Mary Oliver, in her poem Today, calls it ‘one of the doors into the temple.’
It is a precious space, and sounds simple enough. But as experience shows, stillness is not so easily come by; and often far from where we are.
To arrive there, should we wish it – and I say that, because we might not imagine it’s allowed, what with us having to be productive and all that.
But should we give up that compulsion, should we come to our senses and wish for stillness, we will first slow our mind; because fast mind has no chance.
The mind must slow, like a carthorse in a field after a hard days work – methodical and in no rush.
Steady, calm and watching.
Fast mind is no cart horse but a monkey swinging in the trees, rushing ahead in negative or anxious anticipation of possible harm.
‘What if this or what if that?’ Fast mind is planning to cut off danger at the pass.
When fast mind is the danger.
If we are to find stillness, fast mind must become slow mind, settled here and now and with no other agenda than what is, whatever is before us.
And the body, which keeps every score, must help too. The body must be free.
Our body becomes a thoroughfare through which thoughts and feelings pass; but do not stick or stain or make mad people of us.
They arise and depart, arise and depart, like mist in sunlight; and behind them, in the void, in the body’s silence, they leave such space.
Stillness is known for its space.
When the mind is slowed, and the body free, our breathing deepens and we arrive at stillness, a clearing in the forest.
Through the undergrowth and over-hang, we arrive at a place of strength, knowing and good decision.
And – as you’ll be aware – with the extraordinary power of a tiger ready to pounce.
Stillness. One of the doors into the temple.