Stillness Beyond What Is Visible
When we practice listening to sacred stillness we sit with our eyes closed.
It is not about being asleep or oblivious to what is around us. For some of us what is visible distracts us from being open to sacred stillness. The shapes we see remind us of other things and, before we know it, we are thinking about something else.
Some of us do not keep our eyes closed but watch the flame of a candle. Many of us avoid artificial lights.
Our contemplative practices are not about what we can see, but are beyond what is visible.
We sit with our eyes closed listening to the sacred stillness within us and all around us. Our breathing grows deeper and more calm.
When we listen with other people the stillness is different from when we listen on our own.
Actually, we do not listen alone. Even when we sit in a room by ourselves, other people listen with us. Whether we can see them or not, they are with us.
We listen to sacred stillness together. All around the world, and all around the clock, beyond what is visible, we listen together.
When we are surrounded by noise the sound demands our attention. We cannot listen to stillness when noise drowns it out. Whether it is music or people screaming or someone speaking in the background.
Many of us live our lives hemmed in by noise and what we can see. We believe what our senses tell us and are unable to go beyond them.
Listening to sacred stillness reveals what is beyond whatever is visible.
Closing our eyes helps open our hearts and minds. We become aware of what is beyond what we can see.
What Is Visible to Us?
Some of us begin to appreciate how much is beyond what is visible to us.
We live in a world where it is easy to be overwhelmed by what we see and hear. Some of us experience a seemingly endless torrent of stimulation. We carry immediate access to current news and information in our pockets. There is a nearly infinite variety of music at our fingertips. Many of us are able to sample whatever flavors or aromas we desire.
Our senses tell us what the world is like and we trust them without questioning.
It is more challenging for us to find the rest we need. Our senses do not take time off or encourage us to disconnect when we need it. There is always something new, something more for our senses to show us.
We become absorbed in the shiny objects our senses present for our consideration. It is a challenge for us to step outside ourselves and see things from any other perspective.
Our lives are increasingly bombarded with stimuli each day. We lose touch with ways to experience what is beyond whatever is visible to us at the moment.
When we do not spend time reflecting on any other perspectives we become more and more certain of our own.
The more sure we are about what we see the more important it is to listen to sacred stillness.
We begin by sitting still and closing our eyes. The rhythm of our breathing grows calmer and more deep. As we listen we become open to what is beyond what is visible to us. Listening to sacred stillness helps us remember what we have forgotten about what we cannot see.
Listening helps us recognize what we have been missing. We begin to look beyond what is visible.
Visible and Invisible
We sit listening to sacred stillness and looking beyond what is visible.
Closing our eyes, we open ourselves to what is outside what we can see. It is not a matter of concentrating or even opening our eyes, but of being aware.
We listen to stillness and pay attention to what is beyond what we can see. Each of us is aware in our own way, seeing from our own perspective. We close our eyes and breathe deeply, letting go of the limitations of what our eyes have shown us.
It is not about our creating images or even sorting out what we have already seen. We may remember what we see only later when we have time to reflect. Even though things may not be flashing before our eyes, we are looking beyond what is visible.
We spend our days caught up in immediacy. This is different. We take an intentional opportunity to be open to what is there. Images cascade past us in our everyday lives. This is our way of finding the belief which is beyond the visible.
We take time to explore what we believe beyond what our eyes can see.
It is not because we need to see more new things. What we need is to take regular opportunities for reflection, for going beyond the surface of what is visible.
We do not want to miss the essential in the midst of the immediate.
Listening to Sacred Stillness
We sit on the edge of a deep, enormous ocean of sacred stillness. There are universes beyond our imagination just past what is visible to us.
It is not necessary for us to design or construct special craft to explore the stillness or go beyond what we can see. We need only to sit and listen and pay attention.
Our minds are tantalized by the images we see each day. Images of beauty and horror capture our attention even when we least expect them.
Taking time to look beyond what our eyes can see is how we recapture our own attention.
We are tired of merely reacting to images which surround us. As we pay attention to what is beyond what is visible to us, our understanding deepens.
When will we look beyond what is visible to us today?
How can listening to sacred stillness take us past the visible this week?
[Image by Simon Shek]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and coach in Southern California. He has served as an assistant district attorney, an associate university professor, and is 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.