Stillness

Raise your hand if you’re in training to win the busy Olympics. My arm is firmly up in the air; how about yours? Busy is the new competitive sport and the newest emotion in our repertoire—right alongside anger, fear, disgust, happiness, sadness, surprise.

In fact, I bet it’s the most common response you receive when you ask anyone these days: How are you? Oh, you know. Busy.

At every turn we’re encouraged to be busy: at work, at home, while commuting, in our relationships, even on our “vacations.” It’s the new yardstick in conversation: Which of us is busiest?

We wear our ability to multitask, to drive ourselves into the ground, as badges of honor. It’s a condition that has seeped into yoga as well. You can hear it in the foyers of yoga studios everywhere: who’s hustling most to get their practice on. We catalogue the studios we’ve traveled to; the teachers we’ve studied with; the trainings, retreats, and workshops we’ve done.

The great irony becomes that yoga—the very thing that is supposed to bring us to the still point—becomes more noise and more doing, rather than more quieting and stilling.

What we may not notice is that our penchant to “busy” ourselves is, at heart, our shield against feeling-the-feelings. Because this is precisely what would happen if we were to set it all down: We’d come face-to-face with our mortality, our vulnerability, our sadness, our boredom, our anger. We’d run up against the very fact of our humanness.

Busy allows us to keep grasping onto our own self-importance, our skewed sense of worth. But you know as well as I do that the longer we hold onto that sense of worth, the more fiercely we’ll be grasping when it’s time to let it go.

And there will come a time that we’ll have to let it go.

So can we be still? Can we hop off the wheel of that socially-sanctioned busy-ness and take the courageous journey inward, toward stillness? Can we sit quietly and witness our fluctuations, our heartache, the places we feel weak, the places we have work to do?

This is the true journey of yoga.

Dropping into internal stillness that allows us to hear our true selves, observe our deepest longings, and realize the difficult work of freeing ourselves from our endless mind loops into liberation.

I, for one, am committing to stillness. To putting my arm down and to stepping off the busy train as the season turns toward darker days. Wanna join me?

 

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