Lizards are masters. Snakes are pros. Cats are champions at it too…when they’re asleep. What do they have in common? They all have the ability to be exceptionally still. Humans? Not so much. We need to work at it a little harder.
Stillness doesn’t seem to be in our genes. Rather, we seem programmed to do more; to work more, work out more, play more, and well, be more. Sometimes our minds our racing so much, we might not realize that we are, in fact, running our bodies ragged.
Do you sometimes feel that your body is almost a separate entity from your mind? Do your mind and body go about their day as if they have nothing to do with each other? If your mind and body were to separate from each other would they tell the same story about your life? It could make an interesting novel, perhaps.
Practically speaking, the mind and body work together every day, so of course, they must be communicating. Our minds tell our bodies to retrieve an object, and our bodies follow the instructions. When our bodies feel cold or hot, our minds say, hey fix that, I’m uncomfortable! We’re pretty quick to fix those discomforts that are on the surface. But what about other discomforts that aren’t so obvious?
One day in my yin yoga class, I did a spinal stretch and felt a sudden rush of emotion. I saw my father in a hospital bed. My father died earlier this year, so it makes sense my body could be holding on to some of that grief. The image of my dad in a hospital bed was one that happened much earlier, long before he had passed, but there it was. One simple stretch and tears streamed down my face. I breathed through the stretch, trying to shake off my sorrow, and hoped my teacher wouldn’t say a word. She didn’t. I pulled myself together.
My body may hold on to pain that I have yet to face or perhaps it’s a memory stored on the cellular level. Whether or not you believe such things are possible, I feel very strongly that our bodies are talking to us in some form or fashion. I felt mine talking to me that day.
The trouble is we very rarely listen to our bodies. Sometimes, there may even confusion. Is it your mind or body requesting coffee? What I do know is that the quest for more often leads to less sleep and less time for ourselves. In a rush to get somewhere and be more, being still seems counterproductive.
I’m reminded of the time I danced in a tribute to Pina Bausch and one of the options for movement in the piece was to be still. To not move. I found that really strange. We didn’t even have to give it counts; we could decide how long. The only condition was that you had to be really still. If you moved a finger or twitched an eye, you fell short of the goal of attaining real stillness. Anyway, the thought was that this stillness was as much a movement as the choreographed movements; being still was its own move. And if you did it right, you could make as much a statement with it as with anything else.
Try it. Be still. It may open your eyes to not only what’s around you, but allow yourself to hear your body’s story. What is it telling you? Don’t forget to breathe on purpose while you listen.