I've spent more than a year now practicing stillness. I prefer this label more than most because it cuts quick to the core... being still. Not something I am historically known for being good at. If it's a lazy day you can more times than not find me busying about the house looking for something to clean or pick up or arrange. But I digress, my practice of stillness moves beyond where I have failed while at the same time acknowledging the missteps and welcoming them with open arms... thank you failure.
Say that with me… Thank you failure. Does it make your insides squirm? If so, then congratulations on being human. I don't like to fail. In fact I have a very real fear of failing. Yet I owe much of where I am today to my failures.
Where I have been impatient I now see a greater ability to wait. Where I have been careless (in word, or action) I now can hold that space in a moment of anger or hurt and welcome the feelings I feel and not act on them. Learning not to let the fear, or discomfort, or anger drive.
Here's a very recent example of how I am growing in my meditation practice. During a 20 minutes sit just the other day, I'd say probably somewhere in the later half of the session, I started to notice a pain in my foot. Any other time I might have stretched it out, rubbed it or held it in some way to try and avoid the feelings. But during this moment of stillness and awareness I simply felt the pain, welcomed the pain, and then proceeded to imagine myself wrapping my arms around that pain and embracing it with compassion. As soon as I had done that the pain had passed.
I don’t pretend to be an expert in meditation. I am simply a participant. But I do believe in what I practice and can say with confidence that there is no other form of spiritual practice that I have kept as consistently as this... simply being. In my experience, meditation isn't just one more thing we need to fill up our calendar with, or add to our daily to-do list. It is a gift we can choose to accept when we have nothing to do.
So next time you find yourself with a blank space of time. Be it one minute, or one hour try being still and see what happens. You don't need to download the newest app or wait for everything to be just right. In embracing our circumstances as they are (kids whining, dogs barking, horns honking) we learn to accept these distractions as part of life instead of allowing them to annoy our lives. Going within we learn that all we need is all we have right here. This, now.
So practically speaking, set your timer (I use Insight Timer) for what feels good to you. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. Maybe just 1 minute? Allow space to release the self judgement, and as you focus on your breath for this stretch of stillness let your heart be open. Feel your body. Be in your body.
This is the change we've been waiting for. The change that begins in us.