Today, we have an opportunity to sit together during Passover, the Jewish holiday commemorating liberation from slavery and the “passing over” of destructive forces. Now more than ever before, we have an opportunity to notice that liberation begins by being still together, noting in the barest, sparest way how it feels to be in a body. Today like every other time we sit together, we will practice being aware of sensation. We will allow thoughts and feelings to arise and pass over without clinging and judgment.
And today we can also be aware that this simple practice is liberating. Moment by moment, we free ourselves from the captivity of thinking. Returning to our present moment experience can feel like being delivered to a new land. Life is fresh and open here. Surprises, including good surprises are possible. We are not in la-la land. We know there is much suffering and oppression in the world. But we know that to truly help, to truly see what is needed, we must become free ourselves.
Einstein famously tells us that problems cannot be solved with the same thinking that created the problem in the first place. Meditation is one way to plant our feet in a new land, to breathe fresh air, to glimpse a truth that is not the same old thought but a living truth to be glimpsed or felt. There is a kind of prayer that is really a deep listening—and by listening we also mean seeing or sensing or receiving an impression.
Contemplate comes from a Latin root that means to come into the temple, which was originally not a space set apart for reading augurs or signs. When we sit we enter the temple of our bodies. Sometimes deeper insights appear. Sometimes it feels as if we are escaping the dark captivity of our habitual thinking and entering a new land that is wide-open and free. It dawns on us that holiness might have something to do with becoming whole.