Thursday, January 16, 2014

PRACTICING STILLNESS




I'm a planner. This is a characteristic that has appeared and developed gradually over time, but it seems to be here to say. I've come to realize it's less a characteristic than it is a survival tactic. I know many of you can relate to this. I'm a juggler as well. I multi-task like mad and always wish for a few more arms. I'm also a dreamer, which means new (fangled) ideas are constantly cropping up inside my head. And then the planner side of me is immediately on it, figuring out the logistics of making it happen. I think these characteristics got even more amped up once I became a mother, and all of this results in a brain that does not shut off. It is operating on all cylinders, at all times. Sometimes it a good thing thing because I can get a lot done. Other times, it is a bad thing when things fall by the wayside or I forget the really simple and essential things, like turning off the oven (and this in turn breeds another characteristic….paranoia.)

Having a child perpetuates both the good and bad of this. Having a baby means that my to-do list doubles, but because the baby is constantly growing and changing, reminding me of fleeting time, it makes me want to learn the lessons of being present.

Because of the January funk these days, I've been feeling a little trapped in my own head. The other morning, in the middle of an incredibly busy morning, I decided I would stop for a moment, sit down. do nothing, think nothing for a total of three minutes. I'm embarrassed to say it was harder than I thought it would be.  My mind was itching to go on to the next thing on my to-do list.  Calm the fudge down, Christine, I told myself. Be still.  It was strange; when I was busy, each minute flew by with nary a witness. But when I was still and doing nothing, the minute extended on and on.  It was such strange perspective, I resolved to do it again.

So I've been trying it here and there, when I get the chance.  In the morning before Sloane gets up, in the shower, in the parking lot before walking into the grocery store.  I take a few minutes - and I'm really just talking about 3-4 minutes here - to be physically and mentally still and quiet. I'm not allowed to make lists, or plan, or wonder, or worry. It's not praying or request time. It's not meditation, it's not a time to realize things. I'm not allowed to be in trying or achieving mode. Just be still.

Not to lead anyone unwillingly down the path of hokey, but what I realized about this practice after a few times is that me being still and not trying or moving so hard, gives me the sense of being a receptacle.  To put it more specifically and accurately - of being loved.  Essentially, that's what these few minutes have turned into.  Me just standing there, with absolutely no other agenda than to be loved. No other agenda is allowed.

Here's the other thing that I am getting out of this. After those few minutes, sometimes I get this terrified feeling in my stomach.  Being still to simply receive love like that makes acutely me aware of the vastness, which is scary, but also, thrilling.  The expanse of everything juxtaposed next to the wonder of being known and loved intimately.  It's mysterious, and it leaves me feeling open and humble. 

That is, until something stressful happens at work or Sloane has a meltdown and then I'm prickly once more, but that's why I am practicing.


And now, photos of some other parts of my week:

setting up teddy bear at his school before going off to her own

salty honey pie. i'm obsessed. 
it means something when i make the same pie twice in one weekend. 

adventurers 

i love these mornings

aunt amy and uncle ray came to visit! 

it's a good morning when i start it off like this

family






Lastly, a prayer that my mom shared with my sisters and I recently, as encouragement through winter doldrums:

We give thanks for the blessing of winter:
Season to cherish the heart.
To make warmth and quiet for the heart.
To make soups and broths for the heart.
To cook for the heart and read for the heart.
To curl up softly and nestle with the heart.
To sleep deeply and gently at one with the heart.
To dream with the heart.
To spend time with the heart.
We give thanks for the blessing of winter:
Season to cherish the heart.
Amen.

- Michael Leunig

1 comment:

Mrs. Agaba said...

i love that last photo. i applaud the trying to shut of the brain and rest and be still. it is SO much harder than one would think