According to the StrengthsFinder assessment, my top strength is Achiever. My StrengthsFinder Report says this about the Achiever strength:

“People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.”

This statement describes me perfectly! This characteristic has truly served me well in life; I have always been a go-getter. However, this strength can be a double-edged sword. It meant I had no idea how to turn off my mind and just be still. In all honesty, I was much better at being a human doing than a human being.

It wasn’t until some unexpected challenges in my life that I was determined to learn the art of stillness. Isn’t it funny how our challenges can also end up being our greatest awakenings? I was awakened to the magic of stillness. Stillness is good for the soul. However, in our “always-on” world, it is not something that just happens by chance, especially on a day-to-day basis. Stillness can be hard to come by simply because it seems that there is always so much going on — so many to-do lists, overscheduled days and so many distractions.

When I do retreats, we always spend about two hours in silence. I tell people they can journal, meditate, go for a nice slow, mindful walk, but no music, no sound, nothing…just silence. It is amazing to watch how many people struggle with that little exercise. In a study conducted at the University of Virginia by psychologist Timothy Wilson, hundreds of participants were offered the choice to sit in silence for 15 minutes or give themselves an electric shock. Even though participants had said they would pay money to avoid being shocked with electricity, 67% of men and 25% of women chose to inflict themselves with a shock, rather than just sit there quietly for 15 minutes!

So, what is the difference between silence and stillness? Silence is the absence of noise. Stillness is defined as being motionless, stationary and silent. But stillness is so much more than that. Stillness is a state of being. It is where we connect to ourselves and get to become the observer of our thoughts and feelings. Stillness allows us to create space, and it is in this space that we increase our awareness and proactively choose who we want to be. In stillness we check out of our limited mind and open up our intuition, Spirit, and connection with God. The whole point of stillness is to get out of your head and into your heart.

“To know yourself as the Being underneath the thinker, the stillness underneath the mental noise, the love and joy underneath the pain, is freedom…” – Eckhart Tolle

Most meditation techniques require stillness, but not all meditation techniques require silence. I had tried silent meditation so many times and given up. I would silently sit in stillness and within about 15 seconds, I was thinking of my grocery list. I didn’t know how to just sit and think of nothing. It wasn’t until I was exposed to guided meditation that I fell in love with the process. I can remember being in a room with about 500 people and the speaker said, “Okay now we are going to meditate.” And I thought, “Oh gosh, let’s see how this goes.” We shut our eyes and he guided us through the most profound meditation. When we opened our eyes, I looked at my watch and was astounded that 30 minutes had gone by. It felt like 5 minutes, and in that moment, I had fallen in love with meditation. Another time I attended a meditation retreat where we were up at 4 a.m. and meditated for four hours! I honestly thought it had been about 45 minutes.  If you think that is crazy, I did another retreat where we meditated THROUGH the night (not sleeping – meditating) for three nights in a row! Each morning we’d finish the meditation and go out to the beach and do another one-hour walking meditation. During the day we would sleep for about two hours and then be back in the room learning and practicing. So, for three days I averaged about two hours of sleep, and I can promise you on Day Four, I had more energy than I had ever felt in my life. It was amazing!

Meditation brings about profound changes in one’s mind, body and spirit. On a mind level it allows us to be still and present. This can bring about clarity and awareness. It also increases our creativity and improves memory and concentration. On the body level it has been shown to slow the aging process, reduce stress, boost immunity, decrease heart rate and blood pressure. On the spirit level when we meditate, we check out of our limited mind and open up our intuition, Spirit, God. I can personally relate to the profound changes in mind, body and spirit. I have had some pretty mind-blowing moments in meditation. (I’ll save those stories for another blog.) It is only when I get totally still and listen to that small little voice, that I can access my intuition, connect to God and Spirit, and really remember who I am. Stillness is good for the soul!

There is no right or wrong way to practice this art of stillness. It can be as simple as taking ONE MINUTE every day to sit, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Yes, it is that simple! You can also start by using short, guided meditations. This type of meditation is what allowed me to experience the benefits of meditation and transform my life.  We have lots of guided meditations available on our online store.  Some are short; some are longer, and we also have one walking meditation. You can check them out here.

Remember, just because the world around us seems to be going non-stop at a rapid rate doesn’t mean that we always need to participate. You can be a High Achiever and create a life with segments of stillness as a part of it. You can create any life you want! I hope you find the joy, grace, and stillness in yours and  continue to create more of that.

in love and gratitude,