Our 2017 SMT Teacher Trainees were asked to describe the essence of Stillness, as experienced by them. The result is a wonderful collection, as seen below, of personal reflections and experiences, which they have happily agreed to share.
Stillness beckons, promising quiet. With a big, long sigh, the ripples of life subside: sinking with ease into the comfort of stillness
Stillness meditation is a paradox.
The essence of being
Feels like everything…. and nothing
light and dark
empty yet full
Sometimes it seems like I am in a large space with an enormous light coloured velvety curtain that extends 360 degrees around me, blocking everything else out. Everything is quiet and still.
Sometimes it seems like I am simply looking into emptiness / nothing, that extends infinitely all around me. A vast expanse opens up in my mind, a bit like the Tardis from Dr Who, where the interior is much larger than the exterior.
I feel totally safe and peaceful, willing it to continue.
After a time to settle, a few minutes or more, depending on what I have been doing, I allow the areas of tension and discomfort in my body to relax. I soon let go further and sink into a vast, comfortable and open space of my mind. It feels familiar but I can never do it justice with words. I am still aware of me but I feel part of something much broader and deeper. The boundaries become blurred. I don’t care about anything. I am not bothered by anything even by the thoughts that still enter my mind, entering more slowly and less frequently now. Time has become irrelevant and any sense of urgency has subsided. I don’t have to do anything, or be anywhere but where I am. I am at ease and content. Just content to be content. I am calm.
After a time, I consciously start to become aware of what is happening around me. I remain conscious of an inner calmness, though, as I tune more and more into my surroundings (outside me). I open my eyes, do a little stretching and then re-enter the activities of my day. The calmness is still felt in the background of my mind for the next few hours, usually until the day’s activities, etc. begin to dominate my consciousness. Later that day or in the next I can re-visit that calm space of stillness and contentment which has become more and more familiar over time. It never leaves me completely, it is always there, but it does take me longer to realise it sometimes.
Words Fail. Meditation is meant to be tasted rather than discussed.
Initially signs of physical relaxation:
Numbness in hands and feet, mouth slightly open, heavy arms, heat in the body,
At times absence of ability to feel arms or legs
Sounds fading, no concern for these, just awareness
Sometimes in a reverie about unrelated topics, unable to be retrieved afterwards
Indifferent and undistractable
Thoughts drift in and out, first with detail and then slowly become blurred, still there until they are blended, distorted and become unrecognisable and then become a focused quiet place even though life is loud and carrying on with all itâ€™s might, ferociousness, gusto and wonder around me.Â Stillness is a place with no past, no present, no future and yet all of those possibilities in every single moment. Stillness is a space where time stops and is more infinite than the number of days of any personâ€™s lifetime, yet so tranquil, it can feel like time is compressed in every millisecond.Â A place of wonder, a place of nothing and a place of everything not yet imagined.
At first many unpredictable events and thoughts flash through my mind. Quite random and some from a past long forgotten. Once these experiences settle and fade and calmness descends, similar to that of a still autumn day. No pictures or thoughts intrude just true darkness. It is like time standing still, no beginning or end. When the brain is rewoken, there is a feeling of peace and deep rest.
The Place of Stillness
Over the edge of one’s awareness.
When time becomes timeless.
When thinking ceases.
When the body loses all form.
And when you are able to glimpse
the beauty of oneness
with which you were born.
Capturing the uncapturable, defining the ineffable!
But in a world of words where logic is supreme
To say words don’t do justice may be seen as a cop out
Something to be scoffed at!
Stillness – a journey
The journey towards stillness can at first be unpleasant and arduous
Sitting doing nothing? Really? What was I thinking!
The mind for attention will cry, thoughts may appear to intensify
Clamouring for attention like a bunch of naughty young children
The body may be uncomfortable, emotions may appear from nowhere
Then a gentle voice suggests that you just give in to this jumble of thoughts or feelings.
Giving in. More and more. Allowing not trying
Slowly , slowly, when striving ceases , that which is always there
But masked by activity Becomes clearer and clearer
Another random thought! Where did you come from?
Mind begins to drift, discursive thoughts and words press down on you
Then instead, gentle hands softly press down
It’s ok. Just let go
Says the touch, wordlessly
Stillness – a destination
Mind quietens, thoughts as words no longer appear
Softening, no longer clamouring for attention
The body too softens; aches or discomfort melt
As if you could sit for hours, mind and body at ease
Calm hands now take you deeper and deeper
Again quietly guiding you. You can trust them
And when you feel you have arrived at the destination,
The hands gently come and press down once more
Go deeper still
Mind becomes clearer; even if a thought appears it won’t disturb
And sometimes here wordless understanding can happen
A feeling of knowing
What do you know?
In stillness you knew
Now when you’ve come back, you’re not sure what it was that you knew
Or you can’t remember?
It doesn’t matter
Gradually learning to take this stillness with you,
The idea of journey and destination is no longer really an issue
Ultimately stillness meditation is everywhere, and in everything we do!