“Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.”John Lennon
Do you live life in absentia? Living life in your mind? Driving down the highway thinking of everything that you need to do today and not noticing any of the scenery passing by? Better yet, traveling down the road (hopefully you are the passenger), staying tuned to your phone, and not to what is all around you.
I’ve lived in two countries – Morocco and the USA. After living in Morocco for five years, I became even more aware of how much the American mindset values productivity, competency, and efficiency, which are all good, in and of themselves. In Morocco, relationships are paramount. They take time. For example, I had developed a friendship with Abdejalil at the international school in Morocco. His job was to make copies of our lessons for the students. Some mornings, I would rush into his office and immediately plead for him to hurry up and make copies of my lessons. He would gently smile and look at me and say “ Good morning, Carol. How are you today? How is your family?” Ouch!!!!
So how can we stop our urge to race through our lives being stressed by all of the things that we need to get done. By controlling our time before it controls us. By intentionally practicing the art of being still.
Carve out time for stillness in your daily schedule. Try to be still for 10 minutes each day. Ten minutes out of the 1,440 minutes in a day. Put your cell phone in another room and do not respond to it. Find a comfortable place where there will be no distractions.(It may have to be in a locked room while someone watches the kids if you are a mom of small children. I remember those days!). Just 10 minutes. You may want to doodle if you are not accustomed to sitting still. Grab a coloring book and color. The point is to stay focused on the task at hand. Try to stay in the present moment. This is not the time to be planning the future or repairing the past. Just let that go.
You may want to go outside and pay attention to the sounds of nature or notice how the sunlight on a tree makes the leaves shimmer. You may want to take a quick walk. Remember that you are doing something important. You are interrupting the flow of stressful,compulsive thoughts or as some call it the tyranny of the urgent. You are not giving in to the haranguing to-do list. You are not your to-do list! You are much deeper, mysterious, and beautiful than that!
Try this for one week. It’s just as important as physical exercise. Think of it as an exercise for your soul. Ironically, this practice will bring more peace to the rest of your day and more efficiency to your remaining time. The more and longer you practice, the more benefits you will reap. Good luck! Let me know how it goes! Looking forward to hearing from you.
**Below, you will find free Apps that you may want to use to practice stillness. I’ve also included an article about the practice of the prayer of quiet, if you are interested
Simple Habits(Five Minute Meditation) – https://www.simplehabit.com/
Calm – https://www.calm.com/
Centering Prayer – https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/centering-prayer-mobile-app
The Prayer of Quiet (Centering Prayer)- Richard Rohr – https://cac.org/the-prayer-of-quiet-2020-01-21/