When contemplativeness and overcoming adversity are removed from society, we also inevitability remove the grace that we extend to each other. Those doing inner work and fighting an outer battle tend to extend grace to others. Without contemplativeness and adversity (real adversity — not the drama of modern inconveniences), we become self-absorbed and much less situationally aware. And self-absorption (ego) is the enemy of grace (soul).

This fall from grace manifests in a thousand ways. From the blaring of unwelcomed music from cars and Bluetooth speakers. To the use of speaker phones in public places. To loud talking during musical performances. Then there’s the complete lack of grace on-line — which has amplified our darker tendencies of tribalism.

Loss of grace seems to amplify the fear of stillness. To just be quiet. It’s as if the self-generated noise gives us a sense of control and provides a buffer against contemplation. The production of noise is the by-product of consumptiveness. A type of gluttony for stimulation and distraction. One could apply the conspiracy theory that the powers that be (primarily government, religion and consumerism) don’t want us to be contemplative. For contemplativeness leads to self-actualization — which leads to a distinct shrinking of the influence of these institutions.

There is hope. The too-much-information age has given birth to curation and curators. Those distilling the essence of ideas, tools, knowledge by removing the noise. I am convinced that stillness is the next thing to be curated. And that when more of us are involved in the curation of stillness, then grace will make a re-appearance. We see signs of this with meditation rooms, banning of technology from movie theaters and concert venues, silent retreats and the code of silence in yoga classes.

I will confess this is all rather new for me. It wasn’t until my awakening several years ago that I became aware of all of the noise. I contributed to it. I participated in it. I often wonder how much beauty, magic, direction I lost because of the noise. I stopped attending a church almost 4 years ago. The one thing I miss is the silence before the service. But, interestingly, it was the lack of silence during the service that drove me to seek stillness elsewhere. And I found it in nature, sitting quietly. And I’ve found stillness in the gaps between the noise I can’t control.

This newfound love for stillness has lead to a simple checkpoint for sound: is this necessary? Sometimes it is. Listening is how we learn. Music is soothing, inspiring. But a lot of it still tends towards unconscious sound; a filler of the gap of time between things.

I would hope that my fledgling love of stillness has generated more grace for others. I suppose it has, but I also know my primal and primitive response to someone’s lack of grace and lack of self-awareness.

3 Comments

  • Jalene Case says:

    Mmmmm…I love the connection of the word grace with our souls. I also connect grace to self-compassion. I find myself saying internally and to coaching clients, “Give yourself some grace.”

  • Erik Harvey says:

    Science has caught up with the power of stillness, as well. There are numerous studies that reveal the health benefits of the personal experience of silence and stillness. And, noise pollution has been described by some as the most underrated, yet ubiquitous form of modern pollution, and it’s only getting worse. Ryan Holiday states in the intro of his book, Stillness is Key, that: “It’s all but impossible to find a philosophical school or religion that does not venerate this inner peace — this stillness — as the highest good and as the key to elite performance and a happy life. And when basically all the wisdom of the ancient world agrees on something, only a fool would decline to listen.”

  • There’s a new bar in Austin called Sans Bar (no alcohol served) because being sober or sober-like is gaining pupularity. I love the idea of a stillness bar! Friends coming over just to hang and do our own thing in silence. A public gathering place for nothing but just being.

    What’s one way you would want to curate stillness?

Leave a Reply