Motion and Stillness

Have you ever noticed the rhythmic flow of commerce?  I often worked in retail situations in my time, and that’s where the phenomenon is very apparent.  Customers come in waves.  Usually with no clear rhyme or reason, there’s a tide in public activity that ebbs and swells of its own volition.  The retail worker is suddenly bombarded with a slew of customers, and then the activity subsides until the next swell.  Often, there seems to be no indication why.  As a customer yourself, you may often have noticed this … on a bad day, you’ll decide to go to the Post Office at the exact moment everyone else does, and you stand in line impatiently.

My point is that this reality in retail points to a universal truth: our activity as human beings is rhythmic.  We vacillate continuously between motion and stillness.

And our culture knows all about motion; we discuss and engage in it enthusiastically.  But we’re little informed about stillness.  For the most part, it scares us.  We rush to fill our free time, or the pauses in conversation, or the dull moments whenever they occur. 

Creativity, however, cannot thrive unless equal devotion is given to motion and stillness.  Creativity uses realities at hand, and stillness is a reality whether we respect it or not.  If we don’t cultivate stillness as much as we cultivate motion, our creativity will be stunted.

A yoga teacher recently asked, when we were all balancing in some impossible pose, “Are you waiting, or are you being patient?”  Learning to use stillness in a positive way is a profound and longterm study.  But since it’s essential to the creative life, even a small amount of stillness begins to pay off almost immediately.

The weekend symbolizes stillness for the workaday world – even though we tend to use it for exhausting activity, rather than rest.  This weekend, consider the uses of stillness; try sitting in a relaxed fashion and doing absolutely nothing for 15 minutes (not even talking!).   Notice how you feel at the end of the time!

And check out this website if you feel like you just have no time to do nothing.

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