“If water derives lucidity from stillness, how much more the faculties of the mind!  The mind of the sage, being in repose, becomes the mirror of the universe, the speculum of all creation.”

— Chuang Tzu

We breathe without thinking about it.  Inhale, exhale — thousands of times each day.  For just a moment, let’s pay attention to our breath and take in a nice deep breath and just hold it for ten seconds before letting it go.  How did that feel — that space between breaths?

I awoke this morning to the sound of the alarm clock.  For me this is unusual, since my inner clock usually wakes me five minutes ahead of the annoying beeps.  When I opened my eyes, my first thought was that the clock must be wrong.  The dull, low light that found its way around the window shade looked more like dusk than morning.  The world outside appeared in grayscale, clouds hanging so thick and so heavily that I had to wonder whether the sun was planning to rise today.  As we set out on our walk, the stillness hung all around us.  Even the birds remained hidden in the branches this morning, and an occasional chirp was the only sign that they had not disappeared completely.  I reached up and felt my ears to see whether someone had put earmuffs on them while I slept; but there was no need for earmuffs to muffle the sound of silence.

I thought about breathing and about paying attention to the space between the breaths, and I had to wonder whether the universe had frozen in that moment and stretched it out along the space-time continuum so that our clocks were out of sync.  And there I walked, the only animate being still affected by time — moving against the background of a freeze-frame of the morning.  How still the heart becomes in the space between breaths!  How silently the soul awaits the voice of the universe in the stillness of a morning frozen in time.