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“Only in quiet waters things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world” (Hans Margolius).
IT TAKES A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF QUIETNESS AND STILLNESS FOR IMPORTANT TRUTHS TO MAKE AN IMPRESSION ON OUR MINDS. But modern life, much to our detriment, tends to make us fidgety and frantic. Neither quiet nor still, our minds are usually racing, moving at full throttle from one item on our agenda to another, or from one interesting entertainment to another. We think about many, many things, but rarely do we think about any of them meditatively. We don’t give ourselves a chance to reflect and ponder and consider. And as a result, a number of important thoughts pass through our brains without any real chance to take up residence there.
To “meditate” means to think about something quietly and at length. “Meditation,” as William Grimshaw said, “is the soul’s chewing.” Indeed, one of the synonyms for meditate is “ruminate,” which means to “chew” something over in our minds. But sometimes, we meditate by just quietly reflecting, without any words or mental action at all. Often, this is the most helpful kind of meditation. It’s a beneficial thing simply to grow quiet and . . . listen. We can be powerfully reminded of important principles when we are receptively still.
Meditation is important because that’s where we usually see the meaning and significance of what we know. Without meditation, we may have much information in our minds, but there’ll be little wisdom in our hearts. It takes meditating on matters to move from the question “What?” to the more important question “So what?”
But we can’t have the benefits of meditation without making the sacrifice that meditation requires. For one thing, genuine meditation requires a discipline that has to be learned. But not only that, it takes being willing to let go of some of our activities in order to have the time to meditate. We can’t have it both ways, and it’s foolish to try.
If, like the lake that has the boon
Of cradling the little moon
Above the hill,
I want the Infinite to be
Reflected undisturbed in me,
I must be still.