It is a 107 degrees outside, but the air is moist, the heavy air smells of sweaty tourists and gardenias. My feet are bare and my toes tiptoe like hot potatoes on the brown and crunchy pavement. Long lines are forming, the white lotus structure offers its petals as a welcome refuge to all.
I am seventeen years old, touring New Delhi with my family, about to enter into the Baha’i Temple, a tourist attraction because of the magnificence of 27 large free-standing marble clad petals arranged in poetic clusters. The heat starts to form a blanket around me, my shoulders droop, as my posture relaxes, walking upright a challenge because it feels as if the soles of my feet are on fire. I recall that at least twice, I’ve voiced my discontent to my parents, telling them I want to put my shoes on or what’s the big deal about this structure or can we just go home. We are here to show you the world, they respond, but my eyes roll as soon as they speak.
After spending ten minutes, feeling the gravity of the equator’s sun, I enter what is housed underneath the petals. In an instant, it seems the heat slipped away, the sweat evaporates from my brow, the white marble cools my feet like I am walking barefoot on ice. My eyes try to focus on my surroundings as I lick my lips and I need water to erase the salty aftertaste on my tongue.
My thirst is not quenched by drinking water, but the stillness acts as a temporary oasis. I am surrounded by an aura, something I know that is not of the material world. My body stands in the middle of the room, the space around it occupied by silence. There are chairs where reflection isn’t difficult, but inviting. Natural light emanates from above, the golden coins of sun rays shower my skin.
Even after 20 years, the quiet I experienced isn’t something I need to memorize. I believe something happened on that hot day, the sense of my awareness high, and although I have no pictures of this stillness, I still recall its extraordinariness and the omnipresence of grace.
And I wonder why I can recall this moment in my mind, the clarity of the experience looks at me like a mirror. I’ve defined the stillness I am searching for, but as much as I try I struggle to integrate it within my life, it is something I need to think about doing. It isn’t automatic. I continue to obsess about embracing the present, but the noise I create, the expectations I set for myself and others fuels interference into achieving silence of my mind.
I suspect I’m not ready yet; noise is something I still crave. The stillness won’t come until I am ready to be quiet.
Have you experienced moments of stillness? Do you struggle to achive this stillness? Do you create noise for yourself? Are you aware of your own obstacles toward stillness?
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