Just about every day of the week I have something to do. Work here, writing there, deadlines, projects, cleaning, and so on.
For a long time now, I have taken a great deal of pride in my ability to do more than one thing at a time. Multitasking has been a skill I’ve bragged about in cover letters and resumes for most of my adult life
Because I have been indoctrinated in the societal notion of a Monday-Friday workweek and a two-day weekend, I tend to plan different activities for my weekend days. I still have things to do, many of which are fun.
And then the pandemic hit. Suddenly, leaving the house for more than a walk around the neighborhood or a drive without a destination became rare. The weekend medieval events ceased. Staying in touch with friends became virtual.
Even though I had been working from home, for the most part, my weekend still had activities. And then they didn’t.
Now I encounter a day, sometimes two, where I have no plan. Nothing to do. Sometimes this is advantageous and feels like a good and useful thing. But other times it is infuriating and feels unproductive and wasteful. Shouldn’t I be doing something?
Even my daily stillness — mediation — is premeditated. I choose a time and place, set my timer, and mediate. Any other time of being still, however, feels wrong.
But I know that good can come from choosing to be still.
Unbalanced forces at work
Modern life is go go go. No slowing, no stopping. Global communication. Social media. Instant gratification.
The machines and technology designed to bring us together have separated us in new and scary ways. Want zombies? Well, we’ve got zombies. How many people are so glued to their screens that the real world holds little to no interest for them now?
Because information is in a constant flow, and everything is “streaming” or otherwise available with little to no delay, connectivity is constant. As Newton’s First Law of Motion states:
“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”
So, once you connect it’s a law of nature that you stay connected. That is, “unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”
What is an unbalanced force in this instance? All kinds of things count. Loss of WiFi, bad cellular signal, a crashed OS, a broken server, or anything else of that nature.
But I actually think it is far closer to home than that.
Human beings are, by their nature, an unbalanced force. We have our habits, beliefs, tendencies, and routines. Yet we are still fairly unpredictable and also vulnerable to unpredictable things.
Car accidents, lost jobs, failed relationships — all of these can unbalance the human psyche. Amid constant go go go something forces you to stop.
For example, I had a plan. There were notions and ideas afoot for where I was taking my life. Then I got hit by a car crossing a street. My whole plan got shifted entirely to recovery for the next year. That was unpredictable as all hell.
For a time, I had no choice but to be still.
Sometimes the nothing of being still is something
All too often I don’t stop. I suspect you might find this familiar, too.
My mind certainly never stops. I am always thinking. There are ideas, notions, considerations, stories, good and bad thoughts in constant motion in there. About the only time I can regulate this at all, aside from sleep, is with meditation.
My practice is imperfect, of course. Thoughts still come in, and sometimes I don’t follow them and stay focused on my breath. But often they divert me, get my attention, and I have to shunt them away and refocus on my breathing.
Nobody can “go” all the time. Rest is not just a matter of sleep. Sometimes it’s a day lazing around the house in your pajamas.
I struggle with days where I have nothing to do. But then, I play a game, do some reading, veg out in front of the TV mindlessly watching The Simpsons or Food Network or such. And as much as it can be dull and uneventful — it is something.
I am still. There are no demands on my time, no things to do, and an opportunity, as such, to get my house in order. Being still can help you to disconnect from the constant connectivity. That can be far healthier than you may realize.
Without rest, and without taking breaks, the body will break down. The mind will, too. So the nothing of being still is something because it is a period of rest that too many people won’t take.
Do you know someone with accrued vacation time that they simply will not use? Too busy, too important? It’s an all-too-common issue because the idea of working for a living has been equated to working for living. These ideas are not the same.
Hence, being still opens you.
Mindfulness from stillness
When you practice mindfulness, you open yourself to being conscious and aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions in the present.
When you are aware of your mind, you can see where thoughts and feelings may be running away from you. Why? Because, more than likely, your subconscious has been working overtime.
Your subconscious is like a sponge. It will absorb and absorb until you wring it out. Mindfulness has that effect.
Being mindful will show you when you need to take a break. It will open you to the positivity of finding stillness. That will allow you to reconnect with yourself.
When all is said and done, much of the go go go of today’s connectivity actually disconnects us from ourselves. When you do not recognize this — and choose to be still from time to time — you risk breaking down. That can be mental, emotional, physical, or all of the above.
I know that I don’t like being idle and still — but it is a healthy choice from time to time. Being still allows me to take a break, redirect misleading thoughts, feelings, and actions. It offers an opportunity to see more and better choices to get through whatever the unpredictable world throws my way.
Being still isn’t hard — but mindfulness for positivity can make more of it
Knowing that taking the time to be still can be beneficial — rather than lament it or disregard it — you can use it to your advantage. When you take a break and make use of stillness to be more mindful, it opens you to a far wider range of potential and possibilities that ultimately empowers you.
When you feel empowered, your mindfulness increases, you become more aware overall, and that can spread to people around you. It can create a feedback loop of awareness and positivity.
As such, you can build more positive feelings and discover more reasons to feel positivity and gratitude. That can be the impetus to improve numerous aspects of your life for the better, help overcome the overwhelming negativity of the current situation, and generate yet more positivity and gratitude.
That can then spread to change the world for the better.
An attitude of gratitude is an attitude of immense positivity that can generate even more good energies — and that, like you, is always worthwhile.
Know that you are worthy and deserving of using mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done our thoughts, feelings, and actions matter, as does taking advantage of being still for your best benefit.
Originally published at http://titaniumdon.com on July 13, 2020.