Welcome to the Ministry of Stillness. Membership is free. We are available everywhere, pay a thousand-fold on every deposit, and provide an education that serves every interest. The Ministry is completely unstaffed, as the Ministery resides in the Stillness of the individual heart. With no rules or by-laws, the ministry includes the collection of moments, practices and intentions void of action. It does not require exclusive dominion in the life of it’s members, and indeed enhances the Activities of Life (the counterpoint to the Stillness).
Initiation into the Ministry requires:
1 single, deep, intentional breath.
Much like potato chips, we bet you can’t eat just one. One single, intentional breath each day is a significant and important practice in its own right. It’s good for you body, it’s good for your mind… but it opens a door to the concept of wholeness. of this moment being ok just as it is. Much like with the chips, you *can* eat just one, but why would you? Once you fully connect to stillness in that 1 breath, which should happen within a month of beginning daily practice, it’s like you saved yourself a bunch of incarnations. you’ve set yourself on a path oself-carere, self compassion, presence, wholeness… it sounds all goody two shoes in concept (or pious or boring or something like that) but it is exciting and dynamic and ever-expressive.
People say you have to sit and meditate for a while to get the benefits, but I sortof feel that reverse-engineering it might be where it is at. Create single-breath experiences that feel so good you can’t help but want to do two. then three. and maybe 5 minutes and maybe 20… Being so in love with the feeling that we can’t help but create room for it. Although making the room for it and sitting is nice, too. Let’s face it, there’re as many ways to meditate as there are experiences of meditation, as well as only one. Life. Is. Dichotemy. except when it isn’t.
But, the Ministry has levels of experience once you decide to join, with corresponding gifts and costs – like bank deposits in the 60’s, where you get a free toaster or coffee maker. Or PBS donations.
Here are some ballpark potentials based on my experience, while of course your mileage may vary:
Believer: Cost: Remembering 1-5 times per day to take a deep breath (or 5. or 20). Benefit: improved digestion, heart health and chemical equilibrium. Improved presence in the daily life.
Apprentice-level. Cost: Intention, Focus and Time (10 min/day). Benefit: all those of previous level plus infusing calm and wholeness into life; the beginnings of peace and wonder
Accepting life as your teacher and the breath as your connection to it, you spend 10 minutes a day in not-doing. Pausing the body and breathing deeply. One minute at a time, 10 all together, whatever. This infuses stability into your experience and gives you an idea of who you might be with or without all of these plans in your head. what then? who experienced that, and now what? It’s a pretty cool trajectory, outside of the dramas of the personality and into the experience of the person.
Master-level. Cost: 100’s of mini-identities we hold onto for no reason; 20 minutes per day. Benefit: The expansion of the experience of wholeness. The end of trying.
As the focus of life turns from the dramas to the experiencer, this level requires probably about 20 minutes per day. However they occur.
At this level, you get everything from the Apprentice -level benefits package, PLUS the beginning of the disentanglements from all of the bullshit that keeps the space between your ears feeling like a battlefield. Cost is high (doing this work is uncomfortable), but payoff is transformative. Once you address (not even fix!) this stuff, you can’t be enslaved again.
This is the defusing of the triggers that keep you caught in feelings of shame, abandoment, sadness, defensiveness, unrequited desire… all of that stuff. So you can take your breaths and infuse your body with life, as it is right now, loving you, breathing you, wondering where your creativity and love will take us all next. It’s empowered, creative, curious and brave.
FACING THIS STUFF IS HARD, but it can be surprisingly gentle. I STRONGLY SUGGEST ANOTHER HUMAN, LIKE A THERAPIST, IN THE MIX. There are lots of tools, too (off the top of my head, EFT, TheWork of Byron Katie, Radical Forgiveness) but HEALING HAPPENS IN RELATIONSHIP. (this is definitely something that needs its own post, but for now just accept that as worth considering).
I think fear of this process is what keeps most people from wanting to slow down, being willing to experience stillness. (In stillness, all of it exists, but none of the stories about it do, which is disorienting if you’re really stuck in some stories).
I think people think it’s an endless pit and quagmire. It’s not. It’s like a knotted up necklace, or a tangle of thread. Difficult. Requiring patience. False starts. Slow movement. The whole bit. But, with slow and diligent effort it becomes untangled and then there isn’t a tangle there. And that is FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC. It looks like a bottomless pit, but it’s just an oil slick. Slippery, yes, and you might slip and fall on your way through it, but really just a slick, barely a few inches deep. not nearly as scary as it seems.
Integral: Cost: the re-prioritization of your life entirely, towards your own evolution. 30 minutes per day. Benefits: That which you’d been chasing begins presenting itself to you.
Benefit: evolution. Beingness. This is the space i’m exploring, so i can’t speak about it directly, though there are lots of people (thomas hubl comes to mind, with loads of others)
It should also be discussed, the stillness of illness and the categories of membership in that arena. Medically, I sometimes put myself on a 15 minutes of every hour REST and I do quite well, getting a lot done in those 45 without overexerting. and the 15 restful often distills the next best step without really having to think about it. Highly recommend.
More to come