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Taking Refuge in the Stillness Within

We can so easily be tossed around by the currents of life. But whatever happens, there is one thing that remains ever-present: a stillness within.

Things are always changing. The clock ticks, the sun rises and sets, seedlings sprout, leaves turn from green to brown and fall. We grow up, skin wrinkles, and hair turns gray. The snow in winter is replaced by flowers in spring, and then warm winds in summer, and then the colors and calm of autumn. You're sad about something for a while and then it passes and joy comes to visit later.

Later, a moment of fear and then love and then doubt and then joy again. You eat an ice cream. It's delicious. And then it's gone. The mind flits from hopes to fears, to daydreams, to-do lists and past and future in constant motion.

Connections with people in our lives, wax and wane come and go. Babies are born, grow and leave home. Breakups, new loves friendships, all coming and going in chapters, endings and new beginnings. Nothing is permanent. Things are in constant motion.

Impermanence, it often brings with it many changes we enjoy. It's quite gorgeous to be able to watch the clouds passing overhead or the moon rising in the night sky. Most adults are quite glad to put their teenage years behind them. And I'm grateful that the suffering I experienced 20 years ago has transformed me into who I am today, led me to greater self-awareness and compassion and an ability to help others out of their own distress. And it's only because of billions of years of change in evolution that we have music and art, and that I can even speak these words and you can hear them in this way.

Fundamentally if impermanence didn't exist, nothing could happen. Reality would be frozen still. In the words of peace activist, monk and poet,Thich Nhat, Hahn, "because of impermanence, everything is possible." Now, although we can see clearly the upside of impermanence, change is not always welcome, is it? Oh, no. It can be really hard for us to accept. Some changes can be painful, frightening, or even heartbreaking.

Families, loves and friendships can drift apart. Our bodies age. We experience failures and the loss of people we love. The flowers wilt in the vase, economies crash for us to cut down, and the planet begins to warm the climate to change. Everything we try to hold on to changes and leaves.

And perhaps the most difficult to accept of all is our own impermanence and coming to the grips of the loss of life itself. Impermanence can be really hard to come to terms with. When you truly open yourself to the fact that in each moment, all things are arising, unfolding and dissolving, and that nothing is stable, permanent, or fixed, it can feel a little unnerving or stressful as time just keeps sweeping us along in it's current. When something pleasant, beautiful or wanted arises in the flow of our lives, we often grasp onto it tightly. We try to keep it the same, but inevitably it changes or dissolves again, slipping right through our fingers, right under our noses, often leaving us feeling disappointed, frustrated, or sad.

And yet, it's also true that as this dance of life is unfolding, there's one thing that always remains ever present, a stillness at the heart of who you are. A silent awareness, the space in which the dance of life is always unfolding. In that stillness, you can find refuge, a shelter from the storms and the seasons of life are quiet in the midst of the chaos, a connection to the part of yourself that transcends the passing of time and changing forms. In that stillness, you can find a home within yourself, a place to rest out of the rat race, a wellspring of ever available love and wholeness. One of the central teachings of all the world's wisdom traditions is this.

Anything that changes is not a reliable place to find lasting fulfillment. Fulfillment is something cultivated within and it's cultivated by waking up to this deeper dimension of who we are and letting it flow into our lives more and more. So how do we do that? Well, of course, meditation has long been practiced as a way of waking up to the stillness and silence inside, and I highly recommend it. But today, I'd like to share another really simple way to invite this awareness into your everyday life. It's really simple.

And it's to notice and create moments of space and stillness. It's not quite the same as ultimate stillness, but there are moments when, you know, the house is quiet and there's nothing left to do. Moments when you find yourself sitting in relative peace. And most of the time when these moments come, we tend to fill them up and start doing again. But why not relish that stillness? Why not open yourself to that stillness fully? Take a pause from the momentum of your life and just luxuriate in some time to simply be.

When you're waiting at a traffic light or in a line or any time that you just come to a stop, these can also be opportunities for you to just touch in, to wake up, to notice the stopping and the stillness as a spiritual practice. So see if you can invite more moments of stillness and presence into your days. A two-minute rest under a tree, a one minute mini meditation after you get into your car but before driving off. A short pause before sending an email. You can just punctuate your day with these little moments of stillness, just like that.

And more subtly, you can begin to pay attention to moments of space and stillness in the flow of your life like that. Momentary pause between your inhale and your exhale or the silence in between sounds. So just being attentive, wherever you can, and wherever you get the opportunity to the spaces between things, like the spaces in between thoughts. In your mind, there's always an unchanging field of awareness that is never itself altered by the thoughts or experiences that pass through it. Whenever possible, see if he can sense into that ever present awareness.

Everything that changes has an unchanging stillness at its heart. And where logic and language may fail, you might sense something sacred in that stillness. Or perhaps have an intuition that you're part of something much larger than yourself. Though it might defy explanation, you might even touch a sense of wholeness and oneness at the heart of who you are. So give yourself the space and the permission to enjoy moments of stillness, to lean into those moments of stillness, to be nourished by them, to let them fill you up, open your heart and anchor you in the depths of who you are.

Let stillness be a teacher and a friend. As my favorite poet, Rumi says, "Listen. Silence isn't empty, it's full of the answers."

Talk

4.4

Taking Refuge in the Stillness Within

We can so easily be tossed around by the currents of life. But whatever happens, there is one thing that remains ever-present: a stillness within.

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

Things are always changing. The clock ticks, the sun rises and sets, seedlings sprout, leaves turn from green to brown and fall. We grow up, skin wrinkles, and hair turns gray. The snow in winter is replaced by flowers in spring, and then warm winds in summer, and then the colors and calm of autumn. You're sad about something for a while and then it passes and joy comes to visit later.

Later, a moment of fear and then love and then doubt and then joy again. You eat an ice cream. It's delicious. And then it's gone. The mind flits from hopes to fears, to daydreams, to-do lists and past and future in constant motion.

Connections with people in our lives, wax and wane come and go. Babies are born, grow and leave home. Breakups, new loves friendships, all coming and going in chapters, endings and new beginnings. Nothing is permanent. Things are in constant motion.

Impermanence, it often brings with it many changes we enjoy. It's quite gorgeous to be able to watch the clouds passing overhead or the moon rising in the night sky. Most adults are quite glad to put their teenage years behind them. And I'm grateful that the suffering I experienced 20 years ago has transformed me into who I am today, led me to greater self-awareness and compassion and an ability to help others out of their own distress. And it's only because of billions of years of change in evolution that we have music and art, and that I can even speak these words and you can hear them in this way.

Fundamentally if impermanence didn't exist, nothing could happen. Reality would be frozen still. In the words of peace activist, monk and poet,Thich Nhat, Hahn, "because of impermanence, everything is possible." Now, although we can see clearly the upside of impermanence, change is not always welcome, is it? Oh, no. It can be really hard for us to accept. Some changes can be painful, frightening, or even heartbreaking.

Families, loves and friendships can drift apart. Our bodies age. We experience failures and the loss of people we love. The flowers wilt in the vase, economies crash for us to cut down, and the planet begins to warm the climate to change. Everything we try to hold on to changes and leaves.

And perhaps the most difficult to accept of all is our own impermanence and coming to the grips of the loss of life itself. Impermanence can be really hard to come to terms with. When you truly open yourself to the fact that in each moment, all things are arising, unfolding and dissolving, and that nothing is stable, permanent, or fixed, it can feel a little unnerving or stressful as time just keeps sweeping us along in it's current. When something pleasant, beautiful or wanted arises in the flow of our lives, we often grasp onto it tightly. We try to keep it the same, but inevitably it changes or dissolves again, slipping right through our fingers, right under our noses, often leaving us feeling disappointed, frustrated, or sad.

And yet, it's also true that as this dance of life is unfolding, there's one thing that always remains ever present, a stillness at the heart of who you are. A silent awareness, the space in which the dance of life is always unfolding. In that stillness, you can find refuge, a shelter from the storms and the seasons of life are quiet in the midst of the chaos, a connection to the part of yourself that transcends the passing of time and changing forms. In that stillness, you can find a home within yourself, a place to rest out of the rat race, a wellspring of ever available love and wholeness. One of the central teachings of all the world's wisdom traditions is this.

Anything that changes is not a reliable place to find lasting fulfillment. Fulfillment is something cultivated within and it's cultivated by waking up to this deeper dimension of who we are and letting it flow into our lives more and more. So how do we do that? Well, of course, meditation has long been practiced as a way of waking up to the stillness and silence inside, and I highly recommend it. But today, I'd like to share another really simple way to invite this awareness into your everyday life. It's really simple.

And it's to notice and create moments of space and stillness. It's not quite the same as ultimate stillness, but there are moments when, you know, the house is quiet and there's nothing left to do. Moments when you find yourself sitting in relative peace. And most of the time when these moments come, we tend to fill them up and start doing again. But why not relish that stillness? Why not open yourself to that stillness fully? Take a pause from the momentum of your life and just luxuriate in some time to simply be.

When you're waiting at a traffic light or in a line or any time that you just come to a stop, these can also be opportunities for you to just touch in, to wake up, to notice the stopping and the stillness as a spiritual practice. So see if you can invite more moments of stillness and presence into your days. A two-minute rest under a tree, a one minute mini meditation after you get into your car but before driving off. A short pause before sending an email. You can just punctuate your day with these little moments of stillness, just like that.

And more subtly, you can begin to pay attention to moments of space and stillness in the flow of your life like that. Momentary pause between your inhale and your exhale or the silence in between sounds. So just being attentive, wherever you can, and wherever you get the opportunity to the spaces between things, like the spaces in between thoughts. In your mind, there's always an unchanging field of awareness that is never itself altered by the thoughts or experiences that pass through it. Whenever possible, see if he can sense into that ever present awareness.

Everything that changes has an unchanging stillness at its heart. And where logic and language may fail, you might sense something sacred in that stillness. Or perhaps have an intuition that you're part of something much larger than yourself. Though it might defy explanation, you might even touch a sense of wholeness and oneness at the heart of who you are. So give yourself the space and the permission to enjoy moments of stillness, to lean into those moments of stillness, to be nourished by them, to let them fill you up, open your heart and anchor you in the depths of who you are.

Let stillness be a teacher and a friend. As my favorite poet, Rumi says, "Listen. Silence isn't empty, it's full of the answers."

Talk

4.4

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