Let’s Talk About Inner Stillness, Shall We?
I’ve been considering the speed at which things are moving in my life. It’s probably safe to say that for most of us things can get busy, even chaotic, at times — particularly at this time of year. Despite increased efficiency in technology and broadened horizons of information sharing, there’s never enough time for everything we want to do and everywhere we want to be. Life just moves fast — real fast.
But just because life itself tends to move fast, it doesn’t mean that we have to run with it every minute. We can find moments, simple moments, of tranquility throughout our day where we don’t need to keep scurrying from point A to B. Of course, this applies to our minds more than anything — moments when thoughts need not rush through our minds, and moments when we’re not constantly thinking about what we did do, what we didn’t do, what we have yet to do, etc etc etc.
As easy as it may seem to practice stillness, the difficulty stems from the sheer effort it takes to simply remember to do so. In other words, being still is not the hard part — it is maintaining an effort to initiate said stillness that proves tricky. Here’s a few thoughts that may assist in achieving stillness / embracing it — and ultimately augmenting it as part of our daily routines.
* Achieve it via Detachment
“Time is an illusion” — Albert Einstein
The hardest thing to do is to actually break out of the confines that time places on us and claim a shred, a mere morsel of it, for ourselves. For some of us (those without kids for instance), it’s much easier than, say, a single parent. But regardless of how or when or where, it’s definitely possible for us to reclaim part of our day to ourselves.
When we commute – when we go about our chores – when we engage in some form of entertainment, perhaps we don’t always have to listen to a podcast… or listen to music… or jump onto Netflix. This may be a chance to achieve stillness on our own terms. It’s a difficult detachment, but it’s not impossible. Detaching from the need to rush onto the next item on the to-do list, detaching from the idea of sleeping in to the last possible minute, detaching from the need to dull our minds after a hard day with entertainment. It can be a minute, it can be ten minutes, it can be an hour — whether in traffic, on a lunch break or in the shower. All it takes is the claiming of a single moment to call our own.
* Embrace it via Observation
Assuming we’ve achieved our moment in which to experience our stillness, the next step is a little less challenging, although it can take some getting used to. Now we get to immerse ourselves in this moment we’ve claimed, letting no external thoughts distract our attention. Wow, how difficult is this?! Similar to meditation, it may take practice to sit and not let thoughts of the past or future pervade our tranquility in that moment. Think of it this way: the harder it is for us to sit in stillness for a designated amount of time without pacing thoughts, the more we need it and, therefore, the more motivated we ought to be to try it again.
It may not come easily the first time, and it may not come easily the first dozen times, but eventually we do find a groove. I’m finding a couple of techniques that really help in this immersion: listening to the sounds around me, smelling the smells and seeing the sights right in front of my eyes. I’m pretty certain that observing what’s going on around me, intensely, is helping to putt me away from the constancy of thought… really experiencing a particular moment can wisp me into a state of stillness. Beautiful.
“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you” — Deepak Chopra
You’ve found your moment… you’ve even gone so far as to truly experience stillness within that moment. Marvellous! Now how do we keep going with it, practicing stillness regularly? To achieve stillness once or twice is one thing, but to do it every day for more than a week or two is something entirely different.
I’ve realised that we have to come to terms with the need for stillness… the importance of these moments that we claim for ourselves. We’re so very susceptible to the constraints of time. Honestly, how many of us become a slave to the clock on a daily basis, having to keep up with a loaded schedule to endeavour to find success in our days?
Taking time for ourselves defies the need for a perpetually fast-paced existence. To take a moment of our day and immerse ourselves into it, engage ourselves with that moment and halt the rush of time around us, we in effect claim that sliver of existence as truly ours.
Ultimately, stillness is as much a necessity in life as anything else. We require balance – balance with sleeping patterns, eating habits, exercise regimens, work and life priorities, etc. More often than not, we don’t even realise how much we need it until we experience that blissful moment in which time stands still for us, as we fully immerse ourselves in the present, letting go of concerns about yesterday or tomorrow and simply enjoying stillness.
“Be still. Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity” — Lao Tzu
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