“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” Yes, I just started this post by quoting Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Call it campy or charming, but in this regard, the film has a point.
It can be hard to find time to slow down, let alone stop, in our busy lives. Sure, you hopefully come into stillness at night when you sleep, but waking hours are usually full. Stillness is an integral part of our experience, and it’s one that we often ignore.
Sometimes, it takes an illness to push me into rest, but I’ve been trying to listen to my heart and mind before I get sick by building in moments of stillness into my routine. (I’m not always successful, as the cold I’ve had for the past few weeks demonstrates, but at least I’m trying!)
We need stillness. In sleep, our bodies repair themselves and our minds process the events and questions of the day, but stillness is important in our waking hours, too. Taking time to be still can stop me from overreacting to problems, and I also find that daily stillness gives me a sense of lightness and general contentment that I often lose when I’m caught up in the whirlwind of doing.
Here are three ways I’ve begun to give myself space and permission to be still.
Meditation. I started a regular mala practice back in February, and I’ve kept it up. As part of my nighttime routine, I sit down and meditate, using my mantra and beads as a focus. It’s only ten or fifteen minutes, but it leaves me feeling calm and more ready for sleep. The few nights where I’ve skipped this practice (like this weekend, while I was out of town at a conference and had forgotten my beads) I find I sleep fitfully and feel generally ungrounded. Even a ten minute habit can be healing!
Ritual. I’m not necessarily talking about an elaborate ritual here (although that can be good, too). Something as simple as drinking my morning tea in the same bright red mug every day brings a smile to my face and helps me re-center. Repetition and simple ritual are powerful tools, and it doesn’t take much to build a morning routine that you can stick with. Enjoy the stillness every morning.
Unplug. Last week, I gave myself an assignment: spend at least 24 hours screen-free. It was hard, but not as hard as I’d anticipated, and the quiet space I found without my computer was lovely. When my work load allows, I want to take a screen free day every week. Unplugging can be a wonderful way to cultivate stillness; I never realized how much my email and the Web in general contribute to my sense of peace (or lack thereof) but now I know that sometimes, the only option is to step away from the device and step into the sunshine…or curl up with a good book.
What about you? What do you do when you feel overwrought and need to take a moment to find stillness?