The Many Ways To Enjoy A Stillness Practice: (part 2)

by Carole Fogarty

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you”  Deepak Chopra

The aim of  stillness is simple.  To pay more attention to your inside world rather than your outside world.  In effect giving your mind and body a chance to re-group, rest and rejuvenate a little. Of course the longer your stillness practice, the greater the restorative benefits.

 

Sitting, lying or walking peacefully un-distracted for 15 minutes will activate different aspects of your nervous system and immune function.   Your body will soon start to replenish itself again.  Yeah!

 

 

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Photo by riot jane:

 

If you missed part one“Start a Daily Stillness Practice Today and Succeed” please click here otherwise read on for a collection of 1-20 minute stillness practices.

 

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Here’s what stillness looks like:

- Seek nothing
- Do not anticipate what to do next
- Just be with yourself, feelings and emotions
- Feel and follow your breathe
- Let your thoughts come and go without getting into a conversation with them.

 

 

Stillness practices under 5 minutes:

“You find stillness by not looking” Unknown

There’s lots of different ways you can experience moments of stillness in your day without having to close your eyes and meditate.  In fact, stillness is probably a skill you might want to practice if you are keen to start meditation.

Lying down next to my cat ( for a few minutes ) is one of my favourites.  Cats just have a way of looking at you and saying “What’s all the rush and fuss about, chill out with me for a while” and of course I do.

 

1:  Morning tea as a stillness practice or as Thich Nhat Hanh says a time for tea meditation.  Don’t read a magazine, check your text messages, write a “to-do” list or multi-task.   Simply sit,  be still whilst sipping and enjoying your tea in a moment of relaxing stillness.   As we are so used to staying, busy, busy, busy whilst eating and drinking you might find this simple stillness practice a little more difficult than you initially thought.

 

2:  Couch stillness:

Lie on the couch and do nothing – no reading, watching TV or writing.  Simply focus on your breath.  Use your breath to breathe out any restlessness or agitation.  Your breath is a great tool to help you move into being still on the inside.

Physically lying still sends a clear message to the rest of your being to be calmer.

 

3: Animal stillness:

Sit or lay next to your pet for a few minutes.  You’ll be surprised how calming they can be to the nervous system when you take the time to tune into their energy.

 

4: Relaxed muscle stillness:

Are you tense and all knotted up?

Direct your energy, breath and attention towards the main muscles/areas in your body.  Start with your head and then move through your body and finish with your feet and toes.

Head soften, my head is now softening.  Jaw soften, my jaw is now softening.  Neck and shoulders soften, my neck and shoulders are now softening.  Arms soften, my arms are now softening and so on.

By the time you have softened your legs and feet just sit back, relax, and enjoy the stiller feeling you are now noticing inside  your body.  Rest for a few moments in the stillness.

 

4:  Use sound to find stillness:

Humming, chanting, singing or speaking a mantra such as om (aum) is an excellent way to feel stiller on the inside.  It’s  a relaxation tool that I always include in my Womens Rest and Rejuvenation Retreats.

Om (aum) is a Sanskrit word, a symbol and a sound of ancient spiritual significance.  It is the most chanted symbol in India, and said to have a profound effect on your mind, body and soul plus the environment in which it is chanted into.

Take a full deep breathe in, and on your exhale gently sing/chant om down into your body and out into the world. One om will probably last around 10 seconds or longer depending on the size of your inhale. As little as five rounds of om can significantly calm your mind and body.

 

5.  Alternate nostril breathing:

Simply by practising a few rounds of alternate nostril breathing (pranayama) for a few minutes each day, you can help restore any imbalances in your brain.  You can improve sleep, encourage a calmer emotional state, boost your thinking power and soothe your nervous system.

Click here to learn how to do alternate nostril breathing:

 

 

 

 

10 – 20 minute stillness practices:

Most days I do my best to practice at least 15 minutes of one restorative yoga pose.  That’s the beauty of restorative yoga, each pose is designed for you to be extra comfortable and completely still for up to 30 minutes at a time.

On days when I’m particularly agitated then journaling or walking meditation are usually helpful towards feeling stiller.  Enjoy and please feel free to share your secrets for connecting with your inner stillness.

 

1: Legs up the wall:

I’ve written about “legs up the wall” before.  Its literally lying on your back with your legs up in the air resting against the wall.  This restorative yoga pose has many wonderful therapeutic benefits.  Click here for full details.

 

2: Yoga Nidra:

Known as yogic sleep you lay in Savansana (corpse pose) and deliberately move your awareness through your body for deep relaxation.   They say 20 minutes of yoga nidra is equivalent to 3 – 4 hours good quality sleep.

For full details  click go to – The ultimate guide to yoga nidra. If you have ever been to yoga then its probably something you would remember doing at the very end of the class.

 

3:  Child pose

Child pose is another restorative yoga posture that physically helps you turn your awareness inwards by resting your forehead on the floor.  You are curled over your knees which arches the back releasing tension and stiffness.

You can practice stillness in childs pose for 2 minutes or 10 minutes.  I encourage you to try it for yourself.  Please read the following article I wrote a while back called:   Calm your mind in 2 minutes it has great diagrams and lists all the benefits.

 

4:  Morning pages – writing:

Journaling can be the perfect partner when you need to feel stiller on the inside. Its also a wonderful way to empty your head of those annoying repetitive thoughts which is often the block to stillness.

I tend to follow Julia Camerons teachings of writing for 30 minutes first thing in the morning (known as morning pages). You don’t think about what you are writing nor worry about your spelling, you simply move your hand as the words appear on your page.

* Benefits of journaling daily:

 

5: Stillness meditation

Sit in a comfortable position, relax your shoulders, neck, buttocks and stomach. Gently close your eyes and do nothing but focus on your inhale, the pause between your inhale and exhale and then your exhale.

If you find your mind wandering then repeat on the inhale “Breathing in I am calm” and on the exhale “Breathing out I smile”.   I know I share this mantra often but it works really well for me.

Walking meditation as a stillness practice:

“Walking meditation is meditation while walking” Thich Nhat Hanh

If you are too restless and agitated on the inside ( to feel stillness ) I can highly recommend the very simple practice of walking meditation. As Eckhart Tolle says, you don’t need to be still on the outside to feel and connect with your stillness on the inside.

The following guidelines are taken from a wonderful book I own called Walking Meditation w/DVD & CD by Thict Nhat Hanh.

 

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Walking Meditation w/DVD & CD

 

1: Gentle Belly Breathing:

Place your hands on your belly to feel it rise and fall as you walk.  Use a gentle belly breath to calm your thoughts, relax your body, hips, elbows, muscles, legs, face, eyes and ears.   Repeat as you walk.  Breathing in “I am resting” Breathing out “I am softening”.

2: Walking – pay attention to your feet:

Walk with soft eyes, slowly and gently. Feel the sensation of each foot as it presses down onto the earth. Follow the movement of every foot step with your mind and breath.

3: Counting your breath:

To keep your mind focused on each step and each breath count the number of steps to each inhale and each exhale.    It helps prevent your mind from getting distracted with other thoughts.   1 inhale for 3 steps, 1 exhale for 3 steps.

4: Smiling:

Thich Nhat Hanh says a smile brings lightness to your feet, invites your body to relax and helps you settle more easily into the walking meditation.

 

 

 

egs up the wall is generally not recommend for those menstruating, with retinal problems, after third month of pregnancy and heart problems.  Check with your yoga teacher first.

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I use and love Ananga’s  guided meditations and music

Please click here to download:

 

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