An Incoherent Discussion on Stillness

Zen keeps creeping up on me.  In the chaos of my life meditation falls by the wayside, and I only meditate about once a week.  But the frequency, or lack thereof, doesn’t take away one bit of the value it holds for me.  Unlike so many other things in life that come and go, Zen has remained a constant.  It guides me back to truth and light and peace every single time.   I marvel at that.

In the comings and goings, the ups and downs, the noise and the silence, the dark and the light, Zen is the truth.  I find myself craving silence.  I find myself craving time to sit and empty my brain of thought, to simply be still.  With 3 kids ages 6 and under, and two dogs, and lots of chores it’s hard to find time to sit and meditate.  And even when I have the time, I often lack the discipline.  The phone will ring, and I will pick it up instead of sitting.  Or, I will remember a gift I needed to buy for a friend, or a bill I needed to pay, and I do that.  And the time slips away, along with Zazen.

But, of course, it never really slips away.  There are many times in the day when I can be still.  Maybe I cannot be still physically, but I can be still mentally.

Here I am blabbing about stillness, which largely negates the whole concept.  But I will say in sweeping my front porch, in drinking a cup of coffee, even in reading, my heart can be still.

In the book You Are Here, by Thich Nhat Hanh, another book that profoundly and permanently impacted my life, there is a part that says something like “Take care not to form false judgement”.  So often in life we form a thought, a judgement, and then we mentally roll with it as though it were true.  And this “truth” we have made up in our heads exists within us but has no basis in real truth whatsoever.  The only truth of it is that it came from us.

In my practice of cultivating stillness I try to find and focus on just one aspect that I find particularly poignant, and use it to motivate myself.  One truth is so much less overwhelming to me than many.  So in my practice right now, in cultivating stillness, I am taking care not to form false judgement.  Or really, I am taking care not to form judgement at all.  Judgement rarely reflects truth.  It is just a reflection of ourselves reflecting ourselves.  And I am finding tremendous freedom in letting go of myself. When we form judgements, all of a sudden our brains are all over the map, wandering down a trail of thoughts that bring no peace and have no benefit.  I am guilty of it every single day.  And in focusing on this, I have found out that I was much worse than I even thought.  I catch myself in a judgement ….countless times a day.

So, my mantra this week has been, as silly as it sounds, Peace, grasshopper.  Peace.  And oddly enough, my peace is in silencing myself.

So I’ll shut up now.


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