You’re starting 2022 with more intention, eager to change the habits that have held you back until now. Maybe you’ve read about meditation and want to practice stillness, but you aren’t sure how to proceed? How do you practice stillness as a beginner?
I won’t lie; it’s not easy in this digital age with the perpetual hustle and pressure to be productive. Your list of errands is piling up, and work has you on the hamster wheel; How do you practice stillness without the clamor of your tasks and anxieties creeping up and taking over?
Before I started practicing stillness, most of my time went to my job in the finance industry. I told myself I couldn’t find the time, and then I realized I had to create the time for stillness.
Once I put myself first, my entire world changed. Now, I devote much of my time to sharing about meditation and stillness. I want to help you achieve the same peace and fulfillment that I’ve cultivated through stillness.
Today, I’m going to walk you through every step to start practicing stillness, including meditation tips and how to carry stillness in all aspects of your life. By the end of this article, you’ll have a complete checklist for how to practice stillness.
Ready to get started? Let’s begin.
But First: What is Stillness?
Stillness is a state of complete peace with yourself and the world around you. It’s a state of mind where you feel separate from your anxieties, sufferings, opinions, and desires.
With stillness, you take the world for what it is and don’t exert yourself trying to change it. The Greek stoics described something similar with apatheia, the state in which extreme passions and emotions don’t disturb you.
The best way to achieve stillness is through meditation. And while it can be difficult at first, obtaining stillness through meditation is like any sport or hobby; it requires practice and consistency to see optimal results.
How Do You Practice Stillness? Follow this Step-by-Step Guide
If you’ve tried sitting still for a few minutes and battled racing thoughts, don’t worry! Just follow the steps below to learn how to practice stillness.
1. Clean Up Your Space
Do you have a chair dedicated to dirty laundry? You’re not the only one. But here’s the thing: Meditating in a cluttered space is difficult because clutter stresses us out. You won’t experience the benefits of stillness by meditating in a messy area.
As Marie Kondo says, fill your space only with things that “spark joy.” But don’t go on a cleaning binge. Instead, focus on one area in your home that brings you joy. It could be near a window, in a quiet corner, or even on a patio.
Clean up that space and keep it tidy. Also, some personal touches that bring you happiness — candles, a comfortable meditation mat, calming music, an essential oil diffuser. But be mindful not to bring in too many things that can pose as “noise.”
More on that next.
2. Be Present
Set aside 10-20 undisturbed minutes of your day to practice stillness. Before you meditate, eliminate any noise that might distract you. Distractions are essentially just “noise” — mental clutter that takes you out of the present moment. One of our biggest distractions is our phones. Set it to “Do Not Disturb,” turn off notifications, or turn off your phone.
It would also help if you set boundaries with the people in your life. There’s no shame in hanging a “Do Not Disturb” sign if you live with others!
Removing distractions will help you be present and receptive to your meditation practice.
3. Practice Mindful Breathing
The best way to start your meditation is through breathing exercises. Breath is your life force and the most grounding tool you have in your life. To start, take some deep breaths. In and out, follow your breath until you reach a calm state. This is pranayama breathing, where your breath is controlled and intentional.
Here are a couple of other breathing exercises you might try:
Anulom Vilom Breathing
With the Anulom Vilom technique, you breathe through alternating nostrils. It’s known to soothe anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia.
- Sit in a comfortable seated position, with your spine upright.
- Close your right nostril with your right thumb, and inhale through your left nostril for two counts.
- Close both nostrils and hold your breath for four counts.
- With your left thumb still on your left nostril, release your right nostril and exhale for two counts.
- Inhale through your right nostril for two counts.
- Continue the cycle for ten rounds, and increase the counts for each inhale, hold, and exhale as you get more comfortable.
This technique is also known as “ocean breath” because of the swooshing sound it makes.
- Sit in a comfortable, upright seated position.
- Inhale through your nose until your lungs are full.
- Hold your breath for one count and keep some breath in the back of your throat.
- Exhale through your nose while maintaining a little restriction in your throat, and your breath should hiss like a gentle ocean wave.
- Repeat the cycle ten times.
4. Address Your Thoughts
As you meditate, you may notice thoughts creeping up in your mind. Don’t ignore them, but don’t get lost in them either.
Imagine that you’re a mountain, and clouds are gently passing by. Even the dark gray ones eventually pass. Acknowledge the cloud of your thoughts and let them go.
These four steps will help you practice stillness for a chunk of time every day, and that’s a great start. But how do you practice stillness outside of your meditation practice?
5. Remain Still Through Anything Life Throws at You
The beauty of learning how to practice stillness is that it naturally flows into every facet of your life. For example, if your day is getting away from you, take a pause and follow the above steps.
You can practice stillness in even the most stressful situations like a busy workday, argument, or spell of depression.
Pause and take a breath. Close your eyes if you’re able to do so safely. Tell the person you’re with that you need a moment to yourself. Go back to your breath. You might even recite a mantra (affirmation) to yourself to stay grounded through tough times.
With stillness, you can overcome anything.
6. Turn Stillness into a Mindset
Once you get more comfortable practicing stillness, you’ll come closer to adopting a stillness mindset. As you learn to quiet the noise, your inner voice speaks louder, and you’ll learn to trust it and let it guide you.
The more you honor yourself through stillness, the more confident, calm, and satisfied you’ll feel in life. Your stillness routine will help you make time for things you love and eliminate things that no longer serve you.
You’ll learn to always carry stillness with you, and it will keep you in control of your life and destiny.
How Do You Practice Stillness? By Starting Today!
Now that you’re armed with the steps to practice stillness, you can make the most out of your meditation session. And remember, the key to stillness is to turn it into a mindset — that’s when you’ll experience all the benefits of stillness.
With practice, stillness becomes easier, and eventually, it’s ingrained in you.
How do you practice stillness today? By following the steps above and taking advantage of my Stillness to Success course, where I teach you the tools you’ll need to live life by your design, with stillness at the core of everything you do. If you want a more personalized path to embrace the power of being still, feel free to reach out about my personal coaching sessions.
I can’t wait for you to take this first step on your journey inward. As Diane Von Furstenberg says,
“It is so important to take time for yourself and find clarity. The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.”