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The Power of Stillness

A serene, still lake in soft, rolling mountains with green foliage nearby and trees up the slopes in the distance.

Photo by Karen Weiss

“Wisdom comes with the ability to be still. Just look and just listen. No more is needed. Being still, looking, and listening activates the non-conceptual intelligence within you. Let stillness direct your words and actions.” – Eckhart Tolle

Have you ever been in a place or situation that caused you to stop and be fully present? It wasn’t a conscious choice, but your body wanted to take a seat or be still and so it did? This very experience happened to me when I was at Glendalough in Ireland in 2017. I was on a pilgrimage tour and we were seeing the lakes, where a couple great saints made the place their home. I took an involuntary deep breath and felt my body moving to a log and sitting down. The photo today is of this still place, and I can still remember the feeling of external and internal stillness and the wisdom that came with it.

This happens to us all in one form or another, often because we’re curious, confused, filled with grief, or experiencing awe or wonder. We’re drawn into something and it makes us still. Yes, things might be going on around us, there could be people doing their daily work, the birds are probably still singing, the clock is still ticking. And yet.

We become still, internally and externally. We notice things we might otherwise ignore or dismiss. Through stillness, we give ourselves the opportunity to tap into wisdom, wisdom which offers us the opportunity to cultivate the “non-conceptual intelligence” within us. Stillness offers us the potential to listen to those other ways of knowing, through our senses, feelings, and body. Yes, a pros and cons list can be very helpful, but it doesn’t always tell the whole story.

Giving ourselves permission to be still throughout our day invites us to remember that going from task to task, activity to activity, without time for recollection or reflection isn’t how we’re called to live. So whether it’s scheduling 5 minute regrouping times throughout the work day or creating an intentional rhythm which provides this time, stillness helps us tap into wisdom, make better choices, and stay focused on the important items more consistently.

Questions to ponder:

  • When was the last time you were stopped by wonder, curiosity, or awe? What did that experience teach you?

  • Do I need more stillness in my life to tap into the “non-conceptual intelligence” Tolle identifies? If so, how, where, and when can I add five minutes of stillness into my day?

Stay curious friends!

Make sure you’re listening to season one of the Dream Big Authentic Leadership podcast, found on Apple, Google, Spotify, and Stitcher.

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