Empty the Mind, Follow the Signs

by Karl Smerecnik on November 25, 2011

“Look at this window: it is nothing but a hole in the wall, but because of it the whole room is full of light. So when the faculties are empty, the heart is full of light.” – Chuang Tzu

Photo by Brandon Carpenter

I am continuing to learn that a life of wonder consists of emptying my mind of thoughts and remaining open to see and follow the Signs – those synchronicities, coincidences, or moments that seem to mysteriously come together by themselves, independent of my planning.

I attended a workshop on Multifaith Nonviolence in Manhattan about two weeks ago. I had heard about this presentation while at previous event that I had felt drawn to attend. The speaker, who was one of the first female Rabbis, explained that she was part of a multifaith community dedicated to practicing and teaching nonviolence. Her explanation of the community resonated with me and the first thought that came to mind was that I should join it.

After several phone conversations, email exchanges, applications filled out, and interviewing, I am now a Fellow with the Community of Living Traditions in Stony Point, New York, about a 1 hour drive north of Manhattan (the website is currently being updated, so some of the information is out of date). The community helps run a conference center while offering programs on nonviolence education and activism. I will be working on the marketing and communications of the Community while also working to develop a program on empathic communication.

When I stepped onto the plane to fly to New York about a month ago I would have never expected that I would have ended up here. But it feels right. Already since being here a little over a week I feel I am deepening in my understanding of nonviolent activism, the impacts and dynamics of privilege, and how different faith traditions approach nonviolence. The past year I have been studying and offering coaching on empathy and nonviolent communication and so it seems no coincidence that I was drawn here, not to mention the fact that I have a great passion for interfaith dialogue. I am committed to being here for three months and then will be assessing if I want to stay longer or move on. We’ll see what happens.

Empty the Mind, Follow the Signs

When preparing to embark on this journey to New York, a good friend advised me go without expectations and to just be open to whatever experiences may present themselves. Letting go of expectations has been key to helping me look for guidance in the situations I enter, with the people I encounter, and in the impressions that arise within me.

I have found that by listening and trusting my intuition, the Signs become easier to see and I find myself more often experiencing a sense of inner harmony and flow. I continually feel less inclined to make elaborate plans or rationalize explanations of situations. I find that the more I move from the head the the heart, a process of letting go of thoughts and instead searching my intuition for guidance, I feel more at peace in all situations.

“…the hearing of the spirit is not limited to any one faculty, to the ear, or to the mind. Hence it demands the emptiness of all the faculties. And when the faculties are empty, then the whole being listens. There is then a direct grasp of what is right there before you that can never be heard with the ear or understood with the mind.” – Chuang Tzu

But I am also learning that this process takes discipline – an area that I have much room for improvement. I have been starting a morning practice that I am finding has been helpful and I look look forward to sharing more about this next week. Subscribe or check in next week [soon] to read my post on Morning Tunings.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: