06 Nov Stillness is an art.
How often do you find the time to be still, present, focused or generally centered? Not often I would wager. We seem to glorify being busy, never stopping, working hard or always chasing something. We allow time to pass by in a stream of unending tasks, most of which, meaningless. Then we wonder, how life passed us by so fast and why we are unfulfilled.
History repeats itself.
Our technology is always there to keep us occupied, never bored. As surprising it may seem, this is not a problem only characteristic of the modern age. Many ancient schools of philosophy (The Stoics, Taoism, Buddhism, etc) also faced these issues. What they found was simple. The only way to live a happy and virtuous life was to find the time to be still. This is when we can focus and root out everything that doesn’t matter. Allow time for the mind to rest, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. These are the times when we can feed the spirit with the small pleasures of life.
Winston Churchill liked to paint and spend time in the wilderness, JFK liked to play golf, Einstein hiked and played the violin. Every key historical figure had a favorite “stillness moment” activity to help ease the mind. Yet so many of today’s “hustlers” would label such activities as a waste of time. I would be willing to bet that most of the great men in history became exactly that, because of these moments of peace, where they could align their thoughts and see things as they really are. How can we make the right decision, when we are always bombarded with information? Make time to process it.
It’s not about being lazy.
What I am talking about here is not just resting, relaxing or being lazy (as some would call it). It’s not about distracting the mind with entertainment, but calming and clearing it. What I am talking about is purposeful stillness, a meditation of sorts. This can be done in the most trivial of tasks – cleaning at home, gardening, walking the dog, etc. Any simple activity that can bring simple joy and peace to even the worst of days.
Calming a restless mind is much harder than it seems. So is thinking clearly. Yet it is extremely powerful, if we manage to achieve it. Few people ever stop to think about why they do the things they do. It is just distraction after distraction, one superficial goal after another. If we took more time to be still maybe we could hear our spirit whispering to us what we truly value. The more busy we are for the sake of busyness, the more we stray further from our own values and truths. Find the time to sit still, to do nothing, enjoy the small things. We need to stop being distracted, we need to align ourselves in moments of stillness. Only then can we make the right decisions for our lives.
Inspired by the book “Stillness is the Key” By Ryan Holiday.