March 4, 2014

The Devil Makes Work for Idle Hands ~ Alex Stone


It’s difficult to understand why we as a society have perpetuated the lie that busy is better.

Sitting in the absolute bliss of meditative silence, chasing after ‘busy’ seems absurd. Before we all grab our pitchforks in protest, this is not a suggestion that laziness is good—far from it.

Rest the pitchfork on the manicured lawn; this is about to get interesting.

The benefits of meditation are becoming more widely known, but it is still a mystery to most living in Western society. In our over-stimulated world the idea that happiness can be found in the simple act of sitting in silence seems as absurd as being busy does to the Zen Buddhist monk.

Yet, sitting in silence for prolonged periods invites the practitioner into a serene and peaceful world—a world that is always accessible, even in the most troubled of times. We become attuned to our own being and as we sit, the blissful rise and fall of our own energy bathes us in the sunshine of our own vibration and that of the wider universe.

The experience of interconnectedness with all things is beyond this writer’s power of description.

I know through the experience of teaching yoga that many people worry when they take time to sit in silence they are being unproductive, and—even more sinister—they feel guilty for it. Yet the simple truth is this: meditation creates space in the mind, freeing the subconscious from the clutter that makes us dysfunctional. Lots of ineffectual and disorganised people are incredibly busy all of the time.

The busy mind is wearisome. It makes us tired and consequently unproductive. The cluttered mind diverts us from our true purpose. We are so busy doing other things that we cannot hear ourselves and cannot hear the soul speak. And so the soul starves and we grow tired, weak, depressed and we take drugs and try to use outside stimulus to make it better.

It works, for a short while, and then the emptiness returns.

The collective sense of guilt felt when reserving time for stillness (or for having a good time at all, unless it involves self-destruction) is deeply ingrained. I am approaching this from my own Christian-Judeo background, as this has informed my view of the world.

Here in the West we have a lineage of puritanical belief systems that still leave their mark, and all forms of Christianity teach that suffering brings us closer to God. On a surface level and without delving deeper (though there are countless other examples), Jesus suffered for us; the implication is we must also suffer and bear it well to be given entry to heaven.

Even if we out grew the notion of heaven and became atheists or agnostic, the imprints of the religion iron into the skin, and collectively we carry the weight of it like the unborn stone child, even if we are unaware of it.

This cultural lithopedian clings to the shadow spaces.

I do not intend to offend anyone. I was brought up inside the Catholic morality system and can only speak my own truth as I see it. The source teachings of it are, as with all religions, true. While I respect many of the core values, the initial values of love and kindness were mutated into a monstrous form to serve the agenda of the greedy and power-hungry. Guilt and suffering throb through the veins of this value system.

The mere act of being alive is considered a sin—original sin—and this is the hook that binds the innocent babe to a lifetime of repentance, in which only the priest supposedly ordained by God can save the soul from the pits of hell. With the burden of shame and guilt weighing heavy, what chance would anyone have of believing that the idea of sitting in silence can bring the entire happiness one might need? Social conditioning makes it seem very difficult to discern the truth from a lie.

But through developing my yoga practice, I have been able to begin the process of breaking down and transcending insidious and disempowering dogma. Learning to breathe mindfully and performing asana does make meditation much easier, without doubt, but in the end you just have to sit there and shut up. Sitting in silence will eventually bring home the idea that you are enough. The truth will out. Is the prize big enough? Or will the devil make work for idle hands?


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Editorial Assistant: Marcee Murray King/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Leland Francisco/Flickr;  Author’s Bio Photo: Vaya Sigmas

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Alex Stone