In the last year or so, my daily practice has shifted toward doing a lot of work with stillness practices. What's fascinated me the most about these practices is how stillness is cultivated for the purpose of cultivating a state of openness to being. You still yourself, still all the activities and thoughts and open yourself to the experience as it is. Anything else that comes along is a distraction, so if you find yourself thinking or day dreaming or whatever else, you basically are no longer still. You are moving once again.
One of the reasons I did the elemental balancing work with movement and then stillness was to get a better appreciation of how these two states of being interact with each other. I feel that the stillness practices are giving me some insights that will be useful for other work I have gestating at the moment, but in and of itself, its been good for me to just work with stillness and observe my own experiences with it, some of which I've been sharing in my monthly elemental balancing ritual report. What I find is that some days its easier to cultivate stillness and other days its harder to cultivate stillness. A big part of it is how easily the mind gets distracted by possibilities or thoughts versus maintaining a very specific state of awareness where everything just is. It's far easier to wander into the realm of possibilities and random thoughts, but I think the beneficial effects of cultivating an actual state of stillness is that your awareness of being is honed. You truly open yourself to being present with yourself and your environment without filtering that awareness with your thoughts or possibilities. You just are and that's something which is distinctly different from everyday consciousness.
Interestingly enough the closest state of altered consciousness I've found that is somewhat similar to the state of stillness is the state that occurs when a person watches TV or plays a video game, in the sense that the person's attention is engaged by what s/he is interacting. However there is a distinct difference because the person isn't still. They are still interacting in some way or form with their environment, as opposed to just being in it. The monkey mind may be quiet, but they haven't really achieved a state of stillness. The state of stillness is distinct in that nothing is actually occurring. You are just still. You open yourself to the world and you enter a state of being which is not interactive so much as ontological.
Stillness leads to openness to being because it takes away all the distractions, movement, thoughts that are more about doing than being. When you are still, you just are and that's the only thing which matters. Inevitably though we come back from stillness, move away from being into doing because that's part of living life, but what stillness gives us, in opening up to being, is a chance to simplify, to get clarity in not doing anything at all. The stillness work I do each day is a pause in everything else and yet brings with it a clarity of focus that allows me to find that sense of presence in everything, because while doing may distract from being, being is nonetheless always there until it isn't at all and neither is doing at that point.