The more I think about thinking about nothing, the more comes into mind, such as, "Milk, bank, drycleaners, dinner...." "Okay", says my brain, "Back to nothingness", and there we go again, "Milk, bank, drycleaners, dinner." My brain continues to reply, "Ok is this over yet?" Sound familiar?
I then began to realize that my initial thinking was wrong. Coming up with a new definition of stillness addressed more than my first attempts. I really understand what stillness can become.
Stillness is not about focusing on nothingness;
It is about creating a clearing.
It is opening up an emotionally clutter-free space and allowing ourselves to feel and think and dream and question.
Once we can let go of our assumptions of what stillness and what meditation is supposed to be for us, we stand a better chance of opening ourselves up and confronting the next barrier to stillness; fear. And it can be big, big, fear.
It we stop long enough to create a quiet emotional clearing, the truth of our lives will invariably catch up with us.
We convince ourselves that if we stay busy enough and keep moving, reality will not be able to keep up. So we stay in front of the truth about how tired and scared and confused and overwhelmed we sometimes feel.
Of course, the irony is that the thing that is wearing us down is trying to stay out in front of feeling worn down. This is the self-perpetuating quality of anxiety. It feeds on itself.
In addition to fear, another barrier that gets in the way of both stillness and calm is how we are raised to think about these practices.
From very early in our lives, we get confusing messages about the value of calm and stillness.
Parents and teachers scream, "Calm down!" or "Sit still!" rather than actually modeling those behaviors they want to see. So instead of becoming practices we want to cultivate, calm gives us a way to perpetuate anxiety, and the idea of stillness makes us feel jumpy.
In our increasingly complicated and anxious world, we need more time to do less and be less. When we first start cultivating clam and stillness in our lives, it can be difficult, especially when we realize how stress and anxiety define so much of our daily lives.
But as our practices become stronger, anxiety loses its hold and we gain clarity about what we are doing, where we are going, and what holds true for us.
Brene Brown - The Gifts of Imperfection