“When there is silence one finds the anchor of the universe within oneself” – Laozi
As I sit down to write, it is less than two weeks until my wedding day. To say things are hectic is an understatement.
I’ve been wedding planning, juggling work deadlines, teaching full time and being a mum. Every time I switch on the news something dreadful has happened, and yet despite it all, I feel calm.
A student recently asked me how I manage to do it, which got me reflecting on what exactly keeps me anchored. How do I find balance?
I’ve realized it’s the daily practice of giving myself space and quiet, so I’m able to connect to the peace within, to listen to my inner self.
The crazier things are, the more I need stillness.
This is not a new idea, yogis and monks have been meditating for centuries, but it seems to me that due to the way we live our lives, it is now much more of a necessity. The idea that we become what we think rings true and so surely we need to reflect upon our thoughts and be more mindful.
“The crazier things are, the more I need stillness.”
The idea is to give ourselves time to connect, to reflect, to ask questions that we can only hear the answer to when we’re quiet. When we reflect on questions such as, “what makes me happy? What’s important to me?”, we are able to be more compassionate and caring to ourselves, and it enables us to feel more connected and compassionate to everyone in our lives.
As a society we spend so much time ‘doing’ that we seem to have lost the art of ‘being’. We fill each and every moment, rushing from here to there, compulsively checking our phones and devices. We work through our lunch hours, take work home with us and over fill our social diaries. We never switch off.
There’s an old zen saying, “Sit for 20-minutes every day, unless you’re busy. If you’re busy sit for an hour”.
I find the more space I give myself, the calmer and more productive I am. It helps me negotiate life’s ups and downs.
There’s are a lot of disturbing events happening in the world right now that we can’t control, but when we connect to the calmness within, it stays with us throughout our day, allowing us to be anchored. Because of this, we our far less likely to be swayed by the turbulence around us, and we can see things with more clarity and perspective.
Everyone can benefit from incorporating a little stillness and space into their routine. It can be as simple as switching the phone off or leaving it at home. Sitting in nature – ‘being’ without ‘doing’. Give yourself the gift of time and your own attention, rest in the power of stillness.
If you’re not sure where to begin, follow these simple steps for finding your inner stillness.
“As a society we spend so much time ‘doing’ that we seem to have lost the art of ‘being’.”
Find a quiet place and give yourself five minutes where you know you won’t be disturbed. Set a timer so you don’t have to watch the clock.
Find a comfortable seat, on a chair or a cushion with your back against the wall. Close your eyes and keep them closed.
Place your right hand over the centre of the chest and left hand over your right.
Start to breathe into the space behind your hands taking three long slow inhales and exhales. Take a moment to ask your self what it is you would like more of in your life. What quality or aspect would you like to awaken within you. Relaxation? Health? Strength? Peace? Confidence? Whatever it is, repeat it a few of times, phrasing it in a positive way.
Relax your hands to your thighs and begin to feel the breath.
Imagine a pin-point of light at your heart’s centre. Inhale, and feel the light expanding. When you exhale, feel the light contract.
Sit and observe your breath and energy around the heart centre, expanding with each inhale and contracting with every exhale.
On every inhale, silently chant the mantra ‘sat’ and on the exhale ‘yam’. Satyam means truth, and we are using this mantra to connect to our true essence.
If the mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath and the mantra.
When the five minutes are over, notice how you feel.
“There’s an old zen saying, ‘Sit for 20-minutes every day, unless you’re busy. If you’re busy sit for an hour.’”
Some days there will be stillness, some days your mind will be busy, just allow it. Try not to judge your experience as good or bad, right or wrong, it just is.
Consistency is key, so set yourself a regular time and try to practice for 40 consecutive days.
You really will feel the benefits of a calmer mind. You’ll find yourself less reactive to situations and find more space around your thoughts, even in the hectic world we live in today.
Written by Jess Horn
About the author
Jess qualified as a yoga teacher over 8 years ago and is now a 500 hr ISHTA certified teacher. She was originally drawn to yoga for its physical benefits but continues to be fascinated by the many deeper layers yoga has to offer such as Eastern philosophy, Ayurveda, Breath work and Meditation.
Jess skillfully provides space in her classes where everyone feels comfortable and can challenge them selves safely. She hopes her classes encourage more awareness, so people can connect more mindfully with themselves, each other and our environment.
Jess teaches in London and Hertfordshire, Workshops and Worldwide Retreats. She has been featured in Yoga Magazine and is co-founder of award winning retreat company Inspiration Space.