Following a Path of Stillness
Many of us do not set out to follow a path of stillness.
Some of us prefer a path that is like a freeway with several lanes and little enforcement of speed restrictions. We may want large, legible, brilliantly lit signs telling us where to go, as well as a trusty app.
A few of us might like a bright, loud path announcing how we are doing, calling attention to our progress.
Few of us set out on a path of stillness from the beginning. When we are choosing our path stillness can seem a little boring. We might prefer a path of glory, a path of riches, or a path of fame. Some of us are at least a little intimidated by stillness and we look for a more welcoming experience.
Any potential path of stillness which might attract us will probably blend into its background.
Following a path of stillness is likely to be a conscious choice for us. Most of us need to practice listening to sacred stillness. A path of stillness is not something we usually fall into naturally.
Most of us are surrounded by so many distractions, around and within us. We need to choose a path of stillness.
Many of us are used to thinking about stillness as an event or a discrete experience. We remember a time we experienced stillness and set out to recapture how it felt.
Stillness is more than a particular response to a specific situation. We do not need to return to the time or place where we found stillness to find it again. Stillness is a path we follow more than a series of experiences.
How can we find a path of stillness to follow in our world full of interruptions and distractions?
Finding a Path of Stillness
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 took a path other people expected us to follow. We may have set goals at a very early age and taken the first path we found going in that direction. Some people start on a path and eventually recognize it is not taking them where they want to go.
Paths may 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 but 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 the 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 was 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.
Finding a path of stillness is not about frantically searching for one. Sacred stillness is all around us and within us. We find a path of stillness as we stop, take some deep breaths, and listen to sacred stillness.
Growing Into a Path of Stillness
Listening to sacred stillness reveals to us stillness is not our destination, not our goal. Stillness is our path.
We are not trying to achieve the correct level of stillness for a certain period of time. Stillness is not a pill we take and, when it wears off, we take another dose. Sacred stillness is not something we add to our everyday lives to keep ourselves in balance.
Our practice of following a path of stillness shows us how to become still. We begin to experience the richness of being still and we want more.
A path of stillness helps us begin to understand what it can be like to be still. It is easier for us to be still in some circumstances and situations than others. We practice listening to sacred stillness and our path of stillness shows us the next step to take.
As we continue a path of stillness opens for us. Each step we take along our path shows us our potential to become still.
We follow our path of stillness and each day we grow into sacred stillness.
Our path of stillness takes us beyond the thoughts, words, and feelings which so often capture our attention.
Beginning A Path of Stillness
Our paths of stillness begin just beyond all the words we say, thoughts we think, and emotions we feel. All of that may be significant or even urgent, but is not stillness.
Many of us develop a practice of listening to sacred stillness for a period of time each day. We may struggle to quiet ourselves and become frustrated. Some of us even give up, convinced stillness is impossible for them.
For many of us our demand and desire to practice perfect stillness is the obstacle which stops us.
Each of us can find a path of stillness as we learn to give up this particular struggle. We stop fighting and stillness draws us into itself.
We begin by listening to sacred stillness. Over time we learn how not to pay attention to the distractions in life around us and within us. Our hearts and minds grow quiet as we turn them toward sacred stillness.
We follow a path of stillness which opens before us.
How will we follow a path of stillness today?
When will we begin a path of stillness in a new way this week?
[Image by gorfor]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and 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.