The Power of Stillness in Creating the Life You Desire
Updated: Dec 10, 2018
There is something quite mysterious about stillness- it's always surrounding us, it's the natural state of the planet, we can observe it in animals and trees and the moon, yet we often find ourselves running away from it instead of moving towards it.
When was the last time you reserved 5 minutes to do nothing? Not checking your phone, not sending an email, not reading or watching something or planning for what you were going to do later, or mentally re-hashing the past- just simply sitting still, doing nothing but breathing.
The momentum of action, thought and emotion in our lives is powerful these days, many thanks to the various ways our world vies for our attention. It's so powerful that many times our efforts to slow down are are hijacked by the momentum of doing, checking, and switching tasks, of which we've become accustomed. If we do find ourselves able to pause, we're often triggered by an intense desire to write someone a quick message or go do that thing we wanted to do earlier, or simply move back into the momentum. Pausing, settling, and finding some stillness is so simple by nature, yet so challenging in practice.
For years we have been training our brains to do the opposite- keep moving, stay active, respond quickly, time is money, no dilly-dallying, don't stop. When we practice settling our brain and intentionally choose to stop what we're doing for 5 minutes of silence, we actually begin to train our brain to allow space between thoughts. We start building that mental muscle of patience and awareness, and eventually develop an important skill of being capable of interrupting the momentum of our life. If you've ever found yourself responding to an urge or idea within milliseconds of having it, then you know the power of momentum. If you've found yourself grabbing handfuls of cookies from the cupboard immediately upon seeing them, then you know the power of momentum. Or if you respond hastily to a comment on social media or email in the midst of intense emotion, then you know the power of momentum. There's no blame or shame there- your brain is simply untrained in finding space. When you react on auto-pilot, repeating patterned behaviours, making choices you told yourself your wouldn't, eating what you said you won't, you know the power of momentum.
And there's no blame or shame there- you're following strong neural pathways in your brain, and you've never learned how to interrupt them.
We are human, we follow patterns, each time we make a choice it is strengthened, we're doing our best. But we've neglected to strengthen actions and habits that can actually support us in leading conscious lives, which can ultimately help us move through our lives in the way we truly desire.
When you practice stillness, meditation, or silence for just 5 minutes, as many times as you can remember to, as often as you become comfortable with, you train your brain to slow down and notice where you experience momentum in your life.
In noticing this and creating space around it, you give yourself an opportunity to consciously choose differently. You increase your ability to calm your stress response to triggering events and give yourself the option of using your rational brain over your emotional brain.
You strengthen your capability to make choices that serve your ultimate goals.
5 minutes a day can create a massive shift in the way you move through your life. 5 minutes of stillness could be the most useful action you take all day. For help in creating a new habit of being still for 5 minutes a day, I use the Calm app on my phone. For a quick timed meditation search 'Meditation Timer' online and program it for 5 minutes. Find a comfortable place to sit with your back straight, head relaxed, feet on the floor or crossed in front of you, and palms facing the sky. Then notice your breath, and always come back to your breath when you find that your thoughts have wandered. There is no wrong way you practice stillness. Feel free to email me if you have any questions or want support in creating more mindfulness over your actions and habits.