the practical buddhist : essentials

the nourishing power of stillness


Do you know stillness?

Do you encounter this incredibly nourishing entity regularly?

I’m not referring to meditation although it is a form of stillness. I’m referring instead to the stillness of nature; to the healing and soothing quality we encounter when walk by a lake shore or along the edge of the surf.

Even though the surf is far from still, the powerful stillness I feel when I walk next to the crashing waves makes it a nourishing place to be.

I live two blocks from the waves in Rio Del Mar, California…about 80 miles south of San Francisco. It’s not uncommon for me to take Buddy, my black lab-pointer mix, for a walk along the coast. We often do this in the early morning when it’s till foggy and the sun is busy burning off the upper layers of the cool mist.

The times when we venture across the sand to the water’s edge are the most meaningful for me. It could be the negative ions resulting from the churning water having this affect on me, or possibly the solitary nature of the coast at that hour.

Stillness, the last frontier

For the last ten days I’ve been in Alaska working for a client on a writing project. The hotel I’ve been living in is on the shore of Lake Hood, home to the busiest seaplane airport in the Northern Hemisphere. Alaska’s slogan is ‘the last frontier.’ It reminds me of the Star Trek series is a strange way.

Alaska has a proud culture of native peoples, outdoors sports, and adventure. Everywhere you go in this state it is proudly on display. There are less than a million people in this state that is half the size of the continental U.S.

Stillness abounds here. It’s not hard to find. Even though people pay thousands for trips into the interior to encounter this stillness, the funny part is you don’t have to leave the city to find it.

How far do you go to encounter stillness?

Are you under the impression that you need to plan a weekend trip to the woods or the mountains to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city to encounter stillness? I see people like this every weekend at the beach. When they open the tailgate of their minivan, half of the household belongings tumble out. It seem they’ve planned for every contingency on their way to stillness.

I chuckle, but not at them, rather at myself. It wasn’t all that long ago that I approach a weekend trip to the beach and packed everything bu the TV and the DVD player. So I get it; I understand their hesitancy to not prepare.

But you really don’t need to plan for stillness.

All you need is the desire to encounter it; meet it where it lives, which is everywhere.

But parks are always so crowded

Not at 6 a.m. Your car is beautifully silent at or even at 10 p.m. Very few people walk in the park in the early hours of the day because their either at work, getting ready to go to work, or taking care of their family.

Wherever and whenever you can find stillness, it will nourish you. It nourishes you because silence and stillness is where we meet our most honest self. When we are in stillness, we are ourselves. We aren’t wearing our mask of the day.

There is no pretense in stillness, only honesty.

Start looking for stillness

When you do, you will find yourself there. And I guarantee you will like who you meet.


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