Finding Our Path Into Stillness
Some of us have a difficult time beginning a contemplative practice of listening to sacred stillness.
We may be unaccustomed to stillness and uncomfortable sitting still for any period of time. Some of us feel anxious about what might be waiting in the stillness for us. Many of us have hardly any experience with stillness and do not understand how it could be sacred.
It is as if stillness is a faraway place we have heard about but never visited. We have no idea how to find our path into stillness.
A few of us are familiar with the stories of other people who have found a path into stillness. We have read or heard about how other people try to listen to sacred stillness. Their stories can be almost as confusing or intimidating for us as stillness is itself.
Where Is Our Path Into Stillness?
There are people who spend their entire lives searching for the right path into stillness. Some of us have very specific requirements for the path we will choose to take. We want a good balance of sunlight and shade, not too wet and not too rocky. Some may prefer a gentle grade which is comfortable to follow. We may be looking for a path with spectacular views.
Some of us would appreciate a good guide or a book to reveal our path to us.
Other people have told me they saw their path into stillness all at once, in a flash of insight. Sometimes we are not even looking, not really paying attention, when our path presents itself. We may be walking along, minding our own business, when our path twists or turns unexpectedly. We might not enjoy such a dramatic change of direction, but we continue following our path into stillness.
Some of us appreciate a path with its own drama, its own challenges, its own questions.
How We Find Our Path Into Stillness
Each of us finds our own path into stillness in our own way.
We may have set out on a path before we realized what we were doing. Some of us inherited a path from those who went before us, or began a path we were expected to follow. We may have chosen goals at a very early age and taken the first path we found in that direction. People may start on a path and subsequently recognize it is taking them somewhere else.
Some paths make promises they cannot keep. We take the first steps, learn and follow the path’s rules, and achieve what we set out to do. Getting to a certain point we realize, though we have done what was asked of us, we are not where we want to be. Our journey has cost us time and effort. How we see ourselves may depend on how we have followed our path. We may be afraid or embarrassed we have not chosen well.
Following our path well demands awareness and reflection, and knowing ourselves. As we gain experience and insight, we need to be honest with ourselves about what we find.
There have been times when I felt certain I was on the right path. The path fit my personality, my experience, my interests, and was comfortable for me to follow. I was confident I was headed in the right direction. I was caught by surprise when the unexpected twists and turns came.
Seeking Our Own Path Into Stillness
It has taken me years of exploring to find my own path into stillness.
I began by trying to follow paths other people had described to me. My exploration of paths widened with help from wise teachers and great books. I began to see the paths I follow may be more about seeking than about choosing and finding.
Our path into stillness is not a line on a map, moving us from one point to another. My path continues to take me from seeking answers to valuing questions.
We each follow our own path every day, collecting insights and questions to illumine our next steps.
I need a path which is not particularly complicated. More tangible than conceptual, more practical than theoretical, my path into stillness fits me.
I depend on my path to carry me even when I might feel too tired or too discouraged to take another step.
The path into stillness for me is not a series of bridges or an interstate freeway. My path is not necessarily the path for you or for anyone else.
My path into stillness is about sitting quietly, breathing deeply, and releasing my thoughts and feelings. I close my eyes and allow the sound of my own breath to remind me of sacred stillness.
Sitting still and not paying attention to my own thoughts gives sacred stillness an opportunity to work within me.
I do not need to understand every detail about every aspect of my path into stillness for it to take me there.
The First Step On Our Path Into Stillness
Our path into stillness is a good path only as far as it takes us into sacred stillness.
It is easy for us to get caught up in planning and designing the perfect path for us, clearing and paving. Our preparations can divert us from the true purpose of our path into stillness.
The first step we take on our path into stillness is only a first step. The value of our path is determined by how well it carries us into sacred stillness.
We cannot allow our reservations and fear, anxieties and questions to hold us back.
There are paths for us to try. We explore and, eventually, find our own path into stillness. Our journey begins when we choose and take our first steps into sacred stillness.
Who knows where each path might take us?
Where will we find our path into stillness today?
How far will our path into stillness take us this week?
[Image by solarisgirl]
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.