This time last year, my reflections were focused upon my own preparations for a day of working with people, and the role of gratitude and compassion in the morning ritual that grounds and resources me.
This year, I would like to touch upon the virtue of stillness. This might seems strange, when mostly we speak about movement, but without the capacity for stillness, movement can simply become momentum, a restlessness without a centre, an onward relentless urge which is never truly satisfied.
Many of us are uncomfortable with stillness. To simply pause with ourselves is challenging – our darting minds are desperate for action. To move can be delicious, nourishing and resourcing, but a healthy mover is one who can make choices, inhabit the pauses, and be comfortable and curious about the sensations that arise in that ebb and flow.
This comfort is elusive for many people. The symptoms of chronic stress can drive us to enact the fight/flight response through intense exercise, while simultaneously impairing our connection to the many signals arising from the normal processes of our body. Our awareness is diminished, our sense of embodiment compromised. This in turn drives more movement, in an attempt to feel something, or perhaps achieve a distraction from the messy business of being with ourselves.
The sense of embodiment gifts us the possibility of dynamics in our movement – variation and diversity of rhythm, force and speed. Within stillness lies the seeds for more beautiful movement.
Moving makes me feel good. Stillness was a challenge. Yet great richness has come from learning to first tolerate, and then appreciate the experience of not-doing. In the process, I have learned that stillness is far from immobility. There is constant motion, a subtle but insistent dance of the processes of life. In stillness, I learned so much more about movement.
So for Christmas 2019, I wish you the gift of stillness, to balance, complement and enhance your movement in the coming year.
Motion in stillness exercise: In quiet sitting, or lying down, take a moment to notice your breath. Instead of focusing on your torso, guide your awareness to one shoulder joint. As you breathe in, can you detect the subtle expansion in this area? Perhaps you need to compare it to the other shoulder joint. Does one expand, while the other seems unresponsive?
We don’t think about the number of joints which respond to our breath, yet we can find out a lot about our body’s holding patterns when we pause and take a moment to notice them. What can you release that you no longer need?
In kindness and with thanks to you all for your brilliance, enthusiasm, humility and passion , Merry Christmas.