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Cultivating Stillness

“Sometimes we need to stop doing in order to open to our Being. We cannot create the life that we desire if there is no room for silence.” From Make Magic of Your Life


When do you listen to the Gods?

When do you listen to your heart and soul?

When do you pause to ask what is underneath this emotion, or that sense of hurry?

How well do you allow yourself to root into your life?


Without the power of silence, we cannot choose, we can only react, because we’ve made no space to sense or know what we want, or what feels right.


I met a man on the BART train this week as I was heading in for my soup kitchen shift. As I read a book, I noticed how completely still he was. Still, yet upright and aware. Hands stable on his thighs. Dreadlocks flowing down his shoulders, head straight. Not looking out a window. Not fidgeting. Just still.

Finally, I leaned toward him and asked, “Do you meditate?”

Smiling, surprised, he asked what I had said. I repeated the question: “Do you meditate?”

“Yes,” he said. “I spend a lot of time quiet.”

“I can tell,” I said. “You are so quiet inside.”

What ensued was a lively conversation about his life – he lives half the year in his home in Costa Rica and half in the US so he can work. It is hard to make a living in Costa Rica, and he has a child to support.

This man had a sense of curiosity about himself. An openness. A sense of joy. And the still quality never left throughout the conversation. There was no awkwardness, either. Here was a man with the ability to choose.

Part of what he chooses is to be present in the world.


Without cultivating quiet time in our lives, we limit our ability to be present.


When we are not present with what is, we become trapped in cycles of worry or regret. We are always assigning labels to things to help us keep track of what we may or may not want. It becomes harder and harder to see past the labels to how things actually are. It becomes easier to let the world choose for us, rather than for us to choose the world.

By “cultivating silence” I mean the practice of sitting with ourselves. Sitting with the altar of our lives. Sitting in the presence of our Gods. Sitting and breathing, and letting thoughts, or emotions, or pain, or worry all rise and fall. We can make silence around us even if we are not silent within. We can choose to sit quietly for awhile. We can choose to take a walk under the trees. We can choose to turn off the television or the news. We can choose to breathe. To just breathe.

Eventually, our soul will get used to the practice of choosing quiet over clamor. Eventually, our mind and emotions will grow comfortable in the presence of this opportunity, this spaciousness. Eventually, our thoughts and emotions, our physical aches, our personality preferences, will start to settle down.


In the space that opens, we can just be. And then that being can choose.


Make Magic of Your Life: Passion, Purpose, and the Power of Desire is available from Fields Books or your local bookstore (if you are lucky enough to still have one).

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