Sunday, July 1, 2012

Being Still

The other night I asked Ward to come outside and talk to me while I pulled a few weeds. He was very tired and wasn't much interested, but he came anyway. As I pulled weeds, we chatted a bit until I reached a stopping place. Then I decided to to sit with him on the patio and enjoy the evening as the sun went down. I
sat a minute until the neighbor's air conditioner came on and thought we should move to another part of the yard to escape the noise. I sat there, once again, trying to enjoy the sound of the birds, feel the breeze, and just be still. However, the silence was soon broken when Ward asked what the plant was with the heart shaped leaves. It was a weed and I jumped up and removed it. I almost felt relieved as I had been staring at it since we sat down. I continued pulling weeds until it was dark. That was when I realized that I don't know how to be still. To just be.
There should have been a clue that I don't do still very well a few years ago when I was given an assignment to practice with a relaxation tape where you visualize calming images while relaxing your body. I was supposed to report on this exercise a week later. Somehow I never got around to doing it until an hour before I was supposed to go. Being one who didn't want to admit that I didn't do my homework, I put the tape in and listened to it on fast forward. Let's just say that I wasn't relaxed when I was finished.

My new goal is to be able to sit for five minutes and just appreciate what is going on around me—not engage in anything else like electronics, chores, reading, etc. That might not seem very long, but it will be five times better than I'm able to do now.

I give you the challenge to see how long you can spend not engaged in anything—no books, no electronics, no work—just being still. I think you will find it is harder than you think.


  1. What a fabulous post. I am laughing out loud at the thought of fast forwarding through a relaxation exercise.

    I actually think this is one of our society's biggest problems. We can't be still because when we do, all sorts of unresolved emotional things rise to the surface, and it's uncomfortable. We often aren't even conscious of these emotions... we just know that we feel the need to "do something."

    And what really gets me is how our culture exploits this. We're taught that doing nothing is lazy, or means you "have no life" when really the opposite is true. And don't EVEN get me started on how the great marketing machine takes advantage of this tendency to keep us shopping, and buying, and watching, and "being connected" at every turn.

    I'm getting better at stillness with every year that passes, though it is still sometimes a struggle for me. But the more I've learned to own my personal "stuff" the easier it's gotten.

    1. Very good points. I think it is hard to be truly alone with our thoughts. But I don't even think most people get to this stage. We are so used to instantaneous stimulation with all of the electronic devices that our brains have been trained to be occupied from the outside every minute, no, I mean every second.

  2. I find it possible to just be still when I am sitting on the back porch with my dog, so does that count, or not? Maybe not, because I have companionship, and sometimes I am petting the dog, which is definitely not being still... But my brain is still, not really thinking about anything, just observing the world the way my dog sees it. Well, anyhow, that's as still as I get.

    1. I find it much easier to be still if I have a cat on my lap.
      There is being still (my terms) and being mindful--being in the here and now and experiencing what it is going on around you. Whether it is paying attention to how you are chewing your food or just listening and seeing.

      I'm hoping for both stillness and mindfulness and to work up to actual meditation. I'll tell you another time what my attempts at meditation have been like.


What do you think?