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08.22.2019 Sharon Spano, Ph.D.

Stillness

In listening again to a recent interview with Rob Dube, I was reminded of the value of stillness. With the world moving so fast and so much being required, stillness is vital to our wellbeing.

Here’s my summer experiment.

We’re tucked into the mountains of North Carolina until the end of September. It’s something I’ve dreamed about doing for years. This whole idea of living somewhere during the summer to experience another way of life. Remove ourselves from the heat and hustle of Florida.

Being here is a privilege. Stillness is a privilege, too. But, it’s one we get to choose.

So, I’m looking out my window at the Appalachian Mountains in the distance. They are still. To the naked eye, they never change. Yet, the elements around them are in constant flux.

Literally, from moment to moment, the landscape before me is different. I’m finding it difficult to concentrate on my work here.

Yesterday, I turned my attention elsewhere, and in a matter of seconds, the condo was enveloped in clouds. I had a momentary sensation of working in heaven, serendipitously floating amongst white pillows of nothingness. Total white out, the mountains now invisible.

Just as quickly as those clouds came in, they were gone. The blue mountains returned.

It occurred to me, in that moment, that stillness requires something of us. A constant, and that constant lies within. We must be stable enough on the inside to withstand the consistent complexity of change.

The environment and our surrounding elements are always changing, but if we are disciplined in our stillness, we remain as constant as those Appalachian Mountains. Just as peaceful and resilient, even in the midst of fluctuation.

In another moment, I recalled my experience in far more frenetic environments: The busy streets of New York City, Los Angeles bumper-to-bumper traffic, disruptive airport clammer. And, I realized that I am calmer in those hectic environments now because of my commitment to stillness.

Stillness is a process. An acquired state of being. It requires discipline. Meditation, as Rob Dube professes, is one way to get there.

Today, as I look out at the mountains, I honor the perceived stillness, but I also acknowledge that there is a whole lot of life going on out there, survival-of-the-fittest-type stuff that is not much different than the calamity of any large city.

I’m still pondering what all this means, but I’m thinking there’s an opportunity to master stillness in the midst of all the busyness. The challenge is to learn how to be in the world, but not necessarily of this world.

Some of the wisest minds in history have challenged us to do just that. Stillness is a habit worthy of the effort.

Question of the Week:

What does stillness look like in your life?

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. August 22, 2019