Close your eyes and picture a leaf clothed in a color of autumn, floating gently through the music of a mellow breeze. The leaf sails through the air, until it encounters a flowing river, it softly descends, and tenderly kisses the moving waters.
The river embraces the autumn leaf, and carries it off to the nearest sea.
Through it all, the leaf remains still.
It was through this imagery, within this thought, while lying in savasana, that I finally understood the meaning and the beauty of stillness.
I remember my first encounter with the concept of stillness. I was eight years old, and it was in Sunday school, the teacher quoted Psalm 46:10, and it quickly became my favorite memorized verse. I’ve carried that verse within my heart into my early 20s, it echoed within me in my darkest of times, and the string of words brought balance, in my most unstable of times.
I loved the idea that trying to be still often felt like being stuck. My life did not feel like the journey of the leaf I described above. Instead, I felt more like a leaf that was trapped under a rock, always fighting to break free. I felt the pain of heartbreak, the burden of regret, the disappointments of failure, the hardships and unpredictabilities of life, crushing my soul, and pinning me down.
I was stuck.
I actually tried to force myself into being stuck, because I never really knew what it meant to be still. Somewhere in the midst of this frustration, I gave up on stillness. I believed that being still meant that I had to suffer and endure the weight of all that was weighing me down.
So I continued fighting it.
It was only years later, after yoga and meditation became part of my daily practice, that the concept of stillness was reintroduced to me. I would find myself dwelling on what it meant to be still during moments of savasana and meditation.
I once came across a Wiccan quote:
“I stand in stillness behind all motion.”
This quote stirred something within me, and awakened an awareness I was oblivious to before.
Later, I came across another quote, by Deepak Chopra:
“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.”
I realized that the concept of stillness could be found in nearly every religion, faith, and worldview. The longing for stillness can be traced to the beginnings of mankind, and the practice of stillness can be observed in the animal kingdom, and displayed through the essence of nature.
It was shortly after, in a sweaty, evening yoga class, during savasana, while I was picturing the journey of a still autumn leaf, unruffled by its circumstances, that I finally understood the meaning and the beauty of stillness.
Physically, nothing in my life changed. My circumstances remained the same, the pain of heartache cut just as deep, my mistakes still haunted me, but I no longer saw these things as a rock weighing me down. Instead, I saw my heartache as my own wind of chaos, a chaos that set my soul and my heart free. My mistakes turned into beautiful lessons, lessons that were now the music of a gentle breeze, that carried me to new places, new discoveries, new experiences, and my hardships and circumstance liquified into my own gentle, flowing river, that would carry me into the future of new possibilities and new chances.
It was then, that I knew stillness.
Being still is very different than being stuck. In stillness, the chaos of the world doesn’t affect me. In stillness, I am untouched by circumstances. In stuckness, the chaos of life burdens me and weighs me down. In stillness I move gracefully through life’s circumstances. In stuckness, I am pinned down by life’s circumstances. In stillness, the circumstances, hardships, and pains of life serve me, in stuckness, I am a slave to my circumstances, hardships, and pain. Stillness is in the mind, and it can be unlocked through the wisdom and art of perception.
Close your eyes and picture a leaf clothed in a color of autumn, floating gently through the music of a mellow breeze. The leaf sails through the air, until it encounters a flowing river, it softly descends, and tenderly kisses the moving waters. The river embraces the autumn leaf, and carries it off to the nearest sea. Through it all, the leaf remains still.
Author: Inna Stasyuk
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: author’s own