Stillness is a much ignored and underrated power. Stillness may even be perceived as a oxymoron when used in the same sentence as “power”. But those who have practiced meditation understand that stillness is the gateway to the higher consciousness.
To appreciate stillness, one can begin with its opposite. That might be stress, anxiety, or its physical opposite; movement. In human evolution we acquired the gift of the stress response. The ability to instantly raise our physical and mental abilities to a very high level so that we could survive through fight or flight. Most people have heard of this and know it is as the fight or flight response or stress response.
But what many people do not realize is that nature also gifted us with its antidote. The nature of the Tao contains the creative element of change. Circumstances are always changing. It can be observed in weather and climate patterns. On the daily scale the weather will change with the sun and night (yang changing to yin). On the weekly perspective, one can observe the daily patter layered upon a slower change as weather systems and fronts come and go. Each season brings a change from the last each with its variations hourly, daily, weekly and upward. Even climate change across eons can now be observed through the study of layers of ice crystals from the Arctic ice shelf.
In these changing patterns we notice the yang and yin patterns. In our more local universe, we should also become aware of the nature of change and use consciousness to maintain the natural balance.
When we live a life too much in motion, that is too much activity in both the internal and external, the natural rhythm of our mind body is interrupted. Typically in modern society, we spend too much of our life striving for more. We eat too much, we engage in way too much emotional drama, we experience too much anxiety and stress. We over stimulate our minds with too much cognitive function whether it is working too much, to much TV drama, too much video games, too much worry, or any obsession that is too much.
This out of balance state is often easily seen. Imbalance will manifest as weight problems, financial problems, emotional problems, stress problems, or sleep problems. These imbalances will many times overlap and feed each other. This path of imbalance is one of self destruction. We must begin to moderate our path with our moment by moment choices.
How do we do that?
The antidote to too much internal and external motion is stillness. In concept and function it is very simple. Yet in application it is very difficult for most. This is because for many people, the ego has assumed control of the path we walk and it chooses distraction and sensation seeking as the central purpose in life. The only way to control the ego is to transcend it grip. This is done through meditation. Meditation is the transition to a higher state of consciousness where the true self is realized. When we stop and allow stillness to merge with being, we begin to restore balance.
There is even a clincal term for this act of nature. Dr. Herbert Benson refers to it as
“The Relaxation Response”. His book clearly defines and shows what happens with the mind body relationship when we become still.
Stillness is restoration. What we restore is balance to both the internal and external. As we sit still and the mind becomes quiet, the body will follow. What happens across our mental landscape is reflected (extended and experienced) across our physical landscape. When we concentrate our attention (awareness) outside of thinking, and allow the mind to become still, the body will follow.
As we sit in stillness, the opposite of the stress response begins to process. In stillness (the relaxation response), the heart slows, the breathing becomes deeper and slower. Blood pressure drops, the immune system activates, more oxygen is available, and most importantly, the body will release a different set of hormones that will bring about a feeling of peace. Other research now shows that regular mediation (stillness) helps to restore chromosome damage by restoration to the tips of the telemeres. (Read what Sage Dr. Deepak Chopra says about this process)
Stillness (meditation/relaxation response) slows down the aging process through efficient cell repair. I know from personal experience how effective it can be for healing sickness.
Through the practice of stillness, we can restore our emotional state, solve problems, reduce debt, become healthy, experience well being and live longer. I submit that this is very powerful indeed.
Think about it for a moment. Nature has even built in the requirement for a return to stillness. With very few exceptions, everyone one of us must sleep at some point. This is nature’s way of making us restore ourselves even when we do not have the sense to do it by choice. We can fight, resist and prolong it, but sleep will eventually overtake us. And this is because we must spend time in restoration (stillness). So, quit fighting with stillness. This is just ego.
If you can practice self discipline (ego management), you can craft your life into its optimum experience. Please… don’t fight with nature, learn to flow with nature. Balance life’s action phases with stillness phases.
Just find time to be still. Find a park bench, a porch swing, a bean bag or lay on a picnic blanket and watch the clouds in their ever changing patterns. Allow the mind/body to become still so that you can restore the ability to experience life.
From stillness we come and to stillness we will return. It is the underlying reality of being-ness. Stress is created when we resist and go against the flow of life in either the spiritual or physical realms. Learn to merge with nature and experience harmony. This is the power of mystic virtue. This is the power of stillness.