The Art of Stillness – Mindfulness for Busy People

Is every minute of your day accounted for? Do you find that every part of your life is filled with something to do, places to go and people to meet? Delphi offers some thoughts about how stillness – even for Busy People – can help. 

How busy is your life right now?

If you heard yourself saying “unbelievably busy!” or words to that effect, you’re not alone.  Globally, everyone seems to have a lot on their plate.

Of course, sometimes it’s nice to be busy.  But if it means you have no time for the things you love anymore, or if it’s making you ill, affecting your relationships, or taking over your life entirely, it can be helpful to have a strategy for taking control.

There are lots of reasons we are – and stay – busy:

  • Caring for someone we love, whilst maybe also trying to earn money, eat well, exercise, work, be there for friends, family and so on…
  • Not wanting to look ‘weak’ or unhelpful if we say no
  • It’s hard to ‘switch off’ when you can just check your work email ‘one more time’ before bed (rationalising this will ‘save you time’ in the morning…). Most of what we want is at the touch of a button – if someone recommends a book to me, I can go on an app on my ‘phone, find it, pay for it and have it in my hands within 24 hours.  Technology is fabulous. But it’s also just another way to keep busy.

Every minute of the day is accounted for.

Then there’s the fact that busy people, according to researchers at Harvard, are also seen as ‘High Status’. In other words, the busier you are the more ‘important’ you may seem to be.

Being so busy all the time is also one way we subconsciously behave to stop us from thinking about our problems. We fill the void with activities, so we don’t have to give time or energy to the things really troubling us (in Buddhism this is sometimes known as “lazy busy-ness” – deliberately avoiding something we really need to address by distracting ourselves with something else).

How do you know if you’re ‘too’ busy?

One way of recognising ‘busy-ness’ is when your mind becomes noisy in the quiet. The minute you sit down, or switch the lights out at night, there they are: those thoughts about anything and everything.

You might also find your sleep suffers, your concentration or performance at work takes a dive, you become grumpy – snapping at people you care about and, to top it all off, you get sick. The minute you take a holiday – bam! A cold, bug or something similar comes your way.  And, over time, it all takes its toll.  Sound familiar?

Why stillness?

Stillness used with Mindfulness is a strategy which can help you manage noisy thinking.  If you’re having trouble sleeping, or just find that you can’t quiet the mind when you really need to, finding ways to be still can be helpful.  It’s also believed to help improve the immune system. This is what I call Well-BE-ing – taking time out to just be, for the benefit of your health.  You can read more about Mindfulness here. 

It might feel unnatural at first to be still.  As a child, if you were caught sitting still for too long, you might (like many people) have been accused of being lazy. So, you may associate doing nothing with laziness.

You may also say you ‘don’t have time’ to sit and do ‘nothing’; or you might resist the idea for fear that unhelpful or difficult thoughts may arise.  But nevertheless stillness can be good for you.

Weighed up against how harmful unhelpful thinking and over-stretching yourself can be (which the Harvard research also acknowledges) it’s one option for managing your health in a positive way.  And it doesn’t have to take up much time at all.

 

We also know that Mindfulness helps to reduce stress and anxiety (up to 40% according to some studies).

Stillness is an art. It does require that we find ways to be quiet and calm in amongst all the chaos of our busy lives.   Here are some tips that might help:

Decide on a space you can use for your stillness practice. It doesn’t have to be anywhere with a sacred or religious attachment (although churches and places like Avebury are amazing for this type of quiet); it can be in your own home as long as it feels like a place of sanctuary.  Keep the space as somewhere special (if it’s at home you could maybe decorate it as somewhere that feels peaceful) so you begin to associate being there as somewhere you will be quiet and still.

Spend a few moments tuning into your environment and just noticing what it feels like to be alive right now. You don’t have to be anywhere, or do anything.  Just sit in the stillness, notice thoughts as they come and go. Don’t get hooked in to what you’re thinking, just observe any distractions and allow them to pass. Take as long (or as little) as you need. Try a minute to begin with, if that’s all you feel you have.  Being still doesn’t mean you can’t fidget or move if you need to, in fact that will probably happen naturally if you haven’t been still for a while. Let your body become as comfortable as possible, and if you need to readjust your position that’s okay.  Just don’t beat yourself up for it.

Stick with it. Practises like this are so good for you, that even with a minute’s activity you will start to feel the benefit over time. I always liken Mindfulness to a drug-free medicine – and, like any medicine, you have to take it regularly to see the results.

On this website, you’ll find different activities aimed at people who don’t have time to relax,  from one minute in length or more if you have longer. You can also gain free access to the Members Area and the eGuide ‘Relaxation for Busy People’ when you subscribe. You’ll also receive weekly ‘Reflections’ containing news and top tips to help you practice.

For details of Mindfulness Classes with Delphi in Milton Keynes click here.  Private and corporate clients welcome.

Delphi is a qualified Therapist and Mindfulness Practitioner, promoting positive mental health. You can read more about her and her work here.

Copyright Delphi Ellis

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