Standing still is anathema to so many these days. Our lives are about movement, about doing, about getting someplace. We so rarely are where we are. Instead, we’re into the next thing, place, thought, or action, before we even get there. And then when we do get there, we hardly take the time to be there, as we’re off into the next whatever. We are racing to catch up with ourselves, which usually leaves us stressed out and short of breath, hoping everything will stop and wondering when relief will come. We even chase after relief, even though it is eternally out of reach when we do pursue it.
If this is all true, it seems that the solution is to just stop. But because this is nearly impossible to contemplate, let alone accomplish, we feel defeated before we even begin. We’ve tried slowing down before with little success. The surprise here is that you are already doing what you need to do and the only thing now is to take advantage of those already existing moments.
Standing, at the bus stop, the copier, or ATM machine, in the theater or grocery store checkout line; waiting for the elevator to arrive or the stoplight to change—throughout the day, we frequently find ourselves standing with no place to go, and too often we squander this time. Anxious for movement, we view the stillness, the lack of motion, as a waste of time. Paradoxically, when we’re on life’s treadmill, all we want to do is stop. Yet when we do, we yearn to move. This is just one example of never being satisfied with where we are.
All it takes to transform these moments from dreadful to delicious is a little mind movement, a shift in attitude. Even if you cannot change to a new outlook directly, if you’re reading this, you most likely have the willingness to take a different approach. And if you’re willing, then change is possible.
When your body comes to a standstill, your mind doesn’t always follow right away, which is why not moving can create such internal discomfort. So when you find yourself standing still with your mind on fast forward, there are two things you can do.
First of all, you can become aware of your body in space, where it is, how it feels. Notice your posture and any tension you might have in your spine. Make slight adjustments to how you’re standing, and breathe into your whole back, as you center your awareness on the fact that you are able to stand upright. Feel your feet standing firmly on the ground. Imagine that there are roots solidly planting you into the earth, your legs the trunk of a tree, your upper body the branches gently swaying in the breeze. If you’re carrying heavy bags, place them down as you stand there, unburdened and free. Appreciate your body; savor the moment. Be there with every inch of every fiber of your being.
Then, once you’ve stilled your body, observe your mind and where it wants to take you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Watch your thoughts; simply stand there, breathe into your belly, be in your body, and pay attention—without judgment or criticism. Consider that everyone around you, standing with you, contains a similarly active mind. It might take time, but know that if you still your body, the mind will eventually follow and reach a state of stillness—the first step to serenity.
And keep in mind that there are no needless, wasted moments. Each one is precious and an opportunity to experience contentment. So stand tall in your life with all that it offers, good and bad, and know that serenity is available in and through everything. Be sure to stand wherever you are and you won’t miss it.