Finding Joy in Stillness
“Learn to become still.
And to take your attention away from what you don’t want,
and all the emotional charge around it,
and place your attention on what you wish to experience.”
~ Michael Beckwith
These beautiful words by Michael Beckwith, that I first heard fifteen years ago, have been reverberating in my mind recently. I am a striver. I'm always busy and ambitious; I have ideas, and plans, and things to do. However, in the last year I've been reflecting on what it means to sit with silence; to enjoy silence and stillness, and see what comes.
In the last week, I had Spring Break here in South America, and I decided to plan less; sit in stillness more. It wasn't easy or natural unfortunately. I went for a few walks and sat with myself. I found my mind wandering, and then feeling guilty for not doing something "more productive." What is this incessant need to be DOING? What is the balance between creating a life and achieving our desires, and taking time for stillness? For restoration?
This morning, I raised this question with other ladies with whom I meet weekly. We were exploring how to be more productive and noted all the ways in which we want to make changes in our lives. We also recalled, having met together weekly for more than a year, that many of the said "changes" were things that we had done in the past but for one reason or another, were discarded recently.
One friend, Jenny, reflected that there are seasons of productivity and seasons of restoration. She recalled that I had been intensely productive and then got sick with a cold that including a cough I couldn't shake for a couple of weeks. That served as a reminder that it is my pattern to work on multiple projects until I get sick; then I go into recovery mode for a couple weeks.
That observation by friend was crucial for me to remember to be more gentle with myself. We often hear people talking about "balance" and "self-care" but do we spend time really thinking about what those terms mean? What do they mean to you?
After the conversation this morning, Jenny's insight has me further reflecting on Beckwith's quote to really delve deeply into the power of stillness. It isn't just sitting still with a racing mind thinking about all the things I should be doing instead; it isn't sloth or laziness. Learning to become still is deep work. It's a practice that can help us balance those seasons of productivity and restoration without getting to a stage where our minds and bodies are worn down and need so much time for repair or healing. The practice of stillness can be preventative measure and the healing at the same time.
I'd love to hear from you about how you balance the seasons of productivity and restoration. How have you learned to become still?