This time last week, I was looking up at the stars on a clear night in the Anza Borrego Desert. From out of the vast stillness, two words came to me: True North.
Magnetic North, which compasses are oriented to, is always moving. True North in constant.
When our inner compass is oriented toward that which is changing (outer circumstances, thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, etc), we are on shaky ground.
When we orient toward our inner True North, we can find peace and navigate gracefully through all the challenges life may present.
For millennia, masters have pointed us toward that which is unchanging. Jesus suggested we build our house on the rock, not the sand. The great Indian saint, Ramana Maharshi, advised his disciples not to get caught up in what comes and goes, even spiritual phenomena such as visions of Krishna.
So, how do we find True North for ourselves?
A good starting point is to make our connection with the eternal (by whatever name we call it) our #1 priority.
As a coach, I like to be practical, so here a few simple suggestions:
1) When listening to sounds, notice the gaps of silence between the sounds. Let your attention sink deeply into the silence and you’ll notice that it doesn’t go away during the sounds
2) As your breath goes out, have a sense of letting the river of life carry everything from the past downstream. Then, notice the brief moment of stillness at the end of the exhalation. This is a window into eternity.
3) When you have a decision to make, take as much time as you need to slow down and connect, perhaps using one the methods described above. From that place, you’ll be able to feel which option is aligned with your True North.
4) Take retreats as frequently as you can, time you set aside to immerse yourself in the changeless.
You’ll find that the more you make this connection with True North your priority, the easier it will be to reconnect when your attention has been distracted by what’s moving and noisy. Your life will become more and more deeply oriented toward your True North and you won’t be caught up in the endless changes of the physical world.
Andrew Oser has been offering spiritual life coaching, along with guided retreats on Mount Shasta since 1982. Through hikes to little-known sacred sites, guided meditations, spiritual life coaching, and time drinking in the silence of the mountain, he helps clients to deeply renew themselves in body, mind, and spirit and receive clear vision for their lives. www.mountshastaretreat.net