708th Week: Revisiting Silence and Stillness

Last month, I posted a practice called “Befriending Silence”— https://www.nancynapier.com/2018/02/04/702nd-week-befriending-silence/. I want to revisit that practice again this month because of how much stress and distress are in our collective awareness and experience.

I have a practice I have followed for many years, and it has to do with cultivating an awareness of the ever-present and infinite background of silence and stillness that is constantly present, without exception, in every moment. For example, take a moment now to notice that, right there, within and behind every thought, feeling, urge, and action is an ever-present and infinite background of stillness and silence. Normally, we don’t shift our awareness in order to pay attention to this constantly-present background, but it can be restorative to develop a habit of taking a moment, from time to time, to rest in the stillness and silence for a few moments throughout the day.

There are a number of times a day when I “lean into the stillness and silence” and find a great deal of support in that small action. It’s like having a moment’s respite in the embrace of a supportive presence. I also play with noticing the stillness right in the back of a thought or feeling I may have, so that I can cultivate greater skill at shifting from foreground to background when I need to recenter or ground myself.

For this week’s practice, I invite you to cultivate your relationship with silence and stillness even more than you may have been doing already. Even just the span of a breath of two where you drop into the silence and stillness, notice it, and then continue with your activities can make a difference in how you feel as you move through the day. Sometimes, having a break where you rest in the silence and stillness for a while can be deeply renewing. The key is to bring your awareness to this resource that is always with you.

Even as I write this practice, I lean into the stillness and silence that are a major supportive presence in my awareness. I find that I breathe more easily and my body settles even a bit more when I make this momentary shift in awareness, and I invite you to check in with your body and your inner experience and notice what sensations and qualities of inner experience emerge for you when you take time to rest in the stillness and silence.

As with all these practices, there is no “right way” to do this one. Rather, it’s an invitation to cultivate internal support in the midst of what can often be a busy and challenging life. Remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat on the head any judgments that may arise as you explore this practice.

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