Taking Delight in Our Stillness
Many of us find stillness a challenge in our peripatetic, distracting, demanding culture.
We grow accustomed to living in a world where change is happening 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Some of us seem to believe the speed at which we live is normal.
Some of us feel we do not have time to listen to sacred stillness. The idea of spending time in stillness may intimidate us make us nervous. We may be afraid of what we might meet if we took time to listen to sacred stillness.
For some of us, listening to sacred stillness is too difficult to even think about, much less try.
A few of us do try.
We begin a contemplative practice of listening to sacred stillness each day. It can begin with an introductory session and the help of an experienced guide.
Starting a contemplative practice can be, for most of us, challenging at first. We do not really know what we are doing and it feels unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Some days it is hard to recall why we ever wanted to do this in the first place.
It can feel like we are trying to change everything about how we experience the world by doing nothing.
Building our practice takes time. It can seem mechanical, as if we are trying to manipulate ourselves. Some of us feel like we spend all our time thinking about listening, but not listening.
The key for us is showing up each day. No matter how we think we are doing, we continue sitting and listening each day.
Eventually we realize we are listening. Without noticing it we have stopped trying and begun taking delight in our stillness. We open ourselves and begin to fly in the sacred stillness.
Taking Delight in Stillness Within Us
Some of us build our contemplative practices on a foundation of habits. We listen to sacred stillness at the same times each day and in the same quiet places. Our sacred reading follows an organized pattern and schedule.
We listen to sacred stillness in the world and try to draw that stillness into our lives.
It may be challenging for us to find any sacred stillness within us. Some of us feel the carious parts of ourselves struggling to get us to pay attention. We hear the voices inside us arguing about which is most important.
As we practice listening to sacred stillness we begin taking delight in the stillness we find in ourselves.
Gradually, over time, we discover deep pools of stillness within ourselves. We begin to experience sacred stillness within us and are able to start taking delight in our stillness.
Not every experience we have is delightful. We still experience pain and frustration, anger and suffering. Many of us gain new insights into our own broken places and into the people around us.
Our struggles are not easier, even when the stillness within us gives us deeper understanding.
Taking Delight in Stillness in Our Everyday LivesEach day is unique, filled with delights of its own.
We experience some days as nearly impossible. Things happen which make us wonder whether we can handle what comes our way, whether it is worthwhile to keep trying. People come into our lives who drain us of our love and energy. Some days we seem to be surrounded by conflict and strife.
It is important to remember that it is not the day, nor the things that are happening, nor the people with whom we are dealing which discourage us. There are challenges, and nearly all of them are challenging because of the way we respond to them.
Even the days that seem to be filled with insurmountable obstacles and unresolvable conflicts contain moments of wonder and delight.
We can choose to focus on difficulties and things which drain us, or we can choose to focus on places where we find new life. Some of us see ourselves as overwhelmed and defeated, while others recognize and appreciate strength and wisdom in us and in the people around us. We can choose to be filled with dread and despair, or we can choose to be taking delight in our sacred stillness.
It is important for us to take time each day to remember what life is really like. We can choose to take time to rest in sacred stillness which surrounds us and fills us, taking delight in stillness we find in our everyday lives.
There is delight all around us, even as we feel ourselves surrounded by struggle and defeat.
Our lives have a rhythm which encompasses stillness and delight.
Taking Delight in Stillness of People Around Us
Each of us has pools of sacred stillness within us in which we can take delight. We can choose to discover and explore our own sources of stillness and delight and to share them with each other.
Some of us practice our contemplative listening together. Each time we get together and listen to sacred stillness we share our stillness with each other.
We practice being open to sacred stillness in ourselves, in each other, and in the world around us. As we give our consent to spiritual life to be active and alive in us we are taking delight in its embrace.
Our practice of listening to sacred stillness together is our way of sharing our stillness. We are taking delight together in our shared stillness, in the life and activity of spiritual life within us.
Not every experience we share is delightful. The stillness we share holds and comforts us, drawing us together in spiritual life. We listen and remember the life which makes stillness sacred. Sacred stillness and spiritual life fill us and draw us together.
We share the stillness within us and in the world around us, taking delight in the life it lives into us.
How are we taking delight in our stillness today?
Where can we begin taking delight in stillness in new ways this week?
[Image by tracydekalb]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney 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.