“Stillness” is such an inviting word. Just seeing it written is calming, with its wavy letters at each end of the word, like ripples at the edges of a quiet pond. Yet being still is a great challenge. Habituated to a culture that promotes doing and being more, most of us have lost the ability to remain still in body and mind. But it is just the antidote we need to a fast-paced life.
The more we allow ourselves to truly experience stillness, the more we realize that we crave it. It is so ridiculously simple. We need no props or special clothing to be still. We do not need a special practice place. Wherever we are, in any position, with eyes opened or closed, we can pause for a brief moment and settle into stillness. The only movement is the wave of the breath, reassuring us that life moves through and with us. So why do we resist stillness? Perhaps because when we are still in the body, the mind races, and we are forced to confront the deeper self without the usual convenient distractions.
Since the mind likes to focus, let’s give it a gentle one. Imagine a calm lake, surrounded by mountains, reflecting the clear blue sky. Find a comfortable position for your body, standing, sitting, or reclining. Let your body become the majestic mountain, still and grounded. Let your breath become the tranquil lake, softly undulating. Let your mind become the deep blue sky, vast and open as wispy clouds of thought drift by. Feel the quiet peace of this scene in your being. Rest until you feel ready to move again, and then rest a few breaths more. The real practice begins when we resist the urge to return to the “real” world, and remain in stillness a bit longer. If you have the time, practice for at least 10 minutes.
Take this practice with you wherever you go, and know that you can be still in the midst of the maelstrom. It is often in stillness that answers appear. In a moment of stillness, the clouds in the mind may suddenly take shape, reflecting in the quiet waters of the heart, showing us the best way the move the mountain. But only if we let go of trying.
Be still and know.