The last Tuesday of every month always sneaks up on me. But that means it’s time to join Carolyn and write a little something about my one little word for the year – Stillness. Since we’re halfway through the year, I want to take the opportunity to reflect on some of the practices I’ve cultivated and think about the ways I’ve noticed Stillness take hold in my life.
The easiest way to start is to look at some of the books that have fed into my thoughts and ideas so far this year:
It’s been a wonderful variety of poetry, books on Buddhism, and memoirs. The three that have made the biggest impact are The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, and Long Life by Mary Oliver. The common theme? Slow down. Life’s not a race. Life is happening all around us all of the time and it’s so easy to miss!
I started meditating daily in December 2020 and this morning marked 185 days. I started with just three minutes at a time, then moved up to 5 minutes in January. I bumped it up to 7 minutes in April and then 10 minutes in mid-June. Slow and steady. I’m not sure what my end goal is because I only have so much time in the early mornings, but 10 minutes feels good for now. According to my Insight Timer, I’ve meditated over 1,000 minutes this year – amazing!
I chose to focus on Stillness this year because I wanted to practice drowning out all of the noise and the compulsion to do so much. I’m constantly comparing myself to others and think that I should be reading all of the newest books, knitting the most complicated and beautiful garments, quilting the biggest possible quilts with the newest and most popular fabric lines, and sewing my own wardrobe. And when I’m not making progress on all of those things? Then I feel like a failure. It’s the quickest way to crazy.
But this year, I’ve managed shift my focus to my family and health. I’m exercising more than ever and doing an okay job of avoiding my typical all or nothing mentality. I fall out of my routine, dust myself off, and experiment with another way of getting it done. Normally, I’d stay in the dirt and feel like a failure. but lately. I feel an appreciation for my body, the fact that it’s created three children and works so hard to keep a lovely home for them. And having a child with special needs has driven home the reality that I must take care of myself if I’m going to be around to take care of him. So moderate exercise and relatively healthy eating has become my priority over almost every other personal activity (except reading), which has helped push aside some of the compulsions to do, do, do.
Stillness in my heart.
Stillness in my mind.
The ability to be in a moment of complete external chaos and know that I’m still there. Thinking clearly. Making choices rather than reacting. Making choices based on what’s important rather than what I’m feeling in the moment. These are my goals and I’m very happy that we have six more months to practice life with our words. I’m looking forward to more thoughtful books and many more conversations with you about it all.
And I’m very much looking forward to reading everyone’s update this month!