Does it take you some time to unwind? Do you find your body fidgety, restless and buzzing with energy? When you stop doing, do you find yourself thinking about all that “needs” to get done or feel guilty for not being productive? Certainly, when your life is filled up with tasks and responsibilities, there are always more things that “need to get done.” Yet when your chores are done and you actually have time without anything “to do” or when circumstances create time where you “can’t do”, what happens to you in those moments? As strange as it may seem, stillness is one of the hardest states to be in. Think about it for a moment. What happens when you have nothing to do? Do you feel at peace? What happens when you are waiting in line or sitting in a meeting? Do you take the time to be present right where you are without it needing to be different or do you become anxious, annoyed, impatient, or irritated? Do you need others to “hurry up” and “get on with it?”
Movement is Natural and Habitual
There is a natural tendency to keep moving. Life is movement. Every atom, molecule and cell in your body is vibrating with energy. Stillness can be scary or at the very least uncomfortable. Movement is innate. The life force propels you to develop, grow, and unfold the distinctive gifts and wisdom that are the result of the blending together of your ancestry and the accumulation of your spirit’s journey. The body has limits and from human experience, it has an expiration date. There is a remembrance of the body’s impermanence and an instinctive urge to make this life count, to have meaning, purpose and fulfillment. There is a sense that “time is of the essence” along with societal admonitions of “do not put off tomorrow what can be done today.” In other words, action and movement are built into our biology and also culturally encouraged.
Distracting from What Ails You
You may not be taking advantage of times when you could be still simply from a conditioned habit of “non-stop doing” or preoccupation with drama and external events. At a deeper level, you might use distractions to stop yourself from taking time to be still, which may indicate an avoidance of personal issues, thoughts, behaviors or emotions that you do not want to face.
Intolerable feelings of heartbreak, loss, disappointment, trauma, difficult life decisions and transitions may stop you from going within and being with stillness. You may rush to be engaged with anything that will keep you from feeling hurt, the emptiness of loneliness and despair, or from knowing that you have a health issue or an insurmountable problem. A loss of relationship and connection with another may amplify the void within. When you are not receiving love and nurturing from others, your feelings of loneliness and pain may serve as a reflection of your inability to love and nurture yourself. It can be very difficult to turn within and become aware of what is lacking, what has caused you pain or loss, or to see unhealthy beliefs and habits you have held.
"Nature Abhors a Vacuum" ~ Aristotle
Stillness evokes a sense of emptiness, of the unknown and the void. Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, postulated, “nature abhors a vacuum.” He observed that whenever there was empty space, it would be filled even if it were filled with air. You can see this phenomenon in the aftermath of a forest fire. Rain and floods are often prevalent in the following years and very quickly dormant seeds germinate, weeds take hold, and new trees are birthed. Before long, flora and fauna return. We too, abhor a vacuum. We want to quickly “fill the space and emptiness.” Just think what happens when there is silence at a dinner party or at a seminar? Does it feel uncomfortable? A friend that attended an Eckhart Tolle workshop mentioned how Eckhart sat in front of the group in silence for a very long time before speaking. His message was one of “Presence in the Heart” and by physically “Being Present” he modeled the vibration and message more powerfully than speaking about it. Do you imagine that the participants sat peacefully in the Darshan of stillness? Most likely, the stillness began to bring up emotion. Perhaps some of the people experienced anticipation looking around the room to see the response of others, and maybe they responded with nervous movement or laughter.
"It is in the Stillness that you Hear the Longings of Your Soul."
Stillness Balances, Heals and Revitalizes Your Body
After a person has been through a lot of stress and chaos, the natural state is for the body to enter a time of stillness and emptiness in order for the body to rebalance. It can show up as needing a lot of sleep. You may want to withdraw from the outside world for a while. You may be sensitive to noise and just want to “zone out.” Your body does its best to carry out your desires, yet physically, mentally and emotionally, it needs to rest and rejuvenate to remain balanced and energized.
Abiding in stillness will help you revitalize your physical body. Stillness gives brain cells time and space to regenerate, with less sensory input silence and stillness replenish your brain and body’s energy and resources, it gives your pre-frontal cortex rest from the burden of processing, organizing, decision making and higher order thinking, and taps into an alternate mode where creativity and intuition reside. Stress, anxiety, high blood pressure and heart rates are reduced and people sleep better when balance is achieved through silent stillness.
Free and Integrate Your Emotions
A free flow of emotions allowing them to resolve, integrate and dissipate occurs, instead of being “stuck” inside of your body, when you touch them in stillness. It is the build up of suppressed and bottled up emotion, which becomes destructive. Emotion is energy and when it accumulates, the pressure cannot be contained without outwardly exploding or internally damaging your physical body causing illness and disease. Mental disturbances and cognitive dissonance may occur resulting in a breakdown of mental health.
Feel Safe Exploring Stillness
If you have been avoiding or are fearful of stillness, you might invite a friend or a person you enjoy and trust to sit together in stillness. Sit in an energy or place that you love and where you feel safe. Allow yourself to be a bit uncomfortable as you experience the feelings and sensations that arise. If difficult emotions arise, breathe and relax into the sensations. Take a break if needed. If you feel they are too intense for you to process, find a therapist to help. Know that you are in control. Sit for as short or as long as you desire. Take your time; you do not need to rush the process. Begin to trust yourself and your body. Allow yourself to experience stillness as an interesting and even exciting destination that you have not experienced before. It is not empty. This place of stillness is actually filled with life. The fountain of creation is found within the void. Find the richness of texture, sensation, feeling and subtle nuances of being and consciousness contained here. Meet your essence, receive guidance, and discover yourself. You will be rewarded with a newfound sense of trust, stability and confidence in the world and yourself.