Happy New Year!
With the start of the new year, I've been reflecting on how the stress and discomfort we experience stems from life's constant ebb and flow - around us and within us. The rewards we seek, material or psychological, fizzle quickly. On the other hand, the negative stimuli that we try so desperately to avoid can also be transient - if we consciously choose to sit with them, then let them flow away. Suffering comes from a desire to maintain homeostasis when in fact, our bodies, desires, circumstances, and events - everything really, is fluid and ephemeral.
Yet there are ways to find refuge from the frenetic pace of change: through stillness. Stillness is the peace we feel in the unchanging - whether the unchanging lasts for only a minute, or whether it is eternal.
Each day, there are many opportunities to anchor ourselves in stillness, a return to our psychological home base. Stillness leads to a feeling of being grounded, a way to feel that everything is all right, just as it is. Essentially, it's a way to step off of the constant, uneven treadmill that we walk (or run) on daily.
Here are some ways I like to find stillness each day:
1. Take a few slow, deep breaths, noticing the stillness that arises with each breath. Be present with the moment of stillness that arises after each inhalation. And each exhalation. Enjoy your body’s natural pause – it’s always there.
2. Nowness – concentrating your attention only on the present. Nowness is always present and available to us
3. Allness - relax into a sense of being part of something much bigger, recognizing that many (if not most) things are out of our control. Recognizing also that all of the negative and positive things we feel are likely being experienced by another living being. For that reason, we are never truly alone and are always part of the bigger picture.
4. My favorite: experience nature. Note that this can be done even if you work in a windowless office. Find a beautiful photograph that inspires you and let your mind take you there. Listening to natural sounds (a stream flowing or birds chirping) is also a wonderful way to enjoy the stillness that nature offers us. My favorite iphone app is Relax Melodies by Ipnos Soft.
Thanks for reading - I hope you have a peaceful week.