Part of the Communion in Times of Coronavirus series of gentle reflectionsInderjit Bhogal, 2020
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“Be still and know I am God”Psalm 46:10
Stillness…also the goal of Yoga.
Last week I showed simple ways to breathe correctly, with a focus on breathing through the nose.
Just try that again.
Breathe through your nose with the 4-7-8 formula.
Breathe in for 4 seconds. Hold the breath for 7 seconds. Breathe out for 8 seconds.
Have a go now. Breathe in, hold, breathe out.
What happens when you do this?
The first thing, apart from breathing well is that you shut up. You say nothing.
I’ll come back to that in a minute.
Now, what is the first lesson you must learn when you learn to drive?
Answer. You must learn how to stop.
To make any move in a car, you must be able to stop it.
It is important to stop.
Coronavirus has stopped us all in our tracks.
The current situation has taught us that real healing and wellbeing comes from learning to stop.
When you stop you, even when you slow down, you see more, you listen more.
The most important thing in life is not what happens to you, but how you react to it.
In any situation, breathe well, stop, listen, don’t focus on what to say.
If you do these simple things, what you are doing is being still.
In the stillness is God.
Be still and know I am God.
Live in that confidence that God is with you.
The Psalmist who wrote those words was speaking to a people at war.
When he said “be still” what he meant was “put down your weapons”, stop the clatter, and know that your confidence is in God.
What is the weapon you carry? Your words.
Breathe well. Stop speaking.
True Yoga is not about movement and posturing and exercise.
True Yoga has only one goal: the complete stillness of thought, and mental movement.
Total stillness because only in this stillness will you know that you live in God and God lives in you.
I grew up in a large family. Nine of us. The first thirteen years of my life my family lived in two rooms. As you can imagine I could never get away from noise in our home. I learned quickly that what is important is not silence but stillness within me.
Stillness within me can be achieved anytime and anywhere.
I also decided that listening was essential to stillness.
Stillness is assisted by silence, but does not require silence.
Stillness is not doing nothing. It is about being attentive to the moment. It is a resting in the midst of noise and activity.
I can be still when I am walking or running.
In stillness I shut up and listen.
The Prophet Isaiah wrote:
In stillness is your strengthIsaiah 30:7,15
The words Jesus used to still a storm were, “peace, be still”.
If you want peace learn to be still.
God is with us.
Be still and know this.
There are simple practical ways to deepen the quality of stillness in you.
First, in a conversation listen with stillness. In other words, listen without working on what you will say next. Just listen. Allow the person speaking to finish. Then, don’t say what you want to, ask the person a question like, can unpack what you have said a little more so that I have a clearer understanding of what you have said. You could then say, I need to think a little more of what you have said. What is happening is that you are listening with stillness of mind.
St Columba said people say I am wise, but all I do is listen to them.
Second, try the Zen of seeing. Try this anywhere. Look at anything, it could be a leaf, or a feather, or a piece of rock or a flower. Focus on a small part of it and draw it in your mind. You need no paper or pencil. The important thing is you are learning to focus, give attention to detail without using words.
Learn in this time of slowing down to breathe well, to stop, and to be still. No need to hurry.
Here you can be still, and know God.
So, I close with the words of Christ.
Peace, be still.
Thank you and bless you.
Take care, and we will meet at the same time next Sunday.
Inderjit Bhogal, 17 May 2020