“Returning to the source is stillness. It is returning to one’s fate. Returning to one’s fate is eternal.”
Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu
Stillness, may be one of the most challenging states to discover in society today. It seems everywhere we look everything and everyone is moving at 100pmh, even time passes us by at an even greater speed. And with faster technology and stronger performance abilities breaking world records by the day, and world news travelling to us at the speed of light, it doesn’t look like that’s about to change anytime soon.
Finding stillness in this crazy life, although difficult, is a necessity. If we don’t find stillness we cease to allow ourselves time to heal, time to be peaceful, time to just be. If our mind is working overtime the whole time, then we can start to feel ungrounded, stressed and anxious, and thus our inner stillness feels even further away. When we find ourselves caught in a cycle where peace and calm are just long distant memories, it is easy to carry on down that road, but what we really need is to pull back, find space, seek some stillness, and then we can move forward with a sense of clarity, and an inner calm that can guide us through.
No matter how far away from stillness we feel, we can start the journey to back to it again at any point. Think about it like a little pond within us, when undisturbed by ripples and small currents (feelings and emotions), the pond is still. Even by imagining the stillness of the pond we can feel a sense of calm ourselves. When disturbed, the change in the water (our being) is noticeable, sometimes even the smallest of pebbles can make the biggest disturbances in the water, however, once disturbed, eventually, with patience, the water settles back to its natural state, which is stillness.
A peaceful, still state is also our natural state, yet how many of us feel peaceful and calm most of the time? We are lucky if we find a few minutes in the day for it, we may find it when in nature or with the practice of our favourite hobby or spiritual practice…but is it present when we truly need it, in those moments when life throws at us the ungrounding stones that are inevitable and present always.
Many people now report feeling stressed most of the time. When we are in a constant state of stress our bodies are responding from the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which is responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response of producing adrenaline and cortisol in the body. Yoga helps regulate the nervous system by increasing vagal tone, the body’s ability to successfully respond to stress, switch off the SNS when we are not in a stressful situation. Improvements in vagal tone have been shown to correlate with reductions in allostatic load (the amount of stress we accumulate over time), yoga also helps increase resilience and well-being as a result of this positive impact on vagal tone. It is here that we can start to release tension from the body and mind, and eventually find some space for peace in our lives.
In our next special practice we will explore stillness, using yogic tools that we can access at any time in the day or night, this includes breathwork (pranayama), embodied movement (vinyasa), restorative postures (perfect to help relieve stress and anxiety), meditation to help us ground in ourselves and yoga nidra to help us explore the stillness present within, whilst practicing staying aware in our practice, allowing us to immerse ourselves fully and listen to what our experience is revealing to us.
Finding stillness is a forever practice, we constantly have to explore our inner landscape and our place in the world around us to stay connected to it. Once we have the tools to explore our journey to stillness, our awareness starts to refine and the whole process becomes a little easier. If you would like to join us on this journey we will be Exploring Stillness on Friday 28th June, 6.30 – 8pm, this will be a truly nourishing and healing practice to help you feel rejuvenated, calm and still. If you have any questions or would like to book, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“At watershed moments of upheaval and transformation, we anticipate with terror the absence of the familiar parts of life and of ourselves that are being washed away by the current of change. But we fail to envision the unfamiliar gladness and gratifications the new tide would bring, the unfathomed presences, for our imaginations are bounded by our experience. The unknown awakens in us a reptilian dread that plays out with the same ferocity on scales personal, societal, and civilizational, whether triggered by a new life-chapter or a new political regime or a new world order. It is the same dread to which the Inquisition gave shape and sinew in punishing all who dared to consider that the universe might be far vaster and more mysterious than the consolations of mythology had preached for millennia. To be a revolutionary is to be in possession of an imagination capable of leaping across the frontier of the familiar to envision a new order in which what is gained eclipses the ill-serving comforts of what is lost.”
Figuring, Maria Popova