Stilling the self

January 26, 2012

Listen to the world around you. Feel your breath coming in and going out. Watch the trajectory of your thoughts. See how they merge with other thoughts and convalesce into other smaller tributaries of thoughts.  

In this modern world of fast, fasterer and fasterest getting things done fast are the default modes, if not with our bodies then at least with our minds, with our attention. We rush around all day, doing things, talking, emailing, sending and reading messages, clicking from browser tab to the next, one link to the next.

We are always on, always connected, always thinking, always talking. There is no time for stillness — and sitting in front of a frenetic computer all day, and then in front of the hyperactive television, doesn’t count as stillness.

This comes at a cost: we lose that time for contemplation, for observing and listening. We lose peace.

And worse yet: all the rushing around is often counterproductive. I know, in our society action is all-important — inaction is seen as lazy and passive and unproductive. However, sometimes too much action is worse than no action at all. You can run around crazily, all sound and fury, but get nothing done. Or you can get a lot done — but nothing important. Or you can hurt things with your actions, make things worse than if you’d stayed still.

And when we are forced to be still — because we’re in line for something, or waiting at a doctor’s appointment, or for a bus, train or friend — we often get restless, and need to find something to do. Some of us will have our mobile devices, others will have a notebook or folder with things to do or read, others will fidgety. Being still I have observed isn’t something we’re used to – that could well be the problem.

Take a moment to think about how you spend your days — at work, after work, getting ready for work, evenings and weekends. Are you constantly rushing around? Are you constantly reading and answering messages, checking on the news and the latest stream of information? Are you always trying to Get Lots of Things Done, ticking off tasks from your list like a machine, rushing through your schedule?

Is this how you want to spend your life?

Darkness 2012


“Rushing to do something is a modern day poison. Because when you rush something that means, all you want is to get it over and done with as soon as possible. In other words, what you are doing is not really important. You feel the need to be somewhere else or do something more important. This is the reason why I never carry a mobile phone with me all the time – I only switch it on, between the hours of 12 to 2. I find this is the best way to manage the modern day

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