Being Still Can Be the Hardest Thing of All

March 16, 2014

Each morning I sit with my cup of tea and read the daily entry from “The Book of Awakening” by Mark Nepo. I am in awe each day as his words strike a chord, gently nudging me to reflect on my life. Like Oprah, I have bought many copies of the book to give to friends since discovering it (Not quite the thousands that she has given away!) in hopes that it will touch them in the way it has touched me.

Being Still Can Be the Hardest Thing of All

Today’s entry was about devoting enough time to each feeling that comes upon us, rather than charging ahead, leaving it dangling. Mark says:

“I am always surprised at the aftereffect of being moved deeply by something. I can be hurt or disappointed or feel the warmth of being loved or the gentle sway of being temporarily left, and then I’m ready to chew on something else, seldom allowing for the feelings to digest completely. In fact, I’ve come to see that much of my confusion in life comes from giving my attention to the next thing too soon, and then wrapping new experience in the remnants of feeling that are not finished with me.”

Can’t we all relate to this? Even as I sat drinking in his words, I noticed my mind trying to race ahead to thoughts of exercise, showering, breakfast and work. Just as we race from task to task, we race from one feeling to the next. I had to glue myself down and be in the moment rather than jump up and start writing this post.

We live in a culture where thinking and doing and accomplishing are revered. Multitasking is worn like a badge of honor by those who can do it and envied by those who can’t. But not allowing ourselves that necessary moment of reflection, of letting our feelings wash over us and inhabit us, robs us of the very essence of our existence. We need to give proper time and attention to these feelings (the good ones and the bad) so that we can feel them fully, process them and move forward without leaving them unattended, or even worse – buried. We often don’t let ourselves feel the joy or the sorrow as it needs to be felt.

I had the opportunity today to practice this. While washing the dishes my mind wandered to the date and the fact that it would have been my 40th wedding anniversary, had I still been married. I was married for thirty years and have been divorced now for ten, although it certainly doesn’t seem that long. So many emotions started to surface and had I not read Mark’s words this morning, I might have pushed my emotions down and just kept on washing dishes. But I really took them all in – the good and the bad – and let them just be. I allowed the memories to resurface and sit with me for awhile. It can be an act of courage to take on these emotions, some that have wounded us so deeply, but the rewards are immense and after some time I felt so much lighter. I let myself feel.

It almost seems impossible for many of us to sit and reflect with a cup of tea and not have the television on or be staring at a computer screen, or even reading a book, for that matter. But I can say with certainty that in those moments where I allow myself to be fully present, something magical happens. The air becomes still, even the busy sounds of the city in the background become muted and I am in that space where being alone is golden. And it is in that space where you let yourself feel that deep healing can occur.

Of course, better yet would be to drink that cup of tea without reading a book. If you know about the benevolent and cherished Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hahn, then you surely have heard him talk about mindfulness.

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”

I fall short of these practices each and every day. But I recognize the power that they hold,  and so each day I try to get a little bit closer to achieving the peace that comes with them. One day at a time…

Much love,

  1. I love this post! As a fellow rusher and multi-tasker, I too am learning to savor the moment, and fully feel it before charging ahead to my future. Thank you, my wise friend.

  2. ahh, I am with you here, dear Barbara! I recently deleted Facebook from my iPhone – as I noticed how I get stuck onto that little screen while traveling. Glueing my mind somewhere, instead of letting it relax and meander around while commuting from home to office. And guess what – the other day I had a brilliant aha-moment while stepping of the tram!
    It´s like getting off a drug, really, I´ve added the fb-app back on a couple of times, deleting a couple of times – because there were situations when I just felt bored and would rather look at the screen.. Addictive behavior..
    After your post, even more I´m determined to keep the app off the phone – thank you for your always wonderful words.

  3. beautiful insight! thanks for sharing with us! <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *