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by Penny McGahey
Editor’s Note from Eden Kozlowski: Here is Penny's account of where her concept of Sitting in Stillness began. Learn more and maybe be inspired to start your own Sitting in Stillness group?!
The intention with this article is to share where Sit in Stillness began and where it is going and to hopefully inspire others to get involved. [Sit in Stillness is a free, community group practice in silence, kindness, gratitude and open hearted presence. All over the world, anytime, anywhere.)
Hi, my name is Penny McGahey and this is our story:
My personal meditation practice has for some time included sitting on my local beach. Most often I sit down for 15 to 30 minutes to settle the mental blur of a busy life and on opening my eyes I am awoken to the incredible beauty of my surroundings and to life itself, calmer, quieter and more grateful. There is nothing quite like meditating outdoors to do this.
I began to wonder what it might be like to share this practice and how if everyone had the chance to do this would we all see the world and our place in it differently?
After sitting one beautiful morning, I seized a moment of boldness and walked up to a group of people who were regular swimmers and asked if any of them would like to join me in a free meditation on the beach. To my surprise they all said yes, and so each Friday morning at 7am we began to meet for half an hour.
Over time I realized that only simple instruction was necessary as the practice of being in nature in this way afforded such immediate relaxation and presence. I also came to realize that several of the participants had their own spiritual faith that was part of their practice and that others may be familiar with meditation using mantra. It all seemed very natural that we should sit together in stillness and share in the experience as a community. It occurred to me that no matter what sitting in stillness meant to each individual to sit together in silence, kindness, gratitude and open hearted presence was a powerful experience that could only be worthwhile.
We started as a group at the beginning of 2013 and six months later as our numbers had grown another local from the neighboring beach Sue Mason told me she had heard of what we were doing, and would we mind if she started a similar group. I was so excited that she wanted to do this and very soon she had a group going on her local beach. So we gave the practice a name and the idea that Sit in Stillness might happen on every beach was born.
Then it only needed a concerted effort of spreading the word to the right people and before long we had groups happening on 10 different beaches along our coast. Inspired by peoples generosity and the pleasure they were reporting to gain from coming together in community in this way I decided that I would see if I could make Sit in Stillness happen everywhere in the world at any time of day with the thought that one day we might learn to become familiar with this long forgotten experience, that we might be able to be anywhere in the world and just look up on a website as to where the nearest group was and then head down and join in. Maybe we could eventually help change what consciousness looks like on the planet.
There are two quotes that have propelled my enthusiasm for sharing this initiative:
“Be the change you want to see in the world” from Ghandi and then in knowing that if I sit with one other person or 100 that it can only be a good thing for myself and the world - from Mother Teresa “We cannot do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
I hope in reading this that you might consider the possibility of becoming part of Sit in Stillness, whether by joining a local group or starting one of your own.
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About the Author
Sitin Stillness is a free half hour practice that can happen on a beach, in a park, a quiet space in your work environment, a school, a university, a hospital. Anywhere that allows people to come together to share in the long forgotten experience of just being silent and still.
Sit in Stillness began in 2013 and has grown to nearly 20 locations around Australia and other groups in Cost Rica, Scotland, Finland, and soon UK, USA, Canada & NZ.
To connect with the Sit In Stillness organization/Penny McGahey:
Facebook: SitInStillness (link to https://www.facebook.com/sitinstillness?fref=photo)