Be Still and Know . . . . . . . .

What is stillness?? What is the importance of it for society today?? I had an epiphany during a period of prolonged silence’: the overriding directive was stillness of mind. In the absence of stillness, the brain will grasp for any stray thought or distraction. It is through mindfulness that stillness can be attained.  Regarding mindfulness, there are societal distractors, i.e. news, cell phones, televisions shows and advertisements. There are also the internal distractions of memory, sleep, imagination, accurate perception and inaccurate perception. These maintain the mind in constant flux. By and large, many people overlook the benefits of stillness. This can cause serious negative impacts on the mind and the body. Stillness for the mind and body can be very refreshing, it can be and is very rejuvenating. 

Photo by Samuel Silitonga on

Modern society does not value stillness. Stillness can be mis-interpreted as idleness, as mindlessness. Idleness means to do nothing. Mindlessness is an inactive state of mind that is characterized by reliance on distinctions drawn in the past. Of course, neither of these states is desirable, at length. To do things is to exist in society. There is no time for idleness. It is through activity that society is sustained, both the advantageous and the non-advantageous aspects. The majority of things that people do in society are enacted to a greater or lesser degree in a mindless state. This is not necessarily bad. Some things must be committed to routine. The issue is that, when the many actions that one conducts are carried out in a rote manner, one has summarily relinquished the state of awareness for the sake of seeming convenience.

When the mind is not still, there is grasping. Language, for all of the advantages that it bestows, is a major source of grasping. Language is primarily used to describe the external world. This is what was realized during the period of prolonged silence. When stillness is forced upon the mind and body, through silence, the only place to go is within one’s self. The ability to experience the internal landscapes is heightened through silence, through stillness. Through stillness the mud in the pond subsides, the bottom of the pond can be observed with clarity. Stillness allows one to experience the fullness of their own clarity, sans grasping.

The Vastness of Space in the Blink of an Eye

To subdue the quality of grasping one must realize, must ‘see’ that externalizing is the causative element for the uprooting ‘stillness’. Modern society thrives on and is sustained through various states of distractedness. New cell phones, the latest T.V. show, good and bad news, unresolved memories, inaccurate perceptions (perceptions in general). These and other sources of distraction serve as ground upon which the mind becomes anchored. There can be no stillness of the midst of seemingly endless distractions. Thus, the mind can drift or hop from one distraction to the next, unimpededly.     

Mindfulness can be the vehicle through which stillness is attained. Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. Modalities that unite breath and attentiveness through a (singular) act: i.e. meditation, yoga asana, pranayama, taiji, qigong can be used to experience mindfulness and to achieve stillness. It is through mindfulness that the mind comes to a complete awareness of what is, at that moment and at the series of moments.

Achieving stillness is a conscious act. One does not blank the mind, as is commonly assumed. One must practice the capacity to fully inhabit and experience the completeness of that state. Like on a clear winter’s day (in the north) after the snowstorm has blown past. There is the occurrence in the sky of that cloudless clarity which one can only experience. According to Makeda Penny Cooke: Being in stillness reduces responses in the parasympathetic system, which is responsible for fight or flight and increases responses in the sympathetic system, responsible for rest and relaxation. In other words, it calms your mind allowing you to feel more at peace and less stressed out. Stillness can provide other benefits as well.

Stillness is undervalued in today’s world. It is mistakenly viewed as idleness or mindlessness. Absence of stillness can elicit states of agitation and distractedness in the mind. People unconsciously grasp by using language. However, achieving stillness is an attainable goal. Utilizing practices that promote a  focused awareness can create a state of non-distractedness. This state becomes easier to sustain with continued practice.

In North Austin, TX contact the trainers at Ab-Sutra Wellness and Fitness Trainers for instruction in mindfulness techniques.

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