Tag Archives: meditation




Sit very, very still.


You’ll be amazed at how many forces you feel, affecting your self.

Let them wash toward you. Name them. Individuals, competing directly against you, for power of place, for power of ownership, for power of mind.

Persons. One, at a time.

They may represent ideologies. They may embody dogma. They may simply be about raw greed, or a perceived need for vengeance or pre-eminence.

But, they are not borne in you.

The moment you first appeared on the earth, most of their names were unknown. And, if they were known to anyone, the lives they represented did not yet affect any aspect of yours. Not in that moment.

Wait until all of them have been named.

Then, feel the silence which ensues.

Sit in it.

In that silence, you will regain your Self.

Begin, right there.





© Ruth Ann Scanzillo  10/5/15

All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Sharing permissible by request. Thank you. Inspired by Tal Varon.



“Where is love?

Does it fall from skies, above?

Is it underneath the willow tree

That I’ve been dreaming of?

Where is he?

Who I close my eyes, to see?

Will I ever know

The sweet “hello”

That’s meant for only me?”



About three weeks ago, I submitted my mind and body to the art of meditation. This was a form foreign to both my personal history with the practice, and distinct from one which had been introduced to me by someone else last summer.

As a child, I was brought into a scenario of contemplative silence every Sunday morning. The room was small, the gathering equally so. Unadorned by icon or precise ritual, this practice was simple: sit, quietly, and think about Jesus on the Cross, dying for the sins of the world.

Naturally, as a very young person, I could only submit to that which I understood. I looked around at everything and everybody, developing keen powers of observation; I listened to every sound, however fleeting or faint; I munched on pretzel sticks, Cheerios and Lucky Charms; and I squirmed, peeling the bare skin of my thighs away from the sticky, plywood seat beneath.

Many years hence, one attempt at a yoga class re-visited the art. But, my body, twisted by scoliosis, resisted cooperating with the shapes it was required to take during the sessions, and I walked away.

A year ago, almost to the day, an old boyfriend briefly re-entered my world. He’d been immersed in the daily ritual, a fervent follower of its most earnest gurus from across the globe. He descended with a pronounced pounce, declaring my shortcomings and every solution to be found in: breathing correctly; sitting correctly; posing correctly; and, most importantly, following correctly his every instruction. I soon tired of his dogma of serenity, jumped back on my feet, and resumed the frenetic, mind-driven personality to which I had become accustomed for a lifetime.

But, last month was different.

First of all, I was highly motivated. This seminar promised to transform our lives. We were assured that any chronic anxieties would dissipate. Any roadblocks to performance success would finally be dismantled. I anticipated this liberation with very great hopefulness.

Sitting still was the clincher. Twenty minutes being my learned limit, not only did we sit so still, we did so for almost two hours at a time. Ever the agitating agitator, I became acutely aware of just how frequently my body adjusted itself in the seat. Every nerve ending was primed to attention. I was teeming with energy, having no apparent place to put it.

We were prompted with a single, verbalized thought: “I am anxious.” No kidding. No shit, Sherlock. But, next, the prompt: “There is a place of anxiety in me.” That was odd. Apparently, the anxiety did not have to own us; rather, we could own a position detached from it. But, first, we had to identify its location, and then its features, and then just recognize it. In silence. Sitting still.

Over the next several days, my mind began the slow process of adjustment. I sat up straight, letting my spine sink into the chair and my feet into the floor. My emotion of the moment was named. I found its place. I felt its energy. And, I sat with it.

The outcome of the seminar met its every claim, fulfilling every promise. I was truly transformed. The demons were expunged. I was healed.

That was last month.

Today, I sit with this emotion. I feel bereft. The one who said he loved me, and I him, is not with me. I have identified the place of forlorn emptiness. I feel its shape, its every aspect. This one is large. It fills most of me, my entire torso, leaving only my appendages to dangle uselessly. Like grief, it fights mightily for every ounce of energy. I struggle to detach from its power. How can love, and the need for it, overtake a person so completely? Where did all this come from, anyway? Didn’t I just write about the whole thing last week?

I speculate. It’s my nature. Perhaps mindfulness practices are only beneficial when the other parts of the human need matrix are already well put together. Perhaps basic needs should be addressed separately. Somebody said awhile ago that music and art are important, but they don’t feed the hungry. Perhaps that is a point well taken.

Oliver sang those lyrics quoted above, in the musical of the same name. He stood, an orphan, looking out at the stars, asking the universe for the most fundamental force in all of life to come into his heart and feed him. Today, I feel like an orphan in the war of love. Even meditation doesn’t succour me. Somebody else is getting the one I need, and accepting that I must endure the reality yet again after two thirds of an average lifetime is just about more than any quiet contemplation can resolve.

So, again today, I will love myself. You’ll pardon my absence. The task is rather enormous. There is a lot of self to love in this room today. Many have said there is too much. Perhaps this is a molting phase so profound that the outcome eludes me. I think I hope so. Right now, the light is faint.




© Ruth Ann Scanzillo


All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you.



Brilliant – n. Very bright. Glittering. Striking, distinctive. Distinguished by unusual mental keenness.

British :  very good :  excellent

My big brother was the genius.

So said all the definitive tests, administered on or about 1959.

He scored in the range that set him apart, statistically speaking, from the bottom 99.8 %, in mathematical conceptualizing, computation, and application; language identification and application; spacial relations; and, whatever else deemed worthy of exaltation by our society at the time. I can’t remember. I wasn’t there. I was teething.

Somebody told him his exact test score, in fact, a teacher at the high school. In front of everybody else in the class, it was all kinds of drama. “Scanzillo!  With an IQ of blahblah, you should be ……”

And, eventually, he did.


What was expected, of an IQ.

Of blahblah.

It was quite the affair.

He raised hamsters in the basement, and sold them, and set up a hand made sign out front to advertize them, rigging an alarm with string and a buzzer to prevent the sign from being stolen. Playing piano and trombone, he led a big band which he’d organized that rehearsed in the basement, next to the hamsters. Then, he went to college, for pre-med, and raised guinea pigs by the dozens, dissecting them in a make shift lab ( in the basement ) using mum’s baking pans and canning jars. He drove all the way to Seattle and took to the hills, selling dictionaries door to door to pay for college. After college, he taught high school chemistry, and then worked in a paper mill developing paper coatings out of dyes and other chemicals. He taught himself how to build whole houses, constructing every home he and his wife ever shared. Then, he went to Cleveland, and finished his PhD in chemistry, and became the local diagnostic lab director. With his second wife and children, he moved all across the country, directing labs, serving in court as expert witness, building and selling homes, and becoming a nationally recognized consultant. He led a highly regarded life.

Last week, he retired.

I inherited the basement. By default, it became my bedroom/in house apartment, after mum’s Uncle Ewart, for whom the space had been filled and decorated, chose to reject it on the basis of rising damp. Cluttered with acquired objects, my clothing, drawings and, mostly, my own personal chaos, after graduating from college myself I would sleep down there, all day, for weeks, immobilized by anonymity and a sense of pre-destined defeat.

In America, we are really good at celebrating ambition. We reward acquisition and accomplishment. We revere, and fear, those who have established power to limit our options.

And, we are also hasty to ascribe qualitative labels to those who excel, according to their predicted likelihood. We call them “brilliant”. And, the results of their efforts we call “phenomenal”, as if we are continually surprised that a human can do anything at all.

Except that there are seven billion of us, strong. Swarming. Churning. Heaving, and careening around the planet. And, these brilliant phenomenals hover over our heads, like pressure systems teasing the barometer, testing the mettle of all humanity, setting the bar and then swiping it away just as we extend our reach.

Is it any wonder, then, that popular culture is born. And, then marketed. And promoted. And, celebrated.

A weird sort of backlash, to appease the masses? A grande comfort zone for the mediocre?

Whole tribes, doing what is popular. Until a majority of humans in America no longer care about producing anything without duplication, let alone effort. An entire people, out of touch with their own capacity for birthing beauty or truth.

This past week, I had a life changing experience. I learned to meditate. Actually, the sectarian brethren had  exposed me to such practice from shortly after birth, but never as focused or directed activity. From childhood, I’d only known that meditation was reserved for thoughts of Christ carrying his cross and then hanging from it.

But, this meditation put me in touch with all that I saw within me – thoughts, feelings, attitudes, perceptions….propensities.

And, this led to the inevitable confrontation. With self.

Who was I, really, and of what was I made? What was the full range of my capacities, and how did I regard my potential role in the scheme of life?

And, I was not alone. Seated around me were several, mostly women, from all parts of north America and beyond. And, among us, we shared one thing: a love for music.

Some of us were already regarded by others as “accomplished musicians.” Others of us were awaiting such recognition, or not seeking any. But, we all shared this: we were all about to become wholly ignited by our own, natural illumination.

By the time we closed our week together, most of us were born anew. There was no altar call, no postlude, no public declaration of intent. Our birth took place in the most profound silence, because the shells holding us in were so thin and unimportant that they merely fell away as we emerged.

The light, however, was all encompassing. No angels; no demons. No hamsters, or dictionaries. No highest scores, or notions of superiority. Just humans, with hearts, baring and then carrying souls, and presenting spirits ready to burst forth with singular and magnificent brilliance.




*This piece dedicated to Madeline Bruser, “The Art of Practicing”, and inspired by our Mary Duncan.

© Ruth Ann Scanzillo   8/2/15   All rights reserved.  Sharing permitted, upon request, and with kind and appropriate reference to the author. Thank you.