I’m the type. The one with who’s checking her email on her smartphone until the very last minute when the yoga teacher walks through the door. The one who everyone can count on to get an almost immediate response from at work. The one who stirs the pot of spaghetti while talking on the phone while reading the magazine. That one.
To add insult to injury, I’m also the one teaching mindfulness to individuals with trauma and eating disorders. You might call me a hypocrite, but I prefer to say that I’m practicing, just like everyone else.
Like many of us, I struggle with stillness. Settling into a moment of peace and tranquility doesn’t come particularly easy to me. In meditation I look like someone who’s being slowly tortured or like someone told me that I’ll get ten thousand dollars to sit still.
The thing is, I believe wholeheartedly in stillness. Eckhart Tolle says, “Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found.” I believe the dude. When I think back on the major decisions in my life – where to move after graduate school, who to call my lifelong partner, whether to buy that obscenely expensive bag (the answer was no, if you were wondering) – I can draw a direct correlation between the quality of my decisions and my level of stillness in making them.
When I was able to arrive at a place of stillness, I found the answers to my dilemma would come to me. And not only that, but they would arrive accompanied by a sense of security and rightness. When I gave myself the chance to sit with my internal wisdom, I – amazingly enough –used it and felt at peace with it. When I made a decision outside of my place of stillness (e.g. that bag), I have often found myself left with a sense of discord and regret.
But how do we cultivate stillness, the kind we need to intuit our inner most wisdom, in this chaotic world?
I have to first create the space for stillness to take root. This can mean turning down the fifth dinner invitation this week and setting aside time to be alone. By myself. For extroverts, this can be a scary thought. But it’s hard to hear that little voice inside your head when it’s constantly drowned out by your in-laws or your friends.
It helps me to create the physical space too. Emotional ease comes when I feel physically at ease as well, so establishing a safe, peaceful environment is vital to allowing myself to disengage from the outside world. In my world, this means simple lines, soft colors, and, usually, Adele on the stereo.
I notice my mind, running through the days events. I don’t judge or try to move beyond them. I let them run their course. Hello, thoughts. Welcome to my brain today. I check in with how I am feeling – pleased? desperate? hopeful? jealous? excited? pissed off?
Then, I get quiet. I don’t talk, and I also don’t check e-mail or Google Reader or Facebook or Twitter. I don’t even write. I just try to find that little place inside my brain where all the jibber jabber of the day can melt away. I breathe. Deeply.
I can’t say it happens often, but when it does it feels like magic. My thoughts float by, unapologetically. My mind feels light instead of heavy. My body feels grounded in the now. I am still. I am.
Ashley Solomon is a clinical psychologist, budding foodie, yogi-in-the-making, and body-acceptance advocate.
She treats individuals with food, body, and mood concerns. She also maintains an active blog, Nourishing the Soul, where she shares thoughts, inspiration, and resources for anyone who wants to develop a better relationship with food, body, or self.