Ferocious Peace: The Struggle and Strength to Go Still

mike pratt plaza de san francisco Cuba

Photo by Mike Pratt, Plaza de San Francisco Cuba

Fiery flames dance atop the candles glowing all around me, I know because I lit them seconds ago, but I don’t see them. I’m alone with myself, attempting to navigate the rumbling, velvety darkness behind my pursed eyelids.

It’s the early part of the morning, the slim sliver of time-expanding space where all is perfectly, poetically quiet. Loud quiet.

The stars are still strung up, though their piercing becomes dimmer by the minute, and the energy of the day is still wet and fresh as dew; just beginning to stir like the first warm flicker of the tightly tucked wings on the birds who will soon begin their singing.

I am sitting up straight on the floor, stark still, breathing so slowly it feels just shy of impossible, and if you could see me you would swear I was now adrift inside the most pleasurable, comforting peace within my silken gentle body.

. . . not enough, not enough, not enough, what you haven’t done, what you need to do, what you should have done better, where you should be, what you forgot, how could you let that happen, not enough, what’s next, where have you been, waste of time, get up, sit down, too long, too short, faster, slower, more something, more something, not enough, not enough, something else, anything else, something else, not this, not this, anything but this . . . 

Welcome to the truth of my inner world, the one where the opponent mind runs like a rabid mangy beast across the envelope of blackness.

I have at least learned one thing: not to chase him. I have at least become accepting of the crooked, cavernous, echoed blankness that is my inner landscape. I am no longer fearful of it as much as I am alert and mindful of my footing.

“The Art of Peace is not easy. It is a fight to the finish the slaying of evil desires and all falsehood within.” ~ Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido, The Art of Peace

This is the reality of stillness, the ground that’s jagged, mountainous, and full of peaks and creaks. The inside of nowhere that contains the most exotic, ecstatic and exulted views waiting beyond forests dark as a moonless midnight sky.

I have learned it is not fully silent very often or for very long in this place. But I have caught glimpses of the naked holy silence. I have bent my reverent head into those rare touches and sailed my soul into them and soared my heart on them into a most divine inner calm, so beautiful I’ve even known tears to come.

Not very often, again, I will be honest. Fewer times than one could count on the delicately open and extended fingers of her hopeful hands.

But those moments of pure, sheer other-worldly peace are worth the blistery struggle to achieve them. They point to something. The promised silent moments of peace point to a way of emptiness that finally satisfies. They are the secret pockets of abundance that could feed the famished souls of all the world on nothingness if we could only grab the strength it takes to get to them.

These moments are defiant, too. They defy the greediness of the world and they slice into shreds the lies we are force-fed in constant by the outside.

We can connect at warp speed to millions of people all around the world and we do, instantly, but deliberately getting quiet to get in touch with ourselves is scary as hell.

We are terrified to be alone and yet we are so damn lonely.

We are so over-shocked nothing shocks us. We are so over sold, nothing satisfies us. We are so strung out as a society on the relentless cascade of connection, noise, cruelty and crisis. And what’s worse, we are haunted by all of these things even when we attempt to unplug.

We aren’t sitting in front of our computer, phone or TV but we bring their gristly static with us into the quiet. And in the quiet is where we are challenged to truly let them go. Not the physical devices, but the stranglehold of what is within them that wraps invisibly around our aimless, wandering bits.

So I seek the sacred silent moments because I just cannot shake this feeling of ruckus hope and excitement of getting to a freer place. I’m a teacher of the Peace, I know Peace. I know, I think to myself in these tricky wee hours as I sit next to my chomping fearful mind, how to get to it. I even know where it lies within, I think, because I’ve been there before.

But the star of peace seems to move and I often trip over myself to find her again. Or maybe, more likely, the star stays put and our position related to her is what moves. She’s a steady guide and we are the clumsy, wandering targets she keeps her loving eye on all the time. The peace is always there in everything, in every moment, but our paths to peace are as unique as our footprints.

Going still is an adventure of a different rhythm and texture for each of us.

As I stick to my devotion, my stillness practice, on this dark morning, the feeling of rebellion persists, vibrates. Pulsates. Begs, even. Come here, she calls to me, come closer, see me.

What are you, little ferocious beast?

You who feels so alive, so joyous and sharp? You who come on like a steady whisper, a rowdy invitation to surrender to the still? What would you have me learn in spite of myself this day?

The path to peace is laced with desire, danger, daring, and allure. There’s something about it that is soul baring and seductive.

And for all its gentle persuasion, why do I feel more and more like a warrior even as I get better at practicing peace?

It could just be, loves, that there’s something about peace – something beyond reason, something secret – that can only be described as fierce.

And getting to it, as anyone who has ever tried meditation (or simply, sitting still on purpose) will tell you, can be a very serious battle. It’s an inner battle aimed at richness and healing and beauty, but a battle none the less.

We should not confuse stillness with ease or quietness with bliss. We all have access to the power it takes to get to inner calm and peace but how many of us have what it takes to go there and better still to stay there? To return hungry for it every day? To commit to making Peace a way of life?

“Anyone who longs to see the light is signing up for many long nights alone in the dark.”  ~ Pico Iyer, The Art of Stillness

The seduction it seems is the call to fight the good struggle, the worthy struggle, to turn the sword on your own inner fears and falsehoods. It’s a battle to get to the truth no matter how dirty. It’s having the guts to go still and explore one’s own inner landscape, trusting that within it lie all the answers we need to live a meaningful, purposeful, and loving life.

Returning to peace is a struggle, guys, don’t let anyone fool you. It is a daily commitment to surrender. A struggle to sift through the vicious noise to get to the sustaining, life-giving warmth. It’s a deliberate battle to get to the light in spite of all the resistance the world hurls at us.

The faster the world races, the tougher it is to go still. The harder it is to push back against the grind. The more it requires from you as a warrior to meet harshness with gentleness and love. To absorb attack from within or without and not let it rattle you.

Strengthening the inner stillness allows you to absorb the blows and move on past them. It allows your true beauty to shine through the bleak.

“Foster and polish
The warrior spirit
While serving in the world
Illuminate the Path
According to your inner Light.”
~ The Art of Peace

It is not easy and it is not flashy, but the practice of stillness is fiercely disarming. And even though it may seem like the challenge is to squeeze in the time to create stillness, we should not be misled.

The challenge is, in fact, to shed the crippling noise that has kept us from returning to the peace we so desperately need, the peace that exists in constant. The call is not to learn but to remember.

For we may have selfishly crowded her out, but let us not forget, that the stillness came first.

 

~ ~ ~

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© 2014 Allison Marie Conway at Glory Begin

 

18 thoughts on “Ferocious Peace: The Struggle and Strength to Go Still

  1. rajagopal

    The first silver streaking across horizon in the early hours is as much nature’s horse-mounted warrior trotting determinedly against encircled gloom , and gradually yet surely galloping into invincible brilliance ,
    as in the endeavour of fighting spirit’s struggle , in the path of meditation , attaining blissful peace over noisome turbulence . While some emerge early victors , others may drudge in vanquished stage for long years before their fostered and polished warrior spirit can speed them to lasting victory . It is certainly a struggle , allison , as eloquently set forth in your post , akin to the Kurukshetra war in the Indian epic Mahabharata….best wishes…raj

    Reply
    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Dear Raj,

      I love absolutely everything about your precious, ferocious, inspired comment. I love the image of a horse mounted warrior, so very beautiful and strong.

      Thank you so much for your words and thoughts, they mean very much to me. I am so glad if some of this resonated for you.

      I am just now researching this war you mention, and it is very fascinating to me. It is said the Bhagavad Gita was told on that morning before the war began? I am intrigued.

      Thank you, my good friend, for your uplifting and expansive thoughts. :)

      Blessings and peace to you, always,

      Allison

      Reply
  2. Jackie

    Oh you describe the struggle so well. I wrestle with shedding the “grisly static” all the time.
    It’s a nice place where you succeed in going to, Allison. More power to you. I make my own little efforts. They are chopped and spliced and not as continuous as I would like but I won’t give up! Thanks for inspiring the good fight. :-)

    Reply
    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Dearest Jackie, thank you so much for reading and for your words! I feel very blessed indeed in my little dark sanctuary of a practice, seems to beg at me and I’m more than happy to follow the call.

      And just as beautifully as you say, though “chopped and spliced” we all may be, we don’t ever give up. For me, I believe we never give up because that spirit of the universe, well, she never gives up on us and so we hear her whisper still.

      I hope you are having a lovely, cozy Monday – it’s raining something insane here in Philly – how about you??

      XO!

      Reply
  3. Anonymous

    “It’s having the guts to go still and explore one’s own inner landscape, trusting that within it lie all the answers we need to live a meaningful, purposeful, and loving life.”

    That’s it. This is what jumped out at me as I read this. You are awesome Allison, you really are. I have missed reading your posts the past couple weeks. I got one of them “job things” and it took me out of my routine (the nerve…geesh!)

    The answers are within and I know it, I can feel it, but getting to them is hard as hell sometimes. Thanks for your inspiring words as usual.

    Mark

    Reply
    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Dear Mark,

      Thank you so much for your spirit and your words. I cannot tell you how much they mean to me, friend.

      You are awesome. :)

      I guess I’ll forgive that silly ‘job thing’ haha but no I hope it brings you much abundance and goodness. But I must also say that I am so glad you have come by because you are certainly missed when away!

      Luckily, you know my address in blogopolis is right around the bend.

      And yes, the struggle is real and it hurts. And anyone who thinks peace is the easy way, that stillness is always bliss, is wrong by a million miles.

      We, we are the gentle warriors. I acknowledge your journey and the tough it takes. :)

      Peace, always, ferocious if necessary – Allison

      Reply
  4. Sherri

    Your writing is exquisitely beautiful dear Allison. Oh how you captivate as you describe the endless struggle for inner peace while our opponent ‘runs like a rabid mangy beast across the envelope of blackness’ in an effort to destroy our calm. Evocative, powerful words these my friend. You are right, the stillness must come first and I fear we have forgotten how to allow it to do so…how to be truly still. But it is in that still silence that we find the very core of our connection to all we really are and the strength that God gives as we press on. Sending love, peace and all blessings to you my friend, in that glorious silence, in the glory of a new dawn xoxoxoxoxox

    Reply
    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Dearest Sherri,

      YOU are exquisitely beautiful, my sweet friend! Thank you so very much for your words – you know I tuck them in close to my heart. I really do.

      I share your concern that we have forgotten how to get back into stillness. But maybe, if we all keep going and keep remembering, we’ll bring about something incredibly powerful and loving, yeah? We just have to keep coming back to ‘home base’ and nestling in, and listening up.

      Sending you the biggest cyber-bear-hug ever, my love!! “The glory of a new dawn” . . . ahhh now THAT, that I dig so very, very much. :) :)

      Love, light, and peace to you, you gorgeous spirit,

      Allison xxxoooxxoo

      Reply
  5. Michael

    I loved this line, Allison, “It could just be, loves, that there’s something about peace – something beyond reason, something secret – that can only be described as fierce.” That’s so true. It’s not just a gentle, nurturing quiet– though it can be that, too; it’s the Power that has given rise to all that is, and stands ready still to live through us and release new modes and depths of being and creating within this endless architecture of Possibility…

    Great and inspiring writing throughout.

    Michael

    Reply
    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Thank you so much, Michael, for reading and for your beautiful comment! I am so happy this resonated with you.

      I really love that you reference the Power and I love how you say “architecture of Possibility” – that is a most perfect way to express it.

      Thank you so much, I really appreciate your kindness :)

      I wish you much peace, always,

      Allison

      Reply
  6. Anonymous

    Allison,
    Every fiber within says YES! YES! YES! Thank you for routing us all on and even lifting us back into the arena. I do firmly believe that surrender is a daily practice and you write so mindfully of it. Thank you for this. On another note….Allison you truly are an exquisite writer. <3

    Reply
    1. Allison Marie Post author

      Hello, hello!

      Dear one, can I please say thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind and beautiful comment. I cannot tell you how much it means to me that you have enjoyed this. It lights me up inside so fierce!

      I love that your fibers and being resonate with this message, I trust that means it came through me from that sacred plane . . just for you. :)

      That is wonderful you have a daily practice, that is really the key wouldn’t you say? I think so. Every day every day every day.

      I send you so much love, light, peace and gratitude for your spirit!

      Allison

      Reply

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