Stillness truly is remarkable. Nothing can go wrong in stillness. When the mind is truly peaceful, we are safe. Even when we are ill, if we are at peace, there is nothing to fear, not even death. From the deepest level of our being, we know that everything is all right. It is a remarkable way to live but when life is so busy, is it really possible?
Stillness or worry – which is better?
Worry may be exceedingly unpleasant but it is unusual for someone to be completely free of it. As a society, we are addicted to it. Commerce and the media thrive on making us worry – generating incipient fear that we will lose out if we don’t buy goods or subscribe to services that we didn’t know we needed. Once, it was okay and even good to age gracefully but now wrinkles and less-than-pure-white teeth are things to avoid, they say. This is all a far cry from stillness. As is the pressure to be up-to-date with the latest story. Well, here’s some breaking news: we don’t need breaking news.
Discover what you don’t need and be free
Whenever I think of stillness, the image of a Zen monk comes to mind. I don’t know why. Perhaps there is something about simplicity that is inherently attractive. Life is so complex now. There used to be a choice of tea, coffee or water; now you almost need encyclopaedic knowledge to make a decision. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but it makes for a busy mind in even the most mundane things.
The antidote is to drop the clutter from our minds. When you find yourself chasing after something, just stop for a moment. Ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” Take a breath or two and feel the tension in the body. Ask the question again and feel the reaction in yourself. More often than not, the answer will be a no and you can let go.
Clarity switches the light on
If we stop thinking about trivia, cease our worrying and end our chasing after rainbows (or unicorns now, I’m told), we begin to relax and let our energy settle. We start to enjoy greater clarity and feel more alert. Light enters the mind.
When we practise taiji, we begin by standing still to do just that. It is as though we have a glass of muddy water. The mud starts to settle. The water gradually clears as a result of the non-movement. If we can then move without stirring up the muddy sediment, we have learned the skill of stillness in action.
You don’t need to learn taiji to experience this. Just sit or stand. Be still. Breathe. And enjoy being alive. There – you’ve saved your life!
Cutting down on too much thinking and doing is tremendously powerful. Read more in my book The Art of Not Doing .