The game-changing practice of the Mountain of Presence came to me one morning when I was sitting on a warm, flat rock on Mt. Arunachala overlooking the ancient Shiva temple in the bustling town below. This sacred mountain was not only beloved by Ramana Maharshi but also an important pilgrimage place for countless sadhus over thousands of years. I spent as much time there as I could in the two years after the cave awakening, which involved complete surrender of every attachment. Whenever I would arrive at a threshold of my capacity to yield, feeling that old grip of control reconstellating, I would pray for help to stay present and relax into what was. I kept hearing a soft inner voice that did not have a name or form, whispering, “Just keep opening, just keep softening, just keep allowing.”
One time I said back to that voice, “How much more?” The reply came, “Until your surrender is total!” It reminded me of Daniel Ladinsky’s rendering of Hafiz:
What’s the difference between your experience of existenceHafiz (translated by Daniel Ladinsky
and that of a saint?
The saint knows that the spiritual path
is a sublime chess game with God
And that the Beloved has just made such a fantastic move
That the saint is now continually tripping over joy
And bursting out in laughter, and saying “I surrender!”
Whereas, my dear, I am afraid you still think
You have a thousand serious moves.
I sincerely wanted to give up my thousand serious moves. I saw this was not possible as long as I felt that I had to get support somehow, pretend I did not need it, or exert effort to support myself by some familiar means.
This new focus emerging in my meditation practice felt like the most loving response to my true need to find deeper stability inside during such a shaky time. It provided an expanded capacity to practice ego relaxation with all that arose, without having to revert to historically based strategies of control. Over time, this practice completely changed the way I experienced being here in this world. It brought greater resilience, deeper presence, and expanded capacity for surrender.
It can for you too.
When sharing it with my students, I noticed it producing great benefit even among experienced meditators. It powerfully quiets the mind and supports the heart. This is a practice to engage in often. Enjoy!
The Mountain of Presence Meditation guides us to ground ourselves in something deeper than our personality, so we can begin to let the surface agitation in body and mind settle into stillness. Practiced over time, this meditation will cultivate a felt sense of inner support and a quiet mind. Click here to access the full teaching and practice which includes:
- Video recording of the meditation – where I guide you into the practice.
- Video teaching on the practice – that offers nuanced instructional for each meditation, trouble-shooting common issues, and how to gain the most from each practice.
- Audio ‘on the spot’ 5-7 minute version of the practice – to apply throughout the day, and re-set when stressed, overwhelmed, getting reactive.
- Written handout on the practice.
Excerpt From ‘The Way of Grace‘