Blaise Pascal was a clever man. He was a mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and philosopher. He also worked out the solution to all our problems. Incredible when you discover he lived almost four hundred years ago. This Renaissance man from the seventeenth century had the answer to every single thing that plagues us today. And what is that answer?
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
Some call it meditation, others call it contemplation, but the ability to spend time with ourselves in silence is something that is very rare these days. There are so many distractions.
My favourite Australian philosopher Michael Leunig reached much the same conclusion. In the Curly Pyjama Letters Mr Curly says to his friend Vasco:
“It is worth doing nothing and it is worth having a rest. In spite of all the difficulty it may cause, you MUST rest Vasco – otherwise you will become RESTLESS!”
And there you have it. Two great minds, centuries apart, coming to the same conclusion in their own way. Peace, quiet and rest are necessary. Otherwise we become anxious, restless, dissatisfied and stressed. We become exhausted, drained, depleted and sick.
For myself, meditation is the solution I choose. Sitting quietly in a room alone has unexpectedly been the source of my greatest creativity and my greatest healing. The mind is an amazing thing when left to its own devices, without the constant overstimulation that bombards us every day. When my mind stills from the relentless inane everyday chatter, when it stops milling over the nuance of every interaction and action of my past, when it ceases worrying about possible future events that may never happen, then the glory of its creativity can blossom. It arises from a space that is usually crowded out by the noise and busyness of the world outside my quiet room. When I give my mind the space and time to just be, it rewards me with treasures from the deep.
Sitting quietly in a room alone has also given me a range of healing. The physical benefits of meditation are well documented; lower blood pressure, less pain and it is the only thing that has been proved to help with auto-immune diseases. Also the emotional healing I’ve gained from meditation has changed my life, my work and my relationships.
We simply must rest, sit quietly in a room alone, to be, to create and to heal.
This post originally appeared in the May 2013 edition of Holistic Bliss Magazine