Finding Time for Stillness

If we want to talk about making the most of our days we quickly come to the importance of finding time for stillness in our life. The philosophy behind regularly making time to ponder our days makes a few important assumptions, namely:

  • we seek to go beyond the surface
  • we seek to feel at home in ourselves 
  • we recognize we as a human race are a community that is responsible for each other, and our actions have important implications

Coming Home

There’s nothing like the comfortable feeling of returning home. You walk through that door after a long stretch away and everything shifts.  Maybe the day was difficult; maybe the environment was harsh. Things might have been unfamiliar or unpredictable. When you get home to your familiar surroundings, where you have control – the temperature, the sounds, the smells, the colors are all to your liking — it is a big relief. All is suddenly OK.

You’re neither coming or going. You can just be.

At home, you are 100% safe to be yourself. You are accepted, you are celebrated. There’s no place like home. Home is where the heart is. You can let your hair down and settle in. Put your guard down. Here you are safe. Here you have your foundation to face your life. Here you find your best steps forward.

This is the ideal of the home. This is nurtured in us when we allow moments of quiet every day. Unfortunately neither the feeling of home nor replenishing stillness are givens in life. I hope we all have a place that can provide something in this direction.

Project Earth

I get the sense that humanity in general doesn’t have an overwhelming sense of safety or feeling at home during our modern existence on earth. We spend a lot of time soothing ourselves with superficial comforts or with fighting to make others act a certain way to make us feel safe.

Neither of those things really hit the spot.

I love this question: how do we truly make the earth our home?

What if we made it our life’s work to really feel at home on earth? We would probably need to rearrange a few things.

Schools, hospitals, industry: we can see the harm in anything that has an alienating, institutional experience. For us to feel at home collectively we need the basic societal structures we encounter to nurture us. It seems like our basic orientation in many areas would need to shift. Where should we start?

Three steps

What can we do? It makes sense to start with your most powerful field of action: your self. Here are three considerations.

  1. Don’t settle for the divisions. War is unnecessary. It won’t solve anything. A fact of modern life is that we are driven into polarities: the us vs the them.There’s something about the way we face the world and its modern influences that gives rise to factions within the factions. We will end up in camps, but we shouldn’t get too entrenched on our own side.
  2. Trust in life and the collective. Isolation is so common and so stressful that we could fall into the trap of only trusting ourselves. We benefit massively when we give the benefit of the doubt. We are here with intention and purpose. We matter. There is good in everything. Everyone is after the best good as they see in that moment. I’m not saying we can’t get burnt in life, but I’m acknowledging the vast numbers of people who want the best path forward. This builds strong community.
  3. Practice it for yourself. The safe, home space is accessible now. We can connect to it no matter what our outer circumstances are, at any time. It just takes practice. Taking time for quiet and stillness everyday is essential.

To this end, I hope you find the following words of the Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh helpful. This is a little poem that is a great daily companion.

I have arrived

I am home

In the here

In the now

I am solid

I am free

In the ultimate I do dwell.

— Thich Nhat Hanh

And finally

Covid round up

Cases are down everywhere, deaths have peaked and are falling, the justification for states of emergency and mandates are weakening, and policies are changing.

The future is uncertain, the present feels hopeful, the weather is miserable: another day in the Berkshires and on the planet earth, our home.