Stillness, Joy, and Blessings for the New Year

Join us on New Year’s Day for a walk and celebration

Stillness, Joy, and Blessings for the New Year

Discussion date: Thu, Dec 30, 2021 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Join us on New Year’s Day for a walk and celebration

No Thursday Evening “Silver Spring Community” Online Program
December 30, 2021

No Friday Evening “Open-to-All” Online Program
December 31, 2021

Dear Still Water Friends,

It has been a very quiet winter holiday week. I’ve enjoyed the slower pace, and the chance to take more walks and catch up on projects I’ve put aside. The week has been a very tangible reminder of how the texture of my everyday life affects my mood and spirit.

In The Art of Living, based on retreat talks offered in 2014, Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) reminds us of the importance of creating moments of inner and outer stillness:

In Plum Village, the mindfulness practice center in France where I live, there used to be a veranda called the Listening to the Rain Veranda. We made it specially for that purpose—so we could sit there and listen to the rain and not need to think about anything. Listening to the rain can help the mind come to stillness.

Bringing the mind to stillness is easy. You need only to pay attention to one thing. As long as your mind is listening to the rain it is not thinking about anything else. You don’t need to try to still your mind. You need only to relax and continue listening to the rain. The longer you are able to do so, the more still your mind becomes.

Sitting in stillness like this allows us to see things as they truly are. When the body is relaxed and the mind comes to rest, we can see clearly. We become as still and clear as the water in a mountain lake whose tranquil surface reflects the blue sky above, the clouds, and the surrounding rocky peaks just as they are.

As long as we’re restless and the mind is unsettled, we won’t be able to see reality clearly. We’ll be like the lake on a windy day, its surface troubled, reflecting a distorted view of the sky. But as soon as we restore our stillness, we can look deeply and begin to see the truth.

I read Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha when I was in college and most of his other novels over the next decade. I was attracted by his energy and underlying respect for a spiritual journey. This past week, I had time to begin reading his My Belief: Essays on Life and Art. I was especially touched by one of his earliest essays, “On Little Joys,” written in 1905 when he was 27 years old. More than a century earlier than Thay’s talks, he was dismayed by the “hurry-hurry” nature of industrial cities and pointed our attention to the “little joys” that emerge from stillness and concentration.

Great masses of people these days live out their lives in a dull and loveless stupor. Sensitive persons find our inartistic manner of existence oppressive and painful, and they withdraw from sight. … I believe what we lack is joy. The ardor that a heightened awareness imparts to life, the conception of life as a happy thing, as a festival – that is, after all, what dazzles and attracts us in the Renaissance. But the high value put upon every minute of time, the idea of hurry-hurry as the most important objective of living, is unquestionably the most dangerous enemy of joy. … Our ways of enjoying ourselves are hardly less irritating and nerve-racking than the pressure of our work. “As much as possible, as fast as possible” is the motto. And so there is more and more entertainment and less and less joy. … No more than anyone else do I have an infallible prescription against these abuses. I would simply like to recall an old and, alas, quite unfashionable private formula: Moderate enjoyment is double enjoyment. And: Do not overlook the little joys!

Wishing everyone a 2022 filled with peace and joy, and also love, courage, and good health.

You are warmly invited to begin the year with the Still Water community with a New Year’s Day Walk and Celebration at the Audubon Naturalist Society’s Woodend Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, Maryland, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm. It is an opportunity to walk in a wildlife sanctuary, meet with friends, and receive your Tao and Pooh oracle cards for 2022. (Please register on our website so we can alert you if we are rained out.) If you can’t be with us, you are welcome to receive your Still Water 2022 oracle cards online.

Also, please consider making a year-end donations to the Still Water Mindfulness Practice Center. It has been an active but financially difficult year for Still Water and we are likely to end with our expenses greater than our income. Information about Still Water and Dana is in our December Letter to the Still Water Community.

Gratefully yours,

Mitchell Ratner

Upcoming Still Water Events and Program Changes:

  • December 30th and 31st — The Silver Spring Thursday evening and the Open to All Friday evening programs will not be held during the last week of 2021.
  • On Saturday, January 1st, there will be a Still Water New Year’s Day Walk and Celebration at the Audubon Naturalist Society’s Woodend Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, Maryland, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm. This is a chance to meet with friends and receive your Tao and Pooh oracles for 2022. Please register online through our website.
  •  Saturday, January 8th, the Still Water Mindfulness Practice Center will join with the Mindfulness Practice Center of Fairfax for the online Transmission of the  Five Mindfulness TrainingsThe event will begin at 9:00 am and end before noon (Eastern time).  Prior registration is required.
  •  January 20th, the Silver Spring Thursday evening and the Open to All Friday evening program will merge into one on-going Thursday evening group. All practitioners currently registered for the Friday evening group are invited to attend on Thursday evening. (Zoom link for the Thursday night group will be sent to all practitioners currently registered for the Friday evening group.)

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in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Dec 30, 2021


This week
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Sun, April 21

Columbia Sunday Evening Practice

Mon, April 22

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Friends in Different Places

Tue, April 23

Takoma Park Morning Meditation

Tuesday Evening Gaithersburg Group

Wed, April 24

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Spanish-Speaking Online Practice

Still Water Kent Island

Thu, April 25

Takoma Park Morning Meditation

Fri, April 26

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Sat, April 27