Seeking Stillness

“When you enter a place of stillness, you awaken the divinity within you.”

― Peggy Sealfon, Escape from Anxiety: Supercharge Your Life with Powerful Strategies from A to Z

Finding and Practicing Stillness in Every Day Life

We often hear the term “mindfulness” used to mean focused awareness, but what is stillness really? Is it an absolute quieting of the mind and body in meditation? Is stillness a state of sitting alone and breathing slowly? Is it an experience of mental and emotional blankness? How about a way to sleep sitting up? The state of stillness is definitely recognizable, and probably harder to describe than it is to experience…which we all have. Here are some ways we’ve already known stillness.

Stillness has been there to discover as you walked through a forest and stopped to feel the quiet. It’s been on a mountain path as you looked ahead to the sky’s horizon, or behind in the valley below, and you sensed inside you the vastness around you. You’ve found stillness at the base of a waterfall, or beside a rushing river, or a softly lapping stream. Stillness was there as you walked beside the ocean, breathed in and out, and listened to the waves come and go. If you were present with your attention to all this, you might have felt a connection with this gentle movement inside your own body.

You have found stillness in a moment of intimate conversation with someone you knew very well, or, incredibly, with a person you’d just met. In that moment of stillness, you saw yourself in that person across from you. You sensed a connection, and felt no fear or need to protect yourself. You were open in mind and heart, generous and curious; you might of asked yourself “Who is this and why do I feel this way?” In that moment of heightened awareness you understood you both were more than you’d imagined just a moment before, more than your identity, name, or accomplishments. You both simply were.

Stillness is in unexpected moments when you glimpse what you’ve been missing until now.

In stillness, then and now, you see what you’ve been looking for; a true sense of self. It’s a visceral connection, rather than one of thought, to self, to others, to everything that you experience, and it’s only forgettable by the mind, not the body. You recognize, perhaps for the first time, you’re at ease with your “Self”, your body, and your life. You’ve been searching for this sensation, this knowing beyond your intellect, to be complete. You also understand you’re unable to force these moments of stillness to happen. Nor can you make them last. They seem independent of you, occurring in response to certain elements coming together by chance. Or, you could say these moments of clarity are cosmic gifts in times when you’re open to receiving of them.

Find Stillness Within You in Meditation Practice

Listen to that voice in contemplation and hear your whole being speak in return. There’s another place you can find stillness; in your stillness practice of meditation and contemplation. Those moments of awareness that you’ve found in nature aren’t dependent on anything outside of you. They can be found within you. You can locate them with just a quiet desire, and a willingness to close your eyes and focus all attention inward. When your senses are turned inside you, you become present to the comings and goings of your mind, your body, and spirit. Each time you do this, you have an experience of meditation. If you observe, and listen and stay present to whatever shows up and passes in and out of your mind, less and less will appear to try to engage you. When you notice them come, and allow them to pass without a discussion, all you need mentally say, as you observe these ideas, emotions, and thoughts, is: “I see you now. I accept you now.” You’ll feel your body relax as they lose their power to distract you by tempting you to resist them or engage with them. Then you will become aware of the quiet and the stillness within you. You will be in meditation. With practice, your everyday inner voice, the voice of your thinking mind, will be quiet enough for you to hear the voice that speaks from a place of completeness inside you. Listen to that voice, it’s you purest and most essential self that you hear. Listen to that voice and hear your whole being speak in return. This place of stillness has been identified as contemplation by Thomas Merton, and Centering Prayer by Thomas Keating. Once you practice a state of meditation, you will experience contemplation.

Listen to that voice in contemplation and hear your whole being speak in return.

As you allow and accept all that you experience in meditation, you grow your ability to stay present to all that comes and goes, without preference or resistance. The quiet and peace you experience here opens you to hearing and accepting the voice of pure essence, within you, and begin an intimate conversation with your True Self. Your True self is what Thomas Merton in New Seeds of Contemplation (2007) recognized as your complete and whole self. When you practice stillness in meditation and contemplation, you’ll find who you truly are. Read and hear more about contemplation from Fathers Merton and Keating by following these links:

A great audio book on the practice of contemplation is by Father Thomas Keating titled Contemplative Prayer (2005). Here are the links:

This is Your Invitation.

Find my blog and what others say about stillness within, and about meditation, and contemplation here, at Try the many links to websites and podcasts, and titles of books for a strong stillness practice of you own at Here, you will be invited to question and explore your stillness practice, with self-acceptance and with less self-criticism and doubt. You’ll be informed and inspired in your practice. You’ll find clear directions for starting and cultivating a practice of meditation and contemplation, examples of what to expect, and insight when you doubt yourself. For free! Use all this as you make your practice a daily routine. As you strengthen your practice you will receive the answers and guidance you’ve been seeking, not here, or anywhere on the internet, but right inside of you…in your own stillness.

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Jean C. Robbins

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