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The Importance of Finding Stillness in Chaos
Stillness is a skill very few people have mastered
"In stillness, the world is restored." - Lao Tzu.
We are called human beings, not human doings, for a reason. And yet it seems there’s a certain franticness in humanity, with every soul rushing around manically, searching for their own purpose and meaning. We have a peculiar notion ingrained in us that unless we are doing something, anything, we are wasting time. We fear being left in the wake while our peers stampede off without us.
But all this doing and trying and pushing and pulling is exhausting. It is exhausting and keeps our nervous system in a state of fight or flight.
I’m the first to admit I struggle with stillness. I’ve long been a victim of the false belief that being busy is virtuous and aspirational.
The truth is many of us keep ourselves busy because we are avoiding our inner thoughts. Maybe instead of running, it’s time to stop and face our demons.
Stillness chose me
Until a few years ago, I was one of those who got more done in a day than most people achieve in a week. Busy busy me, flitting from one thing to the next, juggling a social life, work life, small business, personal projects, volunteering, training…
I say I didn’t know how to be still, and that’s the truth of it. I didn’t even watch TV or read books! I struggled to turn my brain off and sit still.
A meteor changed the landscape of my world when my K9 soulmate passed away unexpectedly. All meaning evaporated, and my energy dive-bombed. I no longer had the energy to do everything I once did. Merely existing was challenging in itself.
During my darkest days, I learned how to be still. I lost track of time just sitting, staring into space.
I never quite recovered, or maybe I did
Some days pass in my new quieter life, and all I have achieved is staying alive. In days gone by, this would have been the source of deep frustration. Now I recognise the power of simply existing.
While I can still churn out productivity in my old efficient style, I am less inclined to do so. I can live by creating high vibrations, competing with myself, and always pushing for more, but I have no inclination to do so anymore.
My darkest days helped me recover from living a life of constant chaos—a perpetual race to an undefined finish line.
Here’s what the experts say
I’m a big fan of Dr. Nicole Lepera’s work. She is a psychologist and author, and social media influencer. In a recent Tweet, Dr. Nicole Lepera says:
“I wish more people knew healing the nervous system is about being still. Laying in the sun. Being present while you eat your food. Listening to the sounds of nature. Letting your imagination run wild. Instead of more routine, the body needs less.”
So that explains it. I find comfort in routine, but it seems like routine has trapped me. Has routine trapped you?
I struggle with last-minute changes and like knowing what to expect. But by learning to go with the flow, I am tapping into the moment.
Routine brings certainty and order to chaos, but I’m learning to relax my overactive nervous system by switching out strict routines for more stillness.
Other things that help me find stillness and stop my nervous system from taking hold of my senses, and drawing me back into an unhealthily productive lifestyle include:
Watching films and box sets
Yoga & meditation
Getting out into the hills
Being on the coast
Be still or keep doing; the choice is yours
I believe we are all trapped, unaware, on a treadmill until something wakes us up. The source of our awakening can be anything.
I’m reminded of a story of a businessman and a fisherman. Becoming Minimalist tells the story most eloquently in his piece Don’t chase happiness. Recognize it.
All the businessman aspires to in life is what the fisherman already has, yet the businessman doesn't realise this. The businessman tries to encourage the fisherman to change his ways, to catch more fish and earn more money. He talks of buying boats and employing staff. It’s all more, more and more with the businessman. The wise fisherman keeps asking the businessman, “And what will my reward be.” Until the businessman finally says, “And then you will get to sit by this lake all day and fish.”
The ultimate reward in life is to simply be. It’s not about building empires and developing wealth. It’s to find stillness and let life envelop us in the present moment.
Have you learned to find stillness? What helped you get off the treadmill? I’d love to hear your input in the comments.
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