The Practice of Stillness

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“The Page of Cups is sentimental. She is a true romantic at heart, and in a world that is filled with so much noise and bustle, she longs for the time and space to simply breathe and to truly take in the pleasures that abound. She listens to the still voice from deep inside that speaks with understanding and intuition, and she longs to believe in the impossible.”—Stephanie Pui-Man Law and Barbara Moore, Shadowscapes Companion

The other night I was reading Tarot with my beloved Shadowscapes deck, and I stumbled across this beautifully written description of the Page of Cups. It resonated with me on so many levels, but most importantly because it’s a great description of the life I am striving to cultivate. A life in which stillness is appreciated, revered, and celebrated. A life where intuition is listened to as a trusted guide, its voice never silenced. A life where creativity emerges naturally because it is given the space to do so. A life where beauty is celebrated for its own sake.

I think the first step to a journey toward a simpler, more purposeful, more creative life is to cultivate stillness. It doesn’t have to be a monthlong vow of silence, or an hour-long practice per day. Even five minutes of stillness can go a long way toward creating a space for a new way of life to emerge.

This week was a perfect example. Tuesday night, I honored the super blue blood moon (you heard that right—lots of power wrapped up in that name) by drumming and meditating. It was a space to connect with spirit; a space to honor the earth, moon, and stars; a space for reflection, pause, magic, and connection.

Stillness, in the right quantities, doesn’t create disconnect or foster loneliness. The right amount of stillness, especially for introverts and highly sensitive persons, cultivates warmth, compassion, gratitude, and creativity.

When we are still, we are open to ideas that will take our creative practice to new heights. When we practice stillness, we create a small space inside of us that is filled with calm and connected to our intuition. We can then call on that calm and intuition during the more frantic, busy, chaotic moments of our day.

This week, in a quiet house, since my husband was away on business for most of the week, I connected to stillness. I worked magic. I listened—to my heart, to spirit, to my intuition, which are all perhaps one and the same.

I find myself recharged, reenergized, ready to get back to the business of making art, ready and energized in a way that I haven’t been for a while.

It doesn’t have to be a lot. It doesn’t even have to be every day. Look up. At the full moon, the stars, the patterns of the clouds, a flock of geese, a hawk soaring high above.

Once we’re still, and we’re looking, we can then begin to listen.

I’d like to end with a brief ROW80 check-in. Again, I’ve divided my goals into three categories: creative living, simple living, and healthy living.

CREATIVE LIVING

The big news for the week is that Oak-Bound is finished and out on submission!

I also wrote a new opening scene for my novel Spellfire’s Kiss, the first in a series. I did a ton of brainstorming for that series. I realized one of the key ingredients that was missing was a strong sense of setting. My theory is that if you could pick up the characters and plot and plop them down in another place, if they lift right out of the setting, there’s something off. And I wanted a town where magic, while not necessarily openly acknowledged, could coexist with our world. Enter Gladewood, Virginia, bordered by Emerald Creek. Thus, the new series name is Emerald Creek Magic, and a new fictional place is born. Now that Oak-Bound is submitted, I’d like to revise a chapter a day, but that might be pushing it with all the changes I want to make. Some chapters might take two days.

SIMPLE LIVING

Some meditation, and making a point to be present, to savor the moment, and to practice slowness and stillness this week. As I do so, I feel my creativity opening up like a flower to the sun, and I’m reminded of how closely linked simplicity and creativity are.

On the decluttering front, I used to have a tote bag crammed full of stuff sitting beside the sofa—in addition to a small, round storage ottoman full of stuff. I dumped everything out on the floor and sorted through it. Now, the tote bag is empty and tucked away upstairs to be used for trips to the beach, and the storage ottoman is organized, with a few essential items neatly tucked inside.

Saturday, I took a few things up to the attic for temporary storage. I have developed a system where I label the box with the date I packed it, and if I don’t need anything in that box within six months, I’ll take it to the thrift store. This is mostly to appease my husband, who has more trouble parting with things than I do. I boxed up another box of stuff from the kitchen and that is heading to the attic as well.

HEALTHY LIVING

I did a lot of walking with Leo this week, so I definitely got some good exercise. I didn’t eat a lot of sugar or fatty foods, but I need to get better about making sure I don’t skip meals during the day. Often, I get so caught up in tasks that I forget to stop and eat something healthy, and then by the time I’m hungry, I just grab the first thing I see, which isn’t always the healthiest thing to eat.

(A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge for ordinary folks who want to set their own manageable goals and find a supportive community to cheer them on in their journey. Click here to join us.)

What about you? How do you make room for stillness in your life? How did you practice living simply, creatively, and healthfully this week?

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20 thoughts on “The Practice of Stillness

  1. ruichan says:

    Congrats on finishing and submitting Oak-Bound!
    I actually found it hard to leave room for stillness and calm this week so reading this post made me consider… The same goes for healthy living as we’ve been snacking a lot. I know the baby’s still very little and that’s the reason we get so easily overwhelmed (that and preparing to move houses) but I wish we could stop for a minute and also take time to cook actual meals more often.

    • Denise D. Young says:

      A baby and a move are definitely reasons to have little time for stillness, and I think we all go through periods in our lives where life circumstances leave us little room to pause. I find even if it’s just pausing to admire the view at the top of a hill while I walk the dog, I feel more grounded and energetic. Even just a moment helps–even if it feels like that moment is soon swept away by the hustle and bustle of life, it remains inside of you.

  2. Fallon says:

    Congrats on having Oak-Bound out on submission!! I know setting is one thing I struggle with.
    Also stillness. As I sit here shaking my foot, because I apparently have to be moving even when I am sitting still. 🙂

    • Denise D. Young says:

      My husband is the same way! He’s constantly tapping his leg, and sometimes I have to remind him to stop because, on occasion, the tapping/shaking drives me a little nuts. 🙂

      Thanks, Fallon!

  3. Chris Kincaid says:

    The word “stillness” always reminds me of the Bible verse “Be still and know that I am God”. I use the verse as a meditation and just thinking of it relaxes me. I’ve also started doing yoga. Being still is such a healthy habit to have.

    • Denise D. Young says:

      That’s beautiful, Chris. Thanks for sharing it! Yoga is wonderful at creating a practice of stillness because it teaches us to be rooted and present in the here and now. I need to get back into my practice as well. I hope you’re enjoying yours.

  4. inspirationpie says:

    I loved reading this post Denise. I feel calmer and more at peace for having read it. Your stillness and peacefulness is coming through in your writing 🙂

    Congratulations on Oak-Bound! That is wonderful news! And Yay for starting your new series!

    Have a wonderful week 🙂

    Jo-Ann

  5. Erin Zarro says:

    Congratulations on finishing and submitting Oak-Bound!

    I just bought a new Tarot deck and have not had a chance to dig in and get to know it. I have been really busy, but I know I need to take the time, because we all need that stillness and reflection.

  6. Jennette Marie Powell says:

    Good luck with your submission!

    Stillness definitely encourages creativity, and it’s often hard to make time for it. So many things to do, including write. My fatigue forces me to engage in stillness–wow, did I actually come up with a benefit? 😀

    • Denise D. Young says:

      Thanks, Jennette!

      I am slowly but surely learning the benefits of stillness to my creative practice. It is a time for recharging mind, body, and soul before we plunge back into activity. I think our culture has forgotten how necessary stillness is to us humans.

      I recently struggled with a mystery illness, the worst symptom of which was a fatigue unlike anything I’d ever experienced. It was rough, but it definitely taught me to listen to my body and rest when my body told me to. So, there’s a lesson that came out of it. Let’s hope I don’t forget. And it does sound like you found a benefit. I’m glad, and I hope your much-deserved rest rejuvenates you!

  7. shanjeniah says:

    I’ve been a lifelong fan of stillness – but, in the aftermath of Jim’s death, I find it a bit of a double-edged sword. With two teens who spend lots of time on their own pursuits, I am getting a lot more quiet, still time – maybe more than I truly need.

    But it is helping me to declutter, and to find my way to a post-marriage life.

    If you’re doing a chapter a day of Spellfire, you’re going to be ahead of me in about a week. This gives me a little edge of panic – but I know you don’t expect me to be superhuman…so I will do the best I can in the midst of everything else going on in my life.

    I also so hear you on the food thing. I’m not especially food-motivated, so I often forget to eat. Jim was into more regular meals, but the kids and I tend to be grazers, so I’ve lost my reminder to eat regularly before I’m feeling famished and weak…and that does lead, too often, to less than healthy, mindful choices.

    So happy you’ve gotten Oak-Bound wrapped up and sent off into the world! Best wishes for a speedy acceptance letter!

    • Denise D. Young says:

      I can understand that stillness could very well be a double-edged sword when coping with grief. A little bit of busyness is necessary. If my life starts to grow too still–stagnant, in a sense–my anxiety kicks in. So I need some movement to keep things flowing.

      Honestly, having looked over some things regarding the manuscript, I think I might be on more of a one-scene-a-day schedule. So, you should have plenty of time, and since I don’t have a firm deadline, there’s absolutely no rush. Take your time!

      Thanks, Shan!

  8. Beth Camp says:

    Thank you, Denise, for a very helpful post. I’m with you on cultivating stillness and decluttering. Your posts previously have helped me recognize that I do thrive with quiet time (introvert, introvert). But today’s post pushes me to reconsider how I practice stillness. So, congratulations on finishing OUTBOUND and for sharing how you integrate stillness into daily practice.

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