I believe in stillness.
This morning I saw the sun shine brighter than I’d ever seen it because of stillness. There’s a park at the end of our road that is one of the few remaining in the town of New London, CT. I enter, and there’s stillness. It’s more than simple quiet; there’s a muffling of vibration; a plunging into deep water. When I step into stillness, something remarkable happens-I connect to an intangible sense of presence, and my running thoughts and preoccupations fly away. I am pure awareness, able to experience without internal comment.
I remember when I first began to value stillness. I had moved to Providence, RI after living in NYC for most of my adult life. I never thought I would move. But working in the South Tower and being there on 9/11 changed that for me. I moved away to spend more time with my mother, then in her late 70’s.
I started running in the early morning, at first around a grassy field bordered by woods, then along a two-mile dirt path through old trees. I’d end my runs by going into the woods and sitting on the ground or a rock. I would just sit, trying not to move. I was silent. I practiced being still. Soon I could sit so still, I spooked the squirrels. I was as still as a rock, but as ethereal as the air.
I began to notice something. In stillness, my mind was like a deep lake. Placid and beautiful. Crystal-clear. Discerning. Like a mirror, the still water was able to reflect to me who I am, where I was in the world. And like a clear, thick piece of glass, stillness allowed me to see to my very bottom.
When I pull back and consciously choose to be this placid lake, I see my thoughts separately, and more clearly. I can observe them as things outside my true being, outside the lake I am, and gently move in the direction of peace. This is how I know finer thoughts and heartfelt longings, beauty, and everything that makes my heart swell with happiness.
I just got laid off from my job, and I couldn’t be happier. So many more glorious opportunities for stillness: being lost in the rhythmic sound of gently running water in the kitchen sink. The quiet of an empty house.
Paying attention to these things now, I realize how my thoughts had drowned out the pulse of my everyday life. And now, after five years of being away from the city, stillness has allowed me to hear my heart clearly when it says, “come home, come back,” and soon I’ll moving back.
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