This photo was taken after Mike and I had hiked about 4 miles to this summit in the Catskills back in 2019. Certainly, after that kind of hike, some stillness was welcomed.
Stillness is the greatest revelation. This quote by Lao Tzu is one of my favorites. In moments of stillness I have moved through my thoughts and discovered revelations that have improved my life, including realizing that I should pursue acupuncture.
The resting period during an acupuncture treatment can bring a hugely profound sense of stillness. Though in some acupuncture traditions movement is encouraged during treatment, the tradition I practice encourages staying still. As the nervous system responds to the needles, deeper levels of relaxation can be achieved, which can release tension in the body and restore the smooth flow of Qi, ultimately healing whatever needs healing.
In my experience, some patients struggle with staying still. Rather than listen to the music playing in the room, they'd prefer to listen to a podcast or watch videos. Sometimes podcasts and videos can bring about relaxation, but in order to take in the content the brain needs to remain active.
The discomfort that comes from being still is understandable. We live in a world of over stimulation. Television shows and movies move at a fast pace. Have you ever watched an old episode of Dallas? Does it feel like it moves at a snail's pace? Viral TikTok videos tend to be short and quick.
The language in text messages is emojis and truncated English, perhaps in an effort to communicate things speedily rather than thoughtfully. When was the last time you wrote a letter....by hand? Remember when writing letters or speaking with someone over the phone was how people communicated?
Today, you can place an order online for an item and it's possible it'll be at your door later that day. Remember when you were excited to get a catalog in the mail and look through it to pick what you wanted to order....and then ordering meant making a phone call, specifying the size, style and color of what you wanted, and then waiting 4-6 weeks for that item to arrive? If the package came in 2 weeks that seemed like a luxury.
If you don't remember a time when things moved slowly, trust me when I say that life was slower a mere 30 years ago. Likely, life moved slower with each previous generation. If you've ever read The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder, you'll understand that the family spent many days sitting around a fire....and for some that was the only thing they did for days on end.
Being comfortable in stillness is more difficult than ever because our society is the opposite of still. It's zippy and flashy, not tranquil and dull. In my observation, it's not surprising that anxiety is the most common mental health condition according the the American Psychiatric Association. It's challenging to be still, relieve stress and feel calm among the movement.
Still, pun intended, I highly suggest spending moments in stillness. Stillness does not mean nothingness. It often means doing one thing and one thing only. Observing your breath. Watching the sunrise. Listening to the birds. Embrace this as a daily practice, and notice if you feel different as a result.