace, separation is not possible. God does not know how to be absent … This illusion of separation is generated by the mind and is sustained by the riveting of our attention to the interior soap opera, the constant chatter of the cocktail party going on in our heads.
Whenever the chatter stops—in those few instances when I manage to pay attention to reality instead of trying to overwrite it—I feel God reminding me, over and over again: Just grow.
That’s all you want from me?
There’s nothing more I can do? Nothing I can work on?
Shh. Just be here with me.
A few months ago, I experienced something strange during one of my prayer sessions—something I haven’t experienced since, but it’s stayed with me.
I felt my real self peer out of me, like a creature emerging from hibernation.
It was both alien and deeply familiar. Stranger and friend. An immense presence, absolutely dwarfing the self I’d manufactured. Next to it, all my grandest efforts to make myself into something “worthy” reduced to dust in my mind.
This stranger-self was rooted—I mean that literally; I felt roots tying it to every part of reality. It was strong, and utterly, almost hilariously uninterested in the concerns of my ego.
I was stunned to realize that I don’t actually know myself. At all.
I was confronted, in a way I couldn’t ignore, with the fact that that I did not create myself and I cannot recreate myself.
I can only become who I already am.
Everything else is weather on the mountain.