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Give yourself permission to sit quietly — and see what happens







 "All of man's difficulties are caused by his inability to sit quietly in a room." -- Blaise Pascal

I want to tell you a true story that happened yesterday.

I like to do the right thing on Sunday and make breakfast for JoAnn and me. Mind you, I only really have one culinary skill -- but it's a good one, handed down through many generations of British ancestors.

I'm very good at boiling eggs. So as usual yesterday, JoAnn and I each had a  boiled egg and toast -- the eggs boiled, though I say so myself, to perfection.

Nothing unusual so far, right? We ate our breakfast, and I put everything away properly because there’s no point in only doing half a job, is there?

A nice walk planned

I had planned to go for a nice walk after breakfast, but after finishing up in the kitchen a strong compulsion arose in me just to sit down in my favorite chair and be still.

I try to follow my inner "nudges," so I put the walk on one side and sat down obediently in my chair. Immediately, a thought came up, "You could read the newspaper." But reading the paper didn't feel right.

With no previous intention on my part I disappeared, as it were, into a "thought free zone." For about an hour, I simply sat in my chair, utterly surrendered to an experience of happiness and joy that in one sense felt very new and in another sense very familiar.

Like being bathed in a fountain of bliss

It was like being bathed by love, while sitting in a fountain of bliss. Once in awhile a thought came up, but I just wasn't interested. The joy and peace that I was experiencing was so beautiful, complete, and compelling.

We tend to be afraid of stillness. Being busy is what keeps us sane, after all, or so we think.

But here's a suggestion for this holiday season. Give yourself permission to sit quietly in a chair for a moment -- and see what happens.

When JoAnn's life changed on a dime

One evening about 15 years ago, my wife, JoAnn, a few years retired from Shell, was sitting quietly in a chair in a small town home in Denver.

It wasn't a happy moment, particularly. She was wondering to herself things like, "Is this all I'm supposed be doing with my life? Is this it?”

Suddenly she had a momentary sense that someone was sitting in the empty chair across the room -- and almost immediately, the phone started ringing. It was me, in Vancouver, also feeling a bit stuck, wondering what my next move in life was supposed to be.

I had never met JoAnn, but I knew of her. I had decided to come down to Colorado to spend a few days at the headquarters of a spiritual group we had both belonged to for many years, and I thought, "Why don't I call JoAnn? May be we could have a coffee together?”

That's how we got together. We were married a year or so later.

Is love on the move?

Is love on the move in this world? I think it is.

Wouldn't it be interesting if back of all the excitement and apprehension of our lives and of the holiday season is one simple agenda -- one simple truth -- the determination of eternal love to reclaim “human nature” for itself?

No more separation. No more suffering. No more fear.

But we have to take responsibility of course -- because we are that eternal love.

Let's give ourselves permission to be still for a moment this holiday season and see what happens. Perhaps the masterpiece of your own eternal Self will reveal itself to you in an apparently inconsequential moment -- perhaps you will see it shining in the face of a loved one, or in a stranger...

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

GutsyWriter December 20, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Christopher, what a wonderful gift we can give ourselves. When my family lived in Belize, I allowed myself time to sit and absorb the Caribbean, the clouds, the beauty surrounding me. Now back in Orange County, California, I don’t have the luxury of peace surrounding me.

There is traffic and noise, however, I do have a technique similar to your sitting peacefully in your chair. I use it at night to calm my thoughts. I become my own best friend. It feels so wonderful to care about myself and say nice things to myself, as I would to my best friend.

BTW I lived in England, attended Felixstowe College, and University of East Anglia in Norwich, and also love my soft boiled eggs for breakfast.


Christopher Foster December 21, 2010 at 10:03 am

Sonia, thank you so much for your comment. I just hopped on over to your blog and was so happy to see the great work you are doing there. Every good wish with your blogging adventure. The technique you use to calm your thoughts in the evening sounds wonderful. It reminds me of something my Dad told me before he died, how he made a point every evening before going to sleep to think about one of the many lovely vacations he and my Mom had enjoyed together. I’m very glad to hear you enjoy soft boiled eggs…Happy Christmas.


Tess The Bold Life December 21, 2010 at 2:07 am

Happy Holidays to you Christopher! Thanks for sharing your beautiful love story.
I recently started meditating again and that sitting still is the most productive 20 minutes of my day;)
Tess The Bold Life recently posted..A Gift In Goodbye- A Legacy of Love


Christopher Foster December 21, 2010 at 9:08 am

Happy holidays to you too Tess, and many thanks for your comment. Personally, I think there is always the potential of true friendship between any two people and I’m delighted at the connection I feel with you across the miles .


The Vizier December 21, 2010 at 7:36 am

Hi Christopher,

That was a lovely story about how you and JoAnn got together. It reminds me that there are always greater forces at work which we may not always be aware of.

Often we are so busy going about our lives that we may fail to notice the signs around us even though they are staring at us in the face. Then when the universe gives us a gentle nudge again and places the same signs in our paths once more, we sit up and realize we did not pay attention the first time.

But we may not always be so lucky to get a second chance. This is especially so when it comes to love. There are so many factors that have to be just right before we can open our hearts to that special someone. It would be the greatest shame of all if we fail to do so.

Sitting still and letting that peace, love and joy of the moment flow through us is a good way to keep us in touch with our higher selves. By doing so, we become more aware of the signs and the world around us. This is the best way to live a life free of regrets because we will always be ready to act when we need to. This the best way to have the clarity to see our eternal selves in the eyes of a loved one or a stranger.

Thank you for sharing this lovely article with us! 🙂

Irving aka the Vizier
The Vizier recently posted..The Benefits of Reading the Yijing


Christopher Foster December 21, 2010 at 8:59 am

Terrific comment again Irving. Thankyou so much. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be sharing this path of life with you. I send greetings and love and best wishes for a happy and creative holiday season and a bright, lively, expansive New Year.


Phil Malmstrom December 21, 2010 at 9:19 am

A Merry and Blessed Christmas to you Christopher!

Thank you for this timely post. I find most of my best decisions and inspirations come from times of Stillness as you describe. Whether it’s only a few seconds, or the wonderful communion I get from a quiet hour in my favorite chair, I find that I can hear God’s Voice much more clearly when I let the rest of the world fade off.

Thank you so much for all you do Sir.
Phil Malmstrom recently posted..Angels Among Us


Christopher Foster December 21, 2010 at 10:13 am

Thank you Phil, and a merry and blessed Christmas to you too. Thinking about your lovely words reminds me of the priceless words of the 23rd psalm, “”Be still and know that I am God.” It’s an ancient path, stillness, isn’t it — but paradoxically on the other hand it’s also timeless and new and spanking fresh in every moment. So good to connect with you at this precious time of year.


Gail Brenner (AFlourishingLife) December 22, 2010 at 12:12 am

Hi Chris,

I just love the title of this post – offering the suggestion to just sit quietly. No need to meditate or welcome anything – just sitting quietly. And it’s beautiful to hear the story of you and JoAnn – an auspicious meeting.

Love and Happiest of Holidays to you and your loved ones….
Gail Brenner (AFlourishingLife) recently posted..The Art and Craft of Befriending Your Experience


Christopher Foster December 22, 2010 at 9:36 am

Thanks Gail,

Always such a pleasure to share your spirit. “In quietness and confidence shall be my strength. ” I think of these timeless words sometimes. Have a wonderful Christmas Gail. Love and blessings.


Patti Foy December 22, 2010 at 10:14 am

Hi Christopher,

Thank you for this, it’s really beautiful and has such a nice feel to it. I sure love coming by here.

My husband and I spend 24/7 together for the most part and altho I treasure that, I also need/love my time alone. He will be doing a little house-sitting for someone over the holidays, and you have just reconfirmed to me that I do, indeed, want to spend some time just sitting and being. Time for that has been progressively squozen 😉 out of my life.

Many blessings in the new year, Christopher!
Patti Foy recently posted..Timely Tidbits- Seize the Power of the Eclipses


Christopher Foster December 22, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Patti, thanks, you’re a real dear. A real pleasure to touch your sweet, lively spirit. The universe seems to thrive on balance, and spending a bit of time just quietly sitting — being — certainly helps me keep a balance in my life. Many blessings to you too for the coming year.


Big Zen December 23, 2010 at 5:55 pm

A great post Christopher and a great story. Sitting quietly is certainly very powerful. I think it takes practice to quiet the mind but it’s certainly worthwhile.


Christopher Foster December 24, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Many thanks for your input — and have a wonderful Christmas and happy New Year.


arina nikitina December 29, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Totally agree with you here, Chris! In stillness there’s a lot of discoveries within ourselves that powers our next move to success.

I truly believe that being still, quiet and alone are great forces to help us with our goals. There’s much thinking, evaluation and planning going on inside us, right? Plus, we commune with nature and our spirituality is heightened.

People shouldn’t fear being alone but embrace the moment where calmness can be achieved in the situation. Great one, Chris! Give us more of this in 2011, OK?
arina nikitina recently posted..If You Could Possess an Extraordinary Talent in One of the Arts- What Would You Like It to Be


Christopher Foster December 30, 2010 at 9:52 am

Your words feed my soul Arina. Thanks for your comment. What do you think? I wonder if out of sight of the news media etc one of the changes that’s going on in the world is that more and more people are realizing the importance of stillness in their lives?

As you say, we should not fear being alone, but on the contrary, embrace the opportunity to experience more calm in our lives. Blessings and a Happy New Year.


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