Where Does Stillness Hide?

Would it surprise you, dear readers, that I am studying Biodynamic Cranial Sacral Therapy (BCST), (which I’ll discuss at length later) a practice requiring quiet contemplation? What would an anxious and science minded person be doing in such a class? My teacher exudes calm. I come into class sessions sometimes with so much energy I can’t stop talking. But then Margery leads us in a meditation and inevitably the craziness inside me settles. I am amazed, but not altogether surprised. I have long sensed that despite my anxiety, somewhere deep inside me is a well of stillness. At times, and for moments at a time, I find it.

In BCST we are taught to first still ourselves, body and mind, before we even touch the client on our tables. Every time I practice, or contemplate my practice, I ask myself, where in this noisy mind/body does stillness hide?

In Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise, Thich Nhat Hanh describes a Bodhisattva (one who heals the world) of Deep Listening. Avalokiteshvara’s name means “the one who listen deeply to the sounds of the world.” He is said to have the power to create five sounds that heal world.

Thich Nhat Hanh says if you find silence within yourself, you can hear these five sounds:

  1. Wonderful Sound: the wonders of life such as the song of birds and tapping of rain. (That sounds easy enough to listen to, no? )
  2. The Sound of the One Who Observes the World: the sound of listening. This is Simon and Garfunkel’s true Sound of Silence. When do I hear the sound of my own listening? In a quiet place or my head underwater swimming, in the small spaces between thoughts.
  3. Brahma Sound—om: familiar to American yogis but with a long tradition in Indian spirituality. Om is the sound that created the world, which Thich Nhat Hanh compares to Christianity, “in the beginning there was the word” and science, as in “the big bang.” The sound of om (sometimes written as aum) is ultimate reality or God. Sometimes I play inside my head the deep resonant sound of monks chanting “Ommmmmmmmmmmm”. I don’t know if this is cheating.
  4. Sound of the Rising Tide. This sound is the clear voice of Buddha who clarifies meaning,  removes suffering from the world and can effect all change. His words are opposite of muddled, confusing words and ideas. I imagine muddy sediment falling through pond to the earth beneath, leaving clear water. I can picture it, but I’m not sure what this would sound like.
  5. The Sound That Transcends all Sounds of the World. “The sound of impermanence.” I suppose if you can hear this sound you understand that all is temporary. What must this sound like?

Thich Nhat Hanh says you can only hear your deepest calling when you still noise inside yourself. Your heart is trying to tell you something, but you can’t hear with your mind full of noise. I am apparently not his only reader full of thoughts, especially negative thoughts. We also all look for material comforts and we all are preoccupied with daily matters and concerns, he says.

The only way to find hear our inner voice is to pause. The conditions for peace and happiness are already here;  we just have to listen, says Thich Nhat Hanh.

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