Stillness has never been something I enjoyed. I have memories of sitting around the kitchen table at 8 years old when my entire family would be reading the Sunday paper and I would be crawling out of my skin wanting to do something!
And then there were the times that my mom wanted me to take naps with her, but kept scolding me because I flip-flopped and fidgeted too much.
Stillness was uncomfortable. When my body was quiet, my head would get loud. I’d get bored, frustrated, and my thoughts would start screaming that something must be wrong with me because no one else seemed to be challenged by this simple act of sitting.
I found that moving my body quieted down the cacophony of insecure thoughts. Climbing trees, shooting hoops, riding my bike were just some of the activities that soothed me as a child. As an adult, biking, hiking and running from my insecurities turned into what some people might call an all out obsession. When I told my mother I was training for an Ironman Race, she gently asked me: “Isn’t that excessive?” And I thought, isn’t that the point!
My favorite days were when I could get out on a 4 hour bike ride or 90 minute run in the early morning, before work. I found it often quieted my head for much of the day keeping me from jumping out of my skin, or being irritable or impatient with everyone.
Insecure thinking, frustration, and irritability were just how I knew myself. I thought I was the only one who suffered from this, and it was definitely a problem. Hiding this became a full time job, and exercise became my elixir of choice.
But then 10 weeks ago I broke my right leg. And that was just 4 weeks after a total hip replacement surgery, also on my right side.
In the past 3 months I have done more sitting still than I have my entire life, including all the years I practiced regular meditation! This means I don’t have my usual go-tos for distracting myself from my busy troubled head.
Not being able to divert my attention with movement and exercise has been challenging and yet also enormously freeing. What I am seeing is that through all the roller-coaster of emotions I have been experiencing in the last 3 months, there is no “fix” for a feeling; and there is no need to fix any feeling.
Knowing that my emotions and all my experiences come from inside me, from my own thinking, and not from my circumstance is the most powerful thing I have learned in my life. And by being still, I see the illusion I am creating in my mind, moment to moment.
While sitting day-to-day, nothing really changes except the stories I project from inside me… moment to moment.
Self-pity comes when I am comparing where I am to someone else.
Frustration comes when I have expectations that something is supposed to go a certain way, or be different than it is.
Anger comes when I am in a story that I was not respected, heard, valued, etc.
Boredom comes when I am not connected to the lifeforce and creativity inside me and I am wanting something outside of me to entertain me.
These are all some versions of internal stories. We make up stories. Human beings are story-tellers and we have a personal Imax theater in each of our heads in which our personal screenplay is shown. The drama that my thinking can create is astounding! But all stories are lies because they are denying the present moment.
Take away all your beliefs and stories and what do you have?
The present moment.
When I fall into the present moment I can feel my aliveness. I become aware of energy and life pulsing through me. The same energy that pulses through everything is what I am made of and connected to. I can feel that the intelligence of this energy is way more creative and resourceful than my human thinking brain.
In the present moment I let life move me. I am in the flow and my head stops arguing! This is the space of pure creativity!
I love when I feel the pulse of life move me! I feel joy, gratitude, and I naturally start getting curious. Life takes care of itself and things arise that I could not see before in my constricted overthinking state. Opportunities, possibilities, creativity… they all arise when I am in the present moment, and not in the stories in my head. It’s like coming out of a deep dark horror movie to a gorgeous sunny day where everything is alive and at your disposal. Where anything is on the menu. All you have to do is open your mind.
I wish I could say that I always lived in that limitless state of mind. I don’t. I have not figured out how to be enlightened in this lifetime… yet. Like everyone else I go back and forth between the constricted state of my personal thinking to the magic of the present moment. But I do know that any time I am having a shitty experience it is never actually coming from my circumstance. It is coming from me. And that is where the power and the mystery lie. Within me, through the power of thought.
As my Coach and Mentor Michael Neill puts it: “When thought is seen for what it is – the transient creative energy that is continually forming, reforming, and transforming our experience of life moment by moment – our temporary thought-created realities hold less of a hypnotic spell over our attention so we don’t need relief from the feelings of stress, pressure, and insecurity they create inside us.”
Knowing that I can drop my stories and fall into the infinite creative field of energy even when I am sitting with a broken leg is truly priceless.