Today in class we were practicing headstand. The teacher asked if we had any questions. One student shared she felt comfortable in her inversion, but never held it long because she got bored. When she experienced boredom she’d simply come down. I wanted to run over, hug her and scream, “you are not alone”! Strangely enough, I’ve been experiencing the same thing in my practice. I’ve noticed lately that I can’t stop moving on and off the mat.
Even when in stillness, or between poses, I feel like something is constantly moving—my finger tapping to the music, or my head swaying. Am I simply feeling the need to move energy—to circulate it entirely through the body—or am I afraid of stillness? Am I doing this to keep myself busy? Am I afraid of facing nothingness, of being bored, of not thinking, of experiencing the thoughts and feelings my body has been trying to reveal, but I’ve been too busy to see them, or feel them, or receive them?
Even throughout my day it seems I finish one thing and always move onto the next. In transition I’m thinking about what’s to come after the task I’m about to perform. This is my constant struggle.
I find comfort in knowing that many face this challenge. One of my old acting teachers—who I know has a busy mind—inspired me with his daily routine. Coming home after work, he’d drop his bags and before checking his emails, voicemail, reaching for food or getting at other work, he’d lie on his bed, stare into space, and do nothing.
How often do I lie on my back, stare at the ceiling, and let brilliance naturally come in, probably quicker than it would with me trying to force it? I know that brilliance exists there. In silence lives clear realizations that can often be too beautiful to bare. In silence lives so much peace your mind doesn’t know what to do without the drama. In silence lives so much clarity you laugh at how complicated you’ve been making things. In stillness there lives some harsh realizations that can be hard to swallow. In the end, once you choose to digest them, you see that they’re great gifts.
This is why meditation is so challenging. We fear that when sitting we’re wasting precious time. There is little faith in the power of simply existing, in the power of taking in the subtleties of our environment, and we have little faith that things will naturally unfold as they should.
It’s wonderful to notice when you get restless, or when you try to escape silence. It’s even more wonderful when you begin to crave moments of stillness.
Here are a few quotes concerning the topic from author and yogi, Michael Stone:
“Stillness is a point of nothingness, yet is also everything.”
“In yoga postures we dissolve the technique of moving the body into pure feeling and then dissolve the mind into that deep experience of feeling. When the mind returns to this natural state, anything can arise in mind, body and heart, and there is no pushing or pulling, just arising and dissolving, one form becoming, in turn another.”
“We discover a lot more in the silent space between thoughts than through all the interpretations, ideas and views our minds generate. Moments of psychological stillness remind us that there are ways of knowing other than intellectual or habitual.”
“When we move through the world ‘concealed and wrapped in thought’, there is no direct contact with reality and we know not ‘who or what’ we are. Yoga begins with the gesture of a gentle bow in service of the present moment.”