Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mind: Enter the Stillness

I need a time out, a moment to myself, a quiet and undisturbed moment.

I am surrounded by so much noise from chatting people to the beeping, buzzing, and chiming of cell phones, from background music to the flickering images from the TV. So much commotion envelopes me no matter where I go. I need to get away - not a long vacation on a secluded beach (though that would be great). I need a vacation of the mind, a moment here and there to really listen to myself. I need stillness.

I firmly believe that the audible clutter keeps me from connecting to myself, from really hearing that inner voice that keeps me on track and balanced. The noise is a distraction. It’s easier to pay attention to something blaring in my environment than to hear that quiet, inner voice. It gets lost in all the commotion. I also believe that I often distract myself from the stillness purposely when I turn on the TV, crank up the music in the studio, or tune into the conversations of others. And sometimes, I need that distraction. I need a break from my inner dialogue. But at other times, I need the quiet.

Moments of stillness connect me to my inner voice, and allow me to remember the important things and to put things in perspective. These moments allow me to come back to center, and I can be more proactive as I figure out what needs immediate attention, and what can wait a while. When surrounded by the hectic day-to-day, it’s much more about reacting to the loudest thing demanding attention although it might not be a priority. Quiet times also allow me to figure things out and to reflect on all that is going on in my life.

I do take some time for myself, and I have built in some small habits that bring me to a quiet space. But it’s not nearly enough. I need more stillness. In our workshops, Dave and I always use the words of artist Jeanne Minnix, “Get still, get quiet, and go inside.” This simple saying is a mantra for finding the stillness to connect with the inner voice.

So how do I get still, get quiet, and go inside?

I have built in two very simple and purposeful habits into my daily life that are a good start. First, I have a time of about ten to fifteen minutes in the morning where I sit in silence and simply reflect. After I eat my breakfast, check my email, and check through some of the day’s headlines, I close my eyes, sip my coffee, and dwell in the stillness. I do have to be careful not to fall asleep though. This quiet time is not any type of formal meditation, but it allows me to fully wake, prepares me for the day, and sets my intentions. Second, I have the habit of driving to and from work in silence. I don’t carpool, so it’s just me in the car, and I leave the radio off - no talk, no music, no news, just silence. This allows me to sort through my thoughts as I drive to work making a plan for the day, and it allows me to decompress as I drive home at the end of the day. Unfortunately, the quiet is often disturbed by my own erupting temper at other drivers (that is something to tackle in due time).

But beyond these moments, I have very little time in stillness. I need be very deliberate about building in those moments to enter stillness, to sit with no noise, no electronic devices, no TV, no pens, no pencils, no paintbrushes, and to dwell in the stillness. I need to be comfortable with the quiet and with myself and simply listen to my quiet inner voice. I need to reconnect with myself.

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