tree branches, snow, and winter lake

Lisa Marks is a colleague and Process Work Diplomat who spends half her year in the Pacific Northwest and half the year in the upper Midwest. Where ever she is, she is strongly aligned with the environment and natural world — both within and without. We are pleased to re-post this essay at this time of year. In it, Lisa so beautifully shows the interplay of inner and outer worlds. For those of us who crave reflection and attention to our inner experience, reading this may bring connection and peace. This blog post first appeared at Urban Howl.

Stillness is inside me. This silence has been waiting a lifetime, but the door has been closed. Too busy, too distracted, why would I open the door or even pay attention? Usually I don’t, but a part of me longs for emptiness that masquerades as silence. Silence hovers in the background, often rising on a wave of tears or terror, energetic keys that open the door. Then I drop in, into a stillness that is home, and rest there.

At the beach amidst a gray landscape of water and clouds, I settled into soft sand with my back cradled by a log. And then quiet unfolded. A space opened, called out by ocean waves lapping against rocks at the shore and the light wind touching my face. My insides relaxed, words evaporating like the light mist that surrounded me. On that day I returned to myself, to quiet spaciousness, an ancient silence waiting to be acknowledged.

A voice said “this is who I am”. Which surprised me. This IS who I am! The spacious, still center has been endlessly receding, stepping backwards as words and relationship, the busyness of being human takes over. I hide the parts of me that love sensation and the simplicity of breathing. This place is more nature than human, like the Gray Wolf loping across the ice on Lake Huron last week or the Bald Eagle startled from its perch by my passing. I imagine animals live from stillness, with action emerging in response to what they receive from their senses.

Stillness stays with me. I have been exploring it, tasting how it fits into my life and where it leads. In the midst of turmoil like the world has never known, I tack back into silence, until I am pulled out again by the pain and horror delivered on a daily basis to my newsfeed. Loving and welcoming stillness, I discover my life is geared away from that place. In fact, there is discomfort for the still center that is the core of who I am. Somehow it is shameful to be so empty!

This still place is what I am? It is what I am. I am ashamed and cover it up at every opportunity. Who would respect such emptiness? Who would want to know me, be a friend, a client, join me here? I want people to see me, to admire and respect my work, my writing, and my ability to distill information and create new ways of perceiving. Some of this doing arises to cover deep shame that I am a still, perceiving center moving through space. The stillness we are born with is something to deny, to leave and to abhor, because silence has no value.

Imagine an infant resting in quiet sensation until something emerges that needs attention; hunger, sleep, discomfort, the desire to lift her head, meet the gaze of another or touch a hanging object. She is surrounded by people talking, questioning, encouraging her to be more, do more, to leave her still, pulsating experience. The message? Quiet sensation, our true home, is not acceptable and is something to be embarrassed by.

Instead accomplishment is emphasized. Stand, walk, “say momma”, “don’t just lay there”, each success followed by praise. The seeds are planted, endless striving to be more, do more, be seen and valued for what we do and not for being. This process of acculturation is where our true nature is left behind, where we become societies definition of human.

The training of the infant and child takes the focus away from inside and what arises, toward the outside. Action ceases to be anchored in our home inside the body, and becomes attached to others, to their opinions and needs. Unfortunately, what returns from outside is often conditional. We cannot know another’s needs and reality. Without a connection to the guidance of our inner experience, attachment to another is insecure. We step onto a volatile roller coaster of drama in human relationship and in the world. Action becomes manipulation to get needs met, needs based on sustaining an identity that for many covers up self-hatred and fear.

Our consensus reality world is built on escaping our true nature. Buried beneath accomplishment and saving others, covered up by addictions in so many forms; screen time, information, people, substances, work, obsessions, all of these take away from our inner truth that aligns with the natural world. Seeking outward becomes addictive. Like gambling, random reinforcement intervals are the hardest behaviors to extinguish. Addictions take us away from ourselves, and are often fueled by fear of the emptiness we are born into.

An external focus, where we view ourselves from the outside, is sheer drama. Unless we can hold our still center as a compass pointing true, we enter chaos when we default to another’s viewpoint. How can we know the other or step into their body and feelings? When we try, we enter the polarities of the unconscious; hopes and fears projected outward.

The silence at my core creates cohesion of action and being that is beyond imagining. When events pull me into the drama of others, or myself through the eyes of others, then chaos overwhelms. Now I can tack back into center where I rest in silence, a quiet big enough to contain rogue presidents and threats of global disintegration. When I fall outside of myself again (this tacking back and forth is endless and somehow necessary, a dance of relationship, of titration for a new state of being) I explore the world of the collective unconscious, polarities unleashed in a global dance of frightening proportions.

Stillness calls me to settle inside, into the circle of being that is my body. From there I can view the world, from there I can interact with integrity. The gift of a secure attachment to me, to this body and experience, is profound and freeing. It arises from the silent comfort of home, of being here in this body. And it is new to me! I know few people who live and move from this place.

Imagine if our leaders could embrace stillness long enough for right action to arise. Manipulating and directing what unfolds so it fits the idea of the rational mind for what is “right” is often disconnected from Nature, and more in line with covering up fear, shame and self-hatred. What if action arises from a mind resting in silence? What if we welcomed stillness as our ground and taught this? What if this was the basis for governing our selves and the world?

My biggest letting go in this dance is the rational mind. Maybe it can rise and return to the eye of god, like the sun that emerged brilliant “inside” the clouds yesterday. I can welcome this thinking brain back when it has found its rightful place as a compassionate steward of silence. Through the frightening disintegration of letting go, thinking finds a new way of being human, where my nature as stillness is welcomed, where I am grounded in myself, where essential stillness joins the sentient world.

We are Nature. We deny and move away from this truth endlessly, wanting to be more than nature, more than still selves weaving sensation and awareness into movement. The world is stillness in endless motion. Rising, falling, moving toward and away, stillness is endlessly and effortlessly in motion. This is our world, bodies in endless motion.

Silence is not just for me. The world itself, perhaps the universe, calls us back. Part of a planetary evolution, this pulsing, passionate resting place we call our body wants us home to welcome our true nature, to join Nature and the earth in these next steps. In order for this to happen, the structure, as we know it, cracks open. What has been no longer works. What is to come, none of us can know. It is beyond our capacity in this moment. Even imagining what comes will not reveal its form, for what emerges now is created moment-by-moment, breath-by-breath.

I don’t know the answers. All I know is me and what speaks to me. Each moment I remember to return to stillness, its power grows. I write from that place, closing my eyes and feeling silence as words rise. This is different. The gratitude I feel is immense. If I could share it with you I would. Take a moment, breath and relax. Welcome an empty mind; embrace silence spreading outward into space, joining nature. Take a moment to Be, empty space opening to stillness.

My world has changed. Home is inside. I am not reaching out to another through my eyes, through my heart, endlessly seeking myself in them. I am the sense of myself. I am. That’s it. I am, regardless of what others think and do, I am. And I will continue to be until “I am” transforms into something that “I” at this point won’t recognize. I tasted that recently in meditation and it moved me to tears. The realization of this may be coming on a wave of overwhelm for many in the upcoming years.

New years day I walked the beach, the home beach at Point Hudson on Admiralty Inlet. The light played over the snowy peaks of the Cascades, Needles and the Three Fingers illuminated in the golden glow of late afternoon. They called to me, called to that silent place, oh so beautifully they called. My being trembled, knowing in that moment that all are called! It is not just the Volcanoes, Mount Rainer and Mount Baker, that enter this next rising, where silence enters Being. It is all the mountains; it is all of us that are called to join the mountains unfolding the next steps upon this Earth. Called to being like a mountain, called to resting inside.

I feel it as I type. Tears flow down my cheeks to think that we are called to join the mountains and creatures of the sentient world in embracing silence. Where we stay inside and don’t leave ourselves, where we join mountains. We become strong, fierce and immovable to the winds of change that buffet this world as it transitions from chaos and disintegration to the possibilities of a new way. Where power unfolds itself through us and through the earth we inhabit. We break from frozen traumas that keep us locked in self-hatred, and welcome our true nature. Melting, breaking, leaving behind brokenness as our point of reference, we welcome what lies underneath to guide us on this unfathomable journey home.