Life happens whether we are still or not. We can actively participate in some aspect of the world or stay still. Wisdom comes from both. Sometimes, our life experience is decided for us through illness, trauma or circumstances. Meditation is one way to get acquainted with the wisdom inherent in stillness by choice of our own.
The body will resist stillness. Even when we sleep we are restless, but we can train it to settle down. Inside, we will find our breath happens automatically. It’s always there, blowing air through the lungs. Our breathing is completely self-regulating, but we can, if we wish, control the flow. This is interesting, to try to quicken the breath, or hold it and notice the impact on how we feel. The abdomen will rise and fall. We will notice the rhythm of the heartbeat and blood coursing through veins. All of this is involuntary; there is a whole life happening on the inside. On the outside, we are keeping very, very still. Nothing is moving at the surface, like a calm pond. Usually, our experience is the opposite. We’re going somewhere, doing something, or chasing after things— but on the inside, we have no idea what is going on because our mind can only focus on one thing at a time. I read somewhere that our body replaces billions of cells every day. That is what is going on. Whether we are sitting still or not, we are changing!
When we limit our experience to the natural, involuntary action of the body, we become aware that there is a Being that is alive and alert, a consciousness of our existence. It is this Being that takes notice of the sensations of the body. This Being is the center, like the point at the center of a clock, from which hands extend outward, rotating round and round, like thoughts, passing by. When we stay very still for long enough, we may begin to recognize patterns about life on earth, like how the sun rises and the night falls every day. Or, how the seasons turn the leaves from green to orange to red to brown and then get crisp and fall. We may also recognize patterns about ourselves, our outside persona, how people relate to us, or how we relate to one another and these patterns can be called familiarity.
We may in our stillness accept the greatest phenomena of all, and that is how all living beings get old and die. How even the smoothest skin wrinkles and we return to a state of no-memory. There are births and inventions, too, many of which we have nothing to do with; and we may begin to relish the fleeting moments of spontaneous beauty, like when two pairs of eyes lock with compassion and love. These moments, we will come to see, are short lived, but the feeling, the vibration, the energy inside us lasts an eternity.
When we sit very still, we recognize “I am” the constant. “I am” intimacy. I am the observer, the master of seeing, giving life meaning. This is meditation. Beyond meditation is really up to you. In the Buddhist religion and philosophy, we meditate for enlightenment, to behold this intimate vision so that we can see and love others more deeply, with compassion and kindness.
That is what can happen beyond meditation.