It's a joy of mine to piggy back on my friend Rick Hanson's writings and so today I'll expound upon his writing Find Stillness. There has now been a bounty of research pointing to the physiological and mental benefits of finding stillness through formal longer mindfulness practice, but there has yet to be a medical or psychological study that I'm aware of that looks at the implications of taking frequent short spaces of time throughout the day to stop, settle into stillness and then move on with what actually matters. But here’s something more important, your opportunity to be the subject of your own study, allowing your experience to be your teacher.
In 2006 I conducted a study that was later published in The Journal of Clinical Psychology called Sacred Moments: Implications on Stress and Well-Being. I was curious to see what would happen if people took as short as 5 minutes out of a single day to pause, take a few deep breaths, mindfully check-in and turn their attention to something that they felt mattered in their life (e.g., a spiritual symbol, nature, a fond memory, a family heirloom).
The results were clear. Even just 5 minutes of day of pausing, finding stillness and reflecting on what matters had a statistically significant impact on stress reduction and various scales of well-being. I then chose to interview the people in the study and found that overwhelmingly the experience of finding that stillness, of being mindful was connection.
Maybe one secret to finding stillness is through the cultivation of connection in our daily lives.
So here’s your challenge for the day should you choose to accept it.
Take a minute to reflect on your life as it is and see the moments where you experience connection. This may be connecting with a person, maybe connecting with nature (e.g., smelling a rose, hiking in the woods, laying on the ground looking at the sky), a higher power, or perhaps just connecting with yourself via a mindful check-in.
If the list is short or there’s some confusion, it may be that you’re feeling disconnected. In life, we can always begin again the moment we become aware and so here is one of those moments.
Consider, what are some ways that I can cultivate more connection in life?
This may start with you. Take this moment to practice a mindful check-in (video from The Now Effect).
Take this with you throughout the day, practice it a few times a day and just see what you notice. See if you can practice checking in with those that you care about or checking in with this planet from time to time noticing all the wonders that abound.
When we intentionally practice and repeat things in life they begin to become automatic. What would the days, weeks and months ahead be like if you felt more naturally connected?
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.