The Art of Being Still

It feels lately as though the universe is sending me a message.

The window in my family room where I spend most of my still time.

Does that ever happen to you? Multiple times a day from multiple sources, I’ll read something or see something that all relate to a common theme: stillness.

Or sometimes it’s boredom, or maybe it’s rest, but the signs are all pointing to the same place: I need to spend more time being still.

We’re not particularly good at stillness, and I’m going to go down on record right now as saying that it has nothing to do with technology. My grandmother had a HUGE problem with stillness and she had no internet or social media. But boy, was that woman busy.

In fact, I don’t think I ever saw her sit still until illness and old age forced her to. She was always either sewing or cleaning or cooking after she retired. I guess when your’e a single working mom most of your lifeĀ  it’s hard to practice stillness. She did have a little digital poker game that kept her busy. And she LOVED Vegas. Oh my goodness, how that woman loved Vegas. Even long after walking wasn’t comfortable for her she would take off down the strip in her scooter, oxygen attached, and take us to all her favorite casinos where they knew her by name. I miss that crazy broad.

I forgot what I was writing about.

Oh, right, STILLNESS. Boredom, supposedly, ignites creativity. This post, for example, is coming to me after a one hour nap and a 30 minute session of staring out my window at the rain. One of my sons is writing music upstairs and I can hear his voice and his guitar. It’s beautiful and I’m very glad I don’t have the TV on so I can hear it.

Stillness brings courage, too. Distraction can frequently be my numbing drug of choice – you know, the thing you do to keep yourself from feeling. I’m trying to fight that. When I’m sad, or hurt, or angry, I’m intentionally trying to feel the feeling and not just move to the next thing to make it go away or distract me enough so I forget what I was feeling.

Because I know that doesn’t work. I keep doing it, but I know it doesn’t work.

Stillness is easier to come by now than it was when I had 3 little ones begging for my attention every minute of the day. Maybe this is a time of “stillness scarcity” for you because every day is just filled with the demands of a young family. Although I have to confess even then, what little time I did have to be still, the boys nap time for example, I’d use to DO instead of BE. And then they’d wake up and the doing would just go on and on and on and on . . .this is the song that never ends . . it just goes on and on my friends . . . some people started singing it not knowing what it was and they’ll continue singing it forever just because this is the song that never ends . . One might even say the stillness time, even just 15 minutes of it, was far more important the getting the dishwasher unloaded or getting one more chore done. I think one SHOULD say that. I just did, in fact.

Did you ever see the old film The Red Shoes? Oh, I hope you have. It’s a hauntingly beautiful film about a ballerina based on the Hans Christian Anderson fable about the enchanted shoes that wouldn’t stop dancing no matter how much the ballerina wanted them to. She just had to dance and dance and dance. In the film, the ballerina dances her way to suicide because a life that demands all movement and no stillness can kill you.

It’s very dramatic but also breathtakingly sad. And the story is a warning: we must be still in order to move forward and in order to be all we’re meant to be.

So today when you’re tempted to run to all the things that can distract you try, instead, to just be still. If you’re new to the whole stillness thing maybe just sit and listen to the sound of your own breathing for 2 minutes. And then tomorrow you could try 3. You’d be amazed what it will do.

Because the stillness won’t take time and energy. It will oddly and miraculously give it. Let me know how you do.

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