The Power of Stillness

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.

Be still...like the rock.
Be still…like the rock.

photo credit: Rock Simplicity via photopin (license)

Advertisements

51 thoughts on “The Power of Stillness

  1. Amy, this is a beautiful and insightful exposition… Thank you. I felt everything you wrote, and also understood it through my mind, responding both physically and mentally… You achieved the union…

    Like

  2. “If your mind and body were to separate from each other would they tell the same story about your life?” – Brilliant line Amy. Our minds and bodies are often too disconnected from each other, I hadn’t really thought about it before, but it’s very true.

    Like

      1. Of course I’ll type to only you Amy …… when I’ve finished replying to the constant stream of comments from others. That’s a promise ! 😀 ❤

        Like

  3. Love this. I am always racing, mind and body, but often in different directions. I wonder if it’s my goal sometimes. Stillness as its own movement is such a wonderful reminder to be in the moment. In yoga I remember trying to breathe through the pain, literally, blowing out through the place that’s most tight. May we all do that today while remaining present in ourselves. Thank you for this.

    Like

    1. Jen, that’s a nice way to think about it…being present in ourselves. I couldn’t have said it better. Sometimes in our goal-attaining lives we lose our purpose. I think taking the time to be still puts it in perspective. A way to check in. You’re welcome! Thanks for reading.

      Like

  4. I love your wellness posts, Amy! They have a soft reassurance that just speaks to me! Of course I love your fiction as well, but I think it’s great to write in other genres – about anything and everything you love. I think it’s very important for us to learn more about calming ourselves, especially since stress worsens virtually all forms of illness… or causes them! Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kelly. I guess these are just things I’m thinking about lately and processing. I’m still writing my fiction! It’s just mostly offline right now. Making some progress. I write this post for anyone who wants to hear it or needs it. I need it for myself, too. I agree that stress can eat away at us and make it hard to heal. Thank you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Our bodies have so much to teach us, Amy. This is a beautiful post. Yes, I often see emotions arise for my clients during Rolfing sessions and I simply explain that the body has been holding that for you until you’re ready to let it go. It’s a wonderful healing and through that process they’re able to learn how they do this and allow it to move more freely so it’s not stored for years!

    Like

    1. Thanks so much, Cathy. I’ve heard that about Rolfing sessions. I’m sure that would be an eye-opening experience for me. I can feel that tension just in my normal day activities. Perhaps, I should look into it. Thanks so much for your thoughts on this!

      Like

  6. By any chance, do you follow Sreejit Poole’s blog (The Seeker’s Dungeon)? He is hosting something in November — offering space to guest bloggers writing on a prompt related to walking with intention. I think you should consider contributing.

    Now, on to your post … I think the lack of stillness is a first world problem, and may even be isolated as an American problem. I read a book a few years ago where the author related a story from his time in a small village in Africa. He was telling a villager about how the American labor movement had to fight in the early 20th century for the right to a 40 hour work week. The villager laughed at this notion because the idea of having to work 40 hours a week seemed so excessive and he was amazed that we had to “fight” for it.

    The need to be constantly moving, constantly thinking, is built around all of the things we “must have.” None of which we really must have, but we have been conditioned to it.

    Aaah, Amy, there is so much in this post that I could go on and on and on about. Very good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mark, I’ve never been to Sreejit Poole’s blog, but he just stopped by today. Maybe I owe that to you. If so, thanks so much! Thanks for the encouragement. I will definitely check it out and see what I have to offer.
      I’ve often wanted to live in another place just to experience a different pace of life. We are so conditioned here to work and be busy every minute of our waking hours. I think a lot of has to do with the “must have” things as you say. In the end, those things mean very little, don’t they? Thanks, Mark. I’m glad you liked it.

      Like

      1. Yes. I also reached out to Sreejit and linked this post for him to read. I think you’re in a place where you could contribute to his November project. I’m going to try to contribute as well even if I’m a neophyte in all of this.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Well this is an awesome post! Thanks for the reminder Amy.. to listen to our bodies. I am so out of shape, it isn’t funny. But I started Jazzercize again last week. My schedule only allowed me to go once but I am determined to go 3 times this week. My body is screaming at me!! And it’s strange because there are conflicting messages going on. On the one hand, I hear “YES, you needed this! I’m so glad to be moving again.” on the other (maybe it’s my head) I hear “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?” LOL! I’m glad to be moving again and I know it will get better but for now I am trying to wake up muscles that have been dormant for way too long. So I am listening and not overdoing it. I want to continue without injury. I am a dancer from many years of training but my head and body are NOT doing what I want YET! I will get there though…. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Courtney! I’m so happy to hear you started Jazzercize. Good for you! It will get easier as you say. Those first classes back can be killer. It’s funny, as of last week, I just started a ballet class again and man, it’s tough. My body is really screaming at me. But, I’m trying to remain calm and not get out of sorts about it. I know my body has limits. I tell myself that it will get better. In the meantime, the body is smarter than me and I must listen or else….I didn’t know you danced, too. That’s awesome!! Keep up the dancing. The jazzercize is a great workout and you will get there, Courtney. Thanks for your comments. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have always loved Jazzercize. I did it many years ago and it is as close to dancing I will ever get again. Too many injuries and old body to ever to ballet or jazz again 😦
        In my head, I should still be able to do a Plie’ or a Grande Jeté, right? oh well….. enjoy ballet while you can!! It’s a wonderful thing! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I can still do a plie, Countney. Yay!! For now. I am definitely going to not take it for granted. I did jazzercise for a while. It was a lot of fun. It got me moving and sweating and it was challenging! Back to the ballet after a long break. We’ll see what I can do. Second class back was better!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve always believed in listening to our bodies in terms of physical and emotional health, but you bring it in a new light for me. Very interesting. And what you said here: “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.”—Yes! What a great novel that would make. Get writing, Amy! 😉

    Like

    1. After slowing down and breathing and listening to my body, I can say it is not happy with me. Ooh, in some areas, I’m not doing well. It’s made me slow down for the first time ever. I owe that to my yin yoga, otherwise I don’t think I would have given it much thought outside of a class. I would just continue on my way and think, “oh, yeah, pain. That!” Argh!! Do you like my idea? The body as a character? It could be riveting, but hard to pull off. I like this idea a lot though.

      Like

  9. This post really spoke to me. There are weeks when I look back and realize I was sleepwalking through my life, jumping from activity to activity, just trying to survive. I think sometimes we need to do that. But more often we need to take time to just be, if even for a few minutes, to reconnect our body and our mind and move forward from a place of purpose rather than a place of reaction. Thanks for sharing and reminding me to be in sync with myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Justine! I’m so glad you stopped by. Just look at this, years have passed I think since we spoke. How are you? I’m thrilled this spoke to you. Time seems to fly by at lightening speed. So, it’s really about making the most of each day and what better way than to stop in stillness and feel that moment, and if we’re lucky, to connect our minds with our bodies. Thanks for taking the time to comment. It’s great to see you again.

      Like

      1. Life gets in the way of all my best laid plans, but I’m working my way back to writing. Hoping the approaching colder weather will find me spending more time on my laptop. Best wishes and Happy October!

        Like

  10. Great piece, Amy! As I’ve shared, I practiced yoga for 17+ years and loved it! Due to injury and personally struggles, I’ve been away for nearly 3 years now and I can really feel the need to get back to that stillness and serenity. I’ve also been getting a lot of myo-fascial work done. That is ALL about stored memories in our bodies, and the work is incredibly powerful! So, I do believe in those things, and it’s great to read about your experiences. Namaste, my friend. xox

    Like

  11. “Be still and know that I am”…my all time favourite quote of any kind. “Be still”, perhaps it means so much to me because it’s something I can not do. It doesn’t matter how relaxed I am I will be sitting or even reclining and one of my feet is on the go. Sometimes both. Those feet have travelled thousands of miles over the years and gotten me no where. It is not conscious movement and I seldom realize it until some one request that I stop. I always apologize and concentrate on keeping them still. It is an effort and it works for awhile. Until I forget about it and carry on watching TV or reading, etc. and then it automatically starts up. I envy your ability to keep still and to be able to release those things we keep in our bodies that need to get up. I know I’ve said it before but I will say it again. I have to try (again) to do yoga.

    Like

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Michelle. It seems like your feet have some things to say to you. 🙂 What would your feet say? What is their story? I don’t find it easy to be still really. It does take concentration. I think I’ve had better luck since I started the yin yoga because when I am in class I know it’s my time and I can spend that time being still and it’s all I’m trying to do. I think it’s much harder to do in the context of living out your day. Like in the dance, I could do it, too, because it wasn’t part of my normal day. However, I think it’s useful to pause to try for those moments. Maybe if you think of them as shorter moments instead of longer periods of time, the stillness will be easier to achieve! But I can’t say enough good things about my yin yoga class. I love it!

      Liked by 1 person

Take it away.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s