Ever have trouble letting go of the chaos? It seems like this can be difficult at times. You feel like you want a break from all of the doing, reacting and busyness, but you’re also afraid to let go of it completely, as if it provides some level of comfort or stability despite being so exhausting. I’ve discovered that the chaos can, in fact, be comforting in its familiarity. Maybe I don’t like what’s happening, but at least I know what I’m dealing with.
And consider the opposite of chaos: stillness. In the throes of chaos, stillness can be very enticing. But when we finally find stillness, sometimes it can be discomforting. We’re so used to the chaos that stillness (a very natural state, by the way) can feel unnatural. Stillness may bring about a sense of boredom that we are tempted to fill with mindless activity – checking Facebook, watching TV, surfing the Internet – until we find ourselves walking right back into the chaos. This type of experience can lead us to feel that we aren’t capable of stillness. Stillness may also bring about contemplation, often sending us back to the distractions of chaos, lest we confront some issue happily buried in the subconscious. So while the chaos may be exhausting, it may be more comfortable than confronting stillness.
But what if you knew how to be still comfortably? I’m convinced that the key to escaping the exhausting embrace of chaos, is knowing what to do with yourself in stillness. What exactly do you do and how do you find the time to do it? How will you deal with the buried emotions and unresolved problems you’ve been glossing over while hiding out in the busyness of life? What if you decide you like it in the stillness and don’t want to come back to everyday life?
Here’s the reality: our lives have become so busy and chaotic, and we endure so much mental stimulation, that we need stillness more than ever. Even just a little bit of stillness each day goes a long way in counter-balancing all that we put the mind, body and spirit through in modern life. Stillness then, is something we need to relearn so that we can embrace it when we need to restore our balance.
Stillness is going to look different for everyone. For some, it may be a formal meditation practice – literally sitting still in silence. Others may find stillness in more active ways – spending time in nature, working in the garden, or enjoying a hobby like fishing, woodworking, painting or photography. While these activities involve movement, they are known to bring about a stillness of the mind where one can focus on a single, enjoyable task without the constant interruptions of the digital world or wandering thoughts.
The point is to regularly get off of the treadmill of a busy life and give your mind a break from the reactivity, busyness and constant stimulation. If you’re not already making time for this, know that it may be uncomfortable at first. Resist the temptation to go back to the familiarity and distractions of chaos. At first, you may want to try it for short periods at a time.
Meditation can be helpful here as it’s a way of training your attention. It’s easy to learn and can be done almost anywhere or anytime. And it’s something that can be done incrementally, starting with as few as five minutes until you feel ready to build up to a longer duration. This slow build helps with some of the obstacles to confronting stillness. Just like everything else, we get better at meditation (and stillness) with practice.
Whether you choose meditation or some other form of stillness, I recommend you stick with it for at least thirty days. It’s difficult for us to change our habits and form new ones. A commitment period allows us to start to experience the benefits that can support lasting change and lead us to the balance that we are seeking.
Photo credit: unsplash.com/@teddykelley