In our very busy western society, we often wake up tired and later fall into bed exhausted, feeling as though we’ve rushed at breakneck speed through another day. Is life one long checklist that you can never quite complete? Believe me, I have been there. And there are definitely days that are like that from time to time. The downside to constant doing is that we never quite have time to PROCESS what we are learning and how we are feeling. This leads to stress on our bodies and our emotions.
What if a simple strategy of stillness could be incorporated into our lives on a regular basis – scheduled stillness? If that sounds impossible or at least pie-in-the-sky, hear me out.
First of all, understand that stillness is not rest or sleep. Those are absolutely necessary for basic body functioning and repair, but they are in addition to what we are discussing here. Stillness is being completely awake and alert but so quiet that we can hear and experience things that cannot otherwise be heard or felt. Our own heartbeat. Every breath we are taking. Connections to our deepest desires, to our spiritual selves. It is in stillness that we can discover huge dreams and visions, amazing plans, truths about relationships, and so much more. What we can learn in stillness is so shockingly powerful that men and women over the centuries have intentionally chosen lives of stillness, set apart in deserts or caves, on top of poles, on mountaintops, or other remote places.
Are stillness and its accompanying breakthroughs available to the stay-at-home mom with several littles, the two-career professional couple, the firefighter with crazy long hours, the dad with two or three jobs, the full-time student who also works full-time? YES! Stillness is not only available, but it is necessary for long-term health and well-being. How can such stillness be achieved?
PLAN FOR IT
Just as an effective power nap can last 15-30 minutes, your stillness experience can be relatively short AND effective. To be both, you should know exactly WHERE it will take place and WHAT you plan to do. Do you have a room or even a corner in your home where you can have quiet, low light, and no interruptions? It could have a window looking out at nature or the sky or no window at all – whatever calms and soothes you. If you don’t have a special space, you can create your own with a prayer shawl or light throw that you can pull down over your eyes and wrap around you (I knew a woman who used the bottom of her long apron! Her family members knew to honor her need for stillness when she had the apron drawn over her head). If you have more time, you can go for a walk in a field or woods where you are unlikely to encounter others or just find a place to sit – enough off the beaten path to maintain solitude. Journal if you’d like. Make the place your special destination, a place you can go to in your mind on those days when your stillness experience has to be at or closer to home.
You can also consider scheduling a time at the beginning and/or end of each day or at some other time when the whole house is quiet. Get up before everyone else, use the 15-30 minutes you have while falling asleep, take a break at home or work. Is there an unused room or other space at work where you could be alone and quiet? When I was in college and worked at the college bookstore, I was able to sit underneath a large box-like cashier station that was not in use during my breaks. Not an option for most people, but an idea to stimulate your own creativity.
If you can afford some money and time for a longer stillness experience, you can go on a “retreat”. By this I don’t necessarily mean that you join a group on a planned overnight or weekend. It can be as simple as renting a motel or hotel room for a night or two, hanging the do not disturb sign on the outside of your door, keeping the lights low, and just opening yourself to what is really going on deep down inside you. As another example, I go once or twice a month to a float spa. With driving and relaxing afterward for a few minutes before going home, it’s a total commitment of about 2.5 hours. That’s a big investment, but I get to experience an entire hour of uninterrupted weightlessness in a dark, super quiet pod. It takes a few minutes each time for my very active mind to slow down and stop chasing the hundreds of details competing for my attention, but I have never found anything else that allows me such freedom from my logical mind and physical body.
If you are hungry enough for stillness, tell yourself that there is a perfect solution for you. With that intention firmly in mind, you WILL find it…I promise.
By this I mean, create the very best conditions for true stillness and your ability to respond to and benefit from it. Whenever possible, diffuse pure essential oils to support gentle emotional aromatherapy. Start the diffusion about 30 minutes before you anticipate beginning your stillness experience. Some of my favorite oils are Frankincense, Cedarwood, and Sandalwood. Wood oils are incredibly grounding and give a deep sense of security. If you are going into your stillness time seeking understanding of specific issues in your life, you may want to consider selecting an oil that is known to support that journey. A couple of examples are Petitgrain (from orange leaves) to break generational blocks and bondages and Geranium when you are seeking the restoration of forgiveness, love, and trust.
GROW FROM IT
Each stillness experience is a step along your unique path to emotional and spiritual wholeness. Some encounters with yourself will simply bring peace, some may just be refreshing, and some will rock your world. Essential oils can give support as you seek continued balance, strength, clarity, and motivation in pursuing your vision. If you have been journaling, go back and review your notes from time to time to help you see your growth and allow you to reassess your path and vision.
- Know when and where you will go to have an effective stillness experience.
- Take a journal and good pencils (I love Blackwings) to jot down notes and to sketch images.
- Take oils and a diffuser (jewelry, lava stone – whatever will work in your setting and won’t bog you down or distract from the experience).
- Let others know that this is your time to rejuvenate, and hold the time sacred.
- Reflect on each experience, and adjust your course accordingly.
Want support in creating a stillness plan? Wellness Made Simple is here to help.