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How to Embrace Stillness

How to Embrace Stillness

November 23, 2011

I recently re-read this passage in by Viktor Frankl:

To be sure, man’s search for meaning may arouse inner tension rather than inner equilibrium. However, precisely such tension is an indispensable prerequisite of mental health. There is nothing in the world, I venture to say, that would so effectively help one to survive even the worse conditions as the knowledge that there is a meaning in one’s life.

…that mental health is based on a certain degree of tension, the tension between what one has already achieved and what one still ought to accomplish, or the gap between what one is and what one should become. Such a tension is inherent in the human being and therefore is indispensable to mental well-being. We should not, then, be hesitant about challenging man with a potential meaning for him to fulfill.

Equilibrium of thought allows us to find juxtapositions within ourselves. In turn, this allows stillness to surface from the depths of our soul. Stillness is what many of us seek in life. But for many us, we don’t know how to cancel out the noise. Or don’t want to try. It’s as if stillness equates to a hollow, empty life. But does it?

From stillness comes strength. Like the deciduous tree that loses its leaves, it endures stillness through the cold, dark, harsh winter. The tree remains silent when the bitter air attacks its bark and when ice weighs on its branches. It quietly knows that the wounds of winter will eventually heal. It emerges in Spring with vitality and strength.

In yoga there’s tree pose, or Vriksha-asana in sanskrit. You stand straight on the left leg, bend the right leg and place the right foot on the root of the left thigh, standing like a tree on the ground. There’s a dual action inherent in this pose. The foot must root down in order for the arms, or branches, to go up. The more intense the focus on the rooting down of the foot, the easier it becomes to grow the branches.

We all have our roots. With these roots we sometimes face resistance. We struggle. We wrestle with stillness. The quiet force that plants us to the ground.

Even though we all sometimes shake in tree pose, there’s beauty that comes from embracing its stillness. We may be quiet while in the pose, but the inner tension remains raw and alive. There’s beauty in this rawness. Profound hope in the stillness. It’s this quiet equilibrium that helps guide us through the quivering search for meaning.