Listening to Sacred Stillness: The Music of Stillness

Listening to Sacred Stillness: The Music of Stillness January 27, 2022

Listening to Sacred Stillness: The Music of Stillness

The Music of Stillness

Music has become something in the background of my life. I do not remember the last time music moved me in a particularly strong emotional way. The music I spend the most time listening to now is the music of stillness.

Sometimes it seems music used to be important. People produced important music when I was a certain age, but that time has passed.

A few years ago I grew concerned I was becoming one of those people who only appreciated music from a particular time. I started asking friends whether and how music was important. Some people gave me lists of music to try.

One person told me they would send me a piece of music each month for a year to show me how music was important. I do not believe they understood me particularly well. They sent me one example for the first month, and it did not persuade me.

I think the most helpful thing anyone has ever told me about music is it is a combination of sound and stillness.

There are times when I appreciate the skill of musicians, or the way certain pieces can transport me to another time. I appreciate the friends who have introduced me to unfamiliar kinds of music and what they have inspired in me.

It may be I have become tired or disappointed with music. I have heard people use songs I love to sell things.

Over time, the music of stillness has attracted more of my attention than the music of  sounds.

The music of stillness draws me in whether I am trying to listen to it or not. When I sit still and breathe calmly, the music of stillness helps me practice being open to spiritual life within me and around me.

Listening to the Music of Stillness

I have friends who talk about being transformed by music. They respond to its rhythms and harmony; it carries them away to explore new places. Music can be an emotional experience for some of them or an intellectual experience for others. Some of us find spiritual meaning in music.

We may remember particular pieces of music from turning points in our lives.

I remember when and how my life started to change as I began to appreciate the music of stillness. As I was introduced to contemplative spiritual practices, they gradually transformed me.

Many people struggle with the need to spend time practicing listening to sacred stillness. While I certainly had times when it was more challenging to sit still, the music of stillness draws me into my practice.

All of our contemplative practices and experiences balance our dependence on words and stillness. As we grow into understand of the gifts and music of stillness, we come to appreciate the joy stillness has for us.

For me, contemplation allows the words and the sounds to slide into the background. Stillness attracts my attention and carries me away from the limitations of putting things into words.

The music of stillness reminds me of the music of the spheres, the idea of how the Universe creates its own music.

There are times when I experience the music of stillness like a large body of water, an ocean or a large lake. I float on the stillness and its music carries me. As I practice being open to sacred stillness it washes over me. I begin to recognize the stillness in the world around me is the same as the sacred stillness which is within me.

Soaking in sacred stillness reminds me I do not always need to find words.

Tuning Into the Music of Stillness

I know people who claim they have never listened to sacred stillness. They feel lost and a little overwhelmed by the idea of stillness.

We live in a world where stillness has become a rare experience. Many of us have lives which are so immersed in the music of sound we have forgotten what it feels like to be still. Our days are so saturated with the sound of words and noises we cannot remember the music of stillness. Some of us even use sound to help us sleep at night.

Beginning one contemplative practice can remind us about what stillness is and how to tune into it. We decide to spend a certain amount of time each day, or twice each day, listening to sacred stillness. Before we begin, we choose a word to remind us of our practice when we get distracted.

It is not a question of if we will be distracted, but when. Our practice is not about listening without distractions, but about returning when we do.

We sit still comfortably, breathe regularly, close our eyes, and begin to practice listening. As we listen we realize the stillness is with us.

Putting the Music of Stillness Into Practice

Listening to the music of sacred stillness will transform us in ways we do not expect.

Our practice is not about transforming ourselves, but about allowing spiritual life to live and be active within us. We do not need to struggle to plan our growth or change. The key for us is to practice being open to the music of stillness within us and all around us.

We practice returning to stillness each time we become distracted. Our practice helps us realize the power stillness has in our lives and transforms us into people who share the power of stillness.

As our practice continues we become people who practice the music of stillness. Other people begin to notice stillness in our lives and want to share the stillness with us.

We do not need to compel them to be still. They are attracted to the sacred stillness they observe in us.

The music of sacred stillness draws us in and reminds us what stillness sounds like.

Where will we discover the music of stillness today?

How will we put the music of stillness into practice in new ways this week?

[Image by Michela Mongardi]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual director in Southern California. He is a recovering assistant district attorney and associate university professor, and is a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is and his email address is

"Thinking about Christianity becomes very hard when we see every day a group of Christians ..."

Spiritual Direction: Where Do We Turn?
"Peace is a precious resource. "If we pay attention to peace we become more comfortable ..."

Monastic Strategies: Crying Peace When There ..."
"Beautiful, and some very good things to keep in mind this year. I don't really ..."

Listening to Sacred Stillness: January Stillness
"Wonderful article; thank you. And one of my most memorable experiences has been my all ..."

Monastic Strategies: We Are Lights Shining ..."

Browse Our Archives