Whether We Know It or Not, We Choose Stillness.
There are moments when the earth seems to stop on its axis, suspended and motionless. And there is no time. We collectively pause, fully present and aware of this extraordinary but simple moment.
Mist on a lake, smooth as glass.
A full moon rising in the early evening over a calm ocean.
Silence in the late evening or the wee hours of the morning.
The first brightening of the sky before sunrise.
The first rays of light peeking over the horizon.
As you sip your morning coffee before anyone else around has awakened.
There is stillness. Nothing is moving.
We may call it quiet, and it is. But more than anything it’s that space inside us that’s still slumbering a bit, lingering in the twilight between waking and sleeping.
It is the absence of memory of the day’s itinerary or intrusion of outside stimuli.
These are times that’s it is easy to be still and relax in the nothingness of the moment.
This peaceful energy enters us and our homes during those hours we lay unconscious, oblivious to our surroundings. We keep it with us for a while. And sometimes we can extend it.
But eventually there is noise, activity and the doing of the day begins, the outer stillness ends. We may feel it has deserted us. But with some practice, we can reclaim some of this calm state of being.
Practice is the operative word here. It is repetition. It is work, mental work. It is our awareness of the need to slow down, however briefly. Stillness requires mindfulness, an awareness of a need, or the circumstances of a situation.
It’s that “gut” feeling, the intuitive knowledge that something needs to be different, or changed. Or you don’t want to be somewhere or need to separate yourself from a situation or moment before causing any permanent damage.
We know when we feel our pulses quicken, our faces flush or our breath catch, that we’re riding up that first big hill of a rollercoaster and there’s a good chance we’re going to lose it on the other side.
We’ve lost evenness, equilibrium. We’ve become unstable.
I know the feeling well as the bile rises in my throat.
Oh to have that sunrise or lake at that moment.
But we do have what we need inside, always, to achieve a partial sense of stillness.
It’s called breath.
Just inhale. Feel your belly fill with air.
Pause. Pull it up further into your lungs. Feel your ribs expand.
It gives you time to think, and mentally process. It creates a moment where you can maybe catch yourself before you fall. You might not be completely balanced, but any recovery is graceful.
If you are able, close your eyes. See that moon, that lake. And breathe again. It becomes more effective over time.
Forgive yourself and continue the practice of finding stillness. Losing it, so to speak, is part of life. So are second chances.
So are sunrises and sunsets. Every day the slate is clean, and we get to try and do our best again. If our best stinks, then the good news is we’ll have no place to go but up.
Use your breath.
Where would you be without it?