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Can You Sit Still?

Dear Friend,

“Most of man’s troubles grow out of the fact that he can’t be still.”

I saw this quote, or something close to it, on a church sign while driving home from the store today. Of course, it got me thinking.

I believe that one of the greatest achievements that a human being can accomplish in today’s world is to be able to spend an extended period of time alone, and still, without substantial external stimulation, and yet remain sane, alert, and at peace.

Our world is one addicted to outside stimulation. Our kids start from an early age with TV commercials, noisy toys, and by annoying each other. The goal seems to be to avoid empty quiet. It’s almost as if we as humans begin life with the fear that if we sit in silence too long, we’ll die.

What are we afraid of?

What is it about stillness and peace that terrifies us so? What do we really fear will happen if we do not receive regular jolts of noisy, chaotic stimulation?

I suspect that we are addicts to the chemical release that comes from these jolts. Perhaps we are all, to some extent, “adrenaline junkies?” Perhaps we fear going through withdrawal, which we call “boredom,” if we fail to receive our regular hits of chaos?

I recall telling my kids that boredom is the greatest gift that life can give you, for it forces you to stop hiding amongst all of the stimulating noise and to actually get to know yourself a bit better.

It is in boredom that we learn to satisfy ourselves without the need for outside stimulation. And it is this ability to satisfy our own needs that provides us with the ultimate freedom in our lives – to be at peace without the need for anyone else to do anything.

To know that you can have what you need and no one else can prevent that from happening is the ultimate power rush. It is the ultimate sense of self control. When nothing can prevent you from being at peace, no one can get to you. No one else can push your buttons. You can laugh at things that terrify others.

A great deal of good can come from action. There are times when standing still is the worst thing that you can do. But there are other times when sitting in stillness is the most powerful act that you can take.

Why don’t you try it sometime and see for yourself?

All the best,

Hugh

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