Today’s post is about being still. Can you do it? Can you actually sit quietly with yourself, no cell phone, no TV, no computer, nothing but you, your breathing, and the silence around you?
As the years go by I am struck by how rarely I see people embrace the gift of sitting in quiet stillness. As a junior high language arts teacher it saddened my heart to see how busy students were, scheduled for this athletic practice, dance class, piano lesson, etc..,homework would begin when they finally got home late that night. Their only time with family might be the drive to and from school and/or activities. The parents role modeled stress, rushing from one thing to the next, schedule, schedule, schedule!! The stress filled the space to extremes at times – students would come into the classroom just to cry in sheer exhaustion and overload – and I mean seriously cry.
As a restaurant manager I was struck by how few people actually sat with one another in true eye to eye connection, visiting sincerely without the distraction of a cell phone. Couples would come in and look at their phones more than each other, talking about something that just got tweeted, or was on Facebook – really!!
At work I would listen to colleagues talk about their long “to do” lists. They ran from here to there after work, trying to get everything done before finally going to bed stressed and exhausted. Men I dated struggled to just be, for the things that needed their attention nagged on their brains and tugged at their sleeve. To sit still with their partner and not be doing anything else seemed to be sheer toture. I get that men are more internally programmed “to do”, but all of us NEED time just being in the stillness of now.
What do you fear about sitting still? Do thoughts come up to the surface that you do not want to think about? Do feelings start to stir that make you uncomfortable? Will you actually begin to feel below the surface into the raw real space of you? Does the silence scream at you, unbearable because it leaves space for you to breathe deeply, thus your body relaxes allowing you to truly think and be?
What amazing things might you discover if you began to grace yourself with just five minutes a day to sit and be quietly still? What if you set aside all electronics for ten minutes a day to let yourself breathe deeply into the quiet truth of yourself? What might become if you sat down with your partner and just quietly held hands for three minutes, no words, no to-dos, just still connection time? Press this possibility even further – sit and actually look into the eyes of the person you love for a whole minute – stop time for ONE MINUTE! The connections that will spring forth from such truthful moments with yourself and with others will shift your world from the inside out. As you begin this practice, most of you will squirm, some of you may sadly choose to never do it again. If you have the courage, go further, expand this time, this presence, and really dig into the grace of being still.
When my children were young I had a daily practice that I called “Namaste time”. I would get down on my knees, so that we were at eye level or I was looking up at them. We would make quiet eye contact and then after a few deep breaths I would share with them what I loved, honored, and cherished about them. It might be an act I noticed they did, it might be how they shared something, it could be how respectful they were towards another; there was always much to choose from. I closed this time by telling them how much I loved and felt blessed to have them in my life.
Often tears would surface, I did not hide them or brush them away, I allowed them to be the full expression of my truth. I wanted my tears to role model that our emotions are not bad; they should not be hidden, for they are a glorious part of the human experience – even anger has its place and purpose.
I continue to explore ways to expand and extend this practice into various relationships when I want to slow time down, honor someone, open the space for more, or be completely present in a space of truthful love. Just taking the time to be completely present with eye contact will expand your heart into glorious grace.
I close this blog inviting you to sit still. Be quiet for a minute, two, three… Allow yourself the gift to just be for five minutes each day, see what surfaces, embrace yourself with pure acceptance. If you want to stretch further, try out “Namaste time” with someone you truly care about – be open to the explosion of deep intimate connection it will unleash. I can tell you from working in a nursing home, people do not remember or reminisce in their last days about all that they “got done”, the titles behind their name, nor the money in their bank account – what they share are the stories full of emotional connection, love, and the coming together with others.
Slow down, be still, connect with yourself and with those you love, maybe even share a smile with eye contact to the stranger you pass by.
(Definition of Namaste – In Hinduism it means “I bow to the divine in you”. My personal definition, “The divine in me sees and honors the divine in you”.)