The gift of stillness:

a gateway to peace


Meditation, silent prayer, is not a path that leads us somewhere else.

It is a way of stillness to stop us in our tracks and bring us to silence, so we can discover the fullness of the truth of who we are.

There is a wonderful teaching on the way of stillness and silence in chapter 4 of Mark’s Gospel. Jesus says to the disciples that they should cross to the other side of the lake. And, leaving the crowd, the disciples take Jesus with them into a boat.

A great windstorm arose, and waves began to come into the boat, so that it began to fill with water. The disciples wake Jesus and say to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

Jesus then rebukes the wind and the sea, saying, “Be silent, be still!”

The wind falls away and the disciples find themselves in a great calm.

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you not yet have faith?”[1]

The power of stillness is astonishing.

In the instant of stillness, we are brought to silence and discover the infinite peace of awareness, which is always present and before all our thoughts, all our concepts.

Awareness is inherently peaceful. And in the moment of pure stillness, this peace is revealed.

In meditation, we practice stillness of mind. We have to practice each day because we are so conditioned to whip up thoughts, concepts, mental objects. We even try and turn awareness into a thought, a concept, an object.

But awareness can never be an object of awareness. Just as the eye which sees cannot see itself, awareness is that which sees and cannot be an object to itself. Awareness is the very ground of all that appears within it and is known by it.

The path of meditation involves becoming increasingly aware of all that appears within awareness and how we noisily react to this (it can be a shock to suddenly see how our thinking mind races about, chatting to itself constantly). But as we learn to greet all that appears with stillness (rather than chatter), as we become increasingly silent, we are led into the peaceful, spacious pastures of awareness itself.

Ever-present awareness has no need of thoughts or concepts. As we come to realise this, our self-identification with our thoughts and concepts falls away.

This is a deeply liberating realisation. Whatever narratives, pictures and ideas about ourselves we have (and might have held for many years), none of these even come close to touching the truth of pristine, peaceful awareness, of our deepest “me” in God.

What follows is the deepening realisation that, whatever the nature of the thoughts and the content of experience, awareness is always peaceful and a sanctuary that it always available to us.

“Why are you so afraid?” asked Jesus, “Do you not yet have faith?”

A certain amount of fear can accompany our movement from self-identification with our thoughts and concepts to identification with the silent ground of our being. But we can meet any fear of losing our identity, our particularity, with stillness and trusting silence. Saying our prayer word with the flow of our breath, accepting the loving support of others, we can trust that God has everything in hand.

We are letting go of our life (as we have been conditioned to conceive of it), in order to find our life.[2]

What we discover sounds as paradoxical as it is deeply liberating. As we learn to be still, to release ourselves into our practice in self-forgetfulness, our “deepest me” becomes ever more clearly known and distinct.

The wonder of awareness is that it can simultaneously know it is not separate from the animating ground of everything, and know itself as a unique manifestation of this infinite fullness. “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also in Christ.”[3]

Our wonderful particularity is not lost. It is known and illuminated within the oneness “in whom we live and move and have our being.”[4]

There comes a moment in our practice (and in our life) when we are willing to surrender everything. But all we lose is the notion of a separate self, the illusion of separateness from God and from each other. We cannot imagine this before it comes. But when the illusion is released in self-forgetful stillness, we discover this “loss” is wonderful, that it is liberty.

Ultimately, nothing can keep us away from the revelation of the silent, aware peace that is the core of our being. “The light shines in the darkness” and no amount of darkness can overcome this light.[5]

Just decide to trust.

Decide this moment to let everything go.

Let go of whatever you are searching for.

It’s already here.

Let everything go and rest in the simple truth of your being. Then, whatever life happens to offer us (or throw at us) can be greeted in the peaceful sanctuary of this truth.

God’s invitation is to fullness of life, to fullness of love, to encounter “the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that exceeds knowing, so that you might be filled to all the fulness of God.”[6]

Meditation is not a path that leads us somewhere else.

It is a way of stillness to stop us in our tracks and bring us to silence, so we can discover the fullness of the truth of who we are.

When the soul is at peace within itself, writes Julian of Norwich, it suddenly realises it’s oneness with God.[7]

We don’t need to settle for anything less.

[1] Mark 4:35-40.

[2] Matthew 10:39 and 16:25.

[3] 1 Corinthians 12:12.

[4] Acts 17:28.

[5] John 1:5.

[6] Ephesians 3:14-19.

[7] See Chapter 49 of A Revelation of Love by Julian of Norwich.

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