“Desires that arise in agitation are more aligned with your ego. Desires that arise in stillness are more aligned with your soul.”
—Cory Muscara, instructor of positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania
Image from Unsplash by Piret Llver
There is nothing wrong with wanting things. The idea that we can separate our desires into two categories seems like a useful exercise if we feel the need to do a bit of re-balancing.
What goals are you pursuing that create a sense of agitation and stress?
Where are you pursuing power, status, or other achievements viewed and scrutinized by others in your communities?
What are some of your quieter goals that bubble up in stillness?
These are likely the ones with no specific metric or scoreboard to measure yourself.
Create two lists of your ego and soul-based desires.
Consider letting your level of agitation or stillness guide you to which items deserves more attention.
Linger in the space between thoughts and discover what stillness has to offer.
—Calm App Reflection
Image from Unsplash by Jack Dylan
How do you feel when you drive in city traffic?
Does the lack of space between vehicles increase your vigilance, heart rate, and blood pressure?
What is it like to drive along a scenic country road without another car in sight?
In what ways is the pace of your life and the world around you causing traffic jams in your mind, with no exit ramp in sight?
How long can you go without a few benders or major disruptions to your health and well-being?
Where and in what ways can you create greater space for yourself?
How could you benefit from blocks of stillness, taking your foot off the gas and lingering in the space between thoughts?
“Stillness is what aims the archer’s arrow, it inspires new ideas, it sharpens perspective and illuminates connections.”
—Ryan Holiday, American author, and host of the podcast The Daily Stoic
Image from Unsplash by Mario Doberman
Being still seems like such a passive thing to do. How could the lack of movement get us where we want to go and accomplish the things we desire?
Without a careful aim we certainly miss our targets.
Without new ideas we are destined to keep circling back to the ones whose time has passed.
Without greater perspective we are unlikely to pursue paths meant for today and our future.
Without our connections and communities, we are left as lone rangers, isolated and alone.
How could you squeeze greater benefits out of stillness in your life?
Where can it act as a quiet place to reflect and improve your world in so many ways?
We can practice yoga by simply sitting in stillness. This is your inner posture.
—Calm App Reflection
Image from Unsplash by Tadeusz Lakota
In my early forties, I attended yoga classes at my local fitness center every Friday and Sunday morning.
I had heard the praises of this practice and yet I always felt I was missing the full value it claimed to offer. I found a good number of poses very challenging and I was clearly not a Gumby when asked to bend and fold by the instructor.
I even had difficulty on most occasions focusing on my breath without my mind racing off in a multitude of directions which often included an unhealthy dose of inner critic.
In more recent years, through my meditation efforts and other forms of eastern movement, I have discovered my inner yoga posture simply by sitting in stillness.
How could bringing more stillness into your life offer you many of yoga’s benefits without getting bent out of shape?
“If you add a little to a little, and then do it again, soon that little shall be much.”
—Hesiod, ancient Greek poet
I recently reviewed Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday. During the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, I wanted to feel that doing what appeared to be little or even nothing might prove beneficial beyond saving myself or others from exposure to the virus.
Ryan recommends little steps of stillness related to the domains of body, mind, and spirit. His examples include the story of Winston Churchill taking up bricklaying during a very demanding time of intense work and stress. The slow process of mixing mortar and stacking bricks was just the thing he needed to keep his body busy while allowing his mind to unwind.
Where might the process of introducing small mind, body, or spiritual activities/rituals to your day result in much more than you might expect?
Feel free to reply to this post with the practices that work best for you.
“Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found.”
—Echart Tolle, Author of A New Earth
Image from Unsplash by Lee Campbell
One of my favorite books is Seven Thousand Ways to Listen by Mark Nepo. How many ways can you think of to listen? The point to Nepo’s title is perhaps what Deepak Chopra describes as “Living the Questions of Life” and their ability to move you into the sacred answers of your authentic self.
With this in mind, the practice of being still, quiet, and more patient with life seems to be solid strategy to letting creativity blossom, and to let the answers to life’s questions and problems reveal themselves.
Where and in what ways can you bring greater stillness into your world? How could this boost your creative efforts? How could it solve a few of those pesky problems that present themselves as you rush through your day?
“Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat any time, and be yourself.”
—Hermann Hesse, 20th Century German Novelist
Image from Unsplash by Mitchell Griest
Our five sense give us amazing capacities to experience the world around us. Take a moment to grasp the miracles of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.
In many ways, we live in an over-stimulated society. The potential and actual input overloads our senses to the point of considerable stress and a loss of well-being.
Recently, I have begun removing some stimuli from my world in order to explore added stillness and peacefulness.
Where would taking a “Less is More” approach to life help you discover more moments of stillness and inner sanctuary?