Stillness in the Modern World

Stillness:

It is that wonderful quality of being fully present no matter where you are. It is a pure mental state cultivated on the Buddhist path to nirvāna
A Buddhist might call it upekkha. A Muslim speaks of stillness when they use the word aslama, in terms of submitting to Allah’s will. In Hebrew, the word is hishtavut. In the Bhagavad Gita, the epic poem of the warrior Arjuna, the word is samatvam. The ability to be Still – is the ability to be truly present without feeling the need to do anything. It is the focused calm that comes from a balanced mind— and to at peace with yourself and the world around you. The ancient Greeks spoke of euthymia when they contemplated that state of stillness.

The concept of stillness, to be centered as the chaos of the world spins around you, and, as one master once taught me, to observe the circus as it spins around you and to act only when it is necessary. “A true warriors never acts out of anger,” he would say, “be still and let them come to you. Simply hear only that which needs to be heard. Speak only what needs to be said and possess the quiet that comes from being still.

Stillness is that quiet moment of inspiration from which to draw your best words and ideas as you need them. It is when your inspiration comes from within. To be able to reflect while being an active part of a conversation or to be able to search through your memory in order to have the right answer when it is called for.

Stillness is that ability to step back and reflect while others scramble for an answer.

Stillness is also the art that allows you to make room for gratitude and empathy. Most important stillness is the seed from which your spiritual center of energy grows. It is one of the most powerful forces in creation from which to draw when you need it most. Those of you who charge ahead with big plans and even bigger dreams will find both dashed to pieces before your true battles really begin.

To those unfamiliar with it, the idea of being still can be a little ephemeral, but it doesn’t need to be. Stillness does not just happen it is a virtue that can be developed over time. It comes from hard work. It comes from sitting in meditation, practicing in order to access the focused calm that is within you. When you train your mind to be still, it is like muscle memory. Your mind remembers how to find the pathway to the stillness that is within you. What follows are some exercises you can perform to bring stillness into your life and to make it easier to access when you need it most.

Write. I am not a fan of the word or idea of journaling, or keeping a diary. The idea of it just reeks of the need to do it every day and if you miss a day you are filled with regret and a sense of failure, just because you missed a day of writing down your thoughts when you had none or when nothing of note happened.

So don’t journal. Simply write when you feel the need to write. Write when something big happens or when you feel the need to express something that upset you when dealing with an issue, or that made you excited or unbelievably happy.

I think it was Anne Frank who wrote “Paper is more patient than people.” It is, because it allows you to watch as your own thoughts unfurl and whatever issues and opportunities roll out in front of you as your pen moves across the paper. Both are a door to your inner spirit and your subconscious mind. They have a way of helping you explore your inner self without it seeming like an intrusion. With each word you become more willing to take the baby steps of self-exploration in writing than through speaking.

See The World As A Monk Does.

Beauty is everywhere, you simply have to slow down to see it. The beauty of the world you pass through is in the details. It is also in the grand design and in the interconnections that become apparent when you slow down to notice them. No two people see the world in the same way. Everyone has a different perspective that is born from their situations and their personal histories. Each has learned to interpret what they see in their own way. Learn to see the world as it appears to you. The important part is not how you see it, but that your slow down to enable you to see it, smell it, hear it and feel it however you want to.
Simply remind yourself to stay in the here and now, in your present moment without the need to follow your ego into the next moment by anticipating what will happen next.

Remind yourself to stay in the moment and observe everything as it arrives to you. Be aware of the raw data that you are receiving before your brain has the time to layer its own issues on top of it.

Every monk translates the raw data, free from interpretation and in their own way. Stop and observe the world around you, as it truly is. Let go of the preconceived notions of how the world should be and accept it as it is. The same things that prevent you from seeing the world as it is prevents you from finding your inner stillness.

Clear your mind and allow your heart to be filled by whatever comes to you. See the details and the vista. Be aware of the colors. Be aware of the aromas from a meal as you savor your way through it. Let your taste buds come alive as to the flavors wash over them. Let your ears follow the individual notes of the music playing, and give your fingers the freedom to explore the textures of a garment or a tapestry.

Reduce Your Inputs.

After ten brain surgeries and six weeks of radiation, I have to be careful with the level of input I allow in. Even if the raw data from those inputs are good, they can still overwhelm me. When that happens my brain gets flooded with information and I go into a seizure. So its very important for me to monitor my brain and mind so that I know when to leave a loud restaurant or a theater performance as both can overload my brain and send me spiraling. It’s just as important that you do the same. You simply have a higher level of tolerance than I do.

We all live in a world that is overloaded with noise and activity. Your brain uses energy to evaluate each of the sights, sounds, smells, and touches you take in. With every step you take, your brain is monitoring the firmness of the ground beneath you, your balance, the risk of danger, and many other factors that go into your ability to maintain your balance and your gait.

While your brain represents just 2% of your body weight, it accounts for 20you’re your body’s energy use. That means during a typical day, your brain uses about 320 calories just to think. Different mental states will affect the way your brain consumes energy.

Napoleon taught his secretary to wait a week before any letters. 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 they were not overwhelmed with information.

In both cases they wanted to limit their input so that they would not be overwhelmed. In the contemporary world you live in, it’s important to allow your brain to find its stillness, so that you do not let your energy be drained by meaningless facts and figures that are not relevant to your life.

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 subconscious come alive as your brain is distracted with the details of balancing your body as you walk and of the world around you as it tries to keep you safe in the world.

Hemmingway was famous for getting through hi write’s 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, not in his laboratory, but 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.

Remove Yourself From Outcomes.
My best martial arts master 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 several inches beyond it. “Do not think about the outcome, simply punch beyond it. The broken board is simply proof of where your fist had been.”

You must not focus only on the what is in front of you. You must learn to let go and focus on what will be.

Weekly News Is Enough.

The news-cycle just doesn’t move that quickly. I know some people think it’s a 24 hour cycle, but when is the last time you saw something completely new and unexpected happen in a 24 hour time period?

Nightly news just isn’t news. Take a break. Give your mind and body a break from it. Read a book, enjoy a dinner out. Dive into a conversation with abandon. Don’t worry the news will still be there for you when you’re ready for it.

You can still be informed by the news without being saturated with it. Besides if you spend all your time and energy watching the news, you will never have enough to process it and to create real change in your world because of it.