Stillness is not a dead pond,
But a flow of energy you can cultivate.
A Buddhist might call it upekkha. A Muslim might speak of aslama. In Hebrew, the word is hishtavut. And in the second book of the Bhagavad Gita, the epic poem of the warrior Arjuna, it is samatvam.
Regardless of the word, stillness is the idea of that calm that comes from a balanced mind; a peace that never wavers.
For many stillness brings to mind the calm, reflective surface of a pond. But how far down does that stillness go? We all know that just beneath the surface run currents of water that gently feeds the pond and carries away whatever troubles have sunk beneath the still surface above.
For me that is a wonderful reminder that for a pond to be alive there is always something going on beneath the surface. There is some kind of activity that either provides freshness or removes the impurities from its depths. Without this flow beneath the surface the pond would just be another dead or dying body of water.
It is no different with people. Beneath the calm exterior there is always some kind of activity. There is a transfer of energy that proves the body and mind are still alive.
Each breath acts like a fresh stream that feeds and purifies the mind and body. There is a flow that breathes in nutrients while eliminating the negativity that inevitably builds up from day to day throughout life.
How deep that stream runs is different for each of you. But without some level of disturbance there is no life.
To find stillness is to act and think without frenzy. It is found in your ability to observe the circus that spins around you without feeling the need to join in the madness. It is to hear only that which needs to be heard, to speak only what needs to be said, and to think the thoughts that are relevant in that time and place. It is the focused calm of a serene mind.
The truth of stillness in the human mind, body and spirit is to be mindful and observant of everything as it speeds past free from attachment to any of it. It is to possess a sense of serenity that allows you to be you like the calm surface of a pond. Knowing that your stillness goes as deep as it needs to in that moment and that its depth changes every moment of every day.
Know that on the surface you are calmly smiling while inside you are accepting the raw data of your world as the stream of energy keeps your heart pumping and your mind clicking.
To be still is to be able to hold the silence as it arises around you. That silence is your buffer to the world. Free from the distractions of the busy world you live in is where you are free to explore the world within you, and within you is where your inspiration is born
When you still your brain, your mind is free to search through your memory for the right answer instead of just an answer. Within your stillness your mind is able to sift through your thoughts free from the physical distractions that your brain is so often drawn to.
Stillness makes room for gratitude and joy. It is the spiritual center of your energy. That energy can be one of the most powerful forces on earth once you learn to harness it.
We all talk about the need for stillness but so few are able to attain it. You are told from an early age that you need to charge ahead of the pack if you are ever going to amount to anything. Which, as you learn later in life, rarely works.
Finding the stillness within does not just happen. It takes training and an incredible amount of work to cultivate the stillness that is within you. There are very real ways to bring about the stillness you so want to feel in your life.
What follows are several exercises to explore on your own. Take a moment for each when you need. Practice them one by one and be mindful of the process rather than focused on the outcome. You will arrive at the outcome but only when you are not obsessed with it.
I am not a fan of journaling in the traditional sense of the word or of keeping a diary. The idea of either reeks of needing to do it every day. If you miss a day you grow filled with remorse, regret and a sense of failure for not keeping up with such a simple task.
So, don’t journal, but do put pen to paper. Write when something needs to be written. Do not force your feelings or observations. If something big happens in your life, then write. If you have a stroke of inspiration then write, but do not force your ideas. That is the quickest way to make waves in the pond of your own stillness.
I think it was Anne Frank who wrote “Paper is more patient than people.” It is true. Pen and paper are a door to your inner spirit and your inner mind because they require time. They have a way of helping you explore your inner self without being an intrusion.
Take small steps toward self-exploration through writing rather than typing or speaking. Just make sure you are not searching for issues that may not be ready to be expressed. They will come in time which is why the slow process of putting pen to paper is so much better than sitting in front of a computer screen or speaking.
See the World as an Artist Would.
Beauty is everywhere. You simply have to slow down to see it. Beauty is in the big picture. It is also in the details. No two artists see the world or express their visions of it in the same way.
Each learns to express their impressions in their own way. Learn to do the same. Slow down enough to give your mind the opportunity to translate what your brain has processed. Stay in the moment and observe the raw data as it arrives. Give your brain time to translate that raw data and for your mind to create from that raw data in whatever way works best for you.
This is why some people create music or art or write beautiful literature after seeing the same event. Each artist translates the information that they witness in their own way. Let go of all your preconceived notions of how you should see or hear the world. Clear your mind and just allow your heart to be filled by whatever energy comes to you. See the details and the big picture. Notice the colors of the vista before you. Be aware of the aromas from your world. Let your taste buds awaken to the flavors. Allow your ears to come alive to the music. Let your fingers explore the textures of a tapestry. Then smile at the stillness that comes to you from each.
Do not allow raw data to overwhelm you.
I describe raw data as the most basic input your senses send to the brain. You live in a world gone mad with it.
Napoleon taught his secretary to wait a week before opening any letters. He had that ability in this time. Churchill refused to look at any idea that had not been reduced down to a single sheet of paper. It was their way of making sure that whatever ideas were being presented to them had been well thought out and distilled so that neither got overwhelmed with irrelevant information.
The same is true for you. In the contemporary world you live in it is important to allow your brain to rest and be still so that you can focus only on those things that are most relevant. Do not allow your energy to be drained on the meaningless facts and figures that do not apply to your life.
Keep your buffer fresh so that you always have a space between your inner self and the circus that will forever spin around you.
Enjoy A Long, Slow Walk
I don’t mean take a power-walk or go for a run. I mean take the time to enjoy a slow, leisurely walk. Allow the inner-working of your unconscious mind to come alive as your brain is distracted with the details of balancing your body with every step and of the world around you as it tries to keep you safe.
Hemmingway was famous for getting through his writers’ block by taking long walks along the rivers of Paris. Nietzsche said that his best ideas came to him on his a long walks. Nikola Tesla developed his idea for his rotating magnetic field on a walk through a park in Budapest. It is arguably one of the most important inventions of all time, and this was in 1882.
See past your limitations.
One of my best martial arts masters was Grand Master Bong Soo Han taught me that when trying to break a board, do not stop at the board, but punch through the board – at a spot beyond it. “Do not think about the outcome, simply punch into your future, after your outcome has happened. It is not the board you break but your limitations,” he would say.
Do not only focus on the what is in front of you. Learn to let go of your immediate world so that you can look up and see what is possible in order to see the opportunities of what can be.
Follow Your Simple Truth.
Discover your life purpose so that you can live a purpose-driven life. When all of your decisions are aligned you will stop chasing after the distractions that your brain thinks will end your suffering through momentary distractions. Instead apply all of your energy in the natural direction of your mind and spirit. Your mind will lead you in a direction that supports your very being. You will feel fulfilled with every decision you make and with every step you take. The calm stillness you will find in the choices you make without even thinking about them will become second nature to you as you become the being are truly meant to be.
Break from the News.
If you want more stillness in your life filter out the news. It really does not move as quickly as the media makes it seem. Stay uninformed with the facts, the raw data. The moment it changes from facts to opinions, turn it off and spend your time making your own decisions.
Being informed is important but being indulged is foolish. Watch the news to learn what has happened. But when the newscaster brings in talking heads who give you their opinions it is time to reflect on what you have learned so that you can form your own opinions in the of stillness of your mind.
Be well and I hope this helps.