The power of stillness
Greetings from a crisp autumnal day in Brixton. In my last blog, I talked about the need I'd had to find movement and the joy of connecting with nature. These things have helped me so much during the strange de ja vu of a second lockdown. But something I've been really thinking about is my continual aversion to stillness. I confronted this head on when someone asked me, 'why do you think you are afraid of being still?'
This question kept on percolating until I found myself reading Glennon Doyle's beautiful memoir, 'Untamed' (I cannot recommend it enough). In one section of the book, she talks about her terror of stillness and how she forced herself to sit in a dark cupboard for twenty minutes a day...and do you know what happened? She eventually connected with her core self.
Immediately, I realised that I avoid stillness as a way to avoid being with myself. As a way to avoid confronting the things that frighten me about myself, to avoid the terror of what happens in the silence, and from a deep seated fear of what might happen if I allow change to happen within myself. My habits, anxieties and behavioural patterns have become good old friends that live in my brain and body, and, I suppose that I am frightened of what happens to me if I ask them to step aside. What the hell is in this void of stillness? Well, I've been trying to find out. Everyday, for 10-30 minutes, I am sitting in silence, whether that's using a meditation app, or doing a group meditation led by the brilliant Gurpreet at Brixton Yoga.
More importantly, I am not trying to quiet my mind. I am not trying to achieve 'meditation'.. I am not trying to change anything or experience anything in particular. I am just showing up with curiosity. Meditation or the failure to meditate will not be a stick I use to beat myself with, rather an interesting exercise where I allow myself to learn a little bit more about myself each day. And if that sounds self-indulgent, well so be-it. I think we all have room to be self-indulgent for thirty minutes a day, especially if that self-indulgence helps us to move freely for the rest of the day. Even in the last few weeks I can notice a significant change. Rather than making me some blissed out chick walking on cloud nine, I feel stronger and more resilient. I listen to my internal alarm that goes off if something makes me uncomfortable rather than letting anxiety take over and I can very quickly locate my anxiety in my body in a way I have never been able to before. Meditation is allowing me to listen to my body and mind in an authentic way. So, it's not what I expected. It's better!
For anyone interested in getting started with meditation, there are some brilliant Apps out there including Insight Timer (free), The Calm App, and Waking Up App. You can also just start by sitting for five minutes a day in quiet space and focusing on your breath. Maybe even just two minutes...