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Finding stillness within and being at peace

Old 05-22-2013, 03:38 PM
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Finding stillness within and being at peace

I got a talking to from my therapist today about how I refuse to find stillness or quiet within myself. How I struggle to just quiet my mind even for just a few minutes a day. She was going on about how we must find rest and time to just be 'still' and I think I looked at her like she had 2 heads.

I explained how my day starts with a Bible reading, I start my water for tea, I sit down and write down a list of things to do that day, and then I do the typical breakfast/AM routine. I told her that my mind is constantly going: working with my son homeschooling him, taking care of meal planning, paying bills, making sure I do my recovery readings for Al Anon and journaling, taking care of training the dog and exercising daily, organizing the pantry, calling repairmen, auto guys, whatever....the list goes on. I told her that at the end of the day when my head hits the pillow, I am OUT. I sleep well, I sleep hard, and then I start the day over again.

She chastised me and told me that it's not healthy to live this way. Based on what I know of most moms my age, I beg to differ but she said she knows lots of moms who know how to find stillness. I said(probably not very nicely either) that I know how to find stillness and do it in yoga class or when I'm getting my toenails done, but that I know I don't make time for it regularly nor do I feel that's missing from my life. Hmmm, she raised her eyebrows at that one. She feels that the busier my mind is, the more I have time to avoid actually feeling my feelings. She said it's my coping mechanism, I tried to play it off as my ADD addled brain but I knew where she was going with this and there's lots of truth to it.

So, that got me thinking. How do I truly find that 'stillness'? Is there a meditative process to it, do I have to have a particular mindset or be emotionally available for that kind of 'quiet'? What are all your thoughts on this topic? I know that in the 12 steps(step 11) there is mention of prayer and 'meditation' to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him. So, I keep thinking that I am missing something. My therapist accused me of putting up walls, even with her. I agreed, she's right. I have shut off so many parts of me that I don't even know how to 'feel' my feelings but I sure know they're there. It's like they're just bubbling under the surface waiting to be set free, yet I don't quite grasp how to do that yet.
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Old 05-22-2013, 04:15 PM
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I do not think you can find stillness.
I think you have to be still and let it find you.

Beth

I am going to google finding stillness, and see what comes up.
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Old 05-22-2013, 04:41 PM
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Lizatola, did your therapist go through an example of meditative practice with you? You might need to hear it again to understand.

There are many ways to practice quieting our minds/meditation/prayer. Perhaps she could walk you through a couple ways when you're feeling receptive.

It's like tending a garden; set out seeds, plant seedlings, don't take for granted there will be enough rain, enough sun; no one else will till the soil for us. We care for the garden every day so it will thrive.

It sounds like you've already got a taste of this in your Bible reading each morning; that's a practice, too.

The thing is, our brains are wired to do what they do - THINK, analyze, evaluate, etc., and they are great at it. Our hearts do what they do, they keep beating. Our kidneys do what they do, filter fluids. Like all the amazing parts of our bodies, our brain does it's job also.

If we haven't been taught before how to quiet our brain, it's a new thing and takes PRACTICE. It's letting go of the thoughts and emptying our mind. It can be done as simply as focusing on breathing in and breathing out, paying attention only to our breath. If we catch our brain thinking a thought or having a feeling, just watch it go by and don't follow it down it's busy road; return to our breath over and over each time we notice a thought, let it go.

After practicing it for a while it becomes easier and easier. Even if you can only do it a few seconds at first, it's worth it! Stopping the mind from all it's busy-ness, gives the Universe/God/Godess/Higher Power/Nature makes room for whatever the thing greater than ourselves may be, allows it to find us.

For some reason, the way our brains are wired, stilling the mind allows clarity and deep calm to come in and affects the rest of our life in a way I can't describe. It takes practice to learn to do it, if it's not something taught before.

I don't know if this makes any sense. Someone else can probably describe it better. This is just one way to look at it. There are many practices one can use and you might want to do some research. Surely your therapist could steer you in a helpful direction.

I'll also say, my children are grown now, but I'll never forget the incredibly busy days of work and raising the family and all that entails. There were times I could hardly get a moment to myself for all the demands of family. It's worth carving out even a few short moments to just breathe, and breathe, and turn off the brain for a few seconds.

Maybe you could try it as part of your prayer time/reading time. The trick is to stop thinking and just be. Focusing on your breath is simply a way to do so. Other people have other practices to do the same thing; like gazing at a beautiful picture, or staring at a candle flame and thinking of nothing else, just keep coming back to the thing you're focusing on and it has the effect of stilling the mind.

Yikes, I'm writing a book. I hope someone else will come by and add to this. There are tons of resources out there for learning about it. Best of luck to you. It's worth every moment you can find. Don't wait until you're my age to learn. :-)
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Old 05-22-2013, 04:53 PM
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If you google "how to meditate" or "beginning meditation" or "mindfulness meditation" you will find many guides to how to begin.

Typically, they will instruct you to focus on your breath, and to try to think of nothing. At first, all kinds of intrusive thoughts and feelings will come in. Your nose will itch, you will think about what to have for dinner. The instructions say to gently return your focus to your breath.

It can be helpful to set a timer for 10 minutes or so in the beginning. That way you aren't thinking about the time.

It takes lots and lots of practice--lol, that's why they talk about PRACTICING meditation.

There are other kinds of meditation, too, but this is probably the most widely recommended way to start.
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Old 05-22-2013, 04:55 PM
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Just what I looked for "finding stillness", there was a huge list of places to read and you tubes to watch, that kind of thing.
It does take practice. Daily practice.
But it is wonderful.

Beth
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Old 05-22-2013, 05:02 PM
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That sounds familiar to me. The busy life, yes, but also the busying myself in order to avoid feeling, thinking, dealing with schtuff.

My "stillness" is found in activity. When I run, or bike, or swim, or lift weights, and really focus on that - that's when I'm in the moment, when my brain gets a break from the constant chatter.

Yoga makes me nervous and skittish. I do a lot of breathing exercises to ward off anxiety, and I think that counts. And then I pray. Talk to God. Listen for God's answer.

I love seeing how you're able to be open to suggestions even when you're struggling to resist. I think I see myself in you quite a bit.
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Old 05-22-2013, 05:02 PM
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Another thing I find helpful is mindfulness. There are volumes written about it, but essentially it means being completely in the moment. For example, if you are folding the laundry, then put all your attention on the laundry. Feel the fabrics, enjoy the smell of the freshly washed clothes, notice the colors, etc. Don't think about the next task on the list, or the shopping list, or the bills that need to be paid...just focus on what you are doing at the moment. When I first tried this, I felt silly and just knew it would make no difference in my state of mind. I was amazed to find myself actually *enjoying* mundane things like folding laundry, washing dishes, sweeping the floor. Try it. You will be amazed...

L
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Old 05-22-2013, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by lillamy View Post
My "stillness" is found in activity. When I run, or bike, or swim, or lift weights, and really focus on that - that's when I'm in the moment, when my brain gets a break from the constant chatter.

then I pray. Talk to God. Listen for God's answer.
Me, too. I skipped out of work early, took the dog on a long and muddy walk through the woods behind my house, and then rode 8 miles on my bike. I NEEDED some stillness (for me, I think of it more as solitude) and I find it through activities. There is nothing more grounding than pulling a hill on a bike, knowing I am taking it one breath at a time! Nothing else is on my mind at that moment.

I have a hard time meditating. But I do make time every day for an activity.
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Old 05-22-2013, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by lillamy View Post
That sounds familiar to me. The busy life, yes, but also the busying myself in order to avoid feeling, thinking, dealing with schtuff.

My "stillness" is found in activity. When I run, or bike, or swim, or lift weights, and really focus on that - that's when I'm in the moment, when my brain gets a break from the constant chatter.

Yoga makes me nervous and skittish. I do a lot of breathing exercises to ward off anxiety, and I think that counts. And then I pray. Talk to God. Listen for God's answer.

I love seeing how you're able to be open to suggestions even when you're struggling to resist. I think I see myself in you quite a bit.
See, I can find stillness in activity, too, I just hadn't thought about it. I play tennis, I run, walk, hike, and practice yoga.

Here's a funny one for you guys: I was a yoga instructor for 5 years! I taught people how to breathe, I talked them through relaxation exercises and breath work, but I never taught myself how to do it. I was constantly 'on' and talking through the class, guiding their restfulness, teaching them to be mindful of their body positioning, their tightness, where they felt stress accumulating, etc. Gee, too bad I couldn't get through to myself with all this talk, LOL!

And, really I think I resist it because I am afraid to face real feelings. I honestly don't think I'm physically busy throughout the day to avoid feelings, I think my mind and thoughts are busy throughout the day to avoid those things. I'm not afraid of being go go go throughout my day, but if I sit down for a few minutes then my mind kicks in and starts obsessing or I start ruminating over how slow my progress is, or I start fearing for my son's future, or our financial future, or whatever. So, when I am at rest, I think too much, therefore I keep myself physically moving. When I play a tennis match, I am in the moment though, and I'm sure my partner is grateful. But, when I run or walk with the dog, if I don't have music going then I start ruminating over something.

Thank you all for your thoughtfulness in your answers. I have much to think about!
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Old 05-22-2013, 05:28 PM
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Liztola,
I also struggle to find the stillness.
I am so busy being a working solo Mum of 2 I struggle to find the "me" time.
Since Sept I have tried really hard to build exercise into my busy day to day routine as "me" time. Just half an hour a day for me.
Sometimes I get to do it & sometimes time doesn't allow it but I am working towards it.
I also start my day by reading Melody Beatties daily meditation & I read it again at night. If time allows I read a positive book too.
If I didn't organise myself & the kids the way I do I would not get half of it done. I focus on what is essential & leave the rest if I have to.
I take my hat off to you because I do understand the busyness of it all & you are doing a remarkable job.
Hugs.
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Old 05-22-2013, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by lizatola View Post

And, really I think I resist it because I am afraid to face real feelings. I honestly don't think I'm physically busy throughout the day to avoid feelings, I think my mind and thoughts are busy throughout the day to avoid those things. I'm not afraid of being go go go throughout my day, but if I sit down for a few minutes then my mind kicks in and starts obsessing or I start ruminating over how slow my progress is, or I start fearing for my son's future, or our financial future, or whatever.
This is why I feared meditation and mindfullness for so long.

I kept busy so I did not have to feel.

A regular practice of meditation has been really, really hard for me....because I have found a lot of emotion coming up.

Just like a muscle that needs exercise, practice makes it easier. I can do longer periods of time successfully at this time.

I took a mindfullness based stress reduction class that helped, but as much as it helps it can remain a challenge.
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Old 05-22-2013, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by lillamy View Post

My "stillness" is found in activity. When I run, or bike, or swim, or lift weights, and really focus on that - that's when I'm in the moment, when my brain gets a break from the constant chatter.
Me too... my stillness is activity, but it is activity that I enjoy. I find that my mental state is much better when I have constructive things to do, especially when my anxiety ramps up.

Your day sounds a lot like mine except I work outside of the home as well. Funny how your entire day can be gone in an instant - poof!

As long as you feel like you are having some sort of down time and you have activities that recharge you, I think you are fine. I personally do not believe that meditation is for everyone, although it can be very helpful for some.

Hmm. Maybe I have a problem too! LOL!
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Old 05-22-2013, 08:05 PM
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There is a book "Stillness Speaks" by Eckhart Tolle. Wonderfully describes the art of stillness. I have it on audio CD. Has helped me wonders to quiet the mind.
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Old 05-23-2013, 03:58 AM
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This topic has been on my mind also recently; I have a few things that might be useful:

1. Have been reading Sylvia Boorstein regarding mindfulness; enjoyable, not something you have to thrash thru. Check your local library before spending $ to buy the book(s).

2. Agree with the advice to google mindfulness and meditation, as there is GREAT stuff out there. I have a number of guided meditations of various lengths downloaded on my computer, lovely images and peaceful music, and no cost.

3. For those who are saying they find stillness in movement, I get that, too, as I am a runner. For books, I know of "Running and Being" by George Sheehan and "Mystical Miles: Running, living, beaming" by Paul Vorwerk. The latter may be hard to find but is GREAT.

4. Sometimes having music to be still with makes all the difference for me. I recently bought "Quiet Music" by Steve Roach and "Reiki Healing Music" by Christopher of the Wolves. These can be googled and you can hear clips of the music. These also I found at my local library and listened to for a while before deciding I liked them enough to buy them.

I also agree that everyone may have a different way that works for them, but I know for myself, taking even 10 minutes a day to be still is something I very often don't make time for. I think I need to do better w/this, as all my mental whirling is not getting me anywhere.

Hope there was something in there that someone can use.
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Old 05-23-2013, 05:10 AM
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Good Topic

Liz, I struggle with this same thing everyday! Even last night, I was on a nice walk with my sweet, sweet boy - looking at the clouds, him thinking little ants were huge dinos ready to pounce on us, etc. And almost the entire time I'm thinking about what I'm making for dinner, counting the minutes 'til the in-laws leave, what to wear to work the next day, the meetings I have the next day, what bills I have to pay... Sorry, well, you get the idea!

But this is my life! Every flipping day! Since most of you know my backstory: even though I'm married (currently), I pretty much have to run the household. Even a friend at work (who is friends with my AW, though this friend doesn't know that wife is an A), said to me: "You really need to find time to do something for yourself, you never get any of that. It's always housework, or errands, or cleaning, or 'something'. Take care of and do something for yourself!" I responded that I'm not quite sure I know how to anymore.

Not trying to hijack your thread, but just wanted to let you know you're not alone..
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Old 05-23-2013, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by LifeRecovery View Post
This is why I feared meditation and mindfullness for so long.

I kept busy so I did not have to feel.

A regular practice of meditation has been really, really hard for me....because I have found a lot of emotion coming up.

Just like a muscle that needs exercise, practice makes it easier. I can do longer periods of time successfully at this time.

I took a mindfullness based stress reduction class that helped, but as much as it helps it can remain a challenge.
This made me remember a couple of things: When I first started doing yoga, probably 15 years ago, I often ended a session feeling as if I might cry. Recently, if I have a decent run, I will feel exhilarated immediately after but then hard on the heels of that I will start to cry. I recently had a massage w/my massage therapist, who I feel is especially gifted, and I sat in the car after that and cried also. Really didn't make the connection all the way until this moment, but yes, relaxing your body and allowing yourself to be still and feel instead of creating noise all the time....and then what comes up may be tough to deal with.

Thanks for this topic; I see there is more to think about than I originally imagined. Appreciate everyone's posts here.
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Old 05-23-2013, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by honeypig View Post
This made me remember a couple of things: When I first started doing yoga, probably 15 years ago, I often ended a session feeling as if I might cry. Recently, if I have a decent run, I will feel exhilarated immediately after but then hard on the heels of that I will start to cry. I recently had a massage w/my massage therapist, who I feel is especially gifted, and I sat in the car after that and cried also. Really didn't make the connection all the way until this moment, but yes, relaxing your body and allowing yourself to be still and feel instead of creating noise all the time....and then what comes up may be tough to deal with.

Thanks for this topic; I see there is more to think about than I originally imagined. Appreciate everyone's posts here.
Yeah, I've had that happen quite frequently too. Thank goodness when I did yoga, I was the teacher and constantly distracted by people's bad posture and trying to talk them into a better position so they wouldn't pull a hamstring or something. I swear I spent my entire class time going around and visually modifying everyone's pose structure. I taught at a few gyms, not yoga studios so most people weren't comfortable being touched to be put into the correct position. I'd have people doing down dog with arched backs, bent elbows, heads lifted and looking ahead, etc where it looked like they were getting ready for a race, not resting in a very empowering yoga pose, LOL! I'd walk around the room or call out modifications from the front of the class, "Drop the crown of your head, relax the neck, if your wrists hurt then remember to push the floor away using your whole hand and fingers, breathe, breathe, OK, please don't hold your breath people, I see red faces out there make sure you're breathing......UUGGGHHHH!!!" Yes, yoga is relaxing for some but as an instructor it was quite stressful to get a class of 30 people to follow along, LOL.

I wish I liked running, but I can barely jog a few blocks right now before my calves start to feel like they're seizing up. Then I tell myself that it's time to get back to the yoga studio, haha! I was out playing tennis with friends a few mornings ago and it got to 101 degrees that day and I thought, "what the hell am I doing out here when I could be in the gym taking pilates or yoga or something?" Tennis is where my competitive side gets to flash it's hidden existence and I sometimes think I need me some of that too!

Oh, and all your relaxing music? I have a lot of that because I used it when I taught. Heck, I live near the relaxation capital of our country: Sedona, AZ. You can't walk into a shop there without hearing some sort of relaxation music.
I love just going to Sedona for the day and taking it all in, it's our favorite day trip especially when I want to get a good red rocks hike in.

If you like guitar music that brings about relaxation, try looking up Jesse Cook. He's fantastic, I love his music. I do have to look into some real books on meditation, though. Maybe if I treat it as a skill and not some foreign language that I have no capacity for learning, I'll master something new in my life? Although, I do speak decent Italian thanks to the best Italian teacher in high school so I guess that means I can be capable of being taught something new, LOL!
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Old 05-23-2013, 09:18 AM
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I get what you are all saying about finding stillness through activity but I think there's something amazing about also being able to find stillness inside yourself, especially during those times when you can't jump into a physical activity when you need to.

With your yoga backround, maybe something like chakra breathing would be easy for you to learn & use. I like this type of exercise because (after practice) it's something I can use to get centered quickly & use anywhere, anytime. It feels somewhat physical to me because I focus on the chakra colors & energies as I breathe through them; I find stillness in directing my energy toward moving my breath. It feels active, but it's also passive & I get 100% return on investment.

The steps at the bottom of this website kind of describe what I'm talking about: Opening the Central Column of Light - Reiki Webstore

Here's another, longer variation: Keys for Doing Chakra Breathing Meditation Successfully
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Old 05-23-2013, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by honeypig View Post
This made me remember a couple of things: When I first started doing yoga, probably 15 years ago, I often ended a session feeling as if I might cry. Recently, if I have a decent run, I will feel exhilarated immediately after but then hard on the heels of that I will start to cry. I recently had a massage w/my massage therapist, who I feel is especially gifted, and I sat in the car after that and cried also. Really didn't make the connection all the way until this moment, but yes, relaxing your body and allowing yourself to be still and feel instead of creating noise all the time....and then what comes up may be tough to deal with.

Thanks for this topic; I see there is more to think about than I originally imagined. Appreciate everyone's posts here.
I've had this happen with yoga & massage as well! It's because our leftover emotions get locked into our physical body & these kinds of activity jar them loose.

As part of my recovery, I actively tried to dislodge it & designed my home yoga practice to target the hip area, since that is considered the "seat" of our emotions energetically.
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Old 05-23-2013, 10:33 AM
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Dealing with emotions can be a hard thing. I am journaling again which for me is a form of meditation. I sit at my kitchen table, everything is quiet and simply listen. As emotions or thoughts bubble up I write them down and see where they lead. Sometimes they start in one place and end up someplace totally different but I can see the path I had to take to get there.

For example I have had some unfocused anxiety lately and couldn't put my finger on it. Today I asked myself what wrong, why do I feel that way. I started writing that I was upset because it is around the 2 year anniversary of when I moved out from my AW. Then just some stream of thought ramblings a note on how I have started training Jiu Jitsu again at 59 and that is was good to get out and have hobbies and suddenly in the pit of my stomach I realized that the Jiu Jitsu was the key. I realized that I am getting old, not that I am old or can't do stuff but I'm not 30 anymore. I can't do stuff I used to do or I do it slower or it takes me longer than it used to.

My anxiety was fear of getting old. Of course everyone gets old but it was starting to show itself in little ways I couldn't ignore anymore and I was scared.

The funny thing was taking that fear out and looking at it all of a sudden it wasn't near as much of a big deal. I'm still going to train and I'm going to accept that I'm not as young as I used to be and that's ok.

So, back to my point, a journal can be a good tool for bringing those emotions out into the light of day and when there is nothing going on in your head it is simple quiet time as you listen for things to pop up.

Oh, yeah, I journal with pen and paper and so far I almost never go back and read what I wrote.

Your friend,
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