Dharma Topic: Sharing Silence and SW Orientation

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Dear Still Water Friends,

Each week-day morning members of the Still Water communitycome together, to sit silently together, to walk silently together, and, at theend, to read a few pages together. It is a simply ritual, and for me,wonderfully nourishing.

In our Tuesday-Thursday morning, Takoma Park group, we havebeen reading Gunilla Norris’s book about sitting groups, entitled SharingSilence. It is a lovely little book that explores the subtle energies whichcan be nourished when people come together to share silence.

"Presence," an entry from Norris’s book whichappears below, describes how silence helps us to develop our mindfulness, ourcapacity to be present to and alive in our own lives.

The excerpt "Presence" will be the seed for thisThursday’s evening program. In what way are we enriched by silence? Has itchanged over time? When have we been most touched by the intentional silence ofa group?

You are invited to join us this Thursday for our silence andour program–the best times to enter are just before 7:00, at the beginning ofthe first sitting meditation, at 7:25 at the beginning of walking meditation; orat 7:35, at the beginning of our second sitting meditation.

You are also invited to share the pleasures of early morningsitting with one or more of our groups. See our web-site site for more detailsabout times and locations.

We will also offer an orientation this Thursday at 6:30 pm.Please join us, or come with friends, if you have questions–or wish to shareyour experiences– relating to the basic practices of mindfulness or the StillWater community.

Warm wishes,

Mitchell Ratner 
Senior Teacher


We cannot really experience anything withoutbeing
present to it. True presence requires that we be attentive
to what is happening . . . here and now. It is an offering
of our awareness, our participation, and our willingness.
This is a basic and profound courtesy.
By such courtesy we are deeply transformed.

In silence we discover ourselves, our actualpresence
to the life in us and around us. When we are present,
deeply attentive, we cannot be busy controlling.
Instead we become beholders–giving ourselves up
to the mystery of things. We become more willing
to let things be. And, as a consequence,
we can also let ourselves be.

This is so simple . . . and so hard.
Many of us have become uncomfortable with silence.
We do not regard it as a friend. In its presence
we feel uneasy, out of control.

We seek superficial reassurance for our busyminds,
instead of the deep confidence offered by
our silent vitality.

It takes time to rediscover the treasure ofsilence.
In it we can be found again. But we learn this
only by learning. By being present, moment to moment,
we may discern the richness of silence in ourselves
and in each other.

Sharing silence with others is a profound actof trust,
love, and courtesy. It is a mutual gift, a necessity,
a helping hand, a path, and a discipline.

Through silence our days are illumined–likerooms
filled with light–so we may inhabit our lives.