When Waiting Becomes the Stillness Within
There are pleasures in waiting and stillness readily forgotten in the times of incessant doing. Our culture is all about doing, productivity, lists, accomplishments, and achievements. I am certainly one to buy into this part of the culture as it was ingrained in my growing up. My grandmother and then mother would say, “It was a good day. I accomplished a lot.” That is what success looked like to them and to me as I became an adult. Sitting and being still was not part of the plan and your success was tied to your accomplishments. It can be hard on the psyche at times and simply noticing this can tug at our inner freedom.
Life happens so quickly and speeds up as we age, especially if you have children life becomes a literal blur. The days are so long when they are little but the years are short. Now I have young adults and we are all quarantined together in our home. And so we wait. We wait and interact more patiently as the days blend into one with not much differentiation. The desire for accomplishments grows to prove time is passing.
“Waiting isn’t a hurdle keeping us from intimacy and from living our lives to our fullest. Instead, waiting is essential to how we connect as humans through the messages we send.” — Jason Farman
While we wait, things can happen that will be fruitful in our lives. In waiting, the intimacy of ideas formulate. Waiting allows for things to appear magically at the right time, in the right place. Waiting is like a form of surrendering and being open to what is supposed to happen instead of forcing something to happen. We are so attached to the results and the expectations of our efforts to appear instantaneously we forget about the joy of the process to get there.
Consider stillness a level of waiting. As if it were a destination in your mind’s eye. When you are attached to the outcome the hold of the very outcome can be so strangled into not happening. The attachment is fear and very rarely does fear allow for the magic or outcome to occur. Imagine you wait long enough for an outcome and the attachment to that outcome weakens. Settling into the waiting and moving on with other tasks can help it move from the forefront of your mind. Surrender the outcome, you’ve put in your intentions and best and now it is up to the energy of the waiting. Leaving it up to the person you are waiting on can be difficult however, that’s the sweetness of the stillness when it becomes non-attached.
The stillness brews beneath the waiting transforming, growing, unfolding like a reward of hope and wisdom. While we wait with the stillness, our hope grows and our desires evolve. We change as we reflect on how we react and we learn about ourselves. Reshifting the waiting with added empathy to accomplish our original goal can teach us even more about ourselves. For example, when you are waiting in line at the grocery store, the person in front of you has a mountain of items and you only have a few you still have to wait. Adding empathy to the waiting will tap into the stillness within. After all, you do not know that person’s story. They could be shopping for their whole family using food stamps or they finally got paid and their pantry is bare. Consider that someone else’s time is as valuable as your own and adding that empathy adds a whole other layer.
“If we work toward an awareness of time as collective rather than individual, we can come to understand wait time as an investment in the social fabric that connects us.”
We are all waiting for the pandemic to be over so we can go back to achieving and doing but if we look at this time as a collective space it shifts. Everyone is isolated and we have an opportunity to have radical empathy for everyone’s time including our own. Time blends day after day and we are all in waiting to see the harrowing results of the pandemic shakeout.
If we begin to think about what are we deeply waiting for perhaps there is an opportunity to see the desired shift into a stillness and that desire may change.
Take into consideration that, “You have to sit and meditate if you want to hatch eggs, you have to sit if you want to cook food, you have to sit if you want to perk up. Sitting is very dull. It does not say very much. there is no encounter group, no sensory awareness or touchy-feely. Sitting is very ordinary and very simple. Because of that, it is very precious.” — Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
Get comfortable and settle in. Get bored and see what happens. It’s about the stillness between the waiting without the desire. Release it all, surrender, imagine, daydream, it is time. The light will shine through and your contribution to the world will be for a different purpose. And this is the lesson of the Corona.