Heart is the self found in the silence, always
full, always able, always love.
Through the words and images on this website, I hope to portray something of the beauty, wisdom and transforming power that emerges when we set thought aside and rest in the silence of heart, our true, divine nature.
In the modern West, spiritual practices are often structured by thought: seekers repeat traditional prayers, perform defined rituals, read holy scriptures, enact prescribed postures, follow guided visualizations or undergo psychological analysis or other forms of introspection. During these practices, thoughts may decrease in number, but the mind is still subtly at work, structuring the process. In 1980, I myself was engaged in mind-based practices, studying journal writing and a meditative exercise that regulates the rhythm of the breath.
Then, early in 1981, I came down with bronchitis. When a nap and vitamins didn’t help, I conducted a healing experiment: temporarily setting thoughts aside, I offered my ailment to my true nature. Much to my surprise, I was rewarded not with a cure, but with an eruption of energy in my torso that rushed, like a shimmering stream, inside me. I was startled, but I was not afraid, for I felt love and peace flowing in this interior river. Knowing I had received a spiritual gift, I made this love-river the focus of my meditations. Overnight, the form of my spirituality changed. No longer directed by thought, my spiritual practice was now structured by the promptings of my true nature.
In time, I learned that this shift in focus—from mind-based exercises to silent, spontaneous experience—is also described in the world’s religions. Through library research, I discovered that my twentieth-century American awakening—unbidden, untutored and nameless—resembled the spiritual experiences of, for example, a sixth-century Buddhist, a tenth-century Sufi, a fourteenth-century Catholic, an eighteenth-century Protestant and a twentieth-century Hindu.
When spiritual energy flowed in the bodies of these men and women, some were prompted to move or vocalize; others remained immobile. What we all shared was a spiritual practice that some described as “resting in silent awareness.” When they wrote about “silent resting,” these seekers used the language and symbols of their particular cultures and religious traditions. Eventually, I gave the name, “spontaneous meditation,” to my own experience.
Late in 1981, after hearing of my experience, women began asking me to help awaken the river of love within them. When we met, a simple form emerged: after we released our expectations, I let my spontaneous, meditative experience happen in their presence. Those who preferred talking to silence, or prescribed behavior to un-programmed experience, did not return. Others reported receiving various gifts: insight, peace, acceptance, a quickening of their own being. Some described our time together as a spiritual awakening.
On this website, I offer a glimpse into the experience of “resting in silent awareness”—the other, less known, face of spiritual practice. In the illustrated poem, Spontaneous Meditation is a Way, I describe what sometimes happens during the heart-directed meditations I facilitate. In five essays (Meditation’s Other Face, A Devotional Practice, Teaching Without Words, Circulating Blessings and Abiding in Non-Duality), I locate spontaneous meditation within the history of religions. I conclude with a question-and-answer section divided into four parts: Beginnings, Distinctions, Interior Actions and Ordinary Life. I’m grateful to several gifted photographers (Matthew Hillier in England, Nirvan Hope in the United States and Kristina Alexanderson in Germany) whose photos help me portray heart’s interior flow as a rushing river, a silent pool and an exuberant, bubbling spray.
Spontaneous Meditation Sessions
For those of you who want to go beyond reading to experience spontaneous meditation directly, I offer classes to individuals and small groups. These sessions are designed for women who feel increasingly drawn to focus on their divine nature during spiritual practice, rather than on prescribed techniques.
When seekers make the shift from mental exercises to silent communion with heart, they often enjoy unimagined wonders. But it can also be a lonely time if friends, family, ministers, therapists, yoga instructors or meditation teachers have not themselves felt drawn to rest in heart’s silence. Seekers may have to decide whether to continue, in community, performing mind-based exercises or to proceed on the silent journey alone.
Spontaneous meditation classes are for women who want companionship and guidance during the silent, unpremeditated, heart-directed, stage of their journey.
During these sessions, exercises that rely on the mind are not taught. In order to begin this meditative practice, a person must be able to quiet thoughts, explore her inner world through her ability to feel, and experience her true self directly to some degree. Most spontaneous meditators have spent time doing thought-based exercises. Occasionally, individuals are able to rest in heart’s silence without first engaging in these foundational activities.
For more information about these sessions, please visit the Services section of this site and the page entitled Spontaneous Meditations.
I also offer blessing sessions for women who want to enhance their spiritual journey without resting in complete silence. During these meetings, I open to my true nature and follow any promptings to move or vocalize that arise from heart, just as I do during a spontaneous meditation session. While my spiritual experience is unfolding, my blessing-partner uses this supportive environment to deepen her own inner work.
Some women use this time to learn to meditate with a mantra—a sacred word or phrase. Others engage in spiritual practices that they already know, such as hatha yoga. Still others find that the energy field we create gives them permission to investigate their inner worlds through their own un-programmed sounds and movements. Many say they feel more peaceful, more insightful or more whole during our time together.
I’m also available to discuss spiritual concerns. During these wide-ranging dialogues, we may consider, for example, how to turn an everyday activity into a spiritual practice, tips for deepening mantra meditations, five skills that enable spiritual surrender and/or the nature of non-dual (unitive) experience.
For more information about these dialogues, please visit Spiritual Conversations in the Services section of this website.
As you read my words, please remember: I describe what has occurred and what might occur during a spontaneous meditation or blessing session–not what will inevitably happen. Every person’s spiritual journey—especially an un-programmed one—is unique. When we enter the world of spontaneous meditation, we must set aside expectations and be willing to be surprised.
Tria Reed, May 2013