I am learning to love stillness.
I have been previously hopeless at this skill. My mom tells me that when I had mono when I was in Kindergarten, the only difference was that I acted like a "normal" child. Ha! I sound like a dream. I was a squirmy kid, who grew into a squirmy adult.
I was a child dancer who couldn't even in ballet. It was too slow, too still. Instead, I tap danced down the grocery aisles. I didn't even succumb to stillness in sleep, waking up twisted in the blankets or upside down in my bed. I filled silence with songs, even commercial jingles, and overpowered my thoughts by escaping into the magnificent and magical world of books.
My squirmy tendencies continued into adulthood, always crossing, recrossing, or folding my legs; pulling my split ends; and doodling in the margins in lecture halls in college.....and Bible studies as an adult.
I started practicing yoga through our local YMCA in my twenties, and loved it. I could focus on my breath, and combining that with concentrating on the movement of my body, didn't have to worry about stilling my mind. (Totally nailing that whole Zen thing.) Until the end, final relaxation, (AKA Savasana), in which I would promptly roll up my mat and quietly sneak out the room Homie don't play that.
Even prayer was difficult. I just couldn't get comfortable trying to listen for that Still Small Voice. I preferred to find the Divine in my well-defined Theology. I took comfort in being able to say exactly what I believed about God and really, religion. I needed black and white, and I needed movement.
And I wish I could pinpoint when that started changing for me.
Maybe when I turned 30 and just started feeling more comfortable with who I am? Maybe when I became a mom who got to assist God in the miracle she was holding? Maybe when I became a mom who had a REALLY tough time nailing the whole breastfeeding thing, and was forced to hold very still for several sessions a day so as not to shift my breast and cause the good latch (finally) to become toe-curlingly, teeth grittingly painful again? Maybe through studies about spiritual growth, spiritual practices, spiritual gifts, defining my faith led by different pastors? Maybe recognizing that I would never escape the anxious noise of my brain, and needed to start addressing it? Maybe all of it.
So now, at the end of my Saturday morning yoga class (often held outside on the high school football field) I revel in my instructor's guidance to quiet my mind, to pay attention to the wind whispering against my skin, to the sunshine permeating my cheek with its warmth, to the rhythmic rise and fall of my belly. I feel my connection to nature, to energies, to the Divine. (Have you tried yoga? I encourage it, and recommend you try visiting a local, small business studio.)
And I pray. I even pray out loud in front of other people. On a regular basis. And I sit in a theology that is okay with "God is mysterious." being the answer sometimes. A lot of the time.
I recognize the frantic anxious thoughts tumbling around in my mind, and I attempt to slow them down with meditation or prayer or breath prayer.
But, (and here's a recurring theme) I am not great at it.
I find myself overdosing on other people's stories to avoid stillness. Either through books (beach worthy novels, historical fiction, juvenile fiction, memoirs, autobiographies, you name it) or social media. To quote Blind Melon, "And it rips my life away, but it's a great escape."
So add that to the list of areas in which I am growing. I hope my list always stays full. Seeking change, growth, shift of perspective, evolution of beliefs, knowledge makes life beautiful.