The Practice of Stillness

According to the favored StrengthsFinder evaluation, my top strength is Achiever. The report that summarized my check outcomes says,

People who’re particularly proficient within the Achiever theme have quite a lot of stamina and work exhausting. They take nice satisfaction from being busy and productive.”

This power has served me effectively, however it additionally has a darkish aspect.

It means I’ve a tough time turning off my thoughts and simply being nonetheless. I appear to be extra of a human doing than a human being.

My spouse, Gail, advisable that I learn The Joy Diet by Martha Beck. Gail stated, “You gained’t agree with every part on this e book, however I believe it is going to actually problem you—particularly the primary chapter.”

Intrigued, I made a decision to learn the e book on our next vacation.

The first chapter is entitled “Nothing.” In summarizing the chapter, Beck says, “To start the Joy Diet, you have to do nothing for not less than fifteen minutes a day.”

I used to be so challenged by this chapter, that I learn it 4 instances. I additionally practiced this self-discipline for over three weeks in a row.

Honestly, it was one of the transformational issues I’ve ever completed.

What Is Stillness?

Beck’s premise is that “doing nothing is the most efficient exercise you’ll ever undertake.” By doing nothing, she means actually doing nothing.

  • This will not be prayer (not less than not within the sense of speaking to God).
  • It will not be drawback fixing.
  • It will not be planning.

Doing nothing is being nonetheless, quieting your thoughts (and the cacophony of voices), and easily being.

All the traditional knowledge literature factors to the significance of this follow. Psalm 46:10 is consultant: “Be nonetheless and know that I’m God.”

This is tremendously tough in our media wealthy, always-on, over-communicated society. Noise crowds into each empty house, leaving us spiritually, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.

Mother Teresa expressed it this fashion,

We want to search out God, and He can’t be present in noise and restlessness. God is the good friend of silence. See how nature—bushes, flowers, grass—grows in silence; see the celebrities, the moon and the solar, how they transfer in silence. . . . We want silence to have the ability to contact souls.”

Abba Poeman, one of many historical desert fathers, taught his disciples, “If you might be silent, you’ll have peace wherever you reside.”

Why You Need Stillness

I doubt you want convincing that you simply want some measure of what I’m describing right here. As I’ve shared about this matter with others, they inevitably say, “Oh, I so want that in my life! How do I begin?”

Nevertheless, listed below are three of my very own causes for training the self-discipline of stillness:

  1. I wish to preserve perspective. If I don’t make time to be nonetheless, then I discover myself in reactive mode—influenced by a whole bunch of little voices with massive calls for.
  2. I wish to keep related to my true self. I don’t wish to get confused, considering that I’m the picture I current to the world. They are associated, in fact, however I wish to stay from the within out.
  3. I would like extra inside margin in my life. While I’ve been pursing exterior margin in my calendar and funds, I additionally need inside margin—extra room to note what issues most and be pleased about it.

How to Practice Stillness

This will not be one thing I’ve sufficient expertise with to write down. In truth, I really feel pretentious for even trying it.

But maybe that’s the worth I can add to the dialog. I’m not so skilled that I’ve forgotten what it’s wish to be a newbie.

In that spirit, let me supply a couple of options for how one can follow stillness in your individual journey and reclaim some inside margin.

  1. Schedule a time. I schedule stillness very first thing within the morning. This time has develop into so valuable to me, that I gained’t wish to begin the day with out it. I follow this primary—earlier than prayer, earlier than Bible reading, earlier than journaling, and earlier than train.
  2. Find a spot. When I used to be on trip, I sat on the dock by the lake. This was very best. But it isn’t my actual world. Now I merely go into my examine and shut the door. The fundamental factor is to discover a place the place you gained’t be interrupted.
  3. Set a timer. I’m following Beck’s admonition to put aside fifteen minutes a day. In my restricted expertise this appears about proper. It is superb how my notion of this time modifications from each day. Sometimes it looks as if ceaselessly. Other instances, it goes by in a short time. I exploit the timer on my iPhone.
  4. Relax your physique. I merely sit in a gentle chair with my eyes closed. I then systematically loosen up my physique and get quiet. Beck says that in the event you can’t sit nonetheless, then interact in any senseless bodily exercise, like rocking in a chair or watching some pure movement like fireplace or working water. I additionally play a recording of the ocean.
  5. Quiet your thoughts. This is the largest problem for me. Just after I get nonetheless, I’ve some random thought or an entire flurry of ideas. But I get higher. Beck provides a number of strategies for training “nonjudgmental commentary,” a self-discipline that retains your allotted time from being hijacked by an excessively energetic thoughts.
  6. Be current. Don’t be regretting or celebrating the previous. Don’t be worrying or dreaming in regards to the future. Instead, gather your ideas and be current—on this second. It is a very powerful time you will have. In truth, it’s the solely time you will have.
  7. Learn to return. This has been essentially the most useful element. In includes recalling a “place of peace,” the place you had a very vivid expertise of peace and stillness. For me, I’m going again to a time I stood on the balcony of a monastery in Greece, searching on the Aegean Sea. I wrote about it here.

Perhaps a very powerful factor is simply to start out. It’s simple to blow the self-discipline of stillness off as one thing you don’t have time for. Don’t. The busier you’re the extra necessary it’s.

You want this in your life greater than you understand. Even in the event you can solely put aside 5 minutes a day, do it. And in the event you miss a day or two, don’t beat your self up. Just begin once more. You can do that, and also you’ll be glad you probably did.

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