Modern science is finding out that a lot can be learned from contemplative traditions, both in the East, as seen in Ajahn Sucitto’s quote this morning, and in the West, as can be seen in monastic orders like the Cistercians both here at Bolton Abbey in Ireland or all around the world. They both emphasize the health benefits of sitting still, which has effects on brain function, even in small doses.
The claim…that stillness of body leads to stillness of mind is not the exclusive preserve of Indian traditions: the desert fathers maintained that simply sitting still, preferably on or close to the ground, would greatly aid their attempts to keep the mind focused and thus resist the distracting chatter of demons. To sit still is to be present, and fully attentive to what is. How often do we really give our undivided attention to the things we do, or the people we are with? To be present is to accept what is, as it is, without wishing things were otherwise, or imagining that if only they were, then everything would be so much better. It is to be able to pick up a pebble and see that it is perfect – just as it is – neither too big or too small.
Nicholas Buxton, Tantalus and the Pelican
photo b navaz : basalt pebble scratched by glacier erosion