Updated: Mar 6, 2021
What is stillness? For me, connecting to stillness is a process of falling in love with myself, my meditation cushion, and the meditative space that I've created for myself -- where there are flowers and candles. It's a process of connecting with gratitude for my body's ability to cross its legs, for my living room, for the sun shining through my living room window, for the ability to see the pine trees swaying outside my window.
It's connecting to my breath. My sweet, sweet breath. This friend that I neglect at times, but who's always there, ready for me to notice it and let it calm me, and assist me in connecting with my inner wise teacher and my intuition.
It's this feeling of melting and merging. Melting with the earth. Becoming the earth. Melting with nature. Melting with my meditation cushion and my clothes. Leaving "Sarah" behind and becoming the real me. The me who doesn't have to do anything. The me who can just be. The me who knows that just being is enough. Just sitting and breathing is enough.
Sweet, sweet stillness.
I do have to say that stillness can be difficult to connect with, especially while living in a capitalist country, and being trained since birth that we had to become human doings, and not human beings. How can we possibly "be" if we need to work and work and work, so we can support our loved ones and pay bills and reach the American dream/nightmare.
It's especially difficult to connect with stillness when we've experienced trauma. Tara Brach has described trauma as this process of "severed belonging." We no longer feel that we belong to ourselves, our bodies or to each other. The fight or flight process is activated, and we find ourselves fighting with everyone because we don't trust them and we think they'll hurt us. We find ourselves fleeing -- just constantly running -- to new cities, new states, new countries. Running away from ourselves. From others. Even running away from others who provide a sense of safety, and who want to give us the love we want and deserve. Continuing to run, not realizing that the home, safety, and love we're running towards is right here. Right now. Not realizing that what we seek is already within us.
And then, there's the freeze state. This process that seems like it is stillness, but we're disconnected, dissociated, and so depressed that sometimes all we can do is lay down. We become immovable, uninspired, unmotivated. Life's beauty escapes us. We experience this barrage of negative self-talk where we feel ashamed and undeserving of love or undeserving of anything beautiful.
January, there was a focus on self-care on this blog. Physical self-care is important/necessary, but emotional self-care might be the most important. And maybe they're two sides of the same coin, but with the pandemic, natural disasters, our tendency to overwork, our feelings of overwhelm and loneliness, making time to pause, write, talk to therapists and loved ones, make and hold space for our pain is crucial.
In February, I talked about the importance of practicing self-compassion (SC). And, SC is a perfect practice. Because it essentially says that when we're in emotional pain, we can hold ourselves as we would hold a baby who's crying. We can get into the practice of saying to ourselves "I know. I see you. I know you're hurting. I'm here for you. What can I do? What do you need?"
And, I think if we're able to get to a place where we can be still, we'll naturally see difficult emotions arise, and we can practice being loving and caring parents/friends to ourselves. And eventually, after some work of processing our pain and taking care of ourselves, we might surprisingly get to bliss as we sit in stillness. It's incredible, beautiful, and peaceful when we're able to lose ourselves in stillness. We can just be. And everything feels calm and OK. Everything feels like it's enough -- what we have or don't have; it's all enough. It's all perfect. Through stillness, we can find ourselves literally becoming or embodying love, belonging, peace, beauty, wisdom.
I hope that we can find powerful moments of stillness this month. And if not powerful, at least a little bit peaceful. And if not peaceful, at least it'll feel like a little break from the chaos of life. Even if that break lasts a minute. We deserve peace. We deserve to be.
May you find some peace today and everyday. May you feel loved, my friend.