Chapter 4…. Stillness and Peace- or doing nothing
Western society is built on the work ethic. Belief systems that say we have to work hard to get anywhere. That money doesn’t grow on trees and an equation of work/time equals money. We seem to believe we also have to play hard. To fill all the hours of the day with activity of some sort. There is so much available to do. So much going on in theatre, movies, music, pubs, exhibitions, sport, and family that we think we are somehow missing out if we are not trying to see it all, have it all, and do it all.
Somewhere in all our activity we have lost the simple art of doing nothing. It has become a dirty word. Yet it is only in the stillness of doing nothing, and being “in the moment” that real inspiration and creativity happens. It’s in those moments we learn to listen to our own intuition and see the bigger picture.
Example: Caroline noticed that while she worked part time to allow for the space to be a musician, it would often take her 3 days to unwind before she felt capable of sinking into the creative mood. The first day would be getting all the day to day responsibilities out of the way, (avoidance technique) day two she would start to relax and have some fun. Then somewhere in day 3 she would start being creative, only just getting into full swing on the evening of the 3rd day, just before she had to be back at work. This was frustrating. Working full time as a musician helped because she was then in the same stream of creativity but it still took time to wind down into that place where she felt she could joyfully create.
We quite often believe that we have to do all these “things” before we have the space to sit and be still. Most of these “things”, if we wrote them down in a list, are not so important. They could possibly be done by someone else if we asked or not at all if we were honest with ourselves. Some things can be done in passing, as we notice them. Then they don’t pile up and get us down with the immensity of the pile. But a lot we do, we do because we think we should. Not because we want to.
Write a list and place a tick beside all the things we want to do, and a cross beside all the things we think we aught to do. Can anyone else help us with the things we aught to do? What about passing that list up to the universe and stepping back. Allow Universe to find the solution. Give it time to act in the best way. Come back in 3 days and see what’s happened.
Another problem is our guilt at not being busy or productive, beating ourselves up because we haven’t achieved enough today. Quite often we are just expecting the impossible. Being too demanding of ourselves. It actually takes time to do all these things and when we write the list we don’t take time into the factor. Then we beat ourselves up for not doing enough. Well we actually need to go further with this stillness and doing nothing idea.
Caroline was married to James who worked for a computer department of a merchant bank, doing shift work. When they went on holiday once a year the bank actually insisted that they take no less than 3 consecutive weeks off. They said it took two weeks for the body to adjust its time clock to normal and then another week to totally relax. Do we think the rest of us are that different?
We seem to believe that the only way to get anywhere is to be in control and pushing ourselves. Being on top of things. Hyped up, adrenals poised, ready for any eventuality. Working hard. It works for some, but it has the big price of exhaustion, alcohol and coffee dependency, and stress. The quality of life we may produce dose not necessarily make us happy. We may even be so set on our goals thinking we will be happy when we reach the goal at the end, that on arriving at the end, the prize, we find ourselves disappointed. Deflated and empty.
There is another way. It seems a little crazy at first, but it works. It takes time to learn. It can take over a year to learn to slow down and listen to ourselves. Like turning a big ship that has been going full steam in one direction. Turning is going to take time because the ship has built up momentum. It has to slow down a little first. It may seem that nothing is changing for quite a while and then one day, just when we are about to give up we notice the horizon has changed, we are turning, slowly, and then gradually faster, till we reach our new course and can gather steam again in this new direction.
Example: Caroline’s osteopath actually got angry with her one day and said you have to stop at least one day a week. Completely stop. No house work, no reading, “no, oh I’ll just do that”. Completely stop and do nothing. Your adrenals are locked on full bore! But she found it nearly impossible to be still. - Caroline began working with Jeanne her teacher on slowing down. She had been running a small record label, managing the band she was in, doing the publishing, trying to write songs, rehearse the band, booking gigs, and working 3 days a week to pay for it. In all she was working (when she began writing down her hours) on average 60 hours a week. Some times a lot more. She wasn’t happy and felt exhausted. She believed that she had to push hard and control the situation or it would all fall apart. Then one of the musicians said he just couldn’t handle living in London anymore. He was going home to Italy. One said he had to spend time with his new baby and the other one just didn’t like the way the band was heading. So after a year of working with Jeanne she said “enough. Pushing is getting me nowhere. I am giving up the band and label and doing something I haven’t done in years. I’m taking some time for me”. Caroline spent another year, sitting around doing very little. Reading, watching TV, sitting in the garden. Then slowly new ideas and a new path began to open up for her. The reiki healing she had learnt 8 years ago seemed more important. She did her Reiki masters and started taking on clients. She started learning Tai Chi. She investigated sound healing. She also began painting and knitting and dancing Forro. All things that made her feel happy. Caroline says she felt like a ship that had been steaming away in one direction and that it had taken 3 years to slow down and change direction. She still plays music in bands for a living, but she also spends a lot of time doing nothing. Sitting in stillness so she can find the things that make her feel happy and which serve her life more.
Maybe we should point out that going to the cinema or meeting friends at the pub is not relaxation. It might seem like it, but it is still activity. Being in stillness and peace is doing just that. Sitting or lying down and letting your mind relax. Looking at the scenery helps. Trying to still the mind so ideas come. Taking time to totally stop. Try relaxation tapes, meditation. Tai Chi or Yoga is good if stillness is difficult at the beginning. Then ease into stillness.
Fidgety people need to do this more than anyone. If we find it difficult it’s because we are doing too much and have lost the ability to be still. We might even make other people feel exhausted by our presence.
Say: “I chose to spend this day in stillness and in peace”. This affirmation is powerful. Said a few times we find we actually do spend a quieter day than usual or expected.
“Peace to my mind, Let all my thoughts be still”
“I breathe In, I relax, I breathe out, I smile”……… this is good if we feel panicky or our mind is too busy. They also help if we are lying in bed with a mind too busy to let us sleep.
For those of us who want to take it a step further and begin an internal dialogue with our body try this;
Relaxation-Chi Meridian alignment technique
Lie on your back with your knees raised and your feet on the floor near your buttocks. Take your time to follow the instructions below and visualise each section.
Visualise a ball of light above the crown of our head.
See/feel the ball of light dropping into our head lighting up our crown, then our forehead and flooding around to the back of our head.
See the light flood our eyes then into the back of our brain.
It floods the bridge of our nose, our cheek bones and our ears
Then our upper lip, followed by the roof of our mouth and then our inner ears
It flows around our jaw and the whole of our face relaxes
The light flows down our neck into our shoulders, upper back and upper arms
Into the heart and solar plexus, then lower back, lower arms and hands at the same time.
See the light and our coccyx bend under into the pelvic area and towards the dantien.
Light floods the front of our pelvic and down into our front thighs, two back thighs then into the holes at the back of our knees.
It travels into the front shins and calves, into our ankles then our heal and toes before flooding the sole of our feet.
We are a body of light, relaxed and perfectly aligned.
Say; “I am aligned with divine mind”