The Stillness of the Present Moment
Each moment of the present explodes into our lives bursting with potential.
It may be my experience alone, but I find the noise is all in the past and the future. Memories and regrets shout at us from the past, calling for our attention. Fears and fantasies about the future try to drag us forward into whatever is waiting for us.
It is the present moment, filled with all it can become, which opens to us with stillness.
When we pause to catch our breath is when we pay attention to the stillness of the present moment.
Each moment carries its own potential and its own stillness. No single moment is magically full of special super powers. We cannot corral or control a moment, cannot hold onto it or make it last. It exists in the present only momentarily.
As soon as we start to think about a moment, trying to analyze or understand, it is gone.
We are only ever able to listen to the sacred stillness of the present moment. Our listening is being open to what each moment has for us.
We are sunflowers turning our heads throughout the day to face the sun. Each moment offers us the stillness we need and we open ourselves to it. Our lives grow stronger and deeper around the stillness of the present moment.
Some of us have not found the stillness we need. We may feel compelled to live in the past or the future, forsaking the power of the present. Our memories or regrets about the past, our fantasies or fears about the future may weigh us down.
We may be listening to the voices which distract us, not the stillness of the present moment.
Listening to the Sacred Stillness of the Present Moment
It can be a challenge for us to listen to the sacred stillness of the present moment. So many of us spend our days and nights caught up in the past and future. We are surrounded by distractions designed to divert our attention. It is difficult to remember the last time we paid attention and listened to the present.
We do not listen to the stillness of the present moment the way we listen to music. It is not the same as listening to someone teach or preach or make an argument.
Our listening to sacred stillness is not about trying to guess or remember what we hear.
We do not force ourselves to strain and listen harder, but calm ourselves down. It is more about getting out of our own way and allowing the present moment to happen.
By slowing our frenetic reactions we allow the present moment to unfold. Life becomes the present moment whether we struggle with it or not.
We do not need to force ourselves into listening to sacred stillness. There is deep stillness all around us and within us. We experience the stillness of the present moment more deeply as we stop trying.
The steps we take to listen more deeply are more about stopping and letting go than about trying. As we accept each moment it embraces us and helps us breathe.
Slowly, gently, we turn our faces into the present moment like sunflowers following the sun. Sacred stillness restores and strengthens us like quiet sunlight.
What Draws Us Into the Stillness of the Present Moment?
Listening to the stillness of the present moment can feel elusive and difficult to grasp. What motivates us to start this path in the first place and keeps us going once we begin?
Life has taught me the cold facts the past and the future are not real. We may desperately want them to sustain us and may hold on as long as we can. It is not possible for us to live real life in the past or the future.
The past and the future can fuel our reflection and help us live in the present. There are lessons we can learn from our past experiences and our future expectations.
The stillness of the present moment draws us in because it is tangibly real. We live our lives in the present moment.
Living in the Stillness of the Present Moment
It can sound like we live our lives passively, not engaging with our own experiences. In fact, my experience of the present moment is more engaging and less passive.
A practice of listening to the sacred stillness of the present moment opens us to ourselves. As our practice develops we are freed from regrets and expectations which have held us back.
We learn to set aside and leave behind the shiny objects which distract us. Listening to the stillness of the present moment shows us how to pay attention.
As we practice listening we begin to recognize the voice of sacred stillness. Each present moment is an opportunity for us to allow the voice of the stillness to fill us.
The stillness of the present moment all around us resonates with the stillness within us. We practice listening and the past and the future gradually lose their grip on us.
Sunflowers neither strain nor force themselves to follow the sun across the sky. They naturally turn their faces toward the life the sun gives them. The flowers are neither focused nor struggling each day. They simply open themselves to the possibilities around them.
Each present moment is filled with possibilities. We open ourselves, like the sunflowers, by listening to the sacred stillness of the present moment.
When will we take time to listen to the stillness of the present moment today?
How will we release ourselves from the past and the future this week?
[Image by ✿ nicolas_gent ✿]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.