How to Find Truth, and Love, in the Stillness
Be still, and listen. There is a soft, persistent noise in the stillness. A voice in the silence. This may sound contradictory by any reasonable standards, but I want to talk about how the stillness allows us to open up to our inner voice. The voice that has no vocal cords. The voice that is only heard within us. This voice can be both soft and gentle, and loud and obnoxious at the same time. It is the voice who’s message is more valuable than all the others that we place higher value on.
We need to be still to be able to hear this voice. The reason I wanted to write this blog about stillness is because I believe that we need to cultivate this ability to be still in order to really find ourselves. The external world is known for being noisy. For being overwhelming. And for pushing it’s ideas (and ideals) onto us. It is known for disconnecting us from our true selves. We need to find our way back. We need to separate ourselves from the noise and the influence of everything else out there. Everything around us. We need to remember that we are not our circumstances. That we are more than that. We need to turn back to what is our true essence and what matters to us, and this we will find in being still.
How to Embrace the Stillness
How can we hear our inner voice over the noise of the world around us? It takes a conscious effort and daily practice to achieve this. It takes knowing that that voice is there. Knowing that it is the one we need to listen to, and then knowing how to listen. Just like everything, we cannot expect to be experts at something we’ve never had practise in. If you have never learned to make decisions based on your gut feelings, for example, you won’t know how to trust them. You certainly wouldn’t expect to play the piano without practicing, that’s for sure! The same applies to allowing yourself to be open to the stillness that connects you to yourself.
Learning to embrace the stillness is a process of awareness, openness and surrender. You have to be willing. Your own inner voice cannot be heard if you are not willing. So, open your heart to the opportunity to listen first. When the desire to listen is there, finding the stillness becomes easier. Less resistance is what we are looking for here. We are taught to resist, even if we don’t realize it. Learning to trust is one of the toughest and greatest lessons we can learn, and it starts with trusting ourselves and a higher power. Stop looking outside of yourself for guidance and realize you will always be the best guide for your own life. You have your own path to travel, so why would you take directions from someone else that could lead you down an entirely different path?
I’ve always believed in taking time to just be alone. For me time alone has been my way to reconnect with myself and what lights me up. The more time I spend alone the more I enjoy my own company. I use this time to focus on the things I enjoy whether it’s reading, yoga, meditation or listening to a podcast. It’s precious time that I spend focusing on filling my cup, and you’ll notice that all of these (bar the podcasts) are activities spent in stillness. I find being still soothing and rejuvenating. In these moments I feel fully connected to myself and a higher power. I allow myself the quiet, both around and within me.
I think that when someone doesn’t enjoy being alone this is a sure sign that being alone is exactly what they need. They don’t need to jump right into a meditation or sitting alone in a quiet room, though. They can simply go for a walk by themselves or read a book. This is about learning to be comfortable with being alone first. Learning to gently welcome in the stillness. We don’t want to force ourselves to sit with our thoughts when we are not in a good place. Finding ways to relax and get into a positive frame of mind and then starting to give yourself more space for opening up to listening to your inner voice is the way to go.
Stillness in Daily Life
There is stillness to be found in daily activities too. For example, there are sports such as surfing, yoga or fishing that allow the stillness without being too much all at once. Then there are hobbies such as puzzles or cooking where you can separate yourself from the busyness of the mind and go into what could almost be described as a meditative state. Then, of course, there is actual meditation!
Meditation, for me, is like sitting in the eye of the storm. Everything continues to go on around you while you embrace the ever-present stillness within. There are no worries, no deadlines, no pressures. You are at peace. And the beauty of meditation is that you take a piece of that with you into your day. It is the single most impactful practise that I have found in my life and, although it takes some getting used to, it is so worth the hiccups you experience as a beginner. If you are a beginner head over and read Top 10 Meditation Tips for Beginners.
Don’t Forget Mindfulness
After meditation, mindfulness is the next best thing for helping you learn to be still. To me it is an ‘active meditation’. While it may not be focused on stilling the mind to where you can tune into your inner self, it does focus and still the mind towards the beauty of life. Mindfulness, like meditation, takes practise but there is something quite beautiful about seeing ‘beyond’ the surface level of our daily lives. Seeing the intricacies of the designs in nature, the miracle of a baby’s laughter or the purity of a kind gesture. The more we pay attention to what’s really happening and see the love and abundance around us instead of the lack and the worry, the more we feel the energy that we are part of. The more we feel connected.
With mindfulness comes the ability to be still. Soaking up the moment that a butterfly lands on your hand or that moment that the fragrance of freshly squeezed lemon swirls up into your nostrils, these are moments that open the door to stillness. They give you reason to pause. With that, you become aware and awareness is the key that you will need when you begin your meditation practise. Awareness is the tool that you use to bring yourself back when your mind wanders, and it is the tool that helps you enjoy that moment of stillness when it arrives.
Why Listen to the Stillness?
You might be wondering, ‘why do we need to sit and listen to that voice that is only heard in the stillness’? We all have an inner truth, an inner guidance, that doesn’t like to push to be heard. It is the voice of our soul, and it is quiet and patient. If we take the time and honour ourselves by listening to this voice, we step into our true selves. We become the person we are meant to be.
What I find is that listening to your own thoughts is a fantastic starting point for learning to understand yourself. Start by listening to the thoughts, then decide which ones are welcome and which ones aren’t. Learn from them. You might find that sitting with your own thoughts, and analysing them, may be a necessary step for you to be able to reach the coveted stillness. A ‘clearing out of the cobwebs’, so to speak.
Release the Worry
Worry has the power to consume us. In my life worry has had a strangle hold on me and, through my meditation practise, I have learned that it is possible to loosen the grip. When you sit in the stillness long enough you start to realize that you spend a lot of time living like you are under threat. Scared. This is no way to live and, sadly, is just not necessary. We are safe. In our daily, everyday existence, we are safe. Our physical safety is rarely under threat. And, yet, we worry like it is. We obsess. We fret.
There are times in all of our lives where we need to be aware of our safety, and being aware of danger is an essential life skill. But, we have over-used this muscle! Consider your life right now. Do you see how you worry and cause stress where you don’t need to? Is there any real point worrying about whether you are 10min late to a party or whether you vacuumed your house before your visitors arrived? And yet, these small things actually get us behaving like there is a tiger at our backs. Stressed to the hilt over things that, in a blink of an eye, are over and forgotten. What lingers, though, is the stress you have created in your body! Stress is so harmful and so much of it is for nothing. This is a lesson we all need to learn as quickly as possible because it can affect our entire lives. And, with simple tools we can change it all!
Slow and Steady
A lot, if not all of us, don’t like to be alone with our thoughts. They plague us, gnaw at us. Whether it’s the nagging of the shopping list that must not be forgotten or the dwelling on the heated argument you had with your daughter, these thoughts are persistent. They are like a stubborn child stamping their feet, determined to be heard. And I know how it feels to not want to sit with those thoughts. What we need to know, though, is that you have to start it to get through it.
The trick is to sit in the stillness long enough to be able to let the thoughts drift past you as if they have been carried away by the wind. Don’t condemn yourself for having thoughts, it is a process. When you have a thought say to yourself ‘I’m having a thought’. This will help you to separate yourself from the overthinking brain and return to the stillness.
Find, or Be, Love
When you sit in meditation, or spend some time in mindfulness, you will find that it opens the door to love. It is like sitting in a love bubble, with all those warm and fuzzy feelings you would expect. Let the stillness be this warm hug. Feel your own bodies energy, feel the beating of your heart. Focus on just ‘being’. Remember, as you sit there, that you are enough as you are.
My last bit of advice I’d like to offer is to be kind to yourself. Remember that the goal is to open up to your true essence. So, when negative voices show up remind yourself that the gentle, soft-spoken voice that is waiting to be heard has nothing but loving words for you. Let the ‘chatter’ go and wait for the love and kindness that will show itself in the stillness.
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