Finding Truth in Stillness: Harnessing Quietude for Personal Transformation

Finding Truth in Stillness: Harnessing Quietude for Personal Transformation

The Union Path Podcast

"Finding Truth in Stillness: Harnessing Quietude for Personal Transformation"

Episode Transcript:

New Year in winter in general, is a really interesting time. It can be really frustrating time too, because after all of the rush and the excitement and the stimulation of the holidays, we're left with this time of the year, after this time of the year of January. Especially in northern climates. This can be a bit of a difficult time of the year to get through, especially if we were craving and we really enjoyed the stimulation or the togetherness or the connection that we experienced over the holidays. Because January can mean a time where we're just sort of left low or we're just kind of back to ourselves, where everything is gone, a time that's a little darker, a little more bleak, a little more empty, especially in northern climates. The weather seems to be a bit of a metaphor for how things feel it's dark, it's cold, it's cloudy, it's stagnant, it feels isolating. We really perceive inactivity. We really connect with the idea of stillness and if we have a relationship or a dependence on stimulation, stillness can be very difficult. It can be very uncomfortable, because a lot of times when we are overly involved in stimulation, it's to displace something else, to distract from something else. It's because there's something inside of us we just don't want to face. We just don't want to honor, we just don't want to acknowledge, we just want to accept that it's true. But if we can just keep ourselves busy and stimulated enough for long enough, we never really have to face it, we never really have to see it. It's a really profound ability of the human animal. Is our own ability to deceive ourselves, to distract ourselves, that we can really get away from the present moment, from our own awareness of what's really going on, whenever we wish. It really is incredible, because that seems to be the main thing that sets human beings apart from all other animals. It's this incredible, almost supernatural, superhuman ability to create, to create something different, to exist in a reality, but to imagine something different, to imagine something better, and to use that imagination to actually devise ways of achieving that, of living, that of creating that, at least in my opinion, when we stop and think about it. That really is phenomenal. How much power we have, what a gift this is, this ability to create.

And yet a lot of us overlook our own creative abilities. Through upbringing, through what's happened to us, through simply the way we've learned to exist and cope and attempt to thrive. A lot of times we can adopt a very passive attitude of where we don't really want to think about our own life, we don't really want to think about what we're doing, we don't really want to think about where we're going, we don't want to think about what's happening. We'd rather leave this to someone else. We'd rather leave this for someone else to figure out.

But the funny thing is, or perhaps the interesting thing is, that no matter how much we defer, no matter how much we leave to someone else, that's still us choosing, that's still us creating. We're just projecting and imbuing our creative power on someone or something else. But that's a decision that we make. Because that seems to be the rub, that seems to be a bit of the burden, or at least the responsibility and the gift of creativity is that we have to choose how to use it.

No matter how deferring we are, no matter how much we think we're going to let someone else decide how our own creativity works, what form it takes, what we pursue, what we eschew, that's still us choosing, that's still us creating. That, when we boil it all down, no matter how external our focus is, our existence is entirely internal. Our existence is entirely lived through our insides. That's the only way we can live it. Even if we try to live through someone else, we can't. That's a mirage, that's an illusion, we can't actually do that. The only sensory information, the only sensations, the only feeling, the only feedback that we actually have direct access to is the feeling and feedback within ourselves, and so we might as well use it, we might as well listen.

And so, when we ponder this kind of nadir of the year, this darkness, this quiet, this sort of forced solitude, forced lack of stimulation, forced sort of stimulation diet that a lot of us can find ourselves in in the month of January, how do we put this to use? How do we treat this? As if it was advantageous to us? Because it can be, because no time of the year is necessarily good or bad. Judgments are. Ideas about certain times of the year are just judgments and ideas. They aren't inherent. These are things we've decided to believe. These are things we've chosen to believe. And so when we're kind of forced into these times of reflection, forced in these times of stillness, forced in these times of slowness, it's important to ask ourselves no, wait a minute.

Why are we being forced? What's forcing us? What is this force? Because, again, this is all a choice. This is all coming from within us, and if we're sensing a force, that's a bit of conflict, right. Well, where's that conflict coming from? Is that conflict actually a reflection or does it originate from within us? Is this something we haven't wanted to look at, haven't wanted to feel, haven't wanted to acknowledge?

And so we busy ourselves through as much external stimulation as we can possibly find, but when that stimulation is taken away, we find it profoundly affecting. Maybe we don't really know what to do with ourselves. We get a little stir crazy, we get a little itchy and uncomfortable, maybe we get a little depressed, because whatever we were holding on to in order to try to feel good feels like it's been ripped away. But in the stillness, in the slowness, in this lack of stimulation is an opportunity. It's an opportunity to reconnect with the truth. We can always choose to pursue the truth. We can always choose to deepen our relationship with the truth. We can always choose to finally stop running from the truth, because we will never win, we will never outrun the truth. The truth will always be pursuing us, will always be right on our tail because it can't be escaped. It can be deferred for a little bit, it can be ignored. But who wants to live a life ignoring? Who wants to live a life in ignorance? Because I think it's really important to acknowledge that the root of ignorance is ignore, and nothing good, at least over the long term, is fed out of ignorance Quite the opposite, actually and that, with all things being equal, we can dramatically improve our life by rooting out ignorance wherever we can find it. This is true especially over the long term. The more we connect with the truth, the better. The more we live the truth, the better.

Because it's up to us to decide to stop running, it's up to us to decide to stop hiding, it's up to us to finally take a stand and actually face what we've been trying to distract ourselves from, what we've been trying to get away from. Because if that chase has been persistent, there's actually something in there for us. There's actually something that needs to be dealt with. We're not being pursued by the truth just to torment ourselves or be tormented. There's something actually vital in this for us to know. There's something that we need to know, or some important growth in this for us of facing the truth, of honoring the truth. It's one of the really nice things about this time of year, when things get kind of quiet, when things get kind of slow, when the weather is sort of terrible and we don't want to go outside.

We don't even want to do a lot of things because there's just too much of a rigmarole or it's just too much. It's just too much, it's not really that enjoyable anymore that this is a beautiful time to reflect. This is a beautiful time to court and invite in truth, to reconnect with the truth, to use stillness to our own advantage. That's the value of slow times, that's the value of stagnant times Is that there's not a lot going on. Well, that's a beautiful time, a beautiful opportunity to refine, because it's kind of difficult to fix things when we're going at 100 miles an hour. It really takes stopping or, at the very least, really, really, really slowing down to really be able to fix things, to really be able to do something different, that oftentimes, in order to turn, we have to decelerate, we have to slow down first. Sometimes we have to stop to change direction, and a lot of us in this new year will get really caught up with resolutions or really get caught up with things that we want to change in our lives, and oftentimes we pick something on the outside that we want to change or pick some sort of goal or pick some sort of habit that we'd like to change, and I've talked previously about crafting a vision for the new year, rather than just crafting simple resolutions, of looking at the new year as an opportunity to live a new life, to be a different way, to express differently, from a more holistic lens, from a more complete lens, from the perspective of how we actually live the coming year day by day, and what that experience is actually like for us, not thinking about it in terms of outcomes, but thinking about it in terms of quality of experience, how good our life actually is, how good it actually feels to us. And a big part of this visioning process is this idea of refinement, of using times of stillness or slowness or just sort of a break in the action to be able to really reevaluate what we've been doing, because some of us find so much virtue in busyness, in just doing, doing, doing, going, going, going, experiencing, experiencing, experiencing, and we're moving that quickly. When we're doing that much, it can be really easy to kind of lose the thread, lose the reason why we're doing things. And so, if we talk about this incredible ability, this phenomenal ability that human beings have to be able to create, well, that ability to create is rooted in the ability to set intention, to intend something different, to intend to create change, to decide to create change. Those are the headwaters of those creative abilities that in order to change, first we have to be aware of the change that we want to create, but then the necessary next step is to decide to actually create that change. We have to truly intend to create change.

It can't just be an idea, it can't just be a if only or a wish. Oftentimes it has to be a little bit more serious. It has to be a bit more commitment than that that we have to decide internally to create the change from within us, from the inside out, rather than waiting for the change to come outside, in waiting for some circumstance to change, some relationship to change, some opportunity to appear something to be different first. We don't have to defer change to someone or something else. We can decide to change whenever we wish and obviously just making that decision doesn't mean that the change will instantly happen and it may not even mean that we even know what to do. But the important thing is deciding, setting that energy in motion, because when we make that decision we can feel it. We can feel that power shift. We can feel us reclaiming our own power from the outside world of the power that we've imbued with things outside of ourselves to be a certain way before we can create change. We can take that power, we can take that agency back and decide to change. Now we can decide to be different. Now we can start, we can take the first step, whatever it is, and we can decide to keep going, and again, this time of the year, january, can be a beautiful time to do this.

Of course, if you're in the southern hemisphere, obviously this would need to be applied the opposite. But I can speak best from where I am, and I am in a northern climate where it is cold, it is dark and it is still. It's really a weird thing to walk outside and hear silence no wind, no birds, no leaves rustling, nothing, really Silence. And for some people, silence can be a bit scary. Sometimes it can be terrifying Because we can feel alone. We can feel truly alone. There's something very discomforting, there's something very uncomfortable with that feeling.

But I believe it's been my experience that if we're uncomfortable with being alone, with feeling alone, that's because we've abandoned ourselves. That that connection, that unity that we actually crave is a reconnection to ourselves. That, that's the attention that we crave, that's the connection that we crave Is to be whole Is to be one Again, not split, not part of ourselves that's ignoring and part of ourselves that's being ignored. Being whole, being complete, being full, not running away from ourselves, running away from truth, not running away. Period, living our life, being ourselves, connecting fully with who and what we really are, deciding to not flee, deciding to stand and face the truth, reality, who we really are and what's really happening. Because as long as we decide to run, we will also be deciding to continue running.

We can never escape ourselves. We can never escape reality. We can never escape truth. It may seem like we can. For short bursts it may seem like we can, but we can overwhelm ourselves with experience. We can seek out things that are so exciting, so stimulating that they allow us a break, a vacation from ourselves. We can seek substances that either excite us or numb us to ourselves, that quench the anxiety, that numb the pain, that cure the depression or boredom that we feel.

But obviously, any of us who have had experiences with using substances to do this know that not only is it short term, but it creates an additional problem, because whatever was driving us to use those substances in the first place, once that substance wears off, it's still there. But now we have the added problem of a substance dependence. As long as we're trying to cancel out overwhelm, pave over parts of ourselves, the use of substances will be dependent on the substances to do that, and the more substance we use, the more substance it takes to achieve the same effect. Sometimes it feels like a pretty cruel bit of irony. We actually only get the effect we want the first time. And we can spend months, if not years, chasing that dragon, trying to get that first high, trying to get that first low, trying to get that first peace, that first calm, the first relief again.

But this is obviously a fool's errand. We're led into the labyrinth of dependence, of addiction, which oftentimes can be a far greater problem than whatever pain, whatever discomfort we're fleeing from in the first place. And although it's difficult, although it's uncomfortable, although it can be gut-wrenching, nothing is gained from running from the truth, especially over the long term. And one of the best pieces of agency, of freedom that we have is we can choose to face the truth whenever we want. We can choose to run from the truth. But if we've been running, we need to ask ourselves how has this been for us? Does this even work? Am I avoiding something? And all of the effort, all of the strain, all of the conflict that gets created through my avoidance, worse than the thing I'm trying to avoid in the first place, and that's usually the dawn, the epiphany, the escape from addiction is. Thankfully we get to a place where the pain of the addiction is greater than the pain of whatever we're trying to avoid that the juice is no longer worth the squeeze.

An addiction can be a bit of an extreme example, but we can apply this to ourselves in smaller terms, a similar idea. We can connect with the truth and find all the things in our life where the juice is no longer worth the squeeze, and we can use times of quiet, we can use times of solitude, we can use times of reflection to seek these opportunities. Because whatever positive change we create in our life, it first starts with an idea, the idea of that change. We have to want it, we have to want to seek it, we have to want to live it, and oftentimes we won't change until we have to, until we're forced to. That's just the way things work. Human beings, in addition to being creative, can also have tremendous willpower, and we can choose to apply that will, that action, that force, however we want.

And in times of reflection, it's important to ask ourselves how am I applying my action, my behavior, my force, my power? Am I actually getting what I want? Am I actually doing what I want? Is this good? What is all of this in service of? What am I doing? What am I getting? Because one thing I know for sure is that life is better. The more connected we are, the more aware we are of the truth. The other thing I know for sure is there's always more truth to discover, there's always more truth to know, and the benefits, the acknowledgement, the knowing of truth is when that truth gets applied. That's like a lot of spiritual lessons. Their value is in their application. These aren't things to just be learned or memorized.

These aren't ideas that are just interesting to think about. The whole purpose, the whole value is for them to be applied, to be used. That's the point. Spiritualism, in any form, is an applied practice. It's much more about walking the walk than talking the talk. It's much more about doing. It's much more about being than it is about knowing, than it is about thinking than it is about talking.

And we can choose to act. We can choose to be grounded in the truth, informed by the truth, inbued with the truth. And the more truth we live, the better, the better our lives will be, the better we'll feel, the better our relationships will be, the better things will go for us, because life is really good at rooting out. The untrue. Lies cannot abide forever. Only the truth endures, only the truth is real. It's in the more we live a life based in truth, in the pursuit of truth, in a relationship with truth, the better, the better for us and the better for everyone we interact with. Being a life of truth truly improves our life in every regard, in every facet. It just makes everything better.

It doesn't mean that it's easy, but that's our choice. That's our choice to choose truth over ease, to choose truth over comfort to choose truth over gratification. To choose truth over satisfaction. To choose truth over ourselves. It can be a difficult path but it's absolutely worth walking. For some of us to live a good life, it really is the only choice. And if we sense that for ourselves, if we've tried living a life we've tried connecting with perpetuating untruths, with our opportunity to try something different, to live our life fully, to live our life completely as a complete and full self as known and experienced and expressed through the truth. Take care and all the best.

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