When you get up in the morning and you open the blinds to look out for the first fresh time that day to your front lawn or your backyard, can you see the peace that makes up the natural world? Can you see that the sky and its holdings are just hanging there peacefully? Can you see that the trees in your neighborhood represent so fully the silence and the presence of stillness? And while you are looking at the peace in the natural world, can you hear the gentle movement of the wind, or the sound of a singing bird? Do you know that there is a kind of movement that exists, thrives within the field of stillness that contains all of nature? We see it in the waves of the ocean, the gentle lapping of a lake, the raging fullness of a wild river or the storming wind.
Just as it is in the natural world, there is a deep stillness, an utter silence that exists as the deepest part of your essence, and it contains all of the movement, the sway, the wind, the rolling waves, the thundering storms of your soul. You are utterly carried by this quiet essence. In fact, it is the most real part of you. It has a still and often small voice, but mostly because we have not been taught to listen to it. Rather, we have been taught to listen to the outer world, with its clattering insistence that it and it alone is right. Rather we have been taught to look outside of our own souls for the guidance, the light, the answers to the quests of the soul. Rather we have been taught to ignore, repress and even lock away from consciousness all of that peaceful stillness that contains all of that life-giving movement. Yet the soul persists, and like the roots of the tree, continues to give us all that we need to survive, all that we need to continue to reach for the sky.
That peaceful stillness is available to any and all of us at any moment of any day. One of the easiest ways to get in touch with it is to look at the natural world, for that peace, that stillness is right there in front of us all of the time. I remember a time in my life when I was very confused about what might be my next step—and I took a hike deep into the mountainous woods. While I was there, the wind started blowing at the top of the mountain and came rushing down blowing first the trees at the top, then the next trees, then the next and the next until I finally felt the wind in my face. First, that’s a fascinating and exhilarating event even on its surface, to hear the power and push of the wind as it rumbles down the hill. But second, it carried with it a message to my soul: The trees do not move until the wind blows and the wind has not yet blown in my life, so it is not yet time to make a move. I was then able to relax into my life and await the wind—which did blow later and I was able to make a move.
Another way is to begin the lifelong process of getting in touch with, learning to walk the inner terrain, to become comfortable in the internal world, where the soul can begin to touch us, can begin to speak in that still small voice—the voice of peace—and we can begin to experience that deep inner stillness—so rich and full of peace—which can begin to guide us toward enlightenment. Like taking a hike the journey inward will be challenging, filled with eroded pathways, rocky terrain, thick woods and other challenges. But like the adventure of the hike, the journey inward is also an adventure—and adventures have challenges, seeming victories and seeming defeats—but each step along the way makes us stronger, wiser and more enlightened.
You can begin today by spending five minutes three times a day, just checking in with your inner self: What’s going on in there? What are you feeling? What thoughts created those feelings? What do you believe about life right now and where did you learn that belief? What do you really want to be doing right now? Are you doing it? Where are your compulsions? Where are your ego aggrandizements? Where is your peace? Where is your joy? Looking into yourself means you will find both the part of you that has split itself off from soul and soul. Be prepared to hear from both.
Meditation, of course, is one of the best routes to the soul. To position yourself to quietness, to silence and to stillness, to allow the soul to come forward and present itself offers the potential for rich reward. Regardless of body position, meditation is a sitting down into the essence of your being to allow it to speak to you. And regardless of the challenges you are facing or the first thoughts that come into your awareness, just remember that there is a deep stillness that hold, contains and enables all the movement. Trust that.
Andrea Mathews is the author of four books, the latest of which is “Letting Go of Good: Dispel the Myth of Goodness to Find Your Genuine Self.” She is the host of the very popular Authentic Living Show and a therapist with over 30 years’ experience.