We might also be imposing an impossibly high bar on ourselves, expecting to become within seconds like a monk who literally grew up with a sitting practice. You do not need a pristine body and mind to meditate. You do not need years of experience to practice. (Is it any wonder that so many of us feel like we are failures at meditation?) I remember how it shifted something inside me to hear Sharon Salzberg admit that to this day she, too, begins her sitting with a chattering mind that often just needs to talk itself out of distractions.
But here’s the thing: we are not alone when we meditate. When we go into meditation, as with prayer, as with an Akashic Records practice, we enter a safe and supported space. Our first ally that meets us is the energy of stillness. Stillness wants to help us deepen into ourselves. It will do this if you let it. Notice where stillness already is in your body, and then welcome it, and allow it to expand through you. You do not have to “do” anything but allow.
Stillness is more important than silence because it is the gateway energy. It can lead you to inner silence if you let it. You can even sit, as I have, with an endlessly chattering mind, and emerge minutes or an hour later feeling reinvigorated, as if you have experienced something profound. You may even get a piece of guidance if you are attuned to the whispers that slip between your thoughts.
Stillness can feel like a force that gently and lovingly holds your body in place. It can get to the point where you will have to make an effort to rouse yourself out of its embrace. When I first started noticing Stillness I was a little overcome by how long and delicious my meditations were getting to be, and a part of me thought, “This is too much! I can’t sit around for this long.” (What I was truly saying was I couldn’t take those astronomical levels of love I was experiencing in meditation.) I would try to get up, or even just shake my head, but was surprised at much effort it took. Stillness wanted me to stay to receive whatever was coming through for me. And I learned to allow this to happen more and more.
Eventually I would recognize the presence of Stillness in the course of my daily life, and see it as an invitation to sit and receive. I have gotten home with bags of groceries and felt Stillness greet me at the door. I dropped everything and sat. I have felt Stillness come over me while walking through a NYC park, so I sat by a tree with my eyes wide open while crowds of people walked by, and let Stillness bring me to trance.
I now invite Stillness a couple conscious breaths at a time while I hike, while I rockhound (it’s how I find my crystals!), while I stare at the river or the stars. I do it while chopping vegetables or riding the train. Sometimes I even do it while watching Netflix. It is a practice that grows and deepens in the small moments.
If this resonates or makes you curious, I hope you try noticing how Stillness is waiting eagerly for the opportunity to bring you into deeper connection with your Self, life, and everything around you. I am eager to hear what opens up for you!