What is Stillness?
Stillness is, quite simply, the absence of disturbance or sound. It is the felt experience of becoming one with the perfect tranquility of just being (as opposed to doing). In our natural state - that is to say, once we let go of our conditioning to be otherwise - all living beings instinctively experience moments of relaxed, yet waking stillness.
When we meditate, do yoga, or any other attentive activity, stillness is the state that naturally arises in us. We experience stillness when we are not moved or disturbed by our chattering mind or our restless body. Rather, we find ourselves at the centre, fully aware, but unmoved and undisturbed by whatever continues to go on in and around us.
Stillness in Modern-Living
There are many gifts to be found within this ever expansive ocean of stillness. However, like all worthwhile things in life, stillness must be experienced before her gifts can be truly understood or benefitted from.
Today, most of us lead such busy, eventful lives that we do not make time for ourselves to enjoy being still. Most of us spend every waking moment in doing, perpetually moving and constantly striving for that which is just beyond us. The proverbial goal-post. The outcome. The destination. The expectations. The result of all our life’s long labours.
Within our busy lives we are not only continually doing, we are also constantly submerged in sound. Noise is everywhere; from the moment we open our eyes and ears to the squawking alarm clock each morning, to the last click of our smartphones locking, or bedside light switching off as we drift off to sleep each night. And in between, well, we are incessantly stimulated, from every which direction, by a fantastical world-wind of chaotic noise and action as we habitually go about our daily routines and rituals.
Indeed, this cycle can become quite exhausting! But there are ways for us to steal back some peace in our lives and make space for stillness to arise. One truly delicious way to explore and enjoy your daily period of quiet stillness (which you might think of as a gift to yourself, from yourself) is through practicing the art of mediation.
What is Meditation?
Meditation, put simplistically, is a means to transform your mind into a state of deep peace that occurs when the mind is calm and silent, but fully aware.
Meditation means becoming present. So, whatever you do with full presence, or full attention is meditation. Watching your breath is meditation; listening to the birds sing is meditation; walking, chanting, knitting, cooking, cleaning or moving through yoga asanas can all be practiced as deep and healing forms of meditation. As these activities become free from any other distraction to the mind or body, they are effectively meditation.
What is it not?
Prayer/worship (in the sense of verbally addressing a specific, external God)
Hypnosis or trance states (becoming in any way unconscious)
Goal-orientated or objective driven
A time for problem-solving or planning
How to Meditate:
These days there are many teachings and other forms of guided meditation available online, and it is up to each of us as individuals to find what works for us. Here at Yobaba Lounge we draw on various wisdom traditions, particularly the ancient tantric teachings, to inform our original practice of Embodied Meditation.
If you are new to meditation, this video is a fantastic step by step guide to get you started. A dedicated student of the Zen Buddhist tradition, esteemed philosopher and teacher Alan Watts was himself an avid meditator. In this helpful video he explains how The Art of Meditation is a process of quieting the mind in order to simply becoming present:
Watts believed that mediation is the necessary practice of “going out of your mind” in order to achieve a temporary liberation from the human brain's propensity for what he describes as “compulsive thinking”. He argued that “to go out of your mind, at least once a day, is tremendously important because by going out of your mind you come to your senses”. Furthermore, when defending the vital importance of practicing the art of meditation regularly Watts warns that:
At Yobaba Lounge we practice the art of Embodied Meditation, which combines breath, body and mindfulness to investigate the internal universe. As a wellness centre we believe that there are countless benefits to devoting even ten quiet minutes a day to ourselves, which can have a radical effect on mental and emotional clarity, physical and energetic vibrancy, and overall sense of well-being.
So why not give it a try today, and experience the many great gifts of stillness for yourself?
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