With all the busyness and technological clutter in our lives, we’ve forgotten the art of being still. That could be a problem. Taking time for being still helps to reduce stress. Less stress leads to less anxiety. I’ve struggled with anxiety and I’ve found that being still is one of the best cures.
When Was The Last Time You Practiced Being Still?
Many people think of being still as a form of meditation or prayer. It could be. But it doesn’t have to be. Being still has more to do with quieting our minds. We know that our minds are bombarded with a crapload of information these days. And that’s exactly why it’s so important to let our minds be still on a regular basis.
Be still. Just for a moment. Listen to the world around you. Feel your breath coming in and going out. Listen to your thoughts. See the details of your surroundings. Be at peace with being still. – Leo Babauta of Zen Habits
There are many ways of being still. I’ve even found that we can be still while we are in motion. It’s the stillness of the mind that we’re after. It’s something that gets lost in this rush-rush world. But I’ve found some intentional and simple ways of being still.
7 Ways To Be Still
- Sitting in silence: I have a room in my house that is furnished with nothing but a single chair. It’s a good place to go to practice being still. I don’t have set times to sit, but I spend a few minutes several times a week, just sitting in that chair. It doesn’t have to be a room or a chair. I’ve also created a small zen garden behind my house. It’s another great place for being still. You can be still in your office, at the park, or on a bus. The point is to simply be silent. That means no technology or mental distractions.
- Walking in silence: Walking might be the all-time best exercise for you. If you walk in silence, you can still your mind while you’re in motion. Focus on what you see and what you hear. Clear your mind of the daily clutter. Walking can be meditative. The same goes for running and biking.
- Getting out into nature: There’s nothing like a pristine lake, a lonesome prairie, or a mountaintop to help you still your mind. When life gets too busy and stressful, I make a point to get into nature. It doesn’t have to be a long trip. Even a local park can be enough of a natural setting for being still. When was the last time you got out into nature?
- Gardening: Last summer, I started gardening. The results were great. Not only did I grow my own food and teach Annie about gardening, but I discovered that gardening helps to still the mind. But it’s not just gardening. You can find stillness in raking the leaves, washing the dishes, or folding the clothes. The key is to be present in the moment.
- Meditative prayer: One problem with traditional prayer is that we are often asking for things. This keeps our mind busy. Meditative prayer is a bit different. You simply sit quietly and repeat a simple mantra. This has tremendous power to still your mind.
- Writing a journal: This might seem at odds with stilling the mind, but I’ve discovered that writing can be very meditative. When we write a journal, we express our thoughts and emotions. It’s that thoughtful process that helps us to empty our minds of the normal clutter. In the end, this leads to a sense of contentment. It helps us to be still.
- Playing music: Playing the drums is one of the most meditative things I’ve ever done. You might think that’s a contradiction, but when you practice quiet, repetitive rhythms, you become more in tune with every noise and movement around you. Your body may be in motion, but your mind becomes so focused that you enter a unique place of being still.
The Key Is To Eliminate Distractions
In all of these methods of being still, there is one universal truth: you need to let go of all the internal and external distractions. Distractions may still be present, and you may be acutely aware of everything going on, but you reach a point of detachment. You gain the ability to be still in the midst of the distractions. You are aware and alert, but not worried, anxious, or consumed by anything other than your present stillness of mind.