I have always enjoyed getting lost in projects. The more complicated and challenging the better. Give me something to do or figure out, whether it’s pacing a marathon, writing a Provision, or solving an electrical problem, and I’m on it. I can get so focused, in fact, that I can lose sight of everyone and everything else around me. But ask me to stand still? Now that’s another matter entirely. I’m just not that kind of guy. Yet standing still is an essential part of mindfulness. That point was driven home to me in the past week, in completely unexpected ways, places, and times. Read on to enjoy the stories.
As I wrote about last month in Provision #842, Not Knowing Soul, it’s amazing what you can see and hear by just standing still. Since I have been slowing down and standing still a bit more these days, intentionally and by design, I have a few more thoughts on the matter. It’s amazing the things you can notice.
Take the birds. They chirp, sing, and call to each other all day long but most of the time we never notice them. We stay busy and do what we have to do in order to take care of our affairs but we seldom stand still, look up, perk our ears, and listen to the birds. I never used to notice them before. They were part of my invisible landscape. But now I do.
Or take some of the other sounds in our environment. Yesterday morning, for example, I was out for an early run around the lake that adjoins our home when suddenly, as if out of nowhere, I heard the sound of a bugle playing reveille. Now our area is filled with military bases so, in one sense, this should have been no surprise. But in another sense it caught me completely off guard. I’ve been running around this lake for about 15 years and, in all that time, I have never noticed that bugler.
Let alone the national anthem, which followed immediately thereafter. Even though I never served in the military and have long-standing, ethical objections to settling conflicts through the violence of war, I just had to stop running, stand still, and sing along with the music – “the rocket’s red glare and the bombs bursting in air” – as well as all the other words in the song. It was a time to pause, to remember, and to be thankful.
In one final example, take my experience of interacting with an older woman who was out walking her dog. “Good morning,” I said, as I went by running. She replied with a simple, “What?” Figuring she didn’t hear me well, I kept moving but repeated myself. “Good morning,” I said again. “What?” she replied again, “I can’t understand you.” Finally I stopped, stood still, looked her in the eye and said, “Good morning!” “Oh”, she replied, “now I understand you and what a great morning it is, indeed.”
That interchange is a Provision all in itself. We were unable to communicate and to share that moment of joy until I stopped running and stood still. That lesson goes far beyond being able to hear and communicate with another human being. It has to do with being able to hear and communicate with our own brain and with the Spirit of life itself.
I spend lots of time trying to hear and communicate with my brain. I know that the information is in there and that my brain wants to get that information across to me. But if I am too busy and distracted, if I am too discouraged and distressed, or if I am too jittery and anxious, then I am not able to access that information. To be able to do that, I have to stand still.
Although my case has proven to be a rather profound example, it is true for us all. If we go through our days with those kind of energies – if we go through our days busy and distracted, discouraged and distressed, or jittery and anxious – then there’s no way to hear and understand what’s going both inside and around us. We may think we know. But we don’t really know. We may notice the energies, if we notice them at all, but we don’t absorb, appreciate, practice, and learn from them.
And that is the power of mindfulness. It not only calms the Soul, it also informs, guides, and inspires the Soul. Now I don’t know what you make of the word Soul, but for me “Soul” is the “Spirit of life” that infuses not only the ache, pains, aspirations, and activities of every human being but of all living things. When I listen to and watch those birds, I listen to and watch the Spirit. When I pause, listen to, and appreciate the music of those who are being called to attention, I listen to and pause to appreciate the Spirit. When I listen to and interact with a woman who is out walking her dog, I am listening to and interacting with the Spirit.
I encourage you, then again, to adopt that same stance as often as you can. Stand still. There is something going on beyond what the eye can see, the ear can hear, the nose can smell, and the skin can feel. There is always something going on the deep level of Spirit. We just have to believe it is there, pause, look around, and stand still in order to take it all in.
Coaching Questions: When was the last time you stood still? How still did you stand? What did you notice with your five senses as to the magic life has to offer? How did standing still affect you? What’s keeping you from standing still, as a spiritual practice, on a regular basis? Who could assist you to start that practice and get into the routine today?
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Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.
Your last Provision, Glad to Be Alive, was a beautiful way to greet the day. I, too, am glad to be alive! And I’m very glad that you are alive as well! What a joy it is to have concurrent alive time with you. Enjoy yours today!
Your last Provision, Glad to Be Alive, was a good post regarding Plushenko and taking risks in life. It reminded me that life is a gift and that we all need to take risks in order to celebrate it fully. Thanks for the reminder.
May you be filled with goodness, peace, joy, and health.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
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