Sunday, February 14, 2010

Stillness is a Powerful Action

Stillness is a Powerful Action.....
by Leo Babauta
Zen Habits blog

It’s a bias of our culture that stillness is regarded as lazy, as being stuck in inaction, as a negative.

It’s not. It’s an action, and a powerful one.

What’s more, it can change your day, and in doing so change your life.

You’re in the middle of a frazzled day, swamped by work and meetings and emails and interruptions, or hassled by kids and phone calls and errands and chores. You pause. Stay still for a minute, and breathe. You close your eyes, and find a stillness within yourself. This stillness spreads to the rest of your body, and to your mind. It calms you, centers you, focuses you on what you’re doing right now, not on all you have to do and all that has happened.

The stillness becomes a transformative action.

Stillness can be a powerful answer to the noise of others. It can be a way to push back against the buzz of the world, to take control. It can remind you of what’s important.

How to Practice Stillness, oddly, doesn’t come naturally to many people. So practice.

1. Start your day in stillness. Whether it’s sitting with a cup of coffee as the world awakes, or sitting on a pillow and focusing on your breath, stillness is a powerful way to start your day. It sets the tone for things to come. Even 5-10 minutes is great.

2. Take regular stillness breaks. Every hour, set an alarm on your computer or phone to go off. Think of it as a bell that rings, reminding you to be still for a minute. During this minute, focus first on your breathing, to bring yourself into the present. Let the worries of the world around you melt away — all that is left is your breath. And then let your focus expand beyond your breath to your other senses, one at a time.

3. When chaos roars, pause. In the middle of a crisis or a noisy day, stop. Be still. Take a deep breath, and focus on that breath coming in, and going out. Find your inner stillness and then let your next action come from that stillness. Focus on that next action only.

Let stillness become your most powerful action. It could change your life.

“Through return to simple living Comes control of desires. In control of desires Stillness is attained. In stillness the world is restored.” ~ Lao Tzu

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Folding Laundry

I just finished folding laundry. I tried... I REALLY tried to be present with the laundry, but just how stimulating is it to be present with a pair of socks?

I even turned off the TV. Usually I sit and watch TV while I fold, just to take my mind off the folding... BUT that is exactly what this year long experiment is all about - being more present no matter where I am or what I am doing...... being with the folding and being with the socks and not, instead, being lulled off by Matt, Merideth and Al.

For those of you who know my Simply Spirituality blog I've written about my laundry folding friend. I wrote about her in the July 2009 post titled Taking Stock/Mindfulness. She folds laundry more peacefully than anyone I've ever seen! I actually enjoy watching her fold laundry because of that sense of peace she brings to it. (Yes, I know that sounds a little nutty!) I will just add that this is a very busy person with her own business, kids, pets, a house.... but when it comes to folding laundry she slows down somehow!

As a follow up, when I was at her house recently, we were in her daughter's room. My friend picked up a FITTED sheet and calmly folded it as we talked. I have trouble staying present folding the socks.... I doubt that I have ever folded a fitted sheet in any manner resembling peace or presence. In my book, that is definitely something to be over and done and finished with in as little time as possible. If there's a few wrinkles, no one will notice when you put it on the bed again! ; )

I am going to ask for tips below in the comment section. I would especially like to hear from my laundry folding friend, if she will give all of us, some of her tips and explain how she accomplishes this feat! That is if she can fit it in, in between all those other things she has going on!

Join me in the present!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Shoveling Snow

Last night it snowed, so that groundhog in Pennsylvania seems correct at least for the moment here in Minnesota! So adding to my morning routine included shoveling the sidewalk so the kids could walk to school. I really did not have time for it given that I still had to make breakfast, pack lunches, and get everyone out the door on time, but shoveling did still have to be done.

About half way down the sidewalk, I realized that while my body was outside shoveling, my mind was inside thinking of everything I still had to do. I also found that my body was racing as fast as I could go to get this over with as fast as possible.

First thing - I realized this! Progress! (YAY!)

Next thing I did was SLOOOOOW WAAAAY down. I actually stopped for a moment and looked around. No one was outside. It was silent! The only sign of life was the set of bunny tracks across the back yard! I looked across the yard at the evergreen trees with snow on them that looked like a Hallmark card! The air was crisp and cold on my nose and cheeks.

I took a breath and realized that THIS WAS IT! This is what I wanted to write about on this blog - PRESENCE, STILLNESS - the stillness was palatable. I wish I had better words to convey what it felt like for that moment.... maybe PEACE comes close.

About that time a school bus came by reminding me that my own kids still needed attention inside, so back to the shoveling.... but this time with ATTENTION and PRESENCE! The Universe was working in my favor today since the snow was light and fluffy and easy to shovel. Each step, I stayed in the moment, place the shovel, lift, toss the snow.... again, place the shovel, lift and toss. A sort of rhythm began.... over and over up the walk way. When I got to the end, I found myself wishing I wasn't finished already.

Tip to take from this post.... when one is present, there is no time or time seems to fly!

Join me in the present!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

February Focus

For the next month, February 2010, the focus of these posts will be on the actual chopping and carrying. That is presence during tasks, chores and work. This seemed appropriate to address first, since this is the title of the blog! I invite you to think about the chores and/or work in your own life and how you might bring more presence to them.

Each month the posts will have a different focus such as food, people, recreation, meditation, but not exclusive of other things that may be going on with presence. Also, let me know in the comments section below if there is particular topic you would like to see addressed.

Join me in the present!