JoyMailed

cherishing life's little joys

Stillness

Stillness:  5 Simple Reasons to Embrace its Practice in Daily Life

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Stillness.  Have you ever gone in a forest and felt so lost in nature that nothing else could be more relaxing and beautiful?  It is the feeling of complete disconnectedness, often lost in the modern world.  This feeling quiets the world for a minute.  In an age of cell phones, technology, TV, Facebook feeds, commercials, and Youtube, sometimes the mind needs a break from all the competing things trying to get our attention.

Stillness.  We crave stillness.

This feeling is a great motivation, especially on the days when we feel completely overwhelmed by the many demands of life.  As a mom of four, I relate to that feeling many days.  It becomes even more important for me to find stillness.  I struggled with this quest for a long time, until I realized how simple it really is. There are still those hectic days. Those days especially, remind me to make space for stillness.  The calm that comes over me gives me energy to recharge my battery.  My views of stillness are easier to explain with an analogy of a river. 

A river runs along moving all the energy of the forest, but it is still.  Every season, the river changes, but it also remains the same. A river can change the landscape through which it flows. Finding stillness is like seeing this river, knowing its essential core is always the same, yet it can change as water flows within it.  This is the way I see the practice of stillness in daily life.
— Miriam Clifford

Jenny Lake Trail, Teton National Park.  Photo by Miraim Clifford, all rights reserved

 

 

Here are 5 Reasons to Embrace a Practice of Stillness

1. Stillness opens a sense of renewed energy and calm.  

You don’t have to buy anything. You don’t have to be someone different.  Stillness is about who you are at this moment.  As the Nirvana song says, “Come as you are,” stillness is about accepting what is, and who you are.  Embracing this peace is stillness.

2.Stillness helps you accept where you are right now

Sitting still is a way of falling in love with the world and everything in it; I’d seldom thought of it like that.  Going nowhere as a way of cutting through the noise and finding fresh time and energy to share with others; I’d sometimes moved toward the idea, but it had never come home to me so powerfully as in the example of this man who seemed to have everything, yet found his happiness, his freedom in giving everything up.
— Pico Iyer in "The Art of Stillness"

I am reading “The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere” by Pico Iyer.  The author left his busy life in NYC as a successful writer for Time magazine, to simplify his life and as he explains, “learn how to make those joys less external and ephemeral.”  He spent a year in a small room in Kyoto, Japan, but then discovered that finding himself was less about a destination, and more about an internal shift in his mind influencing his attitudes, and perceptions.  Iyer explains,”The idea behind Nowhere-choosing to sit still long enough to turn inward-is at heart a simple one. . . our solutions our peace of mind-lie within.”

Iyer describes visiting Leonard Cohen, who was living as a monk at Mt. Baldy Zen Center as a practical experience to live a better life:

"Leonard Cohen had come to this Old World redoubt to  make a life-an art-out of stillness.   And he was working on simplifying himself as fiercely as he might on the verses of one of his songs, which he spends more than ten years polishing to perfection. . . Being in this remote place of stillness had nothing to do with piety or purity, he assured me; it was simply the most practical way he’d found of working through confusion and terror that long been his bed follows.”

3.It helps in appreciating the 'little moments'

Life is more peaceful when we realize we don’t need so much to create happiness.  We can have a cup of coffee and a great conversation, and that experience is magnified when there are less distractions.  Sure, life will continue, but there are something to be said about living each moment in joy and reducing the amount of daily anxieties.  

For each individual, this process looks different, yet the benefits of the time and space it creates are huge motivations to continue on the journey to living more intentionally.   For in these quiet moments, we often find our deepest longing is within.

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4.It can be simple

Finding stillness doesn't have to be not complicated.  We can find stillness in any moment we chose to listen to what is around us, instead of think.  One way to do this would be to play a "New Age" or "Classical" music playlist, any music without words.  Another way would be to take a walk through nature.  Some days it might be having a glass of tea. 

5. It can be a practice of daily life.  An alternate way to create stillness is to really focus on any task you are doing; it can be something as simple as peeling a piece of fruit and taking the time to do it slowly and intentionally. In the show, "Chef's Table' buddhist monk Jeong Kwan talks about how she uses cooking as a means of engaging in stillness.  The episode shows a buddhist monastery deep in the forest, and focuses on how Jeong uses cooking to connect with herself and everything the world around her.  She says, 

"It's the mindset of sharing that is really what you're eating.  There is no difference between cooking and pursuing Buddha's way."  She further compares making soy sauce as a way of connecting to her ancestors and looking within, 

Soy sauce makes me exited just thinking about it. Every food is recreated by soy sauce. Soy beans, salt and water, in harmony, through time. It is the basis of seasonings, the foundation. There are sauces aged five years, ten years, aged for one hundred years. These kinds of soy sauces are passed down for generations. They are heirlooms.

If you look into yourself, you see past, present, and future. You see that time revolves endlessly. You can see past from the present. By looking into myself, I see my grandmother, my mother, the elders in the temple, and me. As a result, by making soy sauce, I am reliving the wisdom of my ancestors. I am reliving them. It’s not important who or when. What is important is that I’m doing it in the present.

I use soy sauce, and I acknowledge its importance. It is no longer just me that’s doing things. It’s me in the past, in the present, and even in the future. Soy sauce is eternal. It is life itself.
— Jeong Kwan in 'Chef's Table' Series

"Soy sauce makes me exited just thinking about it. Every food is recreated by soy sauce. Soy beans, salt and water, in harmony, through time. It is the basis of seasonings, the foundation. There are sauces aged five years, ten years, aged for one hundred years. These kinds of soy sauces are passed down for generations. They are heirlooms.

If you look into yourself, you see past, present, and future. You see that time revolves endlessly. You can see past from the present. By looking into myself, I see my grandmother, my mother, the elders in the temple, and me. As a result, by making soy sauce, I am reliving the wisdom of my ancestors. I am reliving them. It’s not important who or when. What is important is that I’m doing it in the present.

I use soy sauce, and I acknowledge its importance. It is no longer just me that’s doing things. It’s me in the past, in the present, and even in the future. Soy sauce is eternal. It is life itself." 

6. Stillness gives us the ability to impact the world in greater ways.

A busy, hectic life is the sign that we are moving forward faster?  Or is it?   Often times, we believe the feeling of overwhelm and feeling ”frazzled’ has to be a common sentiment running through life to accomplish something big.  That is, until we realize we could choose to be still.  We could meditate, reflect, and be at ease with the present moment.  Although the busy time will continue, stillness provides the space to reconnect with what is truly important.  Ironically,  stillness affords us with the energy to do more.  When we work from a place of stillness, the world notices something different.  Stillness makes us at ease with who we are, and where we are in the present moment, and incidentally, this propels us forward in the direction of our goals.

 

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