Student Well-Being Opinion

What’s So Scary About Stillness?

By Starr Sackstein — January 30, 2018 2 min read

I’m a doer, always have been. As a matter of fact, I can recall my mom laughing while retelling stories from my childhood how I was still moving. Up at the crack of dawn and never wanting to go to bed at night for fear of missing something important.

This restlessness has been a character trait that I have often had a hard time labeling regarding positives and negatives because despite its potential health ramifications, the productivity possibilities are limitless.

Perhaps as a child, I didn’t want to miss a beat because everything was interesting and exciting, but as an adult, it is my ridiculous sense of responsibility and commitment that often runs me into the ground.

Since mindfulness has become a thing we are bringing into the classroom, and I’ve married a person who practices meditation regularly as well as being raised by a woman who regularly had meditation groups at our home, I’m once again confronted with my aversion to stillness.

The simple fact of it is that my mind has a hard time quieting. I’ve tried meditation, but I have a hard time sitting still. The deep breathing isn’t as relaxing as it’s supposed to be and I just can’t seem to stop judging myself for not being able to do it right. In theory, I love the idea of quieting the mind and being completely present, and it seems like a simple enough proposition.

But it isn’t, at least not for me.

I’ve taken to walking to find my solitude, and I’ve read in a bunch of articles that walking can “count” like meditation, but I always feel like I’m doing it wrong. This personal shaming doesn’t help the cause. Since I’ve always been the type who likes to excel at things I do, the nagging sensation of modification doesn’t make for a very serene experience.

The older I am getting, I appreciate quiet moments when they happen organically. Those moments that I can actually feel the stillness take a deep breath and honestly feel present.

Yet the persistent challenge of quieting my mind has forced me to seek out other “numbing” concerning finding that inner peace that I often seek. Exercise, reading, listening to music, and being in nature all satisfy my need for quiet while also meeting my need for movement.

There are so many injustices in the world that create unrest. I worry. In that worry is a sincere desire to try to help. That’s why I chose this profession, to help change the world—and I think that’s a part of my restlessness. The challenges seem so great, almost too enormous for one person, and yet I feel a need to do whatever I can do. Sitting still and doing nothing is NOT an option, and so I persist.

Finding solace in the quiet is hard and finding balance even harder. I don’t believe I’m afraid of standing still or even of missing anything at this point in my life, but I am deeply concerned with living a life that falls short in the area of making a better world.

As I continue to grow and develop as an educator, a parent, and a person, I can only hope that when the quiet comes, I will be able to truly appreciate and enjoy myself and those I surround myself with personally. My life can’t only be work, even if I love the work.

And so I make efforts to be more mindful, knowing the benefits of doing so. It’s another situation where I’ll fake it until I make it and hope one day it becomes a natural part of my life. Until then, I’ll try not to judge.

How do you find your stillness? Please share.

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