Seeking Stillness

We live in a culture where “busy” is the norm. Developing an attitude of stillness can help us get off autopilot.

The alarm wakes you every morning, sending you out into your daily battles.

Get up, get dressed and maybe grab breakfast before you dash out the door to either sit in traffic or catch the train where you might find a seat. You do your best to mentally prepare for the day before you arrive at your destination and hurry to your job to earn a living.

At the end of the day, you do it all over again, in reverse order.

We live in a culture of “go, go, go.” It’s nonstop, where “busy” is the norm. It’s no wonder that 44% of Americans report feeling more stressed than they did 5 years ago, with 1 in 5 feeling “extreme stress,” according to the American Institute of Stress.

In the middle of all this busyness we need to find a space for stillness. Like the eye of a cyclone, we need to discover the peaceful heart of our busy world.

Tim Kreider says it well. “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.”

All that physical and mental activity changes the way we see the world and, indeed, even the way we see ourselves. The more often we think a thought or react to the same stimulus, the stronger the habit becomes. The neural pathways in the brain become hardwired. It’s like putting on blinders. All we can focus on is task after task as we scurry through each day. What we aren’t seeing is our real life, and we’re losing touch with our real selves.

“Be still. Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity.”― Lao Tzu

It’s in the stillness that you can make a change. You allow your mind to wander to new places, think different thoughts and see things you don’t normally notice. As you do that, you spark new pathways in your brain. The more you do it, the stronger those pathways become. You’ve taken off the blinders and can now see yourself and your life from a different perspective.

By practicing stillness every day you will soon begin to see the connections and nuances of your life as an observer, rather than as a participant. You won’t be caught up in the dramas, so you can see them for what they are.

I’m not saying that we need to sit and meditate for long periods of time, although of course that would be excellent. I’m not even saying that we have to stop and sit still, although that could help. What I am saying is that we could develop stillness as an attitude — a way of life.

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” — Deepak Chopra

Imagine this: As the world swirls and eddies, the current doesn’t touch you. You can see the tides, but they don’t impact. You can understand what’s happening but it doesn’t distress you.

When we are free from the impulse to react to the crazy world, we have time to look inside. Discover yourself — find what really matters.

Stillness is nourishing to your body, mind and spirit. I encourage you to practice living your life with less action and less rushing. Learn to see it from a space of stillness and peace. Your soul with thank you.

Originally published at www.nancievito.com on March 18, 2016.