Be Still

life experiences Feb 10, 2020

Seven months postpartum I was feeling my strength and regaining my deeper co-ordinations. My movement practice was going well, I was feeling physically resilient and yet, I was agitated in my body in a way I had not been before. My body felt impatient with itchy aggravation in the new demands of motherhood. It was not the act of mothering itself, it was the plethora of inextricably connected responsibilities, that being a mother opens a life to. I was now the praxis point for two beings and this inherent coupling was the most heart expanding, intricate dance choreography I had yet to encounter.

I was not at my best and my body was feeling the weight of my overwhelm. Physically, I was strong, but my being was uncoordinated in this new life rhythm. As I put in place more external support (better sleep, nutrition, connection with other mothers, etc..), I wondered what could I do to reconnect to my internal landscape?

I was not seeking increased manpower or mantras. I had the massive gift of familial support and overflowing shelves of self-help books. I was yearning for something more, a capacity to access myself in my freshly messier and exquisite everyday. The ability to feel more feelings and still hear my true moving self in this new constant of mothering. I had used physical movement to expand receptivity to my heart and soul many times over and my movement practice was thriving, however it was reaching its limit in touching my being.

So, I started to get quiet. Really quiet, every day, stealing bites of time during my baby’s nap and before she woke. I would sit and just be with myself, exhausted but attempting to tune-in and not tune out. A path began to break through the baby bramble. I could hear myself talking, way back in the quiet. I needed space to listen.

My true self is my knowing voice, which if not invited to the surface is drowned in the noise of my undiscerning, regurgitated thoughts— including, but not limited to a self-talk mixer of mundane, glittery and even garbage worthy babble. The sound my soul makes is in another language altogether. It is so loud when listened to it breaks the sound barrier and yet if not culled to the forefront, it can live as a hardly perceivable baseline in a scattered melody.

I was quickly seeing that my wholeness was as much connected to my stillness practice as my movement practice. It had been that way for most of my life. I was a long-time meditator and classic “introvert” but within the Rubik's cube of new motherhood I had put my movement practice before my stillness practice, and it was making me terribly unhappy. I had a strong body that felt untethered to my soul. This movement to stillness was not a call to some deep epiphany it was simply a call to presence myself without moving. I was maneuvering so much as a new mother and then squeezing in a movement routine that my soul ached just to BE.

As children my parents introduced my sister and I to meditation, with squirming bodies and eyelids fluttering we sat there with repressed giggles, trying to be still. It went on like this for years, mostly a child’s pretending but was valued as quiet time and a place to feel into yourself. Little did I know this small practice would become the bedrock of my life many years later.

At age 12, I became very ill from a rare case of the measles combined with a reaction to a failed vaccine leaving me hospitalized and fighting for my life. I would be ill for another few years (a story for another post). So, I tried mediation, this time for real, at first desperately for pain management and then over time something happened. Bit by bit, being still became not only a way to work with pain but a place and practice to know myself more deeply, to reach that voice within.

This time I was reminded how much a stillness practice animates my movement practice. It lends texture and richness of perception to almost imperceivable subtleties. My workouts unfurled alongside my general wellbeing, stillness was greatly improving both! Movement and stillness at their best are companions, allowing us to travel the robust range of exercise to resting with awareness. If the noise is too loud to hear yourself within the many dialects of movement, try getting still, very still until you can hear where and when to move next.

With love,

Erin

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