Mastering Stillness: How Quieting the Body Calms the Mind

Mastering Stillness: How Quieting the Body Calms the Mind

Have you ever noticed that when you feel agitated, you tend to fidget? It’s hard to sit still when you’ve got a million things running through your head. However, the opposite is also possible. When you intentionally sit still, even for just a few minutes, the mind stops racing and starts to settle, like water in a pond. When the water is still, you can see through it more clearly.

You don’t need to do anything but be still and allow your breath to flow naturally. Yes, this is the early stages of meditation, but there is power in stopping movement. When the body stops moving, it gives the mind and nervous system a moment to pause and breathe. Everything settles, like silt in the pond.

Stillness is where you meet yourself.

Movement vs Stillness

This may contradict what I and many people say about the importance of movement. While it IS important to move your body regularly, it’s also important to be still. They can both create a calm mind, but in two different ways. Movement, like yoga, running, weight lifting, etc, increases blood flow and releases endorphins, or “feel good” chemicals in the brain. Movement often puts you in a better mood, and creates a general relaxation effect.

When you feel stressed, depressed, overworked, or overwhelmed, many times movement will help. Going for a walk, doing a core class, or hopping on a bike can help you release your stress and help you feel better.

Stillness, on the other hand, helps when you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or agitated. When you find your mind spinning, take a few minutes to be completely still. Not frozen in place, but still. Let your hands rest on your lap, feel your feet on the floor, and notice your breath. If you feel the urge to move, simply notice that urge and allow it space to exist. Notice how your heart rate drops and your mind slows down when your body comes to stillness.

But stillness is so hard!

It can be challenging to sit still for sure! But like anything else, it just takes practice. If you are a fidgeter, or someone with ADHD, sitting still might feel impossible. The key is to notice what is happening without judgment, and pause. When both your mind and body are racing, your insides feel like they are going to explode. When you can pause the movement in one, the other has a chance to slow down too.

If you struggle to stop moving, practice in small increments, like 10 seconds at a time. Slowly build up to a minute or more as you feel comfortable. See it as a pause in your movement. If you find that you still struggle to be still, allow the fidget to happen, but only in that one part of your body. Let the rest of your body be still and notice what happens. If you focus on noticing, you may be able to calm the fidget just a little bit. Your mind focuses on just that one thing. It’s a perfect start.

How to Sit Still

Find a comfortable seated position. You might sit in a chair with your feet on the floor placed under your knees. Maybe you sit on a rolled up beach towel or a meditation cushion. Ideally, your hips are higher than your knees and your knees are supported on something. You don’t want to feel physical struggle or strain, allow your body to be comfortable.

Close your eyes and let your palms rest on your thighs. Feel your spine lengthening upward as your hips drop into your seat. Notice how your body feels. Observe the impulse to move or adjust, and just let that impulse be. Notice the sensations in your body without doing anything about them. Simply sit still and let whatever is there be there. Allow your breath to flow naturally.

Be still until you feel calmer. With practice that might only be a minute or two. Sometimes, depending on what is happening in your mind, it can take up to 10 minutes or more. Take the time you need and just be and breathe. Notice how you feel.

Upcoming Events at Purple Room Yoga!

Registration for Diving Deeper into Your Yoga Practice opens October 5th! If you want to understand more about all 8 Limbs of Yoga, and learn how to integrate them into your practice and life, click here to register! You can also click for more information about the 8 month program.

Struggling with how you relate to food? Intentional Eating: Finding Peace and Balance with Your Relationship to Food is a 6 week program that helps you learn about your specific struggles. Applying the yogic principles of the Yamas and Niyamas you will learn to make healthier choices without shame, while cultivating kindness toward yourself. Click here to join the waitlist!

Practice meditation regularly with Janine every Monday at 8am ET, or whenever it fits into your schedule! Movement and Meditation is 20 minutes of gentle yoga movement and stretching followed by 20 minutes of guided and silent meditation. This class is available online live (click here) or on demand (click here)!

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