Non-doing has nothing to do with being indolent or passive. Quite the contrary. It takes great courage and energy to cultivate non-doing, both in stillness and in activity. Nor is it easy to make a special time for non-doing and to keep at it in the face of everything in our lives which needs to be done. ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
It’s seven a.m. on a Saturday. The sun’s just coming up and casting angular shadows across my yard. I went out for the past couple of days and trimmed the tree in front and the fairy duster in back, raking up the mess and stacking it for pick up by the city this coming week. I did it as a kind of active meditation because I needed to ground myself and get back into my life.
I realized that right now, I need silence and stillness. I need the quiet room of my mind. I need blank pages and hot tea and lots of green vegetables. I need vitamins and soft pajamas and rice protein smoothies. I need to drizzle myself with calming words.
What I don’t need is to pay attention to the on-going sh*t storm in this country, and the rest of the world.
How do I remain centered, when the world is off-kilter?
I’ve realized how self-protective I have to be, having looked too long and hard at things like the images of a woman in Saudi Arabia who was given 200 lashes because she was gang raped. I repeat, she was attacked and gang raped. So, the authorities punished her for being a nasty slut. Because, obviously, she asked those men to attack her.
96 elephants are poached each day in Africa, so someone in China can put a carving made from their ivory tusks, up over the mantle in their house. Every fifteen minutes, one is killed. We are less than a decade away from wiping elephants — who’ve been here for 50 million years — off the face of the earth. We are doing this so we can carve their teeth into trinkets and use the proceeds to support terrorism. (The killings in the mall in Nairobi were supported by poaching funds.)
We are awash in ‘reality’ TV that celebrates stupidity and things like marital rape and trophy hunting. Some dickwad in Texas (which seems to have an endless supply of them) shot an elephant in the face for his television show on NBC, laughed at it while it died, and then posed for pictures on its corpse. When there was a completely predictable backlash online, he accused his detractors of being Nazis.
This world has gone nuts. It has gone completely bonkers, coo-coo for cocoa puffs, crazy as crack. It is a panoramic view of the lower worlds: greed, anger, stupidity and hell.
Sometimes, retreat is the smart move.
So, for the past few days, I’ve stepped off the trollop train, and crawled into the comfortable and safe silence of my house.
My cat, Elvis, has been climbing into bed with me each morning and pushing his face into the cup between my left shoulder and my ear. Once there, he purrs and kneads my arm, nested like a little bug in my long hair. He is pure love and he knows how much I need that right now.
The natural world (animals, plants) seems to intuitively know things that human beings are slow to pick up. Don’t poison the environment where you live. Take only what you need. Maintain balance. Take care of your own.
Live simply, so others may simply live.
The teaching of the Buddha is: Find time and a place to remain unoccupied. That’s what meditation is all about. Find at least one hour every day to sit silently doing nothing, utterly unoccupied, just watching whatsoever passes by inside. In the beginning you will be very sad, looking at things inside you; you will feel only darkness and nothing else, and ugly things and all kinds of black holes appearing. You will feel agony, no ecstasy at all. But if you persist, persevere, the day comes when all these agonies disappear, and behind the agonies is the ecstasy. ~ Osho
I think we all need to just sit back and take a breath. The intense energy that is flooding this planet right now, alongside the tremendous sea changes that are happening for everyone alive, make this a time to take stock, a time to reassess where we are each headed, and to make a course correction if need be.
We need to sit still. We need to listen for the still small voice inside. For the bird-like voice of our spirits. The larger world may be a rabble-rouser, but if you are like me, that will never be a place you feel most at home.
Home for me is a place of stillness. It is the place to pray and ruminate. It is the place to write, sleep, read, and ponder. Home offers me the solace of raking leaves or cooking stew or watching old movies.
I step out of madness and I let myself simply be.
Home: nest for my heart, quiet cathedral of the mind.
Here, I shut out the world, re-group, and re-invent myself, so I can live to fight another day.
© 2013 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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2 thoughts on “Stillness”
Thank you, Shavawn, for this wonderful post. The world is often too much with us and we need to retreat to regain balance. We are so blessed to have homes that are refuges, to have critters who remind us that touch and breath are enough. As teachers, we know we have to model this ability to retreat, recoup, breathe. It is my experience that young people today are incredibly sensitive and in need of help to cope with the deluge of bad-news that engulfs us. I try to make my classrooms places of peace, of trust, of refuge where we can rage and ache and question and forge a way through; I couldn’t do this if I did not take time to find my balance. This past week was very hard, on personal fronts as well as taking in more “bad news” from the world. I am reading your post on a day where I have (mostly) unplugged and have rested all day. Taken care of myself, my family. Hunkered down. So thank you! Know that 3000 miles away there is a kindred soul who struggles as you do and who admires your ability to recount your journey.
Thanks, Kelly! I have been feeling pretty overwhelmed lately. I appreciate your kind words. It is good to know others are out there, doing the work, too!