Being Still


It’s somewhat ironic that when we see our kids running around all over the place with endless energy and exuberant noise, we say things like, “can’t you sit still for a second??” And yet, when was the last time we took time to sit still ourselves?  These days most people can’t even fathom the concept of becoming still and silent.

The problem is three-fold.  First, we think we have no time for it – too much to do.  Second, we are addicted to stimulus – even when we find time for ourselves, we fill it with one form of entertainment or other.  Third, we are swept away by our thoughts – we are not trained to be observe mental activity from afar.

Let’s briefly look at each of these.  Modern life is busy.  Every moment is filled with activity.  But we need to realize that we have a choice as to what we prioritize.  One may argue that work, kids, and household errands slurp up all the hours in the day, what choice remains?  But just check your smartphone for your daily on-screen time, for example.  Can we carve out 20 minutes away from social media to dedicate to silence?

Speaking of social media, or any kind of media for that matter, that is what we use to fill up any free time we do find.  In the evenings, we would rather watch drama unfold on-line or on TV because we are addicted to that stimulus.  We love to feel our emotions stir up, and look for opportunities to pass judgement, and the best part is when we proclaim our opinions within our circles.  In this circus, where is there room for stillness?  It’s a hard habit to break, but for our own sanity, we must break our addiction to needing constant stimulation.

This brings us to the mind, and to the thoughts it constantly generates.  Normally as a thought arises, we immediately latch on to it, identify with it, and let it sweep us away.  Most people can’t conceive of separating themselves from their thoughts – are they not one and the same?  No.  We are not our thoughts.  All it takes is a little bit of awareness to realize this.  Just for a moment, observe thoughts as clouds that come and go.  See if you can create just enough space between the awareness of a thought, and the thought itself.  With a bit of practice, we can become the witness, watching thoughts without judgement or entanglement.  This is the start of meditation too, as we break our association with thought streams and bring attention to the breath (or a mantra, or visualization).

So why bother to bring a little silence into your life?  Because only then will you become aware of all the subtleties you’ve been missing.  Life begins to reveal its magic.  In fact, all is already imbedded in stillness, but we have veiled that silence with all of our compulsions and mental activity.  Consider what a still lake reveals, and how ripples or waves veils that clarity.

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