“Stillness: All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
- Blaise Pascal
When I look outside the window, I see countless darting eyes and swiveling heads walking and running on the road and in the streets. I see doleful faces of men and women who are preoccupied with their thoughts. They seem tired, gloomy, and anxious, trapped in endless problems that consume them. They have forgotten to take a break from the chaotic series of life, the never-ending work, and high responsibilities.
In our restless lives, we often ignore our inner voices that tell us we are missing something, that we are rushing too fast. These voices pat us on the shoulder, signaling it is time to pause for a while, but we dismiss them as useless ideas and prefer to keep running with burdens and constant noise. When our mental processes slow down, that's when we need a period of equanimity and stillness. I once read that "in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still." Stillness is an essential aspect of our lives that we often overlook.
If I were to define stillness using the English dictionary, it would be "to be steady while the world spins around, to act without frenzy, to hear only what needs to be heard." In my opinion, stillness is that quiet moment when we meet with ourselves. During that specific time of tranquility, instead of feeling agitated, we experience a beautiful sense of calm and forget about the pressures and demands. We make room for gratitude and positivity, which are necessary to boost our self-confidence. We forget about worldly things that cause stress and worries, and instead, we focus on the beauty of nature, shutting down those worldly matters that drag us into gloom, exhaustion, and fatigue.
When we focus on buzzing insects, birds cracking nuts, chirping robins, whispering, creaking leaves, and other nature's voices, our minds find solace. We become closer to ourselves, and all negative self-talk that limits our belief in ourselves and hinders us from reaching our true potential becomes quiet. We start to heal and feel an unusual inner strength. In this demanding and busy lifestyle, we often neglect our inner voices. We tirelessly work to fulfill our commitments. However, in my view, while setting goals and dreaming big, we should also consider the power of stillness and mindful breathing because it is one of the most powerful forces on Earth that can help us achieve our life goals.
It is important to clean and empty our minds of heavy thoughts that create obstacles on the path to our goals. Therefore, it is necessary to collect insights and strengths to break the glass ceiling and turn dreams into reality with peace and harmony.
The Daodejing (Tao Te Ching) beautifully highlights the importance of emptiness, stating that "when clay is made with emptiness, it turns into a pitcher, and a pitcher has the ability to contain water. Then water can be poured into any form of container that is also made up of emptiness." Similarly, stillness is an emptiness of the mind that helps us work more efficiently by erasing harmful negative thoughts and creating space for developing new ideas.
However, people often perceive stillness differently, as doing nothing, keeping their hands idle, and staring meaninglessly, not participating in any work affairs. But stillness and emptiness are not an excuse to avoid responsibilities or daily tasks. In fact, they teach us how to gather energy to confront the demons that control our lives and thoughts, such as fear, anxiety, hopelessness, depression, and others.
I have personally faced such demons. There was a time when I was overwhelmed by a business loss. I was depressed, wondering how things would be sorted out, how I would manage to survive, what people would think of me, and how life would go on. Many assumptions haunted me, and there was a continuous noise in my head that seemed like it would never stop.
I was trapped in depression because I felt helpless and couldn't do anything except overthink. Then, one day, I decided to stop clinging to those thoughts. I made myself a cup of coffee and stood still by the window in silence. I looked outside at the sky, quieting all those voices that shook my inner peace and made me restless. This moment of stillness for a couple of hours brought a dramatic change in my life. I learned that I must empty my mind to stay present and overcome my problems.
Now I realise that no one can accomplish anything if they are paralysed by over-estimations. I believe that our creator has endowed us with the ability of stillness for a great purpose, as He knew that in the world of men and women where cities never sleep, stopping is important. It is crucial to infuse stillness within us.
There are some steps that can be helpful in this regard. First, creating a meaningful influence in our surroundings requires taking long, deep breaths on a daily basis. When we entered this world, the first thing we did was take a breath in, and when we leave, the last thing we will do is exhale. Among eating food and drinking water to survive, breathing is the most vital. We cannot survive a second without taking a breath. So, practice the art of deep breathing when you feel overwhelmed and powerless to respond to uncertain situations. Even in ancient times, doctors suggested deep breathing, believing that it cleanses impurities and provides strength. Modern discoveries have proven them right. Deep breathing is a core practice that helps cope with stress and anxiety.
The second step is to close your eyes, calm your thoughts, and focus on one thing. You can practice this in the office by putting a note outside saying "do not disturb" and taking a few minutes for yourself. Sometimes, listening to soft music can also be a helpful idea, as loud noises can frighten us, causing fear of our own thoughts. Soft music is ideal for such situations.
Third, you can read aloud some phrases that will bring calmness. Repeatedly say, "I am calm and still" or "I can create stillness."
This self-reflection and solitude can help us gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our needs. It allows us to let go of negative thoughts and emotions and make room for gratitude and positivity. Stillness provides us with the opportunity to quiet our minds, access our inner wisdom and creativity, and become tools for personal growth and self-discovery. In our fast-paced and demanding world, it is essential to prioritise stillness and make time for it in our daily lives. By doing so, we can achieve a greater sense of balance, clarity, and well-being. Inner peace and stillness have the power to positively impact our outer lives. Remember that stillness is a journey that requires practice and intention, but the rewards are immense – a deeper connection with ourselves, a heightened sense of awareness, and a greater capacity to navigate life's challenges with grace and equanimity.