Why can’t we sit still?
Ever have one of those days, maybe on a weekend, when you have worked hard all week, whether at a job or volunteering, gardening, servicing the car, housework or any other intense activity and now, just when you could just sit down and be quiet for a while, you find it hard to do nothing?
You’d think as boomers and beyond we would realize we’ve earned these moments of quiet. Our bodies need rest. Our minds need rest. The phone, the laundry, the clutter can wait a few hours or even days. It’s strange how quickly we can feel guilty.
Or come up with 10 reasons why we need to jump up and get something done. If our minds wander, we think we’re “wasting time” when really we might be doing some beneficial day-dreaming.
Some people bike for miles and miles and then when they reach their destination, they rest for 15 minutes and get right back on the bike. Or hike all day to a beautiful glacial lake and find it hard to just sit by it and breathe, without checking their watch and heading back in 10 minutes. Do we think we’re missing something? Maybe so.
But then maybe, just sitting in the grass with your dog and feeling the breeze on your face might be feeding your soul more than you know.
Modern wisdom is telling us how bad it is to sit for hours at a time at our desks or on the couch. The advice is to get up every 20 minutes or so and walk down the hall, up some stairs, around the office, whatever. I think that’s great advice. But I also think there are afternoons or evenings when a few hours of watching the clouds might be even more beneficial for our circulatory system.
Being still resets natural rhythms. Lets our deeper consciousness work out the tough issues that vex us. Helps us savor good memories and positive experiences.
It’s interesting that as well as sitting still, silence seems to be hard for many people. In conversation. In church. In a car on a road trip. Some people are just uncomfortable with silence and need to quickly fill it with music, talk, or noise. Meditation is, for these people, impossible or excruciating. Yet listen to the list of benefits realized from meditating: it increases positive emotions, boosts the immune system, decreases pain and decreases inflammation. It’s even supposed to enhance brain functioning and decrease depression.
So maybe we all need to just sit.
Summer’s here and for many, provides opportunities for visiting places of natural beauty like the beach, the mountains, the desert, and more. What if, sometime in the midst of the giggling and playing and socializing, we all found a few moments to just take it in…eyes closed maybe, breathing quiet, ears attuned to the wind, the waves, the birds.
What if we turned off our phone (gasp) and use our minds to take a photo of the scene and hold it there.
Let everything relax for a minute, and just be.
“Your innermost sense of self, of who you are, is inseparable from stillness.”