Seeking the quality of “stillness”

If you’re a shark, ignore this. Sharks must move; for them, stillness equals death. Of course, if your experience in life involves being chased by sharks, you’re probably not familiar with stillness either. As a psychotherapist working with trauma, I find most of my clients fitting into that category.

Stillness is not frozen. My clients are all too familiar with that; the held breath, the rigid musculature, even the tunnel-vision gaze are all too common. The essence of the frozen state is one of past and future; a body stuck in a past of thwarted defense mechanisms, a feared future of possible (probable?) attack.

In stillness, there is movement sans action or intention. A dancer I loved embodied this, her grace easing into a moment of balance, and in that, pausing simply to be. The gift of her stillness profoundly affected her audience. We joined her in that crystalline present, becoming quiet with each other in a way few houses of worship have induced. Like what some people call a “female rain,” which does not pound the earth and result in runoff, but instead soaks deep, the slowing or stopping of intentional movement or thought allows us to perceive more fully the present moment in all its richness.

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