What Does It Mean to Be a People of . . . STILLNESS
Reflections on Stillness:
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,
to lose myself
inside this soft world…
Mary Oliver, from her poem Mindful
By slowing down and relishing the unfolding of every experience, you aren’t choosing to be less accomplished or productive than others. You’re choosing to be accomplished and productive in ways they may not even understand. You’re choosing to change what’s within your own heart and mind, thereby becoming a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem. By no longer rushing through, you’re choosing to stop focusing so much of your energy on the wanting and yearning, the wishing it was done, the frustration with what hasn’t happened yet; and to make, instead, the most of every experience as it unfolds at its own pace.
The practice of turning off voices that aren’t ours.
The practice of making space for deeper truth to speak.
The practice of finding peace.
The practice of living in the breath of the Divine.
Find Stillness in Gratitude
Some say we sit in stillness in order to clear away our thoughts. But others remind us that certain thoughts are the doorway into stillness. That’s exactly what Carrie Newcomer tries to get us to understand and experience with her poem Three Gratitudes. In this poem, she helps us notice how filling our heads and hearts with gratitude “softens our lives” and opens a still space free of worry and want. Or to put it another way, sinking into gratitude stills us. What a paradox: if we allow gratitude to swirl around us, we suddenly discover ourselves centered. Like sitting in the eye of hurricane. Our gratitude pulls us out of our past, silences our worries about the future and allows us just “to be” in the present, with the abundance of riches right in front of us, right here and right now.
So give it a try this month for yourself: Surround yourself with gratitude and let it lead you to stillness. There are numerous ways to do it. Read over or listen to Newcomer’s poem multiple times and let her gratitude remind you of your own. Or better yet, use her poem as a guide and pick a quiet night or calm morning to write your own three gratitudes poem. Or just sit down and make a list of all you are thankful for. The important (and fun) part is to see how many gratitudes it takes for you to find calm, stillness and a deeper peace.
Find Three Gratitudes at…
Taking It Home: Ideas for All Ages
Sometimes we can extend the range of our abilities by playing with extremes. So, to fully experience stillness, we’re first going to get really active and energized. How about salsa dancing? Check out the two how-to clips below and learn or practice steps together as a family. Dance for about 10 minutes, or however long works with your family’s attention spans:
Once you are good and energized, everybody get into a comfortable position, and put on this video of rain in the rainforest. Listen to it for the same amount of time that you danced and try to be as still as possible. Make sure family members know it’s ok to scratch an itch, or sneeze; the goal is to really feel stillness as opposed to exuberant movement:
One great gift of stillness is that it rejuvenates us for more play. So end your session with another bout of dancing!
Note: Afro-Latin partner dancing has been undergoing a gender revolution for some time, with groundbreaking dancers such as Eli Torres and Yen Dorado challenging the notion that partner dancing must be male-female. One way to honor this work toward inclusivity within the dance community is to refer to the two different roles not as “man” and “woman,” but as “lead” and “follow,” or “leader” and “interpreter.” Try it out as you learn and practice salsa together as a family.
Musical and Video Connection:
We organize these lists as a journey of sorts. So consider listening from beginning to end and using the lists as musical meditations. Follow the links below to connect with this month’s “ threshold songs.”
Click here for the Spotify playlist on Stillness.
Click here for the Spotify playlist on Stillness (instrumental).
Click here for the YouTube playlist on Stillness.
Click here for the YouTube playlist on Stillness (instrumental).
Video Meditation featuring Pablo Neruda’s poem Keeping Quiet