In music, there are specific symbols that mean ‘rest’ and denote a length of time when no music is to be played (by the instrument in question).

When a rest appears on the score, that instrument is silent.

The rests are as vital a part of the music as the quavers, minims, crotchets and other musical notation, the spaces between the sounds as much a part of the music as the sounds themselves.

As Claude Debussy said,

‘Music is the silence between the notes’

Any good speaker will tell you the power of the pause, a graphic designer will tell you that white space is essential in good design, a museum curator will confirm that the things that are omitted from the exhibition speak as loudly as the items that are included.  A good writer will tear carefully written words from a manuscript to create a powerful piece of writing.

Space, silence and omission are essential in the creative process, and are just as important in life.

In the hustle and bustle of life, we need to stop, find stillness and space in our minds, and reset.

Our minds are always busy with thoughts, that is the function of the mind, to process information and to think, but even the mind needs to find stillness and space.

A mind that thinks a lot can be a powerful thing, but a mind that is allowed to still, to consciously relax and become aware of itself, can be unstoppable.

When we allow the mind to rest, to focus on one thought, on one breath, on one moment, we free up space for clarity, for more powerful connections to be made in the brain.

In the stillness, we can finally hear ourselves!

Like the music, the stillness adds depth and power to our experience of life.  In that stillness, we can hear our intuition, connect deeply with our selves, and achieve peace in our noisy minds.

Spend some time today in stillness, giving your mind space to just be, without it needing to think constantly.  Like an overtired child who fights sleep, the mind will resist your efforts, so don’t be put off, just be gently persistent with the practice and in time, your mind will become more used to the practice.

How to find the stillness

  1. Set a timer on your phone for a minimum of 5 minutes, and trust that it will work.   Time can seem to move very slowly when you start this practice, you will convince yourself that the timer isn’t working.  Set it, and know it is set.  Make sure that you have a gentle alarm, or a vibration, to rouse you, a loud, piercing alarm will be counterproductive as it will stress you.
  2. Sit in a comfortable position, preferably on the floor in a cross legged position or kneeling down, with your back straight (not slouching on a sofa). Have your head erect, eyes closed.
  3. Begin to notice your breath. You are not trying to change anything about the breath, just notice it.  Notice if it is slow or fast, shallow or deep.  Are you breathing through the nostrils or the mouth. Notice where in your lungs the air is going.
  4. Keep the mind focussed on the breath. It WILL try to wander away from this focus, it will resist with all its worth at first.  This is ok, and not a sign that you ‘can’t do it’.  The growth comes in the noticing, and in pulling the mind back to the breath.  Every time you notice that the mind has wandered, bring it back to the breath.
  5. At the end of your practice, take your time in coming round, and try not to immediately rush to the internet and all the other distractions of life. Allow the stillness to hang around in your mind as much as possible.

You can do this at any time of day, as long as it is safe to do so.  You can begin to train yourself to be more aware of the breath at all times, not just when you are sitting quietly with your eyes closed.  Red lights and traffic jams are a great time to practice noticing the breath, as it stops you getting stressed by the traffic!
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