Stillpoint: The Pause that Refreshes

“There is no this, there is no that. There is the still point where this and that exists.” Lao-Tzu

2014-01-04 10.15.15


We have experienced a deep and challenging Winter here in the Northeast. Intense snow storms have transfigured this part of the earth bringing the everyday life we have known to a pause.

The earth is blanketed in white and the roads are icy wet with snow keeping us travelers home, as the temperatures drop below zero. From where I am, I can walk out on to the land around me forested with trees now bare and stark naked in the freezing cold. As I stand here in this cathedral of white I am sharply aware of the quiet, and the stillness, and how that stillness breathes through me and awakens me to the presence of my soul, my listening, my being. There is a potent remedy in this deep quiet and stillness where habitual life comes to a pause, a healing stillpoint in that moment. I am aware of a deep knowing that comes from within me and a connection with the oneness and all-ness of being.

It is the same place found in meditation as you work toward or move toward that stillness of mind that silently breathes inside of you, waiting for your return. It can take you years of sitting to finally come to that place, that at some point in your practice comes to be known as home. Sitting in meditation is another pause that is taken in life, and that pause, that stillness within you, soon comes to be recognized as life itself. It is what some call liberation. The stillness, that point, that pause, liberates you from the habitual, the trappings of your mind and your situations. It renews your life force, refreshes you with new life.

When I worked as a somatic therapist one of the modalities I used was craniosacral therapy, a healing approach using light touch to bring balance to the craniosacral system and the entire network of the dural sheath that covers our internal systems. This approach moves with the cranial rhythm to suggest a point of stillness, a deep pause within your nervous system, within your body. This allows the body to pause and then to regroup and reboot itself so that it can return to a normal, balanced state of being. One of the first references to craniosacral therapy was in a 4000 year old Chinese text. It referred to this therapy as ‘the quieting of the heart’.

Mindfulness, and now Neuroscience-based approaches, suggests that between your internal urges and your actions, what has come to be your reactions, there is a gap. My experience has been that this gap is, or can be, experienced as a moment of rest. It is a stillness, a pause, like that which a pendulum reaches as it swings to the right and then to the left, and rests in a suspension of its movements momentarily. That stillness resides and comes from within you. It is a field that exists between all your thoughts, all your actions. It is a coming back inside, a return to the source, to the place of rest. Inside of that moment, that rest, that pause, you are renewed and given the opportunity to create and re-create your next move, your next word, thought, action, and even sensation if you choose.

In my work with others now, I am aware of the energetics of the body without having to use touch. It is what is referred to as attunement, which is a crucial phenomenon that occurs between a mother and her child, and aids in growth and well-being. My experience of sitting in the role of a healer or therapist has been that sitting with my client, and leaving my own habitual patterns or thoughts aside, allows you to ultimately discover your own point of stillness, your center, you sense of self. I have learned that working with you to help you come to a pause in your actions, or a space in your experiences, is an essential part of healing and developing awareness. Developing and deepening awareness, and bringing it into your daily life, brings you to a threshold in your life and opens the door for exploring new ways of knowing, being, and connecting to others.

Various approaches to working with clients reinforce that learning, that approach with clients. And, from my perspective and understanding, most of healing approaches are doing just that by simply having you come for sessions, to be in touch with your therapist or healer who is facilitating your work, your healing. It has been my experience, further more, that it ultimately does not matter if that process takes place in-person, on the telephone, or through video-conferencing. The session, that process, is a form of taking a pause; of going inside and creating a space, a field, in your life. It encourages you to take it out into your everyday life and world, and helps you become aware of that pause that facilitates you in taking charge of your life. From there, you make the changes you want or need to make.

Mindfulness-based approaches can help you become aware of and create, or ‘install’, that pause in your life, in your thinking and feeling, in your reactions and responses. And Internal Family Systems helps you create that space between parts of yourself, and ultimately between your parts and yourself. It is that space that is created, that pause, from which you are better able to develop the awareness you need so that you can come from a more self led place in your interactions.

Taking that pause, creating that space, allows you to return to that stillness and silence within you. To be still. From there your awareness is sharpened and strengthened. What comes from that place allows you to be more yourself. When sitting in a café, or at your desk at work, take a moment to be in that pause, to be in that space between what you are doing or thinking or saying. Be there, in that pause, that space. Wait. And see, listen, feel yourself there. Even if it is just for a moment, take that moment. Welcome what comes. Be at peace with it.

As someone once said: “Don’t just do something. Sit there.” Be still.

“And the faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will. No one is compos sui if he have it not. An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence.” William James