What Stops us from Stopping?

Jan 04, 2019

For many people in our modern world, slowing down, pausing, and stopping can be a really big challenge! What happens when you allow yourself to stop - pause from your usual habits of going and doing - and breathe for a bit? That initial moment of stopping can often be the most challenging, and can bring up a lot!

There may be agitation or restlessness - a feeling that there’s something else we need to be doing, we can’t afford to just sit here even if it’s just for 5 or 10 minutes! Sometimes there can be a feeling of purposelessness, groundlessness, or loneliness. Or there may be a feeling of just plain boredom. I suspect this is a big factor underlying why so many people who have every intention and desire to start a regular meditation practice find they are ‘unable’ to do so. The resistance to what comes up when we allow ourselves to stop can hinder our best intentions!

Whatever comes up for you can actually provide insight into what drives your need for activity. Often it’s not necessarily the desire to engage in our activities, but the manic avoidance of that which would arise if we didn’t stay busy all the time.

Allowing these difficult feelings to just be can be freeing! If you just allow yourself to stay with that initial edginess upon pausing, to breathe into it - you’ll often find that it passes, that it’s just a transitional state between activity and stillness. Whether it’s the agitation or boredom that comes up when sitting down to meditate, or to sit down and rest after a busy day without turning toward other distractions, or the transition between the activity of the holidays and a slower pace afterwards - it’s really worth seeing the discomfort through to the delight of stillness on the other side of it.

The only way past is through, and unless we’re willing to meet and tolerate that edge between activity and stillness, we really won't get a chance to experience real, deep rest. The winter - deepest yin, internal, hibernating time of year - is a particularly great time to practice with this, in harmony with the natural rhythm of the season. May you enjoy some peace and stillness this season!

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