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Stillness as a Defence Against Noise
The clash of a chaotic mind with a chaotic world obstructs the capacity to find coherence. Recent years seem to have passed at a frantic pace, as if the already unrelenting onslaught of time was accelerated by catastrophe and confinement.
I’ve known confinement for a long time. Not of any physical kind, pandemic measures aside, but the self-imposed confinement of the mind that starts with a simple attachment to a snowball of thought and rolls into an uncontrolled avalanche.
Trapped under the weight of another torrent of mental meandering, at the point of resignation to my fate, I’m reminded of one enduring quality of mountains: silence. And in that silence comes salvation from the noise within.
Sitting quietly, doing nothing, to quote Basho, is the most understated and revolutionary single act for the Self available in the cascade of incoherence wrought by our hyperconnectivity.
In a techscape in which almost every aspect of our lives - where we - are commodified into an outcome-related metric derived from incessant activity, stillness becomes a radical act of defiance.
Silence and stillness constitute the simplest form of Self-defence.
We have lost the simplicity of sitting in silence and stillness, hijacked by the commercialised, sanitised, and bastardised pseudo-spirituality industry. Another outcome-related metric, the benefits sold as the neoliberal aspirations of ‘focus’ and ‘productivity’: download the app here.
An attachment to an outcome, the very antithesis to the true purpose of sitting quietly, doing nothing, which is to just be: without attachments.
For a long time I pursued, unwittingly, attachment to an outcome; that of finding a state of stillness beyond thought and emotion, a place beyond perception and feeling. I was missing the point. To finish Basho: spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.
To sit and be still is the outcome; the start and end. Stillness becomes quiescence, and silence settles the turbulence of thought. Never stopping thought itself, but providing the opportunity for active thought to be replaced with sensory experience. And if that experience is of thought, feeling, or perception, so be it.
The more I sit in silence and stillness, the more I watch as the snowball rolls. No longer helplessly caught in the advancing avalanche, a spectator of the sublime recesses of the mind, without attachment to the torrent.
The place beyond thought that I sought, I now know as the place beyond confinement; the expanse of the mind, of perception, uninhibited by a lack separation between thought and Self and the hostage to emotion captured by the merging of those two distinct forces.
Inner stillness precedes inner silence, and in silence comes order and coherence. Time slows down, and I return to my Self.