The Healing Power of Stillness

We have no idea how immersed we are in our busy monkey minds until we stop for a moment to just pay attention to this moment—to this one, eternal moment, called the Now. If we pay very close attention, for example, to our breath, we experience beneath our breath the stillness of the Now.

If, through meditation, we can sustain our attention to just this present, still, empty moment, we experience a separation of still Awareness from the incessant stream of thoughts our brains generate. We taste a moment of respite from our compulsive thinking disorder. We both sense and intuit the still, sacred ground of being, the “something more” of Reality.

What is incredible is that this experience is available to us every moment, if only we stop and pay close attention to This Moment, to the Now. It is always there. Yet, just as incredibly, so many people never experience the stillness that is right in front of them and always with them all the time. This is because they are caught up in the incessant business of mind and all of life’s distractions. They do not take time to pause and be still and present.

The experience of stillness is profoundly healing. Just like brushing our teeth, we should all engage in it at least a couple of times a day if not more. It is good for our mental health. In stillness, we separate from our thoughts and feelings. We see that they are both important and not important at the same time. We regain a proper perspective on who we are and the true nature of things. Thoughts and feelings become a relative reality. In stillness, we experience a Truth before words that we know to be the ultimate Reality.

In stillness we see that the simplest things are the things that we forget. It is the obvious that we do not see, so caught up are we in mind chatter.

Through stillness, distractions are removed and reverence arises naturally. This one, eternal moment is sacred. We sense the loving, intelligent force that permeates everything. We see that this simple reality is there for us to note every moment we exist, if we simply open our eyes to it. Stillness reveals the extraordinary in the ordinary.

In stillness, there is healing. Stillness is a refuge from stormy emotions, like the still ocean deep below the thrashing waves. Stillness creates the love that fills the emptiness. When we connect with others from a place of stillness, the opportunity for the healing of trauma arises. Stillness promotes limbic resonance between two people, or the sharing of emotional experiences, which then promotes limbic revision, or emotional transformation and healing.[1]

Wisdom arises from stillness. The most important thoughts and insight arise from stillness.

In stillness, there is tranquility. It is always available to us, at any moment. By stopping to connect with stillness, we can improve our decision-making when we are feeling stressed.

In stillness we experience the sacred ground of being. Stillness reveals the sacred nature of all things. In stillness, we are receptive for creativity to flow through us. Stillness makes us receptive. Through stillness we discover who we are before thought.

Stillness is recognized by several spiritual paths. Vedanta describes the nature of our Self as Blissful Stillness (Ayam Atama Shantah). In Buddhism, being in a state of still contemplation in which the chatter of the mind quiets is called Samadhi. In Christianity, stillness is experienced as a content-free mind filled with an awareness of God as a living reality.

Stillness can also produce the liberating experience of “no self.” I have frequently experienced this through my meditative practice, often when meditating while running:

No thinker, only thinking

No observer, only observing

No see-er, only seeing

No listener, only listening

No worker, only working

No lover, only loving.

One with the flow of Life.

Pure, empty.

Understanding emerges.


I encourage my patients to develop a daily practice of silence, solitude, and stillness. It is good spiritual hygiene, as it promotes healing, clarity, wisdom, and peace. It opens our eyes to the simple, obvious truth of the sacred that is right before us. We see that this eternal moment is immeasurably sacred, as is everything in our perception. With practice, we cultivate a reverence and a peace that heals and grounds us.

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[1] Lewis, Amini, and Lannon. A General Theory of Love. Random House. 2007.