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What can we learn from stillness?

A quote that really hit me this was this one from Buddha “If you let cloudy water settle, it will become clear. If you let your busy mind settle, your course will also become clear”

And it got me thinking about the principle of stillness in life. This idea of finding space in our everyday lives.

There is also a book by Ryan Holiday called ‘Stillness is Key’ which admittedly I haven’t read yet, but it’s on my ever growing reading list – but the name of it has always struck me.

This idea of stillness to find clarity is fascinating.

Often in life, I’ve tried to find clarity by doing more, reading more, speaking more, trying to understand more – but what I have realised that I am actually doing, is more thinking. 

Adding more thoughts on top of thoughts. Which doesn’t create stillness at all, in fact, it does the opposite and creates overthinking.

Our bodies and minds are part of a great process in life. One that gives and takes. One that continues to happen no matter our actions.

It’s the same process of life, that sees plants grow, the same process that sees the earth circle around the sun, the same process that sees the tides rise and lower, the same process of the blood pumping through our bodies, the same process of our digestive systems working after we’ve eaten.

All of these things happen as a process of life. We don’t control them, yet they all happen in some kind of beautiful synchronicity. Like an orchestra of nature.

Have you ever noticed that when you’ve been out in nature, maybe walking or sat in a park, that although there is a constant process of life going on all around you – in the grass, the trees, the birds flying overhead – there is also immense stillness in that space?

Yet, when we want to find stillness and clarity in life, we try to get in the way of the process. We get in the way of our thinking.

We have this amazing ability to get involved with our thoughts and when we try to find clarity and stillness, we think more. We create more thinking. We overcomplicate the process.

Instead, our brains are actually wired to process our thoughts. Everyday we process 35,000 decisions. And I must admit, some days it feels closer to a million! But most of those thoughts we don’t even realise our minds are processing because of the beautifully complex nature of the makeup of our minds, it is just getting on with its job.

So if we want to find clarity, we need to find stillness. Stillness is key.

We need to let our own waters settle so that we can see, feel and think clearly. 

Right now, we are currently going through a global pandemic and there is a lot of tragedy around us. There is a lot of anxiety and worry to go with it. I’ve certainly felt it. Some Days I’ve woken up feeling overwhelmed by this whole situation and the uncertainty that surrounds it. And if I allow myself to add to those thoughts and continue to think about it, I know that I am just adding to those feelings of anxiety.

So, instead, I’ve been seeking stillness.

Particularly in my mornings. For me, it’s important not to clog up my brain first thing in the morning with negativity. Instead I’ve been finding stillness in keeping away from my phone, from social media, from taking in the news early in the morning.

Instead I’ve been stepping into the present, living in the moment.

And there are a few things which have helped me to do this. One being yoga and the other being meditation.

These two beautiful practices allow me to find stillness in my morning. Stillness in my thinking. Allowing my waters to settle and become clear.

Often in life, we don’t seek this stillness. But I believe now, we have the opportunity to relearn, to reset and reprogramme our lifestyles. 

And for me, one of the important things is finding stillness.

We don’t have the opportunity, or at least, we don’t tend to find the opportunities in our day to day lives to find stillness. We tell ourselves that we are too busy. But, as we have hopefully discovered, that when we are ‘too busy’, the one thing we most definitely need is stillness to help find the clarity we are often looking for.

So I invite you to do two simple things; firstly, notice when you experience these moments of stillness – the moments where thoughts, feelings and anxieties fall away and you are being truly present. 

This could be during a morning walk in nature, doing some exercise, some cooking, reading or even taking a bath. Whatever stillness feels like for you. And it is a feeling, an experience, it’s not something you can ‘try’ to do. Because if you are trying to do it, you are thinking about trying to create stillness – which isn’t stillness at all!

And secondly, find the time each day for moments of stillness. No matter how busy you may feel, how worried or anxious, no matter how much you have going on. If you can find just 10 minutes a day for stillness, you will be allowing your waters to settle. You will allow yourself to experience moments of clarity.

And in clarity is living in the moment. And in the moment is happiness.

So remember, “If you let your busy mind settle, your course will also become clear”

Peace and love,

Alex

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