"One hundred actions are not worth as much as one moment of stillness" - Xiang Zhai
Standing still is perhaps the most contradictory activity in which we can engage. While we are seemingly doing “nothing” in fact we are challenging ourselves both physically and mentally, using every muscle in our bodies, strong, deliberate breath and an iron-willed focus.
All to do that which our culture regards with little respect. To many, to stand still is to stagnate. To lose momentum. Not to keep up with progress. The truth is, many consider standing still as actually falling behind.
Yet standing still has taught me valuable lessons. It allows me to be inside myself. Instead of always wanting to be the busy one, the active one, the catalyst, standing still allows me to watch.
It helps me to see things and in that moment of truly “seeing”, the world looks different to me. Or maybe it doesn’t look different, maybe its just that I am looking at it differently.
This is new to me. I am listening to quiet and it doesn't sound awful, just different. When I am standing still I can listen. When I am talking and planning my next clever response, I cannot.
When I can see and hear, I can learn new things. I can change. I can grow.
That is perhaps why trees are so big. They stand still and witness the seasons, the rain, the sunshine, the animals in their cycles. They gather up strength from the earth below. From one deep place, they reach into the air—rooted yet light.
They stand still but they don’t stay the same. Running around all the time allows me to stay the same because nothing has the time to change me.
Constant activity does not allow us the opportunity to see things as they are…the world is a blur of movement instead of a place of peace, stillness, and contemplation.
It’s possible that being patient and gathering our energy allows us to do what we think running around trying to change things will achieve. How can we change what we cannot really see or understand because we are too busy running past it to get to the next it?
Too often we believe that what needs change is the world around us. In some ways, it seems easier to change the outside world than to change ourselves. Move to a new city. Stop using plastic bottles and straws. Vote.
If we keep running we can stay as we are because we too are a blur—even to ourselves. Ironically, coincidentally, cosmically, as I have been challenging myself to stand still and listen, today, I was able to hear my teacher, Colleen Saidman. She said what I probably would never even have registered two weeks ago because I would have been fidgeting around wondering if I should go to a movie or stay home and do the laundry.
“We’re all exhausted from running around. But what are we running from? What are we running to?"
She quoted Mr. Iyengar: “Intimacy with another is only possible when we are first able to be intimate with ourselves. And the only way that can happen is if we take the time to go inside instead of always living on the outside.”
On this January day I thought there might be something going on here that is not only a philosophical truth but also a practical one.
Face it-- it’s cold outside. It is warm inside. I think I’ll go there and stand still a while.
By Gaillane Grosso
Gallane is a creative director/writer with a long career in advertising and PR. She has written a novel called The Other Side of NIce and served on the board of directors of the Iyengar Institute in New York. She has been practicing for 35 years--gratitude to Eddie Stern, Rodney Yee, Colleen Saidman Yee, Seane Corne, James Murphy, Debby Green, Karine Plantadit, Erika Halweil, Alison Cramer and so many more gifted inspirational guides.
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