“Keep thyself first in peace, and then thou wilt be able to bring others to peace.” – Thomas A. Kempis (15th Century)
One of those best ways we can find peace, even if just for a fleeting moment in time, is by allowing ourselves to be still. I can sense the resistance through the computer screen as readers exclaim,”BE STILL! WHAT ARE YOU, NUTS?! WHO HAS TIME TO BE STILL? HAVE YOU LOOKED AT MY CALENDAR?!” I know, it seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? But the truth that you can find only through experience is that stillness brings peace. A moment of stillness allows us an opportunity to catch our breath. It allows our minds a chance to take a break. When we remember to breathe and relax the mind, we are less likely to get hooked into any drama that surrounds us, and we’re less likely to cause any drama ourselves. And let’s face it, this season is often fraught with drama whether it be in the shopping mall parking lot or at our family dining table.
But you’re right, this IS a busy time of the year with lots of running around to do so the concept of sitting for an hour in meditation can be rather off-putting regardless of how effective it may be. I’m here, however, to challenge you to build in moments of stillness so you can see its effects for yourself. We need not sit cross-legged for an hour chanting OM. Here are some practical ideas to help you find stillness throughout the day:
1) Create time between sitting down at your desk and picking up the phone to make that important phone call. Relax your hands in your lap, close your eyes, and slowly count to 10. Congratulations! You’ve just created space for stillness!
2) You’re in the car with the keys in the ignition, ready to go rush off to your next destination. Before you reach out to turn that key, relax your hands in your lap (this will be a common refrain), close your eyes, and take some deep full breaths, down into the base of your belly. Inhale to a count of 4…hold for a count of one…exhale for 4…hold for one. Do this for 5 breaths, THEN reach for that key in the ignition. Notice how you’re feeling and see if it changes the way you travel. Congratulations again! STILLNESS!
3) You’re stuck in traffic. Turn the music off and for 3 – 5 minutes take a look around you. You’re not going anywhere very quickly anyway! See what’s going on in the vicinity. Use all your senses. Notice any smells. What can you hear in the far distance? How about close by? What do you see in the buildings, in the sky, in your own car? Stillness.
4) You’ve just received an email from a family member who will be at Christmas dinner and it has pissed…you…off. Before you hit Reply and Send, take a moment. Assume the position (you know it by now ) and do NOTHING! Take the moment to get back in touch with yourself. Allow yourself to fully feel pissed off. Let it wash over you. Notice as you watch if the sensation of anger has changed at all. Watch it. Does the feeling move to different places in your body or is it centrally located? What words from the email evoke the most reaction from you? Pay attention to yourself. Love yourself enough to give yourself your full attention and then, when you open your eyes, decide how you’re going to respond. Stillness.
In stillness we find peace. Yet another way we can learn to cope with the stressors of the holidays.
May abundant peace be yours!
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