Stillness

Foto: Cottonbro – Pexels.com

Why it is so difficult for many people to tolerate stillness?

Maybe because they are used to thinking of silence as "the calm before the next storm"? Maybe because they haven't learned how beneficial it is to be able to "settle down" in total stillness? As our environment is mostly filled with all kinds of noises and most of us have grown up in such environment, so that it simply feels familiar and in thus in a way comfortable for us?

However, it is a well-known fact that all our senses and also our bodies and our psyche need times of stillness to be able to regenerate.

Only in stillness do we find adequate space to be able to calm our nervous system. In other words, to teach it to trust that calmness will return by itself after each and every storm once we trust in this process. And that our life will then continue in an even enriched way if only we understand how to experience this process in a more sensible way.

In ancient times, there have been numerous rituals of transition for such purpose, which were oriented both toward the natural rhythm of the year (i.e. seasonal festivities), the natural transitions in all of our lives (i.e. birth, adolescence and passing), and also our relationship to forces greater than ourselves (i.e. natural powers and disasters).

Unfortunately, these rituals have been lost in the course of time in our modern cultures - except for some "fragments".

This is because if we have lost touch to the deep knowledge of why these rituals were originally performed, and also have no opportunity to experience for ourselves how they work, we naturally have no motivation to revive a/o continue with them.

So, let us first take the original carnival for an illustrative example. It initially served to drive out "evil spirits and shadows" that had arisen during the dark season of the year with little light and poor nutrition, in order to create space for a new beginning in every sense of the word.
Today we call the "evil spirits and shadows" winter depression and the like. And if we look at how carnival is lived nowadays, especially here in Germany, this only serves as a short-term release of tension rather than a conscious shaping of our lives in harmony with natural processes.

The following period of fasting, which previously served to ritually purify our bodies and which - as we know today - is also very beneficial for our psyche, has in many ways degenerated into a mere cure for the "carnival hangover".
The emptying of our organism, originally intended in a more gentle way, in order to create space for the absorption of new, fresh and life-supporting nutrients - which now begin to grow again naturally - often happens here, too. But already during carnival and in a way that is not very refreshing or pleasant for anyone involved...

So what are we actually able to learn by this? Well, the remaining "fragments" in our culture are e.g. prayer and meditation.

We may use these rituals also for ourselves and independently from matters of faith and believe as meaningful rituals in our everyday life, simply to bring our nervous system back into a state of calmness, time and again. Thus, we are able to draw more and more from this resource in every new and for us difficult situation. So that we don't become victims of our own stored-up hyperarousal, which we may then unconsciously direct at others for our own relief. And in doing so, we may ourselves ignite or intensify the next interpersonal conflict.

Even if we often practice prayer and meditation by ourselves only, we still depend on each other. For especially in the beginning we will also need external stillness in order to be able to focus on the essentials. So let us respect also the need in others and give each other the relevant space that is so essential for all of us.

And thus, time and again, harmony becomes feasible where previously there was only conflict.