Desperately Seeking Stillness

I discovered a wonderful new blog recently and I think many of you will enjoy it too. It’s called Quietkeepers and the tagline is “Practicing Stillness in a Busy World.” Because the quest for peace and mindfulness is near and dear to me, I subscribed and began reading the first few posts by writer Judy Roberts.

Copyright R.J. Thomas - used with permission

Copyright R.J. Thomas – used with permission

As often happens when I come across a like-minded person in the blog world, we ended up communicating by email. Judy and I quickly realized that we didn’t live far apart, so when I was in northern Ohio for a birding festival in early May we were able to meet for lunch to get acquainted. I felt an instant kinship with her and I think many of my readers will enjoy what she’s doing with her fledgling blog. This is from her “About” page where she talks about trying to live more quietly:

…this is no easy thing for those of us who are creatures of a culture of doing. It requires resistance and discipline, sometimes minute-by-minute.  To contribute to this effort, I hope to talk about such things as the prudent use of technology, the importance of order, coping with distractions, socializing and conversation, finding quiet spaces, making the home a quiet place, and living in harmony with nature.

The whole idea really appeals to me. But oh how I struggle.  With resistance and self-discipline. And with distractions — oh, those evil distractions.

Black-eyed Susan by Rebecca Thomas for my blog

Copyright R.J. Thomas – used with permission

You might think that as an HSP, I would already live a peaceful life. And I do aspire to that, but the loudness of the world intrudes quite often. And you might think I find it easy to resist technology too. But I find quite the opposite, that I turn to technology as a less-stressful way to interact with people. After all, it’s on my own time schedule (usually) and at my own pace, right? How harmful could that be? But the reality is that I often find myself losing track of time after checking in on social media each day because it’s so easy to get lured into clicking one link after another on the internet. You know what I’m talking about.

You may remember my recent article about becoming more extroverted and enjoying many new friendships in the birding world. Since those friendships mean so much to me, I might be a bit overeager in my newfound enthusiasm for keeping in touch via technology. But now I’ve got Judy’s gentle reminders in my head, prompting me to step away from the computer more often. And I’m also very glad I took that sketching workshop last month, because I find that drawing is a good way to sit quietly and let my mind wander. I encourage you to click over to Quietkeepers to see if it might be inspiring to you too.

Copyright R.J. Thomas - used with permission

Copyright R.J. Thomas – used with permission

Along the same lines, I read an article on the Utne Reader website the other day called “The Lost Art of Doing Nothing.” The author was bemoaning the fact that it’s now ‘normal’ in our culture to have your face glued to the screen of a computer, Kindle, or smartphone all the time. He said he tried to put his phone away and have a technology-free lunch, but he realized that without his smartphone he felt anxious and restless. He’d lost the ability to sit contentedly and just observe the world, something our brains need us to do:

Which brings me to my favorite argument for why we need to spend more time staring into space rather than into a screen: how else can we encourage the cutting-edge ideas, innovations, and solutions that only seem to pop into one’s mind when it’s disengaged from a specific task and allowed to wander? (Christian Willams, Utne Reader)

This seems to be what Eckhart Tolle meant when he wrote:

Not to be able to stop thinking is a dreadful affliction, but we don’t realize this because almost everyone is suffering from it, so it is considered normal. This incessant mental noise prevents you from finding that realm of inner stillness that is inseparable from Being. (from The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment)

 

A good friend recommended the books of Eckhart Tolle to me some time ago but, ironically, every time I sat down to read him I couldn’t quiet my mind enough to absorb the message he was trying to give me. That tells me that I’m in dire need of help in this area. I’m going to make another attempt now that this issue has been brought back into the forefront of my busy busy busy mind. I wonder if you all struggle with this as much as I do.

Bryce Canyon cliff

(Thanks to my talented photographer friend R.J. Thomas for permission to use her lovely flower photos in this article. Click the photos to go to her Flickr photostream.)

About Kim Clair Smith

Writer, birder, nature lover, highly-sensitive person (HSP), amateur photographer, kayaker, hiker, book lover. I blog here to connect with other nature lovers and sensitive people: http://www.natureismytherapy.com. All photographs and writing on this blog are © Copyright Kim C. Smith (unless otherwise indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission.
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8 Responses to Desperately Seeking Stillness

  1. Beautiful message Kim our minds are never still and to stop and just breathe is a luxury these days and sad to think we don’t have time to be still and do nothing. Sounds good to me thanks.

  2. Pingback: Engaging silence | QuietKeepers

  3. Thanks so much for the blog recommendation, Kim! I will have a look at it later today when I have a spare moment. I’m with you on the technology thing. It can be like a black hole, sucking me in and consuming my time. I would disagree with the author of that article though when he lumps the Kindle in with other devices. To me a Kindle isn’t any different than a book.

  4. Littlesundog says:

    We have had lengthy conversation about this very subject before. In many ways it is easy for me to veer away from technology and social media. Mostly, that desire to keep from those addictions is because I grew up without much TV and we didn’t play music much either. We were farm people – up at the crack of dawn and to bed early because we were tired from the day’s work. I was always introverted, so all of my life being social was never comfortable for me. I like the quiet life I have fashioned for myself now.

    Eckhart Tolle’s books do require quiet time and some thoughtfulness. Some paragraphs I read again and again to make sure it really sunk in my brain. I often mulled over certain thoughts for days before reading on. It’s not difficult reading, but you are correct, you do need to be in an almost meditative state to really absorb the content.

  5. QuietKeepers says:

    Thanks so much for mentioning QuietKeepers in your post, Kim. I love what you have written and you captured well what I am trying to say. Also, I very much relate to what you said about your struggles with distractions in the form of technology. Lately, I’ve become aware that I am now checking my phone during times I used to reach for a book! (I need to check out the article you cited from the Utne Reader.) I’m so glad to have connected with you and your blog. As I’ve said before, perhaps we can keep the quiet together and learn to enjoy it more.

    • Judy, these smartphones are so addictive, aren’t they? Tonight I caught myself picking my phone up one time too many and decided just to turn the darn thing off and leave it in the other room. One small triumph. Now I just need to get off the computer and pick up my book…sigh.

  6. Thanks for recommending Quietkeepers Kim! It looks fantastic and I just subscribed.

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