When You Need Stillness
Lately, my mind has felt very crowded. There are so many thoughts bumping up against each other in my brain.
You have sooooo much to do. Did you call this person? Pay that bill? Run that errand? You have to revise your book! And think of topics for this month’s articles. You have sooooo much to do. Is it time for grocery shopping? Did you bring that coupon? Nope! Forgot it like you always do. You need to budget better. You have to revise your book! Did you take out the laundry? You need to sweep and wash the floors. The bathroom is not looking good. Why aren’t you writing on your personal blog? You’re soooo behind on email. Did you call that person? Pay that bill? Run that errand? You have to revise your book!
All day long my brain is a tennis court, thoughts ping-ponging back and forth, back and forth. My brain feels like a supermarket, carts screeching, people yelling, parents trying to wrangle their kids away from the candy aisle.
I was writing about my busy brain in my journal, and I realized that what I yearn for today, right now, is stillness.
Maybe you, too, want to have some quiet time because your brain has been buzzing. Maybe you, too, yearn for a break from all the stimulation, whether it’s inside or outside your brain.
I made a list of all the ways I can savor stillness to remind myself that, indeed, it does exist. I hope you find them helpful, as well.
- Empty your brain. Journal about these thoughts, which don’t stop coming. Pour out the thoughts onto your paper like water from a glass.
- Find a guided meditation that resonates with you. Here are some options: this 18-minute meditation; these meditations from UCLA; and these meditations from Tara Brach.
- Take a walk, and focus on your feet touching the ground. Don’t look around. Simply look straight ahead, and repeat the word “walking” or even “feet” to kind of cleanse your mind (like you do when you take a bit of ginger to cleanse your palate after each sushi roll).
- Smell something soothing. This is also like a cleansing for your senses. It’s similar to smelling coffee beans in between different perfumes so you can really take in the aroma of each one.
- Stare at an object for one to five minutes. Set an alarm on your phone for the specific time. What happens the longer you stare?
- Go to the library or bookstore. Find a book of poetry. Then find a quiet hidden spot, breathe in the scents — coffee, pastries, old books — and lose yourself in the flowers, love, compassion, curiosity, creativity, wildness of the words.
- Wear ear plugs. Because I’m a highly sensitive person, there are many days when the world becomes too loud for me. And I live in a relatively quiet and small city. But I get overwhelmed. So I wear my ear plugs while I’m at home, even though the only noises I hear are the squirrel running across the roof, an occasional siren, the roar of the lawnmower, and the garage or recycling truck picking up, and passing by. That’s because a lot of the noise resides inside my mind.
- Go to the quietest room in your house, and just sit there. Sometimes, this room will be the bathroom. And that is totally OK.
- Find a bench at a park. Read a book, or look at the trees swaying. Or watch how the sun illuminates even the dirtiest of leaves or gunk on the ground, and makes them magical.
I’d love to know — What helps you get still and quiet? What brings you peace when you need it most?