Recognizing the Gifts Stillness Gives
It can be a challenge for many of us to recognize the gifts stillness gives us.
We experience listening to sacred stillness as a responsibility. Listening seems to be a discipline which will make us better people. Other people tell us we should listen to sacred stillness so we try it, even though it is a struggle. We believe building a contemplative listening practice will give us spiritual strength.
Some of us have heard about the benefits of listening to sacred stillness. We hope to find rest and lower blood pressure. A few of us would like a different perspective on our lives or our work.
We may want to experience spiritual life in new ways.
A regular contemplative practice of listening to sacred stillness can give us some of these benefits. The gifts of stillness, though, are far greater than these.
It can be easy for us to miss the gifts stillness gives. We distract ourselves with all the ways we hope listening to stillness will make us better people. Many of us fail to recognize the more significant gifts stillness gives.
Some of us get caught up in the technique of listening the right way. We worry we are not breathing right or paying too much attention to our own thoughts. A few of us compare our listening to other people’s, as if our practice were a competition.
Other demands on our time and attention can crowd our practice out of our busy schedules. Particularly as holidays fill our calendars at the end of the year.
We learn to recognize the gifts of stillness by spending time with them. As we practice listening to sacred stillness we begin to recognize the value of the gifts stillness gives us.
Recognizing these gifts is our first step toward appreciating them.
Appreciating the Gifts Stillness Gives
Some of the gifts stillness gives us are not ones we intentionally seek.
Listening to sacred stillness has changed the way I understand and experience spiritual life.
When I began my contemplative listening practice I was exploring the potential it offered. I was open to new possibilities, not completely convinced it was the path for me to follow.
My approach to spiritual life had been primarily intellectual. I enjoyed taking on questions and challenges and sorting out answers. A contemplative listening practice helped me recognize spiritual life is not about finding answers as much as asking questions.
I had been taught praying was talking to God. My contemplative practices showed me what it was to listen more than talk.
Spiritual life is not about my making my case, arguing to convince or persuade. It is about being open to the life and activity of spiritual life within us and in the world around us.
Our growing relationship to sacred stillness sparks our becoming better listeners. As we practice listening to sacred stillness we learn how to listen to ourselves and other people. We can go to the woods or the beach or the mountains and hear sacred stillness.
There are still areas of life in which we are impatient and not the best listeners. A contemplative listening practice is still working within us, giving us good gifts.
The more clearly we recognize and more deeply we appreciate the gifts stillness gives us, the more we grow.
It is challenging to dissect and categorize all the gifts stillness gives. They intertwine and work together in us.
Listening to sacred stillness helps us take ourselves out of the way.
Gratitude for the Gifts Stillness Gives
We are grateful for the gifts stillness gives us.
Sacred stillness does not owe us anything, is not responsible for paying us. What we receive from listening to sacred stillness is not compensation or reimbursement.
Spiritual life is not an exchange or a financial relationship. We receive the gifts stillness gives and reflect on how we can put them into practice.
Some of our gratitude is expressed in sharing the gifts stillness gives us with other people. We also express our gratitude by continuing to listen, continuing our contemplative practice.
Our listening practice is not about trying to gain more from stillness or to repay something. We are not trading back and forth.
We listen because our contemplative practice is a relationship. As we listen to sacred stillness the stillness within us finds its rhythm in the stillness in the world. We sit still, breathing and listening, to restore the balance of stillness.
We recognize the gifts stillness gives us through listening and reflection. Spiritual life shapes us as we spend time listening, preparing us to walk back into the world around us.
Our gratitude brings the gifts stillness gives us to life.
Living the Gifts Stillness Gives
We live in a world full of distortions and distractions. It is easy for us to lose track and stop paying attention to the gifts stillness gives us.
Many of us get lost in the tangle of expectations and responsibilities we experience each day. Some of us feel we have been left behind like yesterday’s news. We may depend on the background noise of our lives to help us not pay attention.
Our contemplative practices do not depend on how well we follow our practice. We are not trying to become the best practitioners we can be. Listening to sacred stillness is not about accumulating the most gifts we can. Our practices are about listening to the stillness within us and in the world around us.
We cannot evaluate our listening practices by measuring how well we follow the rules or the clarity of what we hear. Our practices are not about how well we do them.
The value of the gifts stillness gives us is in how we live into them in our everyday world.
How will we recognize the gifts stillness gives us today?
When will we take time to appreciate the gifts stillness gives us this week?
[Image by scott1346]
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.