Finding Stillness : A Practice>
Finding Stillness : A Practice
Words by : Jenniferlyn (JL) Chiemingo
February 7, 2023
You would think – after 20+ years of doing and teaching yoga that I’d be an expert on stillness. But it’s just not that easy. We are all in the ‘practice.’ I’ve certainly experienced incredible, even memorable, moments of stillness.
While leading retreat in Costa Rica, we stayed at a center that had a policy of silence from the moment we would wake until after yoga asana practice around 10am. The stillness of the quiet around us was so profound. Each morning I’d wake up before the sun and before teaching yoga class, with my best friend Kerry. We would swim in the ocean with the sun rising over the water, no speaking, just the sounds of nature around us. Macaws squawking, waves lapping, the sound of silence and pause forced me to notice. Everything.
I’ve meditated and prayed on top of the Himalayans at Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan.
I’ve sat just breathing as the sun rose in Mexico.
Finding stillness can be done in many ways. Truthfully, this is the reason I started my yoga practice: to open to stillness. To appreciate the moment.
It CAN be quite simple. Kerry also once shared with me that she can find a ‘pause,’ a reset button by blowing bubbles. Enjoying a flashback to more easeful, carefree times of childhood and by using prana or breath she can escape the chaos of the NOW. Focus the mind.
In Northern California, there are places you can sit outside (near the coast) where watching the fog roll in is mesmerizing, calming. I find that time in Nature anywhere is a firm, grounding experience. Walking with bare feet on the earth, getting down to touch the ground – yes, there is action happening. But like a moving meditation, a form of stillness in the mind. To focus.
Life now-a-days can be a blur. There IS pressure to DO. To perform. To ‘get it done.’ But what I love about yoga practice is a belief in balance to stay healthy. The ebb & flow. The “sthira-sukham asanam”. Often translated as ease and effort. We must find the flow & stillness, both.
So a pause. A stillness of one thought, one mantra. Sitting on a beach in silence. Blowing bubbles on your front steps. Listening. Breathing.
Several months ago. I had a horrific hiking accident and broke my right leg in four places.
Despite being a yoga teacher, my life, too, can be a blur. Rushing here to there – doing the
business of life.
But in that one moment of the accident, everything came to a screeching halt. I couldn’t teach, I cannot drive, I must be still. A forced stillness.
The space of stillness, of maybe doing nothing, is the space I needed to dive deep into. AGAIN.
It’s nothing fancy. Not on the top of a mountain, or ocean front… but HERE, in the now. Ease & Effort.
I know I will physically heal my leg and this will no doubt take longer than I want. So I continue to PRACTICE. To try and fail. To find moments of stillness – now and in the future.
So this is my quest: to find more stillness even after I recover fully.
You don’t need an accident to force you into this awareness.
A yoga retreat is definitely a time to cultivate this new skill. But stillness can be found anywhere and anytime. It’s a choice. I could keep rushing around but I know these pockets of stillness are the practice. For me, even more than the downdogs.
Four quick and easy ways you can find stillness right now:
1) Close your eyes and take box breath: INHALE 1,2,3,4 – Hold at the top 1, 2, 3, 4 – EXHALE 1,
2, 3, 4 – HOLD Empty 1, 2, 3, 4. (take 3-5 rounds)
2) Sit up against a wall and pop in your headphones and listen to a guided meditation (there are
lots of free apps to try & I offer some options on my own website JoyLoveYoga.com)
3) Try mindfully lighting a candle just to watch the flame
4) Find a calming essential oil like lavender to sniff and keep it in your pocket for a few seconds
of ahhhhh in the middle of your day.
5) Step outside. Smell. Breath. Feel. Touch. Break out of the rush.