Christian Reifsteck, Standing Stones Healing Co.
Let’s face it: our lives are often a blur. We run from activity to activity, rush to work, rush home, rush the kids to soccer practice. We cook dinner, clean up, crash on the couch, and get up the next morning to do it all again.
How do we break out of this rat race and create stillness amidst the chaos? We cultivate small moments of mindfulness. Stillness does not need to be an extended break to help us recharge and reset. Here are three recommendations from my own life for creating stillness within your busy schedule:
1. Go for a walk.
Walking is an excellent way to take a time out from a hectic life. Because you can only go as fast as your legs can carry you, it’s a quick way to go slow. Julia Cameron in Vein of Gold: A Journey to Your Creative Heart, states that, in our culture, “We “run” ourselves ragged. Convinced that if we just do more and go faster we will succeed, we often lose the pulse of our own lives. We can find it again by walking.” As a simple, basic activity, walking can bring us back in touch with our divinity.
But when walking for stillness, it’s important to slow down, turn off the phone and devices, and bring mindfulness to the experience. Rather than sending a text or listening to music, lift your head, look around, and pay attention to your surroundings. This will allow you to take a break, clear your head, change your mindset, and rest, relax, and refresh. Even a quick walk around the block or in the office parking lot at lunch will provide a few minutes of mindfulness.
Every morning, the first thing I do is go for a walk. The sun is not yet up, most people are not yet up, and my only companion is the early morning stars. It’s a great way to start the day, and I often end up walking for an hour, during which I have creative thoughts, gain new perspectives, and enjoy peace and quiet before the thrum of day begins.
2. Have a cup of tea.
Each evening, I close out the day with a cup of tea. Like my quiet morning walk, it’s a way to create an intentional time for stillness and an opportunity to reflect on the day and give gratitude. Tea, especially herbal or decaf, is a soothing drink that will help you to unwind no matter when you drink it.
While I like to drink tea, you may want to enjoy some other beverage. I do, however, recommend herbal or a lightly caffeinated tea for creating a cozy experience. But the importance of this recommendation isn’t what you drink so much as how you drink it. Approach your drink with the intention to unwind and relax no matter when you enjoy it. Though I drink a cup each evening, I also sometimes make a cup in the afternoon with the purpose of taking a short break. It only takes a few minutes to drink a cup of tea, but a few minutes is all you need to create a few moments of respite.
Breathing is the #1 quickest way to create stillness and shift your frame of mind. Numerous spiritual teachers recognize the power of the breath to center us and create feelings of calm during our hectic lives. As Thich Nhat Hanh says in his book Making Space, “In our busy society, it’s a great fortune to be able to sit and breathe consciously from time to time.” Breathing provides numerous benefits (in addition to the obvious one of keeping you alive), and I personally begin each Reiki ceremony or card reading with three deep cleansing breaths to clear the energy, reset my mindset, and begin creating sacred space.
Taking a breath is our very first action, and the power of breathing never leaves us, though it’s something we do all of the time without thinking. But when we focus on our breath, we are instantly aware of the present moment. For an ever present way to create stillness in your busy life, bring your awareness to the in breath and the out breath.
Even doing this for one breath will bring you a moment of mindfulness, but breathing consciously a few times takes only a minute with no preparation, special place, or equipment necessary. Air is always around us, and it never ceases to amaze me that the one thing we need the most is with us in abundance in all moments: we have only to open ourselves up to it and draw it in. Do this with awareness, intention, and even gratitude, and you will create an immediate moment of stillness amid the craziness of life.