Finding Stillness Online
We do not expect to find stillness online.
Some of us find it difficult to have a normal conversation online, and more challenging to pay attention to wisdom. It is unusual to meet someone who knows how to listen online. We have a hard time imagining how to find sacred stillness online.
It is easy for us to become distracted in our everyday lives. We get even more caught up in chasing the shiny objects which cross our paths when we are on the computer.
How can we find, and spend time with, people who practice listening to sacred stillness online?
One of the ways I practice listening to sacred stillness is called centering prayer.
Centering prayer is both a form of prayer and a way to practice becoming more open to the presence of the sacred. It is based in understanding God, the sacred, is always with us. When we seem to be far from God it is because we are distracting ourselves or getting in our own way. Centering prayer goes beyond the thoughts, words, or feelings which tend to draw our attention away. We prayer as we give our silent consent to the presence and action of spiritual life in our lives.
One of the things I appreciate most about centering prayer is there are no rules.
Centering prayer is a way for us to leave behind the clutter of expectations and requirements which get in our way.
We can let go of our own, conscious and unconscious, assumptions about what God is like and what prayer should be. Breathing deeply, we release the tensions demanding our attention and let the stresses of the world go past. We find rest in the stillness and solitude, and stop getting in our own way.
When We Practice Listening to Stillness Online
We can practice centering prayer together online as well as in person.
Centering prayer helps us remember and practice what we believe to be true, remember and be who we are.
In some ways. it is like relating to another person. As we get to know each other more intimately, we do not need to speak. We become able to know each other beyond words.
Next month, another spiritual director and I are beginning an online centering prayer group which will meet each week. We will create space in the midst of the confusion and noise online where we can find some stillness.
Our practice will not be complicated. We will gather on Zoom and begin with either a reading or a short piece of music. Those of us who come together will practice centering prayer for several minutes. We will share another short reading and then we will go our individual ways.
Our intention is not to force anyone into anything or convince anyone. We will practice together, each experiencing the power of sacred stillness. Everyone is welcome to join us in opening ourselves to sacred stillness.
This will not be a discussion group or a seminar for us to talk about praying. We will come together online, settle into the stillness, and spend some time listening. It is a way for us to experience being together, even when it is online, and listen to sacred stillness.
There is power in the stillness within us and all around us, but we are often too distracted to pay attention. This will be an opportunity for us to practice listening to the stillness.
Even while we are not taking to each other, the shared stillness of our online community encourages us. We support each other and practice listening together.
Sharing Stillness Online Together
Each of us will sit still, close our eyes, breathe deeply, and listen to sacred stillness. We will each practice listening to sacred stillness for ourselves, and we will share the stillness we experience.
Opening ourselves to sacred stillness, the stillness we experience will be unique for each us. We will each practice being open to our own version of the sacred, and our experience will also be shared.
There will be significant truth and significant comfort in the stillness for each of us. What we hear will grow and develop over time. Each week will be its own, and our listening will become deeper as we practice.
Our online community will become stronger even as we do not talk about our experiences of stillness.
Paying attention to the stillness we share will help us not get caught up in distractions. The stillness will draw us together and we will not allow small talk to push up apart.
Over time, week by week, we will begin to recognize how each other listens. Sharing stillness together will allow us to pay attention and learn the rhythms of each other’s listening.
Our sharing stillness online together gives spiritual life opportunities.
Breathing In the Stillness Online
Our practice together is all about being open to what is already around all us and within us.
We do not need to analyze or prepare or work our way into stillness. All we do is sit still, breathe deeply, close our eyes, and practice being open to sacred stillness. We do not need to earn the presence of the sacred or find a particular level of understanding.
Pausing to listen and pay attention, the distractions fade away and we listen.
We are not required to achieve anything or become anything. The stillness is all around us and within us, and is already sacred.
Taking time to listen together, we discover we are already listening to the stillness within us. The stillness all around us is the same stillness as it is within us.
Please plan to join us as we begin listening to sacred stillness online together next month. I will share more information, or ask if you have any questions.
We will explore the joys, and challenges, of listening together each week.
Will you join us as we share stillness online together beginning next month?
Where will we find stillness online today?
[Image by ((brian))]
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 StrategicMonk.com and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.