The Art of Stillness
When was the last time you where still? I mean truly still.
I worry sometimes about what lack of downtime is doing to us. Even in moments of boredom or waiting, I’m itching to pick up my phone to check out the latest tech news or watch a quick video on YouTube. When I go to work, I’m surrounded by todos. When I go home, I’m surrounded by even more reminders and todos.
Don’t get me wrong, phones are incredible! Crossing of a todo is amazing! But so is thinking. So is sitting with yourself, without a thing to do. And what about that todo you just crossed off. Why is it on your list in the first place? Is it something you MUST do, or is it something you have, or feel obligated to do?
There’s a lot that I want to do in life, but I often find myself not doing those things. I find myself doing other things. Things I have to do. And when it comes time for me to rest and re-energize myself, I do everything but rest and re-energize. And when I get another chance to do the things I want to do, I don’t because I don’t have enough energy to do them, which either stops me in my tracks or I push and will myself through — energy be damned — and then I have even less energy.
Is this why we are all so tired all the time? Is this why I’ve experienced chronic fatigue for the last two years? I think there’s more to it, but it sure isn’t helping.
That’s why I want to add more stillness in my life. I want to have and be the most energetic version of me I can be. I want to create an Art out of stillness.
The Art of Stillness
Here’s my required list of todos so far, 3 things you need —
Try not to sleep. This isn’t a space to nap — save that for nap time. No, this is a space for rest, which is a subtle difference. Sleeping is when we clock out, and allow our brain and subconscious to take over. Stillness is where we clock in. It’s 100% focus on the moment. Like a dog chasing a tennis ball, there is nothing else we are concerned with except exactly what we are experiencing in this moment.
Let your mind do what it wants to do. If you feel distracted without a pen and paper, grab a pen and paper. ABN. Always Bring a Notebook. Whenever I find myself somewhere with an idea and without something to jot it down on, I go crazy. ALL I CAN THINK ABOUT IS TRYING TO REMEMBER THAT ONE THING. Most of the time the idea is not much to look at, usually something random like a giraffe in a turtleneck sweater. But when a pen and paper, I can write it down and think about it later. Any somethings, that distract you from your nothing time, find a way to put it on pause in your mind, or use this space as an opportunity to follow the rabbit down the hole. The one exception is negativity. If you find yourself roasting yourself in your head, slap that nonsense out of you. Don’t waste your precious nothing time focus on negative, critical, painful endless cycles. Only constructive thinking aloud here in this nothing zone.
And finally —
No gadgets, no errands, no laundry or cleaning, no learning, no talking, no todo list, no something else I didn’t list. Just nothing. No filling the void. Feel the sun on your face. Listen to the rain or surrounding. Watch how you breath. If this sounds hippy dippy to you, than let this be your hippy dippy time. Walk, hike, bike, surf, skate, paddle, sit, lean, stand, sauna, swim if you must. But do it as slow as possible. If the phrase ‘The Art of Stillness’ didn’t sound so cool, I would probably call it ‘The Art of Slowness’.
Remember, the goal isn’t progress. In fact there is no goal. As soon as you make a goal for being still, you immediately lose the point of being still. The goal is nothing. And when you give time for nothing, you coincidentally create progress, and succeed at goals. Is that the point? No, nothing is. Is that confusing? Yes. Good, know you have something to ponder in your nothing time.
STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner