If we are going to navigate life well, we must nurture the gift of stillness. Distractions will vie for our attention, but only one that is true will be heard if we quiet ourselves and be still.
Looking up at the stars through a crisp, clear winters night I wondered just how fast they were moving. I’m no astrophysicist, but I do know that whole cosmos is moving.
I was moving at somewhere near 1000 mph compared to the center of the earth. But then the earth was rotating around the Sun at 19 miles per second, or 67,000 miles per hour, or 110,000 kilometers per hour (110 million meters per hour).
Everything is on the move – fast.
Have you found a still place?
Still the same [pullquote]The self must know stillness before it can discover its true song. Ralph Brum [/pullquote]
As I looked up at that glorious night sky of the Milky Way, floating with all its wild stillness, I could pick out various star patterns. In the Southern Hemisphere, we have the Crux commonly known as the Southern Cross.
Ancient Mariners used this pattern as navigation pointer. A cross to point the way home.
What stays the same for us today?
What keeps us navigating through life with a sense of security?
The writer of the Biblical book of Hebrews says this.
For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow,
he’s always totally himself. Hebrews 13:8 The Message
Jesus is always totally himself. There is, was and will always be a stillness about the wholeness of Christ. A wholeness that I am invited to marry my life to.
My life moves and yours also. If I were to meditate too long on the speed of star systems, my mind would lose perspective on the stillness offered now.
I have a monkey mind. It bounces, floats, and jumps from topical tree to topical tree. It’s alive and seems untamed at times.
Stillness begins with the observation that we aren’t still. That we get distracted, easily.
So to find stillness one has to understand that it must be sought. It doesn’t just fall into your lap.
To grow the gift of stillness we need to see that it is also a discipline, an exercise, training, a habit. Stillness becomes an inner strength that characterizes you apart from the rushing mass.
How to grow stillness
- Spend time alone doing nothing.
Spend maybe five minutes, to begin with, quietly sitting somewhere that you won’t be interrupted. You may like to have a timer on to notify you when five minutes is finished. Make sure you turn off all notifications if you’re using your phone.
- Give yourself permission to be still
You have so much to do, don’t you, but let’s take 5 minutes to be.
- Just observe – no judgments
Your mind is going to present lots of options for you to think about and to do. That is the mind doing its job. Just observe what comes up as if you were a bystander. Make no judgments about what is brought to your attention. Just let those intrusions float through you to a time when you will deal with them.
- Listen and feel your breathing.
That breath that was blown into you by God. Feel it down deep and then let float out. Repeat, slowly and gently.
- Come back by giving thanks
As you move out of stillness say thank you to yourself for doing this. Say thank you to God for the gift of stillness.
You may want to explore the topic of Mindfulness.
As you practice being still, you will begin to notice that an inner stillness grows within you like a mighty oak tree. Not much can shake someone who has developed this resilient strength.
Quotes to Consider
- In the inner stillness where meditation leads, the Spirit secretly anoints the soul and heals our deepest wounds. John of the Cross
- I used to think anxiety and insomnia drove me to success, but it was the stillness that let me be good at anything. When you extend the seconds of stillness, that’s when you’re able to think and learn. Russell Simmons
Real transformation seldom comes simply from reading a book or listening to a lecture. It requires the fertile place of solitude and stillness. It demands the openness of heart and mind that can only be given when space is created for whatever measure of stillness we can receive from God and are then prepared to offer back to God as our gift. David Benner
- People with handicaps teach me that being is more important than doing, the heart is more important than the mind, and caring together is better than caring alone. Henri Nouwen
Questions to answer
- What are the challenges you face when you want to be still?
- Is being more important than doing? Why or why not?
- What invite is there for you in Jesus being ‘always totally himself’?
Image cc: Teddy Kelley
Barry is a writer, coach, and course creator that has a passion for Mental Health and Spiritual Formation.
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