Monday 21 March 2016

The Art of Stillness

Have you ever sat in a hospital ACU isolation unit, your loved one too sick, too restless, for you to read or work or do anything except hold his hand and pray?

In those anxious moments, the aggressive, active mind spreads turmoil and fear. The “what ifs?”, the guilt, the worry, all jostle and shove their way into your mind until you struggle to breathe under the weight of waiting for the first sign that your prayers have been answered and your loved one is safe.

At first, when I sat watching the restless sleep of my beloved husband, his face grey against the hospital linen, with its gay white swirls adorning the light blue pillow cases, this inaction, this helpless inability to do anything other than wait, was purgatory.

Later, this testing time became a great teacher, for I am learning the art of being still.

There's the physical skill of sitting still; of learning to control my natural inclination towards  movement and busyness. Wriggling in the chair, scratching itches and rustling through my bag - all futile efforts to pass the time, so that the clock conveniently placed on the ACU ward wall would magically speed up from ten o’clock to five past ten to twenty past ten ...

Some people may see the art of being still as being passive, but stillness is an active art, a conscious act of choice with a definite goal: mastering the body to keep one’s natural movements to a minimum, allowing my beloved to sleep and heal in a peaceful, calm atmosphere.

Once that essential skill is learned another, more difficult, skill is required to master the art of stillness ... Keeping the mind still, a seemingly impossible task with nothing to do all day except think and think.

But, slowly, as the minutes blur into hours, and the hours into days, I'm learning that there are as many rewards in stillness as there are in furious goal orientated activity.

For there, in the muted lights of that lonely isolation ward, I hear a voice speaking in that stillness. Whatever name you give it - call it the voice of God, the spirits of angels and ancestors, or simple craziness - it carries with it the message of hope that all will be well; an acceptance that whatever happens is part of that mysterious path chosen by my Divine Soul before I was even born; that what is, is what is meant to be and I will cope with whatever the day brings.

When those voices whisper their mysteries to me, I suddenly find the art of stillness has become an open doorway to a world where miracles and healing replace worry and fear ... and I can move again, rising from my chair as my beloved's voice calls to me, wanting to know that I am near and telling me that he is, at last, awake.
The art of being still becomes a doorway to another world.

Image purchased from ©"step into the great beyond" by Yuri_Arcurs