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Finding power and wisdom in stillness

We don't pay much attention to stillness in our culture. We are so busy, after all. There is so much to do. We may enjoy the stillness of Nature once in awhile, but for the most part, stillness isn't high on our list of priorities. We may even see it as a void, or a threat -- something to be avoided at all costs.

Indigenous peoples like the Alaskan Eskimos, for example, had a very different view.  They recognized the potential of stillness as a source of profound harmony and power. In stillness, they knew they could access wisdom and inspiration that was unavailable on any other basis.

Consider the words of Majuaq, an Alaskan Eskimo of the early 20th century, as recorded by a visiting Danish anthropologist named Knud Rasmussen, and made available to us in this day and age at  www.humanistictexts.org/eskimo.htm.

"In days gone by, every autumn, we held big feasts for the soul of the whale, feasts which should always be opened with the new songs which the men composed. The spirits were to be summoned with fresh words; worn-out songs could never be used when men and women danced and sang in homage to the big quarry. And it was the custom that during the time when the men were finding the words for these hymns, our lamps had to be extinguished. Darkness and stillness were to reign in the festival house. Nothing must disturb them, nothing divert them. In deep silence, they sat in the dark, thinking; all the man, both old and young, in fact, even the youngest of the boys, if they were old enough to speak. It was this stillness we called qarrtsiluni, which means that one waits for something to burst.

"For our forefathers believed that the songs were born in the stillness, while all endeavored to think of nothing but beautiful things. Then they take shape in the minds of men, and rise up like bubbles from the depths of the sea, bubbles seeking the air in order to burst. That is how the sacred songs are made!"

Are you facing a difficult situation? Looking for fresh inspiration in your life? Think about Majuaq's words. Find a place where you can be safe, and undisturbed, for a few moments and be still, utterly still like the Eskimo elders of old.

Let your breathing relax and slow down by consciously breathing with your belly. Put a hand on your chest to make sure it stays still.  Breathe with your belly for 15 minutes, and watch how your breathing rate begins to come down.  As it does come down, to ten breaths a minute or less, what is sometimes called 'therapeutic breathing,' you should find yourself relaxing quite nicely. As you let go of anxiety and busyness, concerns about this and that, and become still, you automatically give space for your own inner wisdom to flower.  You are opening a door to new things, good things to happen in your life.  They may not come all at once.  But in the easy, natural way a tree or flower grows -- they will surely come, if you stay patient and steadfast.

We live in a time of great change, and change, as we all know, is often very uncomfortable. Yet at the core of change is stillness. And at the core of stillness is all the strength and courage and wisdom we could possibly need to bring us through the crises and perils of our lives and guide us on our way.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

David Banner June 2, 2009 at 6:36 am

Beautifully said, Chris…….stillness is one of the key “spiritual tools” I present in my book FRAMESHIFTING; A PATH TO WHOLENESS(Loving Healing Press, 2008). I like your blog; you sound very happy in your life.


Tony Palombo June 15, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Very fine, Chris. Thanks for coming out of “retirement” – or was it hibernation? Good to read your words again and share your easy and loving spirit.


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