There is a balance between doing and being in our lives. Another way to put that is that in order to be most effective with the stuff we do in our lives, we need to take time out for stillness.
Stillness doesn't have to mean doing nothing. Many of the clients I work with cry out in dismay at the very thought of simply being still. But I believe stillness is a very necessary component to a happy life. When I begin counseling work with a client, one of the first things I do is find out what practices they use to be still. Very often, implementing a practice such as journaling or meditation is all that is needed to restore a life filled with chaos to one filled with peace.
If we look to Mother Nature as an example, we will see that there are periods of calm, and periods of...well, not so calm. We will see trees lying dormant in winter, looking almost dead, yet when spring comes all of a sudden there is a rush of activity on those same trees. If we look to religion as an example, we are told that there is a time to tear down and a time to build. Physically, we must rest every day, for about 8 hours, or risk reduced effectiveness in our doings. Continue with a lack of sleep and eventually psychosis sets in. Psychologically, we need a good, balanced combination of laughter and solemnity, play time and work time, or we risk a feeling of perhaps not fitting in, or feeling like something is missing from our lives.
Most of us, in our active lives, might tend to ignore the need for stillness and quiet. Doing so prevents us from enjoying all the beauty and wonders that life has to offer.
We are approaching a new year. It is a time of resolutions and a determined effort to begin anew for most of us. And yet studies show that resolutions made at this time of year are rarely kept for very long. Instead of making a resolution, make a committment. Commit to spending a period of time, every day, in stillness. Even if you are a mother with children who follow you to the bathroom, you can still find at least a couple of minutes during which you can breathe.....simply breathe.
How do you practice stillness in your life?
Sometimes it is beneficial to spend some time with your head in the clouds.
Studies have shown that when you allow your thoughts to drift aimlessly you activate a creativity app in your mind.
Creativity helps us in many ways. It's not just about artistic creativity. It's also about resting. Have you ever lost something and searched high and low for it, ending up frustrated because you couldn't find it? Then you turn to another task and forget about it for a while, and all of a sudden the location of your lost item "magically" appears in your mind.
Spending time with your head in the clouds, at rest, is like that. Let it rest and roam, and do this on a regular basis, and suddenly a "magical" solution to something you've been pondering will appear.
I was having a chat with someone today who told me that she had been feeling a bit depressed lately. Nothing clinical mind you; if you find yourself unable to get out of bed or with suicidal tendencies due to depression, contact a physician. I'm talking about those down days that we all get sometimes, seemingly for no reason.
But there is a reason. Many times, a feeling of being down or mildly depressed can be a message from the body that it is time to rest. The body contains wisdom and it will send us messages that it is time to be doing something different with our lives; mild depression is one of those messages.
If you are feeling mildly depressed, or a bit down, or just unmotivated to do much, consider what your body is trying to tell you:
- Have you been burning the candle at both ends? There is a reason most religions advocate a day of rest. Even the ancients recognized that we all need a period of rest in our lives. If you work seven days a week (self employed people are very good at this!), take a break. Force yourself if you have to. You'll find you are much more productive when you return.
- Get enough sleep. We are a chronically sleep deprived population. In spite of the fact that we need about 8 hours of sleep per day, most people allow themselves 6 or even less. This lowers your immune system and your productivity, as well as reaction times when driving or operating machinery.
- Investigate: have you experienced a loss lately? Even small losses can trigger a need to rest, which is what mild depression feels like. Or perhaps you've recently had a medical procedure? The more invasive, the more your body will need to rest, hence the feelings of mild depression. Anniversaries can also sometimes trigger a feeling of mild depression.
The key, no matter what the cause for feeling down, is to honor it. Take a nap, go spend a half day or an evening at a spa, get a massage or a pedicure, go to a museum and aimlessly wander, go for a walk. And talk about how you are feeling. A simple conversation with a caring person can work wonders!
If you honor the message of a mild depression, you will learn something about yourself and feel better in the process!