Sitzen in Stille

Sitting in silence Print

Gathering one’s consciousness by breathing


Nothing is more important than this very breath at this very moment. Without anything being suppressed, one’s attention keeps on returning to this very one breath. The only thing that counts at just this moment is this very one breath.


Thoughts, intentions, emotions or feelings keep on coming to the surface. I take notice of them, but then immediately return my focus to this very one breath.
My breathing is not manipulated, not constrained, not artificial. Each breath can be just the way it comes out of me. Paying greater attention to my breathing means that it gradually and naturally becomes bigger and deeper, taking up more and more room.


Gathering one’s consciousness through a word


Willigis J√§ger says – as borne out by experience – that a word is more “concrete” than paying undivided attention to one’s breathing. It is an inner sound, reverberating such words as Jesus, Jeoshua, Christos or Shalom.


However, the actual meaning of the word has no significance and is not the subject of any reflection. Any connotations associated with the word are left aside. The whole idea is to gain complete harmony with the sound of the word. I cast everything aside, letting myself be alone with the sound, letting myself become this very sound and opening the door to my consciousness.


Attaining emptiness – “the naked blind feeling of being”


The basic position is one of serene calm, with the spirit a mirror of itself. Our body, our mind and our spiritual being are at one, reflecting our personality. But this is nothing but an organ, there to be “played upon” by what we are, by our personalities. Experiencing our true selves, that which lies behind our personality and rationality, is the goal of Contemplation and mysticism - a state transcending all reasoning and egocentricism.

The practice of Contemplation involves feeling, listening, becoming aware of the shapeless origin of our true selves. It involves switching off all thinking, listening to our inner selves. Nothing that we become conscious of is retained. Such silent prayer helps us to empty our consciousness, leading us into a unity with our inner selves transcending everything personal.

“Tame, then, your senses, and offer up this dark awareness of the substance of your being." (The Cloud of Unknowing). The anonymous author of these lines counselling a young student speaks of attaining emptiness, the “naked blind feeling of being”, the true substance of our existence.

Similar words are spoken by John of the Cross:

"[Individuals]...should proceed only with a loving attention to God, without making specific acts. should conduct themselves passively, without efforts of their own but with the simple, loving awareness, as when opening one's eyes with loving attention"



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