All of my private and group work is dedicated to cultivating our relationship with Silence and inner-Stillness. This is the birthing place of the Kingdom of God within and the creation of a new heaven on earth. I cannot express it better than this John O’Donahue quote:
Silence is one of the major thresholds in the world. . . . Meister Eckhart said that there is nothing in the world that resembles God so much as silence. Silence is a great friend of the soul; it unveils the riches of solitude. It is very difficult to reach that quality of inner silence. You must make a space for it so that it may begin to work for you. In a certain sense, you do not need the whole armory and vocabulary of therapies, psychologies, or spiritual programs. If you have a trust in and an expectation of your own solitude, everything that you need to know will be revealed to you … Silence is the sister of the divine. ~ from Anam Cara
Regular Reminders of Stillness
Stillness reminders in my life have come in the form of people, places, and cultural structures. Without their blessed influence, I would not have been able to maintain some semblance of connection to inner-stillness and Silence throughout my life. Listed chronologically, I am profoundly grateful for:
… my parents, Don & Bette Hicks, who purchased our beloved Shuswap Lake summer property in 1958, before they even owned a home. It was here, in the abundant natural beauty of the area at the time, that I experienced regular states of inner-stillness and Silence.
… our family doctor Jim McKeen who began loaning me spiritual books at ten years of age.
… the United Church of Canada who, with one Sunday school class at the age of 12, exposed me to the astounding gospel teachings of Jesus. This event awakened a lifetime of passion for the Universal Truth in all Scripture. From ages 12 to 15 years, I contemplated Scripture every evening — a practice that grew a deep awareness of the sacred current within the nervous system.
… my first meditation and energy-healing teacher Lewis Bostwick who, through the Psychic Institute of the Church of Divine Man, taught that our relationship with God was one of attunement and energy flow. He taught meditation as an energy awareness, and supported the development of intuition and spontaneous Knowing, while being grounded in the body.
… Doug and Naomi Moseley who, through their steadfast commitment to exploring unconscious “shadow” material, created a safe environment for shadow patterns to surface — for exploration and integration.
… Lalitha and Lee Lozowick of the Western Baul tradition. I discovered that the turbaned dream-presence in my mid-20’s was a none other than the Guru and “hidden saint” (of Tiruvanamalai, India) YogiRamsuratkumar. His phenomenal Presence is the Source of the most profound Mystical experiences of my life.
… the Vancouver School of Theology whose academic structure allowed me to combine my love of Scripture with the daily practice of Silence and inner-attunement. With this academic precision and rigour, I was able to design a Research thesis “Surrendering to Silence: A Heart-Centred Practice” which has turned into a facilitated group practice since June 2010.
… Mystic-in-the- Marketplace teacher Thomas Hubl, whose transmission and integrity is astounding. He walks his talk like no other Western teacher I have met.
… participants in my Silence Practice groups and (most recently) Inner Constellation groups. The openness and yearning of participants continues to draw “the deepest Stillness” from within me.
… a Spring 2018 PhD Research thesis exploring The Inner Constellations of Silence and Sound (see PhD Research on this website).
… my husband who, although not obviously on a spiritual path, has offered his love and his willingness to share our home as a place of sanctuary to many.
An Intimate Encounter with Silence
I was alone in my Vancouver kitchen on a rare sunny mid-November morning in 2012. While enjoying the everydayness of a cup of tea with family dog Rosie by my side, something substantial landed within my awareness. At this point in my life I had been facilitating Silence Practice groups for a couple of years following the completion of a 2010 Master’s Research thesis entitled “Surrendering to Silence: A Heart Centred Practice.” What I did not realize at the time, was the depth of commitment and consequent awakening this regular practice would initiate within me.
I had experienced many major and minor shifts in consciousness before, but this one had a solidity to it — like I had crossed a threshold of some kind. It seemed as though previous mystery-glimpses had now rolled into a solid view. I also experienced a deep knowing that my life did not “belong” to me; that my True Life, my Real Life, my most Alive Life belonged entirely to the experience presently flowing through my awareness.
The more I surrendered to It, the more I became It. How delightfully circular and joyously playful. At the same time that we were “one,” we were also two. At this point my “thinking” mind had receded and all of this felt abundantly natural. There was no questioning or second-guessing. I was not separate from what I was experiencing, and yet “I” was enjoying it.
My heart beat faster. Rushes of vital energy flowed up and down my body and out of my arms. My body was light and alive, and yet solid. The lightness seemed to come from a diminished resistance in my body: I had no personal agenda in this moment, so it seemed as though I could just be there in a sort of suspended and “held” way. Rosie, the cup of tea, and I were held in the same timeless moment. My heart raced again in response to this beautiful congruency, accompanied by a pulling sensation in my chest. My eyes brimmed with grateful tears as I recognized how deeply I am held in this Beauty.
I also knew, with strikingly calm clarity, that I was not the identified-self I had strived to maintain for most of my life. From the perspective of this spacious awareness, the “identified-self” was thin, frightened, meagre, and ghost-like. With sadness, I could also see that this “ghost-like” self had kept me occupied for much of my adult life. Although I have been aware intellectually that I was not that, I seemed to be caught in an endless battle with it: and the more I struggled, the more entangled I became.
Abruptly this beautiful harmonious awareness was broken by a sharp familiar voice within me, “You’re making all of this up”! I recognized this voice as the all-too-familiar voice of fear. I felt a slight heaviness enter my chest. My breathing became more shallow and contracted. I became aware that the middle of my back was hurting. I was also shocked to see that 3 hours had passed in a space of time that I thought was about 20 minutes. I had had an encounter with timelessness in my own kitchen, with my dog Rosie by my side!
“You have a Choice.” I was brought back to the threshold of this expansive encounter by a calm inner voice that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere in particular. I noticed how much vitality disappears as entangled habits of fear and resistance re-surfaced in my awareness. They seem so very real, and yet they cost so much. If I do have a choice, it is clear that there is only one sane choice. It becomes, as the Buddhist’s say: the choice-less choice.
You can contact Laura Madsen by making a comment below or by calling 1 (604) 222-4111