Ambliance: The art of sitting and observing the world walking and passing by; taking in the ambiance of a place. Soaking up the atmosphere, the energy of your surroundings so much so that it seeps into your soul, or core and you become part of it.
Today was our day off from the business of walking to Jerusalem. Decided to have a quiet day. With two other walkers we made our way to the centre of Fidenza and strolled through the streets, slowly exploring little laneways and entering the dark cooling air of churches. Then making our way to the main square we sat on a bench on the main street with a gelato in hand and watched people passing by.
The simple act of observing can be a deeply satisfying way to discover new towns and cities. Sitting still allows you to take in the sights and sounds of people passing by, to get a sense of what makes a place tick.
Ambling or milandering through a town provides a slow and gentle pace to allow the environment to unfold. At such a easy pace one can stop for a moment to contemplate some detail in the environment, an ornate window, a carved stone door jamb, a beautiful lion’s head door knocker. It is an active yet gentle way of taking in the ambience of a place.
Sitting still, whether in a cafe enjoying a drink and a meal or on a bench in the square with gelato in hand, this provides a more passive taking in of the surrounding environment.
Amblienting is the art of sitting still and allowing the passing environment of people walking, talking, bicycling, shopping, walking their dog, holding hands to soak into your soul.
Below is an audio recording of simply sitting quietly in Via Cavour just down from Piazza Garibaldi. Listen to the passing sounds of squeaky bicycles, and conversation:
Did you notice that there is a kind of hum, a buzzing in the atmosphere. It is the energy of the place. By sitting quietly one can take in this energy and allow it to become part of us.
Quietly observing in a new environment can work like the biological function of osmosis. In osmosis molecules pass through a semi-permeable membrane from a less concentrated solution to a more concentrated one, and balances or equalises the concentrations on both sides.
Similarly, our souls are able to assimilate the surrounding environment into our psyche through our stillness. So much so that our soul begins to resonate at the frequency of the place.
Ambling can create a similar experience, yet I think the act of sitting still excellerates the process, as the mind isn’t wandering through the environment. Instead the environment is coming to us.
Not through our soles touching the ground but our souls being open can we soak up the environment, so much so that we ‘equalise’ to our environment.
Sitting down for a good hour, observing, I felt so tranquil, equanimous. A veil of calmness came over me. When it was time to move, I felt deeply relaxed, and walking became a slow amble.
Sometimes we can discover the soul of a place not through deep activity but through slow osmosis, through stillness.
Through allowing the mountain to come to Abraham you can discover God. God is in the details of life’s passing.
The well-dressed elderly lady painted up riding her bicycle, the middle-aged man walking his little chihuahua, the lady with the stubborn dog on a lead that takes her for a walk, the mothers in their exercise gear and prams walking briskly past, the woman with the unruly child crying for gelato, the proud well build African cycling past with his gorgeous little princess in the front basket. Life unfolds in all its glory when we sit still.
Allow yourself some still time when you enter a new town or environment.
Take in the ambliance, the ambling traffic of the surroundings, the flow of life. Allow your quietude to ‘fill’ you with the energy of the place.
Allow it to enter your soul till you are one with it, till you have soaked in its energy, filled and fulfilled.