“Within yourself is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself." - Herman Hesse
As a practitioner who works with individuals on regulating their stress responses, I can tell you that one of the hardest things for people to do is to take moments of stillness.
It is not just people who are on the verge of burnout and breakdown that have trouble with taking stillness. Busyness is a habit that has been normalized and even encouraged in our society as a whole.
Living in the fast-paced, consumption-oriented society that we do, ideas of success and achievement are often tied to the amount of work one can get done in a certain amount of time. With the media offering endless examples of what "success" is from the perspective of modern trend-setters, we have a bar of success that is set higher and higher. Thus we live by the unspoken motto of "striving but never arriving."
It is within this environment that stillness and the act of "doing nothing" is often shamed whether overtly or subtlety to push us into a perpetual state of doing.
But is this really healthy? And the bigger questions are: What is "success" and "achievement"? Why are we so obsessed with them?
The biggest reason most of us cannot find true stillness is because we feel guilty when we are not doing something. As a culture most of us have replaced our need for stillness with consumption of TV shows, books, or scrolling on the internet. This form of leisure may include physical "stillness", however it is still a state of consuming and doing. True stillness does not include this external sensory input.
True stillness is not always easy. It does not always feel calm and relaxing in our body, mind and emotions. In fact it is a time where imbalance in ourselves or in our lives can become painfully clear.
True stillness is a time for us to become aware of things that our busyness have kept us from noticing. When we become aware of the things that are out of balance in our life, it is from that place that we then have the opportunity to make a change. Thus, true stillness supercharges us when we come back into a phase of doing and accelerates our coming into alignment with ourselves and our lives.
Feeling overwhelmed and in need of some clarity? Message Joy for help with finding the balance that's right for you.