Stillness is with us all the time. It is not a product of meditation or anything else. We may practise meditation, yoga, or taiji, or lose ourselves in art, music or gardening. If we are lucky, we may experience some stillness. But these disciplines and pursuits are not responsible for that – they simply lead us back to our natural quietness. The quietness never leaves us. We just choose not to remain with it.
Stillness for health and wellbeing
Activity can be addictive. It is so much easier to distract ourselves by being constantly busy than to be still. When we are still, we have to face ourselves. That can be uncomfortable so we have become very adept at avoidance. If we can’t find something to do, we look for entertainment of some sort. Even the small pleasure of a cup of tea or coffee with a friend seems to require an examination of smartphones these days.
This can cause problems for our sense of wellbeing because the mind never rests. Some agitation is always there and the body constantly responds to our fluctuations in mood. Breathing, heart rate and blood pressure alter as our thoughts and emotions vacillate.
Unnecessarily, we wear ourselves out. Sleep patterns are less natural and fail to refresh us fully. Many modern diseases result from stress but we still keep piling it on. If this sounds a little bit grim, it is. But we can reverse the process.
Stillness is more than doing nothing – it’s an art
If we try to sit and do nothing, the mind will wander. From sheer habit, the mind grasps at some things and rejects others. The winds – the subtle energies of the body – reflect the chaotic patterns of thought. Emotions and feelings rise and fall. If we’re tired, we may drift off into sleep. Stillness, however, eludes us. Either the mind is too busy or it descends into fog.
Teachings abound on methods of training an erratic mind to come to a state of clarity and stillness. The modern way seems to be to keep going from one set of teaching or guidance to another. This is no good. Acquiring a skill takes time. It requires patience. The mind needs plain food, not an elaborate buffet that we keep picking at until we have too much.
Stick to one path
Find a way that suits you and stick to it. And keep on sticking to it. Don’t veer off course. We may be tempted to try something else. Someone may offer this teaching or that. When that happens, look at the mind that is thinking that way and don’t move. Gradually you will learn the art and become fully acquainted with your own innate stillness. And you will know that happiness and wellbeing are present here and now.
More on finding the path to stillness can be found in The Art of Not Doing
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