Embracing the Idea of Stillness (Part II)

Embracing the Idea of Stillness
When I think of escaping into stillness, this is where I go - to Bethell's Beach (Te Henga) on the west coast of New Zealand. This is a painting of the beach by Kiwi artist Tony Ogle. It hangs in my living room.
embracing the idea of stillness (Part 2) – In which I share about my recent week offline
In Part 1 of this wee series, I introduced the idea of stillness in this loud and constant noise that we call life. Today, I’m sharing what I got up to and what I discovered in my week of exploration.

I’m an AIP Mentor and coach. That is to say, I get the importance of stepping away from the computer, for sanity and for health. As a general rule, I aim to spend one day off social media each week. For me, that’s usually a Sunday.

Last week, I took a break to embrace the idea of stillness. Usually, I spend much of my day at my desk engaging with clients via various technology platforms, writing and researching, generally over-indulging in scrolling through my social media feed. Instead, I spent a whole week offline. Other than responding to one or two personal messages I was away from my computer. I had a technology reduced staycation…


STAYCATION
noun (informal)
a holiday spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.

 

Checking out for a week is not the same as simply taking a day off. When you step away from the constant pull and noise of your devices, you create a sense of space – both physically and psychologically – in your day. It’s remarkably freeing.

Frankly, I loved my offline staycation. I recommend it For you, too.
What did I discover in My week of stillness?

My biggest learning was that I spend way too much time online. WAY too much. Surprise, surprise.

As a result, I plan on being far more disciplined about this, effective immediately.

I GOT OUT OF THE HOUSE

My Mum is famous for suggesting a walk as a panacea for just about everything. I spent a considerable part of my week walking. I set myself a goal of walking at least 10 kilometres each day. And, I achieved this goal, with change. There was noticeable improvement in my energy levels and in my mood.

In addition, I spent time outside – just ‘being’ – every day. I sat in the park surrounded by green, and on the beach where I watched the water. At first, I worried about all the things I could be doing. Busy-work. Then, I settled in and found my groove.

I LISTENED

I have a bit of checkered history with podcasts. I’m a bit fussy about the tone and timbre of the speakers and lose interest quickly. For this week, I decided against health-related ‘stuff’. Instead, I randomly picked a topic that tickled my fancy on the day and found a podcast to fit. It worked for me.

A couple I particularly enjoyed:

Embracing the Idea of Stillness_Mary Oliver
  • BBC Sounds – Slow Radio
    • My new favourite podcast
    • Billed as ‘An antidote to today’s frenzied world. Step back, let go, immerse yourself: it’s time to go slow. A lo-fi celebration of pure sound’, Slow Radio is a great option if you’re looking for a bit of stillness in the middle of the city
    • A couple I particularly enjoyed:

And, I started listening to the audio version of what is perhaps my favourite book of all time – Watership Down by Richard Adams and narrated by the delicious Peter Capaldi. I continue to love it and this sense of stepping back in time is kind of delightful.

Early bird registration for the final 30-day AIP Reset for 2020 now open!
Early bird registration for the final 30-day AIP Reset for 2020 now open!
I read

Actually, I read quite a lot. A couple I particularly enjoyed:

  • Phosphorescence: on Awe, Wonder and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark by Julia Baird
    • The most beautiful book by the seriously fabulous Julia. Just what the world needs a little more of at the moment.
  • The Gut Health Guide Book by Dr Sarah Ballantyne
    • The long-awaited gut health book by a woman who changed my life and then became my friend. I can hardly say I have read Sarah’s latest excellent offering, but I have well and truly started. And the best bit? – you don’t have to be an AIPer (or even Paleo) to benefit from the important information being disseminated. A must-read for anyone interested in health.
  • Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom by Rick Hanson
    • In which a clinical psychologist and a senior neurologist explain how your brain benefits from contemplative practice in an effort to illustrate how to develop greater happiness, love, and wisdom.
    • I think that for me, out of all the aspects of living my AIP way of life, the science of changing the way you think and the role of mindset as a mechanism for improved health is the one that most fascinates me. Hence this book.
Embracing the Idea of Stillness
I COOKED

With a focus on nutrient-dense food. And yes, there’s nothing new about this. What was different was the manner in which I prepared the food – I actively worked at being very present and engaged in the process.

Some of the standouts:

  • Creamy Chicken and Leek Stew from Martine at Eat Heal Thrive
    • I subbed leftover roasted pumpkin for the celeriac and wilted a bag of baby spinach in the stew for extra nutrient density
  • More of the Best Root Vegetable Soup in the World
    • I am currently addicted! It’s my favourite idiot-proof lunch
  • Perfect Plantain Pancakes from Sarah at The Paleo Mom
    • I found some green plantains! We had the kidliwinks around for brunch on Sunday and I resurrected this long-time favourite. I made a double portion because both David and Tom Tom love this recipe so much. If eggs are in your life, this is a winner!
  • I made ghee. Turns out it’s incredibly easy to do – and so much cheaper than the bought stuff.
  • I experimented with some new recipes.
I reflected and I planned

Weirdly, planning is easier when you step away from your daily routine. Well, it is for me. I find I have more space to consider.

For me, there’s a sense that when I spend my days jumping from one task to another, almost mindlessly checking things off my self-imposed ‘to-do’ list I’m not allowing myself the luxury of being fully present. This is kind of a big deal for someone who bangs on about the importance of finding space, grace and pace in this health caper.

Lewis Carroll said,

“Where do you come from? And where are you going? Look up, speak nicely, and don’t twiddle your fingers all the time.”

 

Good old Lewis was so right, too. Allowing yourself time to pause and reflect opens up previously unimagined opportunities. It’s a lovely wee side benefit of checking out of the rat race for a while.

Oh, and I loved my time sitting at the beach and embracing the idea of stillness so much that David and I are heading down the coast for a week at the beach in July. (Quite literally – we’ve rented a house overlooking the water on the south coast. I can’t wait!)

So here’s to all of us remembering to embrace the idea of stillness. If you don’t have the means to take a week offline, what small thing can you do for yourself today?
Embracing the Idea of Stillness

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