Stillness - being in the world around us but not of it. The more effortless it is the stiller we are.
When I use to think about stillness my reference point was identifying the calmness and serenity of the outside world around me where activity is constant, sometimes chaotic and not without its moments of relief. I wanted to know how I could experience that stillness within myself. I was learning to connect as one with the world around me and it helped me connect to the infinitely supportive, colorful and multidimensional world within me.
Today I’ve come to understand stillness as an ability to exist in the world around me without being of it. Meaning, I can consume but I needn’t be consumed by it. Sort of like being the biggest fish in a very large ocean. The more effortless I find it is to be still, the more I am able to recognize the increasing quality of this stillness as my level of internal happiness. This happiness is what allows me to move forward in life and successfully engage in activity, or inactivity, which ever is required of me to choose the highest path at any given moment. That was a pretty long sentence. How about a relatively long illustration to drive this point home?
Imagine a river with its rocks, its size, its depth and the direction the water flows. The river bed is like our reality, our container; and our consciousness is the all enveloping body of moving water. The rocks, earth, living creatures and activity that exist in and around the river are like the characters of our life - people, places, things, ideas, events - so as the water moves steadily in one direction it moves with its environment continuously flowing as it needs to get to where it’s going. It plays its crucial part in nourishing and supporting the success and health of the ecosystem that it is inextricably a part of. If for a moment we can relate our unique existence to this metaphor it becomes easier to grasp how we can experience a sense of stability and stillness within an active life without being consumed or distracted by it for too long. One way of putting it is there can be moments of pain but suffering does not need to be prolonged. If suffering prevails, consider our consciousness of stillness morphing into a stagnant body of stinky, infested water. It’s true, that was a pretty undesirable description of a polluted mode of existence. And it needn’t be the case, unless there is a purpose for it and there is always purpose in every moment of our life.
So the take away from this message is that stillness is a gateway to navigate life from an empowered place in time and [an often unpredictable] space. This stillness can only be accessed when we go within first to successfully live from that inner world to the external world that is around us at all times.