The Fine Art of Being Still

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My dear friend Wendy and I always say, “In the presence of chaos, the best thing to do is be still.”  I try my best to live by this, however the concept of true stillness doesn’t only apply to those moments when life reaches a fevered pitch. For me, being still doesn’t need to be a spiritual or meditative experience.  I’m referring to the fine art of just blanking out, vegging; thinking of nothing or everything; not needing to be anywhere, be anyone or do anything.

I’ve wanted to share my thoughts on this subject for a while now, however I’ve been reluctant for fear of judgment.  In some circles, enjoying stillness is considered lazy, slothful, even boring.  The term “couch potato” comes to mind. On the contrary, it is during this state of inactivity that I am at my most creative; many of the ideas for my work, for this blog and my Instagram were born during these spells.  My name is Gina, and I am an expert idler. 

In the hyper-connected environment we inhabit, the concept of being idle is a jaw dropping, revolutionary idea.  It is a skill so specialized that when I mentioned it to a colleague, they replied incredulously, “So you mean like not doing anything at all?”  Yes, that’s exactly what I meant. I meant a prolonged series of moments that don't include a smartphone, tablet, TV, text, email, book, blog, computer, or laptop. To be clear, I love all my devices and forms of communication and can be seen using as many as four of them at the same time, but not when entering this ultimate place of quietude. 

I don’t do this often, but perhaps more often than most.  I don’t schedule these moments; they just happen, and I respond to this mind/body command to simply zone out. For instance, on weekends while others are rushing around trying to fit in brunch, shopping, errands, laundry and everything else they couldn’t accomplish during the week or fear they will miss out on before Monday, I am shedding my type A desire to accomplish, do, achieve.  I gladly succumb to the cocoon-like comfort of inertia and enter a place of calm that actually stimulates my mind and reinvigorates me.

Giving myself that time to let my mind wander unguided and without any particular mission is what keeps me grounded.  As I gaze through the windows while nestled in my sofa, I can get lost in one of my paintings, engineer my career, travel to Morocco, revel in how blue the sky is, remember my brother's smile, develop an idea for work, think about a world without hunger, delight in how perfectly soft yet firm my pillow is, or just think of nothing at all. I encourage you to try it. You might be surprised at just how good you are at the leisurely pastime of being still.