Our theme for December is Stillness — something I confess that I find difficult to achieve in my own life. My preferred means of meditation is moving meditation, especially walking alone in silence — along the water’s edge, through a forest, or simply around the one central block in my little village.
I have the sort of mind that always has a running conversation going on. Sometimes I’m working on a sermon topic. Sometimes I’m working on the best way to respond to various relationship challenges — at home, at work, and in the community at large. Sometimes, I’m just admiring my surroundings with a torrent of descriptive words.
Achieving physical and mental stillness is a bit of a challenge for me. Having said that, I do catch precious moments of both — when I stop and inhale the fresh morning air and recognize, without descriptive words, the beauty of my surroundings; when I sit on the ground and watch, without comment, the comings and goings of tiny insects inhabiting the microcosm that exists beneath the lawn; and when I lie on the ground looking up in speechless awe at the starry night sky. Each time I manage such stillness of body and mind, I find myself physically refreshed and mentally lighter afterwards.
When was the last time that you achieved physical and mental stillness? Under what circumstances have you experienced such stillness? And, how do you feel once you do?
In The Wisdom of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras: A New Translation and Guide by Ravi Ravindra, I found a particularly persuasive argument for continuing to pursue a state of stillness:
As spiritual searchers, we need to become freer and freer of the attachment to our own smallness in which we get occupied with me-me-me. Pondering on large ideas or standing in front of things which remind us of a vast scale can free us from acquisitiveness and competitiveness and from our likes and dislikes. If we sit with an increasing stillness of the body and attune our mind to the sky or to the ocean or to the myriad stars at night, or any other indicators of vastness, the mind gradually stills and the heart is filled with quiet joy. Also recalling our own experiences in which we acted generously or with compassion for the simple delight of it without expectation of any gain can give us more confidence in the existence of a deeper goodness from which we may deviate.
May you soon catch a moment of stillness!
Rev. Lee Anne