Stillness with Momentum
"We live in a culture that favors constant action-which leaves us little space to actually think about what we're doing and where we're headed." - Paula Mallis
I'm not sure where I first read this quote, but I put it on a post-it at work as a reminder to not get caught up in the rush, remember to breathe, and actually reflect before acting. It doesn't usually work. But, at least it's a step in the right direction?
Living in New York City seems to put each day on fast forward. The city buzzes around me day and night. A cacophony of car horns punctuate my walk to work on which I get frustrated by the tourists who are taking time to look up from their phones and walking way too slowly. I work in an open office where there's at least 35 conversations happening at once for nine hours a day. On my walk home, I dodge Seamless delivery men on bikes and keep my headphones in to drown out the sound of sirens, tamper the crush of people around me, and speed into my 650 shared square feet of this island. My heart races. I awake at 3 a.m. to see lights still on in other windows. How is anyone supposed to find calm in a city that never sleeps?
I've been thinking about this a lot lately and been searching for an answer to calm down my hamster wheel daily motion. I came across an interview with Ashleigh Parsons who lives an incredibly busy life. Her favorite phrase of the moment? Stillness with Momentum. Over the past few weeks this phrase has not left my head. It gives us Type-A personalities, who feel unproductive in moments of stillness, a line of sight into the productive output stillness provides.
Think of the times when you find stillness. A birth. A death. Love. Travel. Wonder. Comfort. The times you feel most alive, the times that are often most meaningful, are ones of stillness that bring momentum.
Yet, we're moving at warp speed in every aspect of our lives. The momentum is addicting. it makes us feel like we're moving towards something. It's so addicting there can be physical manifestations. Trying to find stillness, I often find myself extremely uncomfortable to the point where my hand twitches without my phone cradled comfortably inside it.
But what if moving towards something, whatever it may be, might actually be moving us backward? What if everyday stillness, brought on simply by our own desire to be still, can provide momentum instead? It's a seismic shift in thinking. That taking time to be mindful, slowing down, and looking up from our digital world can actually move us forward.
For me, I know I need to find this stillness. If I don't, my body does it for me by getting sick and forcing me to be still. Winding my body and mind down is essential to my overall health and studies of chronic conditions show this on a physiological level. Meditation has been found to improve learning and memory, preserve aging brains, reduce anxiety and depression, and even make us more altruistic. The effects of grounding has been found to significantly reduce inflammation for those with autoimmune disorders. Heck, even laughing more is correlated with better physical and mental health, similar to that of following a proper diet and exercise routine. It's undeniable. And it's easier than you'd think to do. So, here are a few ways I'm trying to find stillness with momentum each day:
My Stillness With Momentum Plan
- At least 5 minutes of meditation a day (Buddhify is my favorite)
- No electronics 45 minutes before bed or for the first 15 minutes after waking up
- In addition to suppressing melatonin production, simply the anxiety of feeling you need to check your phone can impact sleep, so start training yourself!
- Walking to work looking up instead of at my phone (seriously, it's a revelation not looking at Snapchat!)
- Bath time- with essential oils like Lavender and Frankincense
- 1-3 minutes of stillness a day (this is way harder than it seems)
I will not lie. Stillness is terrifying. It gives us the space to think about all of the big questions we typically use distractions like social media to temporarily block us from finding answers to. But, with a little practice, that stillness, incomprehensibly, moves us forward, with a momentum we didn't know was possible.