Does being still require an exquisite landscape to study and absorb? I really hope not because a mountain view or ocean scape are simply not always accessible.
Stillness is a state of mind
If we accept this to be true, we can maintain stillness in a crowd or while with our families. We can find it while engaged in a conversation or during our yoga practice. Stillness doesn’t mean we can’t be moving or interacting with others.
“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” ~ Deepak Chopra
This sounds marvelous, Deepak, but how do we actually do this? Is stillness something we can practice?
Thankfully the answer is a resounding yes. We can practice stillness just like we practice everything else. But it’s the willingness to cultivate it that might scare some of us. It doesn’t feel natural so therefore, we decide we can’t obtain it. But we absolutely can and the rewards are so worth it.
The Rewards of Finding Stillness
- Happiness. Stillness helps us find calm. Our nervous system responds in a positive way. We move from a baseline of agitation to contentment and we spread this to others with our presence and state of mind.
- Increase in energy. It’s just like when you get enough sleep and you feel full of vitality. Stillness and meditation can help us acquire energy by assisting us in replenishing the wells that have become quite depleted.
- A more connected relationship with ourselves. Think of someone who typically seems very confident and self-possessed. That could be you. Stillness provides clarity and allows our truths to rise to the surface. Once we connect with who we really are and cease hiding from what is, our confidence grows. By knowing ourselves better we calm down because we are no longer uncertain or confused about who we are and what we stand for.
Doesn’t this all sound grand and illuminating? How could we not want these rewards? It’s a matter of figuring out how to actually achieve this state of mind and not run away from what we learn. It’s dedicating to this practice the same way we are committed to asana. So where do we begin? Deepak has a few more ideas about this that are worthy of contemplation and can serve as a starting point for the practice of stillness.
“We can actually accelerate the process through meditation, through the ability to find stillness through loving actions, through compassion and sharing, through understanding the nature of the creative process in the universe and having a sense of connection to it. So, that’s conscious evolution.”
He makes it sound so easy. And maybe, eventually, it actually is.
Here are a few practice ideas to help you experience the often seemingly elusive state of stillness.
1. Do something for someone without telling anyone about it.
Not only is taking anonymous action a little bit like being a superhero, but it feels so gratifying to offer a kindness without needing credit. No action is too small. Placing a bottle of your yoga buddy’s favorite essential oil in her coat pocket without a word or note. Leaving hand-picked flowers on your neighbor’s front porch. Making a donation to charities you revere and believe in. Recommending someone for a job without telling them you did so. Paying off a debt for someone whom you know is unable to do so themselves. The list goes on and on. Make your own and take action. It will offer you the gift of giving without expectation of receiving in return. It will shift your sense of give and take and help you focus more on not what others do for you but all you can offer to the world.
2. Take the time to listen to another and stay with their words.
Conversations always require a back and forth. But it’s the way we choose to conduct the dynamics that award us a sense of stillness. If you’ve ever experienced a conversation where you were more focused on what you wanted to say in response than in what you were hearing, then you’ve felt the frustration of not being present and ignoring the opportunity to learn. Listen to another. Really hear their words and digest them. Ask questions to keep them talking and sharing. The delight that comes from focusing on another expressing their ideas, views, feelings, and outlook brings a delicious sense of being present for another. The unrest that comes with focusing on being heard versus really hearing will go away.
3. Sit in silence with another person
We don’t have to meditate on a mountaintop in lotus position. Being with someone else without having a dialogue quietly drinking in their energy and allowing them to share in yours will offer profound feelings of being close and interacting with our subtle bodies. Breathing together and having a shared experience without words offers a connection that goes beyond what we think interaction should be.
I hope you find some moments of stillness today. You deserve them.