(Anmol: Here is a guest post from Kristi Nimmo, who recently completed the Mastery of Meditation Teacher’s Certification Program, and who has profound and unique insights into meditation and life. It was wonderful to cross paths with a highly spiritual soul such as Kristi, and to learn more about her and the meditation workshops she teaches, visit her website A Stone Speaks – Inspired Meditations.
If you would like to be a guest author on Master of Meditation and Yoga, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
THE PRACTICE OF STILLNESS
Stillness of body. This can be practiced. Let us say that you sit for your meditation and you are fidgeting, you are moving around. We know that this is not stillness. This is an agitation, perhaps an anxiety, maybe a resistance to finding that place within you of peace.
And one might say, “Well, I’ll come back to this later when I feel more rested, when I have less anxiety and less movement in my body, then I’ll come back to this.” How do we not give up when we encounter resistance to still body? By becoming still.
How does one become still in body when we sit for meditation, especially if agitated? Some people suggest upright posture. Perhaps you are firmly rooted in a yogic position. But you can just as easily be seated in a chair. At this point, you do want some comfort. If your body is aching and straining that is where your focus will be. So find a position that is easy to sit, easy to stand. It may help to take a few, deep breaths. Just give yourself up to stillness. Trust that stillness is inseparable from you. If this is difficult for you, then find some place in your body that is still. Perhaps, your big toe is not moving, maybe your ear does not move, your nose. Put your attention there. On your ear, the stillness of the physical form of the ear. Just the feeling of the stillness of the ear, no visualizations, no thoughts about it, just feeling it.
Then perhaps you’ll find some other place in your body that is still. Maybe it is your ankle. Become still with the stillness. Become unmoving, gradually, or, all at once. And just be with the stillness. It may take practice. But it is a good practice, this stillness of the physical form, the sensing of it, becoming familiar with it, as well as the stillness of thought and the body of energy.
A person might say, “This is easy to do when I’m home alone, but I can’t do this anywhere else. There’s all this noise around me, and every time I sit to meditate here comes the mower of one of my neighbors, and all I do is hear the mowing.” This is an opportunity for you to practice bringing your attention from outside to within. To symbolize this, to feel it, you can place your palm to that which your mind is calling a distraction, and then turn the palm towards yourself, to you who is distracted. And feel the stillness in your hand, the stillness being brought back into you: the stillness of your self, your inner self. You may think of a stone in a field.
Stones are still. The earth may tremble when a heavy vehicle goes over it. There’s a pebble, and the pebble moves ever so slightly, a tremble goes on around it, causing the pebble to appear to be in an excited state. The vehicle is far away now, and the tremble ceases and the stone appears again as before: still, silent. Its outward appearance is of its inner. But all along it was still.
A stone is still in your hand. Even if you toss a stone into the air and you see the stone go up and fall, it is yet still. So even if the mower arrives, the telephone rings, you practice stillness.
Practice stillness as the unmoving body. And begin to recognize and feel the stillness, even if you should shift the body slightly. The stillness remains. So we are turning our attention to the stillness. And if we sense agitation it helps us to turn our attention to this essence of stillness.
If you are agitated and you do not have trust in the stillness being inseparable from you, then go again to the physical form. Put your attention on a part of you that is not moving, one small part—an ear, a finger–and focus on the stillness until you are able to bring your attention to stillness more so than agitation, so that you are being the stillness, not the agitation. It is a practice.
With practice, eventually, we do not have to be motionless in body in order to feel the peaceful clarity of stillness.
When we sit still or stand still in meditation, our blood continues its flow, our breath continues its flow. Being physically still is not the cessation of movement. The sensations of stillness arouse in us clear knowing when there is something in us resisting unbound movement, so sense your agitation from the inner space of stillness and see whether or not your agitation weakens or succumbs.
Kristi Nimmo – Please visit astonespeaks.com for more information about Kristi’s teachings and the her inspired meditation workshops.