Thursday, December 5, 2013

December's Meditation: Practicing Stillness

The first Thursday of each month I offer you a meditation to use during the month. Here is the meditation for December.

A few days ago my husband and I were sitting in the cafe area of a book store, and we couldn't help but overhear the conversation of a man and a woman who were meeting each other for what seemed to be the first time. It seemed to me they were stretching to find commonality as they talked about how they each like to fix their coffee and the difficulties she had with a new dryer in the home she just purchased. They did share some information about their children--ages and work--but it was all quite superficial. 

I noticed the man's body language. He kept bouncing one leg under the table. A nervous habit or perhaps just in that situation. I kept wanting to say to him, "Breathe. Take it easy. Pause. Be still."

Thoughts of Stillness
Seeing this man's discomfort,  I wondered if he was familiar with  Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God." 

Being still allows us to know God in a deeper and wider way, but it also helps us know and be ourselves as well. Gunilla Norris writes, "When we make room for silence, we make room for ourselves." (I think substituting the word "stillness" for "silence" makes just as much sense.)

Here's a similar thought by Herman Hesse, "Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself." 

How comforting--and amazing--to know that we each have the potential for stillness and in that stillness we become more of who we were created to be. And even more, as we practice stillness, our being as we move through the world can exhibit more of our authentic selves. Even on a first date! 

Coming to Stillness
Often when I meditate or do centering prayer, the word I use to empty my head of thoughts and concerns, is "rest." Whispering that to myself immediately seems to relieve me of whatever pressure or expectations I am carrying. Rest, rest. When I am at rest, I can recognize the stillness within, a stillness waiting to support and nurture me.  

How easy or difficult is it for you to access the stillness within? As you think about the month ahead, can you imagine how intentional moments of stillness might be helpful and bring you closer to the joy and the sacredness of the season? This month I invite you to use the following meditation, which incorporates Psalm 46:10, as a way to encounter stillness. 

A Meditation of Stillness
I invite you to sit in a quiet place and close your eyes lightly, not tightly. Take a couple deep cleansing breaths and allow your body to relax into slow, even breathing. 

In this quiet, sacred space you create for yourself say the following words, pausing in quiet reflection after each line.

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
Be still.

Be still.
Be still and know.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know that I am God. 

Take a couple deep cleansing breaths, and when you are ready, open your eyes and return to this time and space. 

Take a few minutes to note, perhaps in a journal or by whispering to yourself, what you felt, noticed, or learned during this brief time of meditation. What will you now bring into your life? 

A Blessing
Even in these days busy, full days of December may you know the comfort and gifts of the stillness within. May the stillness you experience be reflected in the openness and love you bring to others.

An Invitation
What did you notice as you recited the words of stillness? How might you integrate stillness into your spiritual practice? As you move through December, I would welcome knowing if the practice makes a difference in your life. I invite your comments. 

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