Life is moving so fast that it’s going to take all of us to an early grave. Unfortunately, many of us will end up on our death bed feeling like we have somehow missed the whole point of life.
To truly live your life, it is essential for you learn how to be still. This thought actually confuses or terrifies most people. It’s confusing because we really don’t understand what it means to “be still”. You are not still when you sit and watch television, or sit and think, or hang around and fill time. You are still when you calm your mind and your body and you sit with yourself – no distractions inside or outside of yourself. There is just the awareness of the sensations of your body, mind, and spirit rising and falling. You are aware of them but you don’t follow them or gnaw on them like a bone.
It’s terrifying to be still because when we are still, everything we have been running away from catches up to us: our fears, insecurities, failures, shortcomings, hurts, longings, or lists of things to do. There is a frantic sense of urgency and a feeling of somehow being left behind or missing out on something. Worse yet, there can be a deep sense of loneliness and emptiness that feels intolerable.
This doesn’t have to happen. We can be still and find it to be the greatest pleasure in our life. First, you will actually get to live your life in the here and now – no ruminating about the past and no fretting about the future. There is just the here and now in all its beautiful, imperfect, and real presence. You become aware of it, and you are living it and not missing anything! This is living fully and well.
Second, be still and you will experience every physical, mental, and emotional sensation. This is why we have a physical body and a mind; to feel and to experience. Don’t run from it. Have the courage just once to move toward your deep inner experience. Find the strength to stand in there and take in all of what it means to be you – the good, the bad, and the ugly. I guarantee that if you do it once, you will want more of it. It may be scary at first, but this is you and it is actually familiar territory. These sensations are the proof of your aliveness and are your anchor in the present moment. Fail to pay attention and you will miss your life. No sensations, no life. No sensations and you are a lifeless corpse – and there is time enough for that when your life is over. Value the bad as well as the good. If there is no bad, there would be no good and you would be bored to death. We need the contrast to feel alive and we are a unique mixture of both good and bad. It is like the colors of a rainbow.
Third, and most important, if you can be still, you will see your own divine nature. You will achieve enlightenment, nirvana, bliss, God – whatever you want to call it. You will understand what this life is all about and you will quit taking yourself so seriously. You will fall in love with yourself and your life – not in an ego way (I am the greatest) but in a spiritual way (I am perfect right now in my innermost being). Once you have seen who you really are, you will be able to come back here any time. This is the core of who you are and this is the place where you are in control of your life. You can rescue yourself and come back here anytime you are pulled away by your regrets, your emotions, your thoughts, or the myriad of people, things, and events that tug at you and distress you every moment of every day.
If there is a gift I could give to everyone who reads this, it is the gift of being able to be still. In stillness you will find pure and unrelenting self-love – just the way you are in this moment. You will know that you are never alone as you are always an expression of the divine. In stillness, you reawaken and reaffirm this knowledge.
When you are still, you accept life – you watch it unfold, you experience it, and you stop resisting. You see what a waste of time and energy it is to worry, judge, regret, fear, fret, struggle, and to try to control everyone and everything. When you are still, it will feel so good you will want more of it. Here’s how you can get more of it.
- Make time to be quiet and still your mind. Learn to meditate or pray, or take a course in mindfulness. Be creative as true creativity comes from this stillness.
- Make time to strengthen and cleanse your body. Your body is the vehicle that carries you through life and it is through your body that your life energy flows. Clear this channel so that the expression of your true nature can flow freely.
- Do the work to cleanse your mind. Decide to let go of the past; it is done. Decide to accept and love who you are today. You cannot change the past but from this moment on you can begin to work on being a better human being and you can do this every moment of every day for the rest of your life. Simply express your true nature. You know what the virtues are: practice them each and every moment of every day. Instead of filling your mind with all of the junk that is identified above, choose to fill your mind and your time practicing virtuous behaviour. This isn’t to impress anyone else or to get a good citizen award. You do this because it feels good; it makes you happy; it clears the way for the expression of your true nature; and it increases your love of self because you are more accurately reflecting your true self.
- Rest in your spirit. Your true nature is your spirit. You are not your body, or your mind, or your emotions. These are tools for you to use as you live this life. Do not let them control you. When you see or feel yourself getting frantic, angry, scared, bored, hurt, lonely, depressed, or out of control, give yourself a time-out to rest in your spirit. Be still. Push the world back, remind yourself of your true nature and come back to this center. Remind yourself you are never alone; you are the expression of something universal and eternal. Then step back into the stream of the everyday world and welcome all of it as this wonderful thing called life.
Shirley Vandersteen, Ph. D., R. Psych.