Stillness

In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside you. Deepak Chopra

I’m learning to be still. It isn’t easy for me. I’m the sort of person who tries to multi-task, who leaps from one thing to another, perhaps not physically but almost always mentally. I will begin writing and rewriting my manuscript, or reading or sorting through daily tasks such as paying bills and my mind will wander, skipping to the next chapter or book or job until I can no longer concentrate on what I’m doing. Open a computer in front of me and I will leap from website to website, reading a bit here and a bit there. I might begin to sort the laundry and become distracted by cleaning out my wardrobe, or organizing my jewellery. I am rarely without noise in my life. At home I have the television on whether I’m watching it or not. Or I turn on music, or listen to podcasts. Going to work there is the noise of the traffic. At work the office hums with voices and telephones.

So, at the beginning of the year, I decided it was time to learn the skill of stillness. And it is a skill. For someone who has always been on the move, flitting from one thing to another, surrounded by sound, stillness and silence is an effort.

For nearly a year I have begun every day by meditating. On work day mornings I have little time, so my meditation is short, a mere five minutes. On weekends I always double that, sometimes even triple it. I have a meditation app on my phone with a timer. It has several recorded meditations but I prefer to set the timer and do it myself. For the last few weeks, I have been working through a self-guided chakra meditation each morning.

Travelling to work by public transport gives me the opportunity to catch up on my reading. As it is not possible to change books or pick up other tasks on a tram or train, I have to focus on what I’m reading. Sometimes I read for information; self-help books or books which contain research for my writing, and sometimes I read for pleasure; mostly crime novels. I love this time, alone among others, lost in stories. Around me there might be noise, but within me there is stillness.

In the evenings, I’ve resisted the urge to turn on the television or the computer as soon as I walk in the door. I try to spend some time unwinding, changing into more comfortable clothes, shaking the work of the day from my shoulders. Often I will pause to watch the world pass by my window.

I find cooking very relaxing. Preparing the evening meal, chopping fresh vegetables, and then bringing flavours together to create something tasty is a way for me to de-stress. I still haven’t worked out how to make the decision of what to cook less stressful!

Right now the world around us is chaotic and often beyond comprehension. I hope that by learning to be still, I will become more resilient and less prone to stress.

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