Three years ago I felt strongly called to move from living in the heart of Atlanta surrounded by millions of people, to living in the north Georgia mountains surrounded by millions of trees. My Soul was craving a communion with nature and a return to stillness.
The problem is that we take us everywhere we go and even though I’m surrounded by nature, I (like most humans living in the modern world) still find myself on the treadmill of life with a never ending to do list and not enough time to fit it all in.
Granted I’m a Gemini with a lot of fire in my chart with loads of energy for self-expression and doing. However no one ever tells us about the fine print of living a super charged life or the perils of our incessant need to always be occupied.
Peril one, exhaustion. This year more than ever, I’ve felt the repercussions more intensely having started the year off with a three week cold that seriously knocked me on my ass. I’m not a person that gets sick very often so when I do, it’s a difficult adjustment.
But when I say exhaustion, I’m talking less about the physical aspect and more about a deep emotional and spiritual exhaustion. Like how one might feel after setting up a new business for the first couple of years, only to learn that they have to repeat that very same process five more times. Or having to raise a baby after just getting their youngest off to college. #just-tapped-out kind of exhaustion.
Of course I’m fully aware that I am the one creating all of these perils – the busyness, the distraction, the commitments, the ever constant pull towards more growth and expansion.
Like most people, I unfortunately suffer from an inability to just BE.
The philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote “Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries. The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.”
When you read the word ‘distraction’, you may be thinking about being on Facebook all day or watching T.V. – neither of which are that interesting to me. I actually have to force myself to go online to post and our T.V. doesn’t get enough use to justify our monthly Netflix and Hulu subscriptions.
More accurately, I mean distractions such as working, reading, learning, renovations on the house and engaging in self-development. And yes, those are all distractions engaging the mind. While I can sit quietly in my room I don’t often do it while doing absolutely nothing.
Recent connections with my Guides have suggested time and time again, a sabbatical. That suggestion made me laugh! I just couldn’t see myself doing that right now (because of course, I’m just too busy). However an invite from a friend came in recently as an answer to my Soul’s call.
She invited me to do a Darkness Retreat in Guatemala at Lake Atitlan. http://thehermitageretreats.
Most people have never heard of this and I too responded with “a what?”
Before you ask, it isn’t working with dark forces. It is simply spending time in complete darkness alone with yourself without any worldly distractions.
Many ancient and spiritual traditions all over the world from the Tibetan Monks to the Mystics of the 15th century have practiced complete seclusion to ultimately access a deep inner illumination and higher states of consciousness.
Initially, I was very resistant to the idea and tried to negotiate myself into a silent retreat. Spending time alone is something I do frequently and in the end, it wouldn’t have been a stretch for me. But when I checked in with my guide’s, of course they knew I would still distract myself with books and more learning…all ‘non – being’.
After some contemplation, I decided that the Power of Stillness is exactly what I need and I booked my flight. Who couldn’t use five days alone in a cave without any light, technology, phone calls, email or work?
World traveler and journalist Pico Iyer did an amazing T.E.D. talk on the joy of “sitting still as a way of falling in love with the world and everything in it.” You can watch his talk at:
Pico also wrote a book that expands upon his T.E.D. talk. In it he includes excerpts from his talk:
“We all know that in our undermined lives, one of the things most undermined is ourselves. Many of us have the sensation that we are standing about two inches away from a huge canvas. It’s noisy. It’s crowded. And it’s changing every second. And that screen is our lives. It’s only by stepping back and holding still, that we can begin to see what the canvas means. In the age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still.”
As our lives become busier and more cluttered with things that grab our attention, serenity has become the new luxury.
How can we focus on a heightened quality of life if our quantity of activity drowns it out?
It is so delicate
Behind the clouds of the mind
there is an immense clarity
a wonderland vibrating with Life
People are looking for life
in gatherings, multiplication, and noise
in “more and more,”
But the Heart of Life
is in deep silence
in “less and less”
Where thoughts end
unspoken beauty begins
By Beata Kucienska
Our Souls crave space for Sacred Reflection.
As you think about the Power of Stillness, how can you incorporate more of that into your life?