Another Name for the Self
Stillness—The Background of Awareness
Stillness refers to the background of awareness, a reality that is beyond duality, beyond positive and negative. It is another name for atman (the Supreme Self), the Spiritual Heart, the Witness Consciousness, our Real Nature. Therefore, it is not relative silence as opposed to noise. It is not immobility as opposed to activity, but the background in which all movement and all activity is witnessed. Stillness is not related to any counterpart that belongs to the body or mind. It is the substratum in which all objects, sounds, emotions, and thoughts are embraced. Stillness is not a means of revealing what we really are, because Stillness is what we actually are.
Not a Mental Attitude
Stillness cannot be understood or grasped by the mind. It is not conceptual or logical; it is not simply a state of consciousness or a condition of the mind, but a deeper reality.
However, Stillness—the ultimate reality of our being—cannot be induced by techniques or methods. It is revealed when certain conditions are created. Different techniques and methods only have the role of preparing these conditions. So, the training of the mind does not have a purpose in itself. It is done only in order to teach the mind how to understand and accept the fact that there is “something” beyond it.
There Is Nothing to Be Done
Techniques may bring relaxation, mental control, clarity, calmness, and even mental void. However, there is technically nothing to be done to reveal absolute Stillness, because knowing real Stillness means shifting from “to do” towards “to be.” It is a different attitude, in which we are no longer in the domain of acting in order to achieve something. Stillness cannot be achieved, only revealed. In the profound Stillness of the Heart, all techniques are abandoned. Entering in Stillness—or better said, surrendering to Stillness—is the essence of meditation and its reason for being.
Nada Yoga (the yoga of inner sounds), a technique taught in Module 2 of the Hridaya Yoga Retreat, is a way to acknowledge Stillness. Stillness is the source of awareness from which any mantra appears and in which it dissolves. Here, we are in the domain of pure presence, of the continuous “Now.” It is revealed when a prayer does not involve any request or expectation. It becomes an invocation in which we descend into the very core of the ineffable. Mauna (silence) has a central position in many spiritual paths because it ultimately points to Stillness.
Some Quotes from Sahajananda, Founder of Hridaya Yoga, on Stillness:
- “We don’t understand when we just listen to words but remain deaf to Stillness.”
- “Listen to things speaking in spite of their apparent silence, and hear the stillness in spite of the world’s seeming noise.”
- “In meditation, we are doing the same thing: we dive deeper and deeper into the Heart, into that mysterious Kingdom of Stillness, staying there as long as possible. We hope that when we come back to the surface, the pearl of Truth will prevent us from being drowned again in the world.”
- “The real acceptance of emotions is not a personal indulgence. To embrace an emotion means to feel it, in the absence of thoughts. Stillness, not the personality, is what embraces it.”
- “There can be no reaction to Stillness, only to our idea of Stillness. And, that idea is in itself a reaction.”
- “The rational mind: the gift of horizontal understanding and the curse of forgetting a simpler world of Stillness.”
- “Don’t look for Stillness in the carousel of thoughts; rather, let Stillness be the cradle of your thoughts.”
- “In spirituality, true knowledge refers to pure awareness, Stillness. The rest is packaging.”