Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Stillness vs Holding

A quick note about the difference between being still and holding. . .

This came to me while in seated meditation today.  Being dance instructor I am constantly moving.  And even as a "regular person" I find I am always on the go (and, I imagine you are too). Performing seated meditation is of course very still. But today I made the connection that seated meditation while still is not a held position.

The distinction between these two ideas is beautifully articulated in dance notation (The Language of Dance©). Holding is represented my a small circle. It basically means that one should hold or retain one's shape or orientation in space.  It is an exact place, measured by external means.  HOLD!  One might as well say FREEZE! Because holding can often feel bound and caught.  The concept of stillness in dance notation is represented by the same circle (as used for holding or retention) with a "v" shape emanating outward from the top of the circle, expressing outward flow.

It looks like this:
Now it may look a little silly at first.  I, for one, think it looks a wee bit like an old TV or an alien with antennae, but I have come to understand that it is the most beautiful notation representation of stillness I can imagine.  You see, I realized while sitting in my chair that I was still, but I didn't have to hold. I didn't have to be frozen in space.  And, as long as I was breathing I wasn't frozen in space. The breath going in and out of my lungs gave a subtle rise and fall to the energy of my stillness.  So, although my external body was mostly still my inner workings never still.  By breathing I was able to continue growing, expanding and experiencing while being stationary. The subtle shifts of the ribcage, spine, collar bones and neck became my outward flow and thus my opening. 

As I sit in meditation I often notice a build up of tension. I think of it like a residue: forgotten holding somewhere in my body. But, if I allow my breath to flow into that space, I remove the holding and replace it with stillness. The tension and pain disappears, the discomfort dissipates. . . And all without me "moving." 

Recently I have yearned desperately to be still. I couldn't identify why for a long time. But I think I realize now that I want to be still, because I want to experience the flow within the stillness. I want to take the time to let go of the residual holding that can feel lifeless and life sucking.  Stillness allows me to go inward so I naturally emanate outward. Each inhale a gift, each exhale a sigh of relief.

Try it if you like, and may you find the blessing of stillness too. 

1 comment: