“He leadeth me beside still waters”
Yesterday afternoon I watched a troupe of mimes performing solo exhibitions as the sun splayed across the floor in a theater at Pomona College. Birds sang outside the open door in the May light. Through the mimes, I was reminded again of the powerful messages expressed through movement and the value of its counterpoint, stillness. Western life in the 21st century places little value on stillness. The idea of doing nothing is anathema in contemporary American culture. The media does not advertise the benefits of stillness. Modern life thrives on meaningful motion. And yet as the Bible and the Byrds remind us, “to everything there is a season.”
As the world seems to go faster and faster with its instant media messaging, where are the places to reflect, absorb, and process all our intake of outward stimulation? We know from the physical world that contrast is integral to life and creativity in many ways. Expression and impression. We see this through our physical design, breathing in and out, through the cycle of nature, darkness and light, planting and harvesting. And through nurturing our bodies, taking in food, eating and eliminating, resting and wakefulness. The artist sees it through shape and negative space. The musician, in the space between notes, the graphic designer in text and white space.
As we prepare ourselves for the spiritual path, master teacher Michael Beckwith reminds us, it is important to become still and receptive to the truth. The quiet mind is an elegant and lovely instrument. Stillness allows us to simply be, to notice, and to allow new thoughts and possibilities to enter our awareness. Stillness can free us from habitual thought and the patterns of history. This simple return to quiet can be done anywhere, any time, eyes wide open. Take a moment or two, to simply be.