On Finding the Quiet Within

When I’m home, I have a first-thing-in-the-morning ritual.  I splash cold water on my face, brush my teeth, pad quietly downstairs to pour myself a coffee. My husband is often sitting at the kitchen table — he’s an earlier riser than I am — but we don’t exchange more than a few words.  I head back upstairs and enter my tiny meditation room.  This room was once an abandoned room, the place where everything we didn’t know what to do with piled up. It was a sad, forgotten space.  Now, it’s spare and peaceful: a futon, two lamps, a couple of meaningful photographs.  On the futon I keep my traveling altar filled with crystals, and my traveling kit of essential oils

I take a few sips of coffee and set it on the window sill. I have an atomizer, and I pour  in a few drops of an oil (this morning’s was called Gratitude) and it begins to fill the air with a soft scent. I don’t know what the scent means or does, or how it inspires gratitude, but it helps me get set up. It’s the ritual that makes it happen.  I open the altar (really just a small tin) and place the crystals around a heart given to me by the same amazing yoga teacher who brought me the crystals. I already have Insight Timer on my iPhone set to twenty minutes.  I close my eyes and begin.

Here’s the thing, what I really want to say. It’s hard. It’s hard to sit, to watch, to notice, to witness what’s in the mind. My mind is chaotic, even more so than usual these days. I’ve counted how many readings and talks I’ve given in the past six weeks since Hourglass was published. I’m at twenty-eight and nowhere near finished. I’m overstimulated, and on a  less-than-nodding acquaintance with my inner world. I’m not writing. I can’t — not while I’m on the road. And when I’m on the road, I find it much more difficult to meditate, even with my traveling rituals, because I’m waking up in unfamiliar rooms, in unfamiliar cities. I remember, many years ago, one of my best friends came to visit us with her very young son, Manu. They slept on a pull-out sofa in my husband’s office, and when the little boy woke up, he spoke his first sentence: Where Manu?

That’s how I feel a lot of the time. Where Dani?

But I know that when  I’m in this state of intense, outward living, it becomes even more important to ground myself in the rituals I know and love. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, I resist — oh, how I resist. But I feel the difference, the space inside me that I can only access when I crack open the door to the infinite quiet.  Wherever I am — if only I get out of my own way, remove myself however briefly from the noise and chatter —  I am able to return home. 


  • Francesca Christie

    What crystals do you have here? I’m just becoming really interested in crystals and would love to know. Thanks.

    • Danishapiro

      In truth, I don’t even know what all of them are. Two of the pink ones are rose quartz, I believe. It’s less, for me, what they are as the ritual of setting them up and feeling them in my hand…

  • Lucy Curraj

    It is so nice to read about your morning ritual, to see the picture of your little sanctuary and know that we all share the same wonderful and challenging habits we choose to form. Also knowing that you are on Insight timer as well is sweet. Thank you and keep it up as, you know, it makes a huge difference to be connected (even if just a little bit). Michele

    • Danishapiro

      Yes, and thanks Michele!!

  • Dani, I just completed reading Hourglass. I found the last 50 pages as M struggles to define his future as especially relevant. I’m older than he – mid 70s – but the remaining relevant as the decades pass is an ongoing adventure and struggle. My wife and I took your memoir course at Kripalu. We loved it. Jeff

    • Danishapiro

      So glad to hear this, Jeff — both about Kripalu and about Hourglass:)))

  • SuziMinor

    Beautiful reminder of the importance of ritual, with silence leading the way. Thank you Dani!

    • Danishapiro

      You’re welcome!

  • Birdie

    Dani, I will put you in my mind during my Metta mornings, as I think of someone who I don’t really know but see often (thank you social media) and send you good energy to move through the travails of the travel: may you be happy, may you be content, may you live with ease..

    • Danishapiro

      Thanks, Birdie:)))

  • This sounds so much better than checking your Instagram or Twitter account first thing. Nice to hear that you too still struggle with sitting still. I almost gave up on meditation because of this. I think I might go back to sleep if I practiced in the morning, but you’ve inspired me to give it a try later in the day. Oh, that chaotic mind…

    • Danishapiro

      Thanks, Evelyn. I don’t think the struggle — resistance, or just plain forgetting — ever ends. It’s an ongoing dance… Good luck!

  • Lisa Hood Frankenfeld

    Sitting still? Meditating? What’s that? I can sort of quiet my mind during yoga but not enough.