still/

WILD

a primer

Garden of the Gods. Colorado, 2018

“To move into that contemplative realm is the greatest adventure. It is to be open to the infinite and hence to infinite possibilities. Our private, self-made worlds come to an end; a new world appears within and around us and the impossible becomes an everyday experience.”

 

Thomas Keating, Open Heart, Open Mind

STILL

 

While there are myriad ways to be STILL, the heart of a STILL practice is a rugged and regular contemplative one, 20 minutes once a day, twice a day ideally. Don't worry if you can't start with this sort of disciplined practice immediately - there are plenty of other ways to lean into your Stillness. (More on this below.) But as soon as you can, return to this page and try the practice on for size. I am convinced that nothing changes your lived experience so dramatically. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OTHER WAYS TO LEAN INTO THE STILL, CONTEMPLATIVE DIMENSION OF YOUR LIFE

  • Practice putting down your phone as often as you think of it. Unplug. Look around. Sit quietly. Notice whether you feel discomfort, relief, or both. More on unplugging HERE.

  • Get your hands in the dirt. Plant things! Outside or in. 

  • Set a beautiful table and make or serve a delicous meal - for yourself or your tribe. Light candles, use your favorite pottery, serve mulled wine.

  • Create magical living spaces. More on STILL/WILD @ Home HERE

  • Take a candle-lit bath. Put a few drops of essential oil in your bathwater, light candles, listen to sacred music. Start with Saint Hildegard of Bingen.

  • Create! Paint, sew, write, take photos. Build your own personal alter with beloved items that help you feel connected to the Divine. 

  • Get outside - into the wilderness. 

  • Read INTO THE WILDERNESS, chapters 1-4.

For those of you actively involved in some sort of change-making work, taking care of yourselves in the above mentioned ways is critical. I honor you and your work, and look forward to learning from you about how else you practice leaning into STILLNESS.

WILD

We begin with stillness. Then we live out loud. 

 

Clearly, WILD manifests differently for all of us. That said, in my experience, one can only have a dedicated STILL practice for so long before feeling inexorably called to some sort of change-making work - at home, at work, or on the world stage. You'll find your way, and I'm happy to help. Begin by cultivating your own WILD nature, and then turn that fierce and compassionate energy outward.

WAYS OF LEANING INTO YOUR WILDNESS

  • Dance, sing, move. The wild nature is fully expressive. It's important (and profoundly liberating) to release your body and voice. Begin now.

  • Slowly but surely, begin to reconnect to the natural world; to the wild places around you. This is a vital piece of the STILL/WILD movement. More HERE.

  • Practice, at home and elsewhere, speaking Truth to Power. You can begin by having whatever Fierce Conversations you need to have. (See box below.)

  • Read about women, including those in the STILL/WILD Tribe, who embody the S/W ethos; Women who have a dedicated STILL practice, and who are bringing about much needed cultural change. Learn from them, as I do, and follow their example. We look to the women, now. 

  • Pray, if you happen to be a person who prays (either that or "set an intention," as they say) to find your own unique, change-making contribution. Trust that Way Will Open, to borrow a Quaker phrase. Consider volunteering at various orgs in your community to see if the work they're doing lights you up. You'll know it - the work you're called to do - when you've found it. Important note: If you're a caretaker, currently - if you have young children, for instance - you might already be doing your WILD work. Then again, you and your children might find some change-making work to do together! 

  • Reach out to Sara if you feel so led!

STILL Practice

Guidelines adapted from Centering Prayer Basics, The Contemplative Society contemplative.org

  1. Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed.

  2. Sit comfortably on a chair, cushion etc. The goal is to be “relaxed in body and alert in mind.”

  3. Gently close your eyes.

  4. Set an intention to “Consent to the presence and action of the Divine,” as it is known in Centering Prayer teaching. If you’re not comfortable with that language, set an intention to consent to an experience of deep and abiding peace.

  5. Whenever you become aware of a thought, let it go. The goal here isn’t to stop your thoughts from coming; the goal is to gently let them go - again and again and again.

  6. Use a single word – one to which you have no emotional attachment – that helps you let go of your thoughts. The word is not a mantra to be repeated. Think of it, instead, as a sort of wind shield wiper that gently wipes away thoughts and reminds you of your intention to rest in the presence of divine reality/deep peace.

  7. Continue your practice for 20 minutes. If you’re new to the practice, it’s perfectly fine to start with a shorter sit; 5, 10, 15 mins. Slowly work your way up to 20. Two 20 minute sits per day is considered ideal. I use a timer on my phone (using the Insight Timer app) to tell me when my sit is over.

Wilderness Exercise #1: Fierce Conversations

(Note: This exercise is taken directly from Susan Scotts’s book, FIERCE CONVERSATIONS, which I heartily recommend.)

 

Fierce Conversations, pg 11-12: “Begin listening to yourself as you’ve never listened before. Begin to overhear yourself avoiding the topic, changing the subject, holding back, telling little lies (and big ones), being imprecise in your language, being uninteresting even to yourself. And at least once today, when something inside you says, “This is an opportunity to be fierce,” stop for a moment, take a deep breath, then come out from behind yourself into the conversation and make it real. Say something that is true for you… When you come out from behind yourself into the conversation and make it real, whatever happens from there will happen. It could go well or it could be a little bumpy, but at least you will have taken the plunge. You will have said at least one real thing today, one thing that was real for you. And something will have been set in motion, and you will have grown from that moment.”

From INTO THE WILDERNESS: Clearing the Way for A STILL/WILD Practice

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