Thomas Keating, a Trappist, monk and author, once said that our minds, hearts, and souls are like basins of dirty water. When stirred, the water is cloudy and our vision obscured. But when the water has been at rest, the dirt filters down to the bottom, leaving the water clear. We can then see our lives and our interactions with others with greater clarity.
The second habit of love is STILLNESS. “Stillness is as much a physical experience as it is a psychological and spiritual state. As the muscles in our bodies let go of their tension in Stillness, the inner condition of our body changes from being tense and overheated to being clean and refreshed. Our breathing, transitions from choppy and irregular to a calm and slow rhythm.” Ed Bacon
When we are in a state of stillness, a quiet yet powerful transformation occurs. Our minds quiet down and a peace comes over us. In this state of mind we can free ourselves from fear and make calm and collective choices. Thomas Merton wrote of this place of stillness describing it as “It is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God…which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will or of anybody else…It is like a pure diamond blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody.”
Jonathon Franzen a novelist, says that “ Stillness is the point where you can actually make responsible decisions, where you can actually engage productively with an otherwise scary and unmanageable world.”
Where can you find stillness during the most active part of your day? As you are knocking on doors and teaching in homes? “With practice and time anyone can access their inner stillness at any time, preventing us from reacting defensively in life and in relationships. With stillness we are open to life and are lovingly present.” (Ed Bacon) How do you access stillness? Prayer, meditation, contemplation, yoga….we each can reach a Godly level of consciousness in our own way.
Would you like to do an experiment? Betty Sue Flowers, an educator and author came up with this one. Write a brief outline of your autobiography in three different ways: first as a victim, then as a hero and finally as a learner. It will be three very different stories with different energies and different outcomes.
A victim feels the need to be defended, vindicated, or avenged. A hero needs justification, ego promotion or validation. A learner seeks illumination, correction and direction. Learners open themselves to discovering the new in every situation, particularly challenging ones.
As you are praying can you feel yourself relaxing, lowering your defenses, opening up and becoming a learner? The habit of stillness is “learning prayer”
Which level of stillness are you right now? Are you a victim? A hero? A learner? With the pressures of every day falling in on us we can go to our place of stillness and move beyond our ego into a place where we open our hearts to the miraculous power of gratitude. Anxiety can be replaced by quiet confidence. Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Jewish theologian and rabbi says it best “How good it is to wrap oneself in prayer, spinning a deep softness of gratitude to God in all thoughts, enveloping oneself in the silk of a song”.
In your everyday, I pray that you find sanity, wisdom, courage, clarity and new perspectives as you open your heart and mind to be transformed to stillness and enlightment. May your prayers open the floodgates of Heaven and pour out blessings on you and your companions.