In our modern world it’s incredibly difficult to find moments of stillness and calm amid our day-to-day lives. 24-hour news cycles bombard us with information about the latest crisis or the next thing to start worrying about. Electronic devices that promise to make life easier end up engulfing us in a virtual world – a world where we are always contactable, where we are always ‘on’.
This isn’t to say that our current world hasn’t improved many aspects of our lives, connecting us to those we love and offering new possibilities for learning and development. Yet it’s certainly true that our capacity for attention and energy is being stretched like never before, pulled in so many different directions at once it can be hard to find our centre.
Nevertheless, finding time to ground ourselves and create moments of quiet reflection doesn’t mean taking a whole hour out of our busy schedule. Instead, brief reflective pauses throughout our day can have a dramatic effect on our ability to listen to our deeper selves and to be in tune with those around us, with more compassion, patience and empathy.
Short, gentle breathing exercises can allow our minds to quieten, and to listen to the emotions that are activating us in that moment. It only takes a minute or two of calm, focused breath to reconnect with our inner resources – closing our eyes, focusing on the gentle motion of our chest rising and falling as we connect with the embodied sensation of life itself.
We may be feeling slightly manic, consumed by all the tasks that we have to accomplish. We could be frustrated, irritable or angry with ourselves or those around us. By taking a second to manifest a moment of stillness we can reconnect with ourselves and bring our emotions back into balance, allowing inner peace to come to the fore and inflect our behaviours and relationships.
How do these moments of stillness help?
Cultivating these moments of stillness allows our mind to flourish, to understand ourselves that much better, and in doing so to understand those around us. When we know how to keep and hold that sense of stillness within us we can carry it throughout the day, and move out into the noisy, messy, chaotic world of everyday life safe in the knowledge that we have all the inner resources we need to go with it without being swept along.
Whether we are working at home or commuting to an office, the way our time is structured can have profound implications for the habits we manifest. This might involve something simple; having to wait twenty minutes for a connecting train can make us more likely to grab a bacon sandwich from the station every morning. Beyond this, however, our entire day can come to take on a habitual pattern when our rigid schedules remain unchanged. Over time, we might find our energy levels dropping and our motivation decreasing as we struggle to break out of these patterns.