"Stillness Requires Courage" -Danielle LaPorte
Stillness is often uncomfortable, therefore I do believe it requires courageous presence. Generally speaking, it's a very uncommon practice in our culture. Our society tends to place more value on being busy, high productivity, and external success. This momentum can be very hard to break away from. I have recently discovered for myself how challenging it is to go against the grain and slow way down. For better or worse (it is actually for the better), I have been dealing with some health issues that have helped me see how necessary it is for me to stop doing so much and focus on my healing.
Taking a dose of my own medicine, I have given myself permission to rest, to say no to things that I don't have the time or energy for, and honor my needs to do less and simply BE. Well, easier said than done. While my body is welcoming this time to restore, my mind has been resistant. When I slow down from "doing", my Inner Critic chimes in and starts pushing all the buttons that feed my self-doubt, worries and fears that only create more stress. Some of the common negative self talk sounds like, "you're not doing enough", "everything will fall apart", "you're lazy", "you're not good enough", "you haven't earned a break", "who will do it if you don't?" You get the picture. Sound familiar?
When I sit with that voice and hear what it's saying, I am deeply saddened that I have talked to myself this way. Over this period of slowing down, I realized that the fear and limiting beliefs that come from the Inner Critic have been pushing me to the point of exhaustion, and my health has suffered as a result.
Setting the intention to slow down and nurture myself has been one of the most healing practices I've done, especially due to what the discomfort has taught me about myself and the opportunity to explore those limiting beliefs. It doesn't mean I am sitting on the couch staring into space all day. It's more about creating space to be, to radically nourish myself, to consciously quiet the mind, and when those thoughts arise that start to push my fear buttons, I am practicing breathing into it and letting it go, a meditation in action. It's a practice because the mind is active and it takes an ongoing effort to recognize when I am getting pulled off course, and when I do, to bring myself back to the present moment.
With stillness and presence, I am more connected with my whole self, and aware of the things I do that distract me from my intention. My body has the opportunity to heal and restore health. Just as our digestive system needs that time in between meals to break down food, absorb nutrients and eliminate waste, other aspects of our body, mind and spirit also need space to discern what is nourishing and what to let go of.
Stillness requires courage because it's often so much easier to go with the momentum of life. Being busy can be a welcome distraction from feeling our emotions or listening to our inner wisdom about what will truly feed our whole being. As challenging as the struggles of the body and mind may be, there is wisdom to be gained and blessings to be found.