I’ve always wondered what it would be like to embody stillness. To be still. To sit still. To not be constantly moving.
I’m not just talking about physically moving, although it seems to me that I prefer to be in motion. I am talking about my mind, the constant chatter that occupies my brain. You know, the worry, the lists, the negatives, the endless self-talk that rarely stops. The thoughts that both keep you up at night and keep you frozen and unable to move forward in your life.
I never thought it was truly possible to quiet my mind. The closest I have come to stillness – during 39 years of living – always happens while I am practicing yoga. I’ve talked about this before, the idea that the road to yoga bliss is actually hard. But I usually arrive at some semblance of calm. My body moves through poses, and somewhere along the way my brain turns off for just a bit and calmness, an evenness, enters into my being.
This all sounds pretty mystical, but I crave my post-yoga calmness. Sometimes I am even joyful. At any rate, eating nachos after yoga equals happiness, and it is not just the cheese that is leading me to good vibes.
This past week, I’ve added in a few daily exercises to my life. I’d like to say this was my idea, but instead it is connected to a work project. Still, I can’t help but share here. Because I actually am learning about stillness, what it is like to not have my brain constantly working.
I’ve been practicing yoga everyday, not for some glorious, difficult long hour, but for maybe 15 minutes. I’m not in post-yoga class bliss afterwards, but I feel stronger, and look forward to that feeling every day. I feel more stretched out, like a tree with the roots going down and the green leaves reaching up.
Secondly, I have been saying a mantra. I never knew how I would enter in to the world of meditation, or if I even could. But here I am, slipping in through the back door. I say this line during all those down times during the day, when I am not actively engaged in conversation or work or reading. It is amazing how my other thoughts, those annoying negative ones, slip and slide around the mantra, getting in there, trying to displace the mantra. But it’s there, charging my brain and body with positive energy.
All this might seem elusive and hokey. But I finally realized, just this week, maybe on Friday or Saturday, what stillness means for me. I recalled a favorite quote, one I loved in my 20s: “To be still and still moving, that is everything.” ( I can’t remember who said this, but it was on a colorful greeting card I kept around for quite a while.) If I am still inside, I can move through my life in a new way, a more positive way. I can actually move forward at a faster rate while I hold onto that ballast of stillness inside of me.
I have to say it again: “To be still and still moving, that is everything.”