Recently I was in the Alentejo for a couple of days, in the vast centre of Portugal. Nature there is beautiful. Rippling hills with cork trees and an occasional olive tree. Small, often deserted villages. A lot of space and a lot of stillness. In the evening I lay in my hammock, staring at the vast sky filled with stars. So wise, so endless. How lavish, the relaxation that slowly took hold of me. No worries, no doubts, just this deep stillness. And peacefully falling into nothingness.
Looking at the nightly sky I realized how little stillness we allow into our lives. Doing ‘nothing’ doesn’t seem to have any value. While we so strongly need the stillness to reconnect with our essence. With our drive, longings, the voice of our heart.
Each time I visit Holland and travel through the green landscape by train, I continue to be amazed at the travelers busily engaged with their mobile devices. It is rare to see a traveler staring out of the window. It seems as if everyone has something to do. As if doing nothing isn’t an option. I then move to the silent area, but even there it is seldom quiet. Calls need to be made. Music needs to be listened to. Conversations need to be held. Even when someone clearly asks fellow passengers to be quiet, this seems too big of a task.
It feels like a great paradox. I watch as everyone is overloaded with stimuli. With chats, emails, tv, Youtube videos, facebook posts, going out, attending workshops. And at the same time I so often hear the need for an empty mind, for complete nothingness.
Emptiness can be confusing and even scary
Emptiness can be confusing and even scary. No support, no sense of direction. Not knowing what is in store for you. Something we don’t enjoy. We want clarity. But too much clarity, too much structure, too many boundaries, kills the magic. Knowing where you stand is a longing of the mind. Instead, the heart wants space, openness, mystery.
I recognize this longing for security. I regularly catch myself busying myself with lots of things and hardly taking the time to doing nothing. Busy with emails, answering chats, working out ideas. Sitting behind a screen or watching TV for too long. This results in me eating more unhealthily, in an underlying feeling of emptiness. I become uneasy and look for things outside myself to get rid of the uneasiness. And each time there comes a moment when I realize: I need to find time to meditate and be still. I need to go inside, instead of outside.
Only when I am connected to the stillness within, I am truly able to feel what it’s about. What is meaningful and what’s not. Only when my mind is silenced, I can truly touch life, intensely enjoy beauty, be in contact. All the images in my head, the expectations I have, all the ideas about how something or someone needs to be, when I let all that go and surrender to the stillness between the words, to the not-knowing, a wondrous beauty unfolds that is so deep and profound, words couldn’t describe.