The other day, gun violence came to our neighborhood.
We were walking our dog to the local dog park when we heard helicopters overhead. The streets, which should have been filled with homeward bound commuters, were strangely empty.
When we arrived at the park, people had gotten the news via their iPhones: there was a shoot out taking place nearby.
Devi recognized the street and wondered…
We know a family who lives on that street whose son has been struggling with drugs, violence and mental illness. Devi felt a twisting, crying energy in her gut.
The news streamed in…yes, it was our friend’s son—he had wounded a police officer before taking his own life.
What is it about tragic events that calls us to silence and stillness?
There’s a profound message in this impulse. The message is: remember the sacred nature of life; connect to it; let it guide you.
It’s hard to remember the sacred when you’re multi-tasking. By stopping, a space opens up within you and around you. It takes stopping and stillness, to see what has been there all along.
Yes, that’s what stillness reveals: that the sacred nature of life is ever-present; that all life is sacred.
You don’t have to do anything to achieve sacredness.
Nobody does. It’s not a prize. Not an award. It’s what you are. Me too. Everybody and everything. It’s all sacred.
But, the mind has a hard time with stillness; the mind cries, “What about the violence? If life is sacred, where does all the violence come from? And don’t we have to do something to stop it?”
There are many ways of analyzing and answering these questions. The mind can take many perspectives: political, historical, economic, religious.
But, before you adopt any perspective, consider this: what is the quality of consciousness that you bring to the perspective?
It’s not the perspective that is primary—it’s the consciousness that “looks” through the perspective.
Consciousness is primary; perspective is secondary, which is why stopping and stillness are so vital.
Before you analyze, and definitely before you act, be still.
Don’t perpetuate the patterns of the past. Be still.
Don’t seek answers or even understanding. Be still.
Breathe and let the waves of emotionality settle; be still and reconnect to the sacred essence of life and your life.
How often in a typical day do you stop and become still?
Do you practice stillness or are you constantly on the move?
Do you rest in the sacred nature of life as-it-is or are you perpetually rushing forward? Straining to make things happen? Controlling people and events?
If so, you’re not alone.
We’ve all been conditioned as perpetual motion machines; this never-stopping compulsion obscures the recognition of life’s sacred nature. It’s the relentless (and reactive) movements of the mind that create the conditions for violence.
We all need to become better students of stillness.
This is not a plea for inaction—there is a need for wise and healing action. An acute, even an urgent need. But wise and healing action only arises from a consciousness that is awake to the sacred.
The scattered, speedy, emotionally fragmented consciousness is blind to the sacred. Actions that arise from a reactive mind only add more violence to the mix. (This is true on a global scale and around the dinner table.)
Which is why stillness is the pre-requisite for healing and helping the world.
By cultivating your capacity for stillness, you serve the world.
By deepening your attunement to the sacred, you heal the world.
Today—and every day from now on—make time for stillness and silence.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise