Being still

When I first stepped off the Silicon Valley merry-go-round in 1998, I believed it would be temporary. My years in corporate marketing came to a close and exhaustion took center stage. As I tried to recover from my work identity, the way forward wasn't very clear.

In kindness and with the gentlest of intent, a beloved teacher suggested that I "be still".

"Be still." Two little words. Sounds simple enough. Foolishly and completely unprepared for the journey, after some forty odd years of mainlining adrenaline, I asked my mind to stop.

And that's when the excrement hit the air conditioning.

Like a proverbial car wreck in slow motion, my mind didn't really stop and so, okay, that didn't go so well. Not only was it not cooperating, my mind apparently had a mind of its own!

Note to self: the mind doesn't stop when asked. It still hasn't today. But we've worked out a few agreements in the past eleven years.  Eventually, under the microscope of stillness, with the patience of creation, the mind offered up a few of its secrets.

When untrained to yoke action with awareness, the mind easily slips into high drama.  I used to believe that velocity covered a lot of sins. Now I know it mostly covers pain. Perpetual motion yields perpetual suffering.

An endless source of what isn't working, the undisciplined mind has little use for the present.  Whether entertained by reliving past glories or failures, celebrating future triumphs or dodging imaginary disasters yet to come, the mind is very rarely here and now.

How is it that the mind is so consistently distracted? So persistently focused on what is not here and now?

The wonder that is mind is simply an unruly, persistently active, curious two year old and resists being trained to the present moment. When guided to focus on the moment to moment presence of just now, the mind has little patience and quickly loses interest.

Untrained, unfocused, mind wanders and races into the past or bounds into the future. Requiring practice, by not being allowed to obsessively decode mysteriously oozing wounds from assailants long gone or gloat over future retributions, the mind can be trained to momentarily stop.

There's a catch though, when the mind does stop. The mind is wrapped around stories filled with suffering. Trying to avoid suffering and thereby creating it. Around and around. Like a puzzle that has no answer, the mind circles suffering with "why" and ends up creating more suffering.  So stopping the mind, being still, also means uncovering and letting go of the detritus of suffering.

Thankfully, the mind wasn't created to build palaces of suffering. It was designed to bring voice, motion and witness to the endless moment of creation. Creation, firmly ever in the present moment, waits patiently for the mind to be still.

There is nothing to do. The mind stops. There is nowhere to go. The mind stops.

All is well. The mind screeches to a halt. The ego stops and all the hot air of "I" rushes out.

And when the mind and the ego stop, the mind's child suffering, sitting patiently in the back seat, stops as well.

In the present moment, the mind stops. And with no suffering to mark its constant motion, the mind is silent.

Creation celebrates the present witness.

Being still.

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