Why Movement Taught Me Stillness

Thick Nhat Hahn says in “No Mud No Lotus” we cannot know happiness without knowing sorrow.  We must expand in both ways. This past month taught me the gift of stillness, this thing that many people, especially New Yorkers, take for granted.  I have switched time zones and beds more than I have been in one place.  While my adventurous heart loves the change of scenery, energy, and humans, I recognize a deep rooted need to feel stillness.

Have you ever stopped after a very full day and in the moment of being alone felt like you were finally able to breathe your first full breath of the day? That’s the sensation I’ve been on the hunt for this month.  It usually happens for me on the daily, multiple times a day.  Very often though, I've not a had a moment truly in solitude, something I find to be very necessary to retune my self. There are certain places, activities, experiences that allow me to feel that pause no matter how hectic things become: walking or running by the river, going upside down, talking and being in the presence of particular people. But what happens when I can’t do those things or see those humans?  How then is it possible to find the pause inside of the tornado of activity and obligations? 

WHAT A LIFE OF CONSTANT MOTION LOOKS AND FEELS LIKE

My general proclivity towards movement means a cycle of intense activity followed by exhaustion, when there is nothing left in the tank and the eventual surrender to stillness.  I see the world in a hyper-focused way when I’m on the move.  All of my spidey senses are on high alert.  My field of vision narrows to include only the important details. Every part of me functions in effort mode.  The moment the event concludes, the deliverables are delivered, the shoot is wrapped, all of the adrenaline drains from my body and leaves me deflated.  

My continual life work is to find these moments of pause before I am completely empty.  Not that I drive anymore, but it is akin to filling up the gas tank before you’re stranded on the side of the road. I’ve discovered that the hyper-focused, constantly moving way of being translates to a path-of-least-resistance mentality. I am a chameleon; I transform into whatever I need to so that I can do the best job possible.  That is an incredibly valuable skill, but in my time of shape shifting into what other people need me to be, I’ve noticed a pattern of compromising my authenticity to “make things easier”. 

WHY STILLNESS IS IMPORTANT

Instead of collapsing into stillness, I am learning to let my gut guide me there.  In the past, the voices of other obligations drowned out my own inner voice of wisdom. This unspoken cultural norm exists: taking time to pause equates to weakness. 

How completely UNTRUE and UNHEALTHY.

Those moments of pause are vital because they allow me to recalibrate. I’ve started to ask myself quite regularly the following questions:

  • What is it like to experience you without any outside stimuli?  
  • Who are you without other people telling you who the believe you to be?  
  • What do you believe when you are not responsible or accountable to other people? 
  • Why are you doing what you are doing?

When I'm not constantly filtering out the opinions and judgements of others, I come back to my truth. Then, I think and act from a place of authenticity.  I find that time and time again, when I take time, I approach the same obstacles with more creative and effective solutions.  I enjoy my life more; simple moments like feeling the wind on my face or watching a leaf drop to the street carry an incredible magic. The way I experience the world from stillness is drastically different: I live MORE.  If my experience in the world was a soundboard, I am the master DJ.  I can turn the level up and down on particular thoughts.  I hear the places where the harmony track is overpowering the melody or where it might be cool to add another instrumental track.  I have a sense of the greater experience and the details.  When I talk about living vibrantly, this is the exact experience.  It means consciously creating the experience of my life and allowing the true magic and unique-ness of each moment to flood me. It means seeing the world and all of it’s gifts with more than just my eyes.  This happens inside of the pause. 

Movement is intoxicating.  It fills me with a sense of going somewhere, evolving into the next version of self.  The sense is not always the same as the actual act. Sometimes that momentum carries me away.  Even in writing the list of things that let me exhale completely, I realize they involve moving or going or doing, with the exception of being in the presence of people that make me feel completely myself. I’m on the move because I don’t want to miss anything; if I stop, I might. The opposite is true. By constantly moving, I was my own greatest obstacle.  Constant motion means I miss out on the beauty of every breath.  The pause gives me the opportunity to appreciate and fully live every moment. I know the joy and the secrets locked inside a single moment of connection because I’ve experienced flurries of activity. I’m still learning the delicate balance of doing and non-doing, of letting go and actively creating.  I doubt that I’ll ever find the formula; I don't believe on exists.  What I do know is that this life was meant to be lived on a spectrum of human experiences which means knowing both happy and sad, movement and stillness.

What do you do to find a pause?  Is there a way of being that feels more like you? What are you answers to the questions above?  Let me know. I care.  Your voice and thoughts matter.
-K