Word of the Day: “Stillness”
Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen – that stillness becomes a radiance.~Morgan Freeman
There’s No Escaping the Manuscript Behind My Brow
Behind my brow, there’s a virtual manuscript that my mind starts to read and attach to when I’m “trying” to be still. Sometimes during those few minutes before sleep when I’m laying down with my eyes closed or when I’m sitting in silence to meditate, there’s a full editorial meeting involving checklists, drama, and fictitious scenarios at work that my mind plays out. It loves the activity, the intrigue, the thought movement. My brain can flip through the pages with vigor.
Sometimes the manuscript turns into a full fledged movie, and my brain gets sucked in like a kid in front of a television. Even as this is happening, I’m observing like a producer, and another voice sneaks in the back door and says, “hey we should be meditating here.”
Throughout my life, I’ve struggled with mind-made movies that inevitably result in anxiety, worry, fear, or guilt. As life is an ever evolving work in progress, I still experience this now and again. If I’m not careful to bring my awareness back to my breath, back to the moment, I can go down a “Watership Down” sized rabbit hole that leaves me exhausted with a headache. I have the subtle crease in my brow from years of furrowing to show for it.
What’s a yogini to do? Accept and surrender. Accept with open arms who you are, mental checklists and all, and listen. Surrender to the present moment without expectation or interpretation, and sit with the feelings that you’re experiencing. Without closing your eyes, scrunching your brow and trying to disappear and avoid the feelings and activity, be with it. Skip the escape and surrender.
If thoughts come in, imagine that they are clouds floating in and out of your mind independent of you. You are not your thoughts. You are not the manuscript. -a.c.y.
Can you relate? Stillness is a blessed gift that when it is gone it is surely missed. I further find “stillness” so accurately described in an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
The Supreme Critic on the errors of the past and the present, and the only prophet of that which must be, is that great nature in which we rest, as the earth lies in the soft arms of the atmosphere; that Unity, that Over-soul, within which every man’s particular being is contained and made one with all other; that common heart, of which all sincere conversation is the worship, to which all right action is submission; that overpowering reality which confutes our tricks and talents, and constrains every one to pass for what he is, and to speak from his character, and not from his tongue, and which evermore tends to pass into our thought and hand, and become wisdom, and virtue, and power, and beauty. We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal ONE. And this deep power in which we exist, and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are the shining parts, is the soul. Only by the vision of that Wisdom can the horoscope of the ages be read, and by falling back on our better thoughts, by yielding to the spirit of prophecy which is innate in every man, we can know what it saith. Every man’s words, who speaks from that life, must sound vain to those who do not dwell in the same thought on their own part. I dare not speak for it. My words do not carry its august sense; they fall short and cold. Only itself can inspire whom it will, and behold! their speech shall be lyrical, and sweet, and universal as the rising of the wind. Yet I desire, even by profane words, if I may not use sacred, to indicate the heaven of this deity, and to report what hints I have collected of the transcendent simplicity and energy of the Highest Law.
(from ‘Essays, First Series , “The Over-Soul,”‘ Ralph Waldo Emerson)