Finding Our Rest Within Stillness
We live in times of constant and overwhelming stimulation. Some of us track the weather on the other side of the planet or political news from across the country. There are few moments in our days, or our nights, when we are not paying attention to analyzing something. We do not get the sleep we need to restore our minds or our dreams, and we are exhausted.
Many of our have lost the ability to find rest within stillness.
Stillness is something we have forgotten. There was a time when we appreciated how significant stillness could be, but we have lost it. Most of us cannot remember the last time we sat still and listened to stillness for even five minutes.
We miss the ability to listen to stillness within ourselves and in the world around us, whether we realize it or not.
Some of us take pride in how busy we are. We do not have time to sit still, to listen to sacred stillness. Our schedules are full of important activities, special appearances, significant work.
Many of us confuse being busy with being successful, or being satisfied.
We work hard to meet or exceed out goals, pushing ourselves to achieve. When we accomplish our goals we wonder why we are tired, why we are dissatisfied, why we cannot rest.
Some of us assume our lack of rest is a physical or medical problem. Others experience it as an emotional weakness.
We do not find our rest because we are looking in the wrong places.
Our need for rest is a spiritual challenge at least as much as it is physical or emotional.
The good news is we can take tangible steps to begin finding our rest within stillness. Sacred stillness is waiting for us to listen.
Why We Need to Begin Seeking Rest Within Stillness
Our daylight hours are shorter each day, and the nights grow longer. Temperatures are cooler, even here in Southern California.
It is as if all of life were encouraging us to slow down, take some time, rest and reflect. Wrap ourselves up and take a well-earned nap.
We respond to this natural call by jumping into an extended time of busyness and activities demanding our attention.
The “holidays” began months ago, with “back to school” and the “end of summer.” We ramped up through September and October, and are now hurtling toward the end of the year. Each special day carries its own traditions and expectations; each year we want to surpass and add to the memories of the past. We do not want to miss anything.
I enjoy celebrating holidays at least as much as anyone else. We believe that each activity, each tradition, each celebration will create a new memory and shape our lives.
I agree, though there may be some unexpected consequences to our approach.
Every new expectation makes it more challenging to remember how and why each of these days is important. I need to spend time reflecting on why Halloween is important each year. It becomes more difficult to spend time being thankful each November. December becomes a blur of shopping, arranging people and events and expectations.
I am hoping to start a new holiday tradition of my own this year, and develop it in years to come. My tradition is sitting and rocking.
It will be a challenge, swimming against a strong cultural tide.
Finding our rest within stillness begins with taking the time to listen to stillness. We start a contemplative practice of listening to sacred stillness by sitting down to listen.
We Practice Finding Rest Within Stillness
Each day we set a time to practice listening to stillness. Some of us set a time in the morning and another in the afternoon or evening.
A contemplative practice is not complicated or rigorous. The challenge for us is taking the time to practice each day, showing up and spending the time.
Before we begin we remind ourselves why we are starting this listening practice. There are potential physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits for us. I remind myself I am agreeing to give my consent for spiritual life to be alive and active within me. For twenty minutes twice a day, I intend to let go of distractions and other things which get in the way.
Many of us choose a simple word to can remind ourselves of our intention when our minds begin to stray.
We sit comfortably and close our eyes, remembering the word we have chosen, and spend time listening to stillness. Even when we struggle with distractions we find rest within stillness.
Our practice allows us to continue find rest within stillness over time. We become more open to sacred stillness and better able to find the rest we need.
Recognizing the Rest Within Stillness
Many of us are not familiar with what rest feels like. We close our eyes long enough to catch our breath and prepare for the next working day. Some of us do not remember the last time we found enough rest.
Beginning a contemplative practice of listening to sacred stillness is a good place to start. An initial taste of stillness and rest often helps people realize how thirsty they are for more.
In addition to taking time each day to find rest within stillness, we may start changing how we spend our time. Some of us might begin seeking rest and stillness one day each week or one weekend each month.
Our practice could change the way we spend time with the people we love or how we celebrate holidays.
For many of us, recognizing and experiencing more stillness shows us how much we need it in our lives.
The more we find rest within stillness the more we realize how valuable it is to us.
When will we take time to find rest within stillness today?
How will we continue to seek rest within stillness the rest of this week?
[Image by Spacecat]
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.