“Stop all doing and be still. Let the fire of stillness burn everything and reveal that which is Openness.” ~ Adyashanti
Sit in stillness.
Be still and know.
I’ve been seeing this message everywhere lately – even on a sign at a craft store. So cool that this idea is becoming more mainstream at a time when we need it most. The world is more full of distractions than ever in its history, so being still is critical, not only for ourselves, but the planet we live on.
When you’ve been through trauma and are working on healing, being still can be difficult. We are tempted to keep in motion, find distractions, essentially run away from our own mind where the shadows live.
We come to learn that is where we must go to defeat the shadows and find the light.
“When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
This quote from Eckhart Tolle is so true, isn’t it? And we know when we are lost in the world. It’s as if we are part of a discordant symphony. No matter how hard we try to play, the notes come out wrong. Sitting in stillness is like tuning your instrument. Until we quiet the whole orchestra, the song we are supposed to be playing cannot be heard.
It’s often difficult for people with PTSD to practice stillness and meditation at first. If our trauma is fresh, our mind can be a scary place to spend time. Left to our own devices, our mind will replay tapes of traumatic experiences. Trying to empty our mind and be still can lead to extreme discomfort and agitation. Sometimes closing our eyes is impossible, because the images are right there, ready to trouble our mind and spirit again.
I’ve been there. I’ve been afraid to close my eyes. Afraid to sit still. Afraid of the dark. Afraid of my own mind. I was lucky that I was never afraid of prayer, and that I believed in prayer on the go. I found I could pray at a stop light, in the grocery store, anywhere. Prayer was my way in to the stillness. Prayer and practice. Eventually, prayer and meditation became one.
“Stillness is the altar of the spirit.” ~ Paramahansa Yogananda
If sitting still is difficult for you, I invite you to practice. Start with only 1 minute a day. Simply sit and be still. If you have a prayer, say it. If you have a mantra, say it. Sometimes just repeating a simple phrase works, like “Be with me, God.”Just be still. If you don’t want to close your eyes, fix your gaze on something pleasant for that 1 minute, and try to quiet your mind. Stay with 1 minute for as many days or weeks as it takes to feel comfortable and at ease here. Then slowly add to it. Your mind, spirit and heart will begin to crave this minute and lead you to longer practice periods. Take your time, but take the time. The ability to sit with yourself, with God, will give you back your power, and speed your healing.
“Within yourself is a stillness, a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” ~ Herman Hesse
Think of your post-trauma self as a murky bowl of water, cloudy with stuff. We are the ones who keep it murky by constant movement, avoidance, distraction, and mindless stirring of the stuff. So how does cloudy water become clear? Stillness. The sediment sinks to the bottom and the clear water rises to the top. That which is not useful will fall away when we stop stirring and allow clarity to ascend.
“Let it be still, and it will gradually become clear.” ~ Lao Tzu
In searching for thoughts on stillness for this blog today, I was struck by how universal this idea is among all religions. From the Psalms, “Be still and know that I am God,” to Buddhism, Islam, Hindu writings, and beyond, they all point us inward as our path to draw closer to God.
There may be shadows in your mind, in your stillness, but the light and Love that knows no limit is also there, waiting for the opportunity to heal and comfort you.
“In quietness are all things answered, and is every problem quietly resolved.” ~A Course in Miracles
Be Still and Know you are Beloved.
January 29, 2018