The Importance of Stillness


Over the last few years I have been slowly learning the immense value of being quiet! Pausing my life, slowing down, looking inside, exploring and really connecting to my thoughts. Sometimes this was scary and incredibly painful, but the more I do it the better I feel.

Today’s world is very focused on ‘doing’ and presents us with a myriad of things to distract us from ourselves – TV, music, smart phones, laptops, exercise, alcohol, work etc. Society provides the perfect environment for constant preoccupation, escapism and avoidance, whilst leaving less and less space in our day for us to focus inward.

Over time this level of busyness can leave us feeling exhausted, unsettled and out of control as we lose touch with ourselves. This can affect our relationship with ourselves, everyone around us and our ability to deal with the issues that life throws at us.

Being alone with our thoughts can be painful; it means going within, facing our demons and meeting our shadow self – the parts of our personality we don’t always want to admit to. Generally we will do whatever is necessary not to go there. Because we don’t attend to this part of our psyche much, it is often undeveloped and as a result, misunderstood.

Inner contemplation is ages old and generally associated with religious prayer and meditation but finding your ‘inner stillness’ does not necessarily mean a religious practice, hours of meditation or vipassana retreats. Find your way to retreat: spend time alone, with nature, walk, be in silence, journal, deep breathing or yoga can all help you connect with yourself and let go of doing for a while.

Interestingly, the whole purpose of yoga is to practice various poses or ‘asanas’ to make the body supple enough so that it can sit in stillness and meditate.

Escapism, whilst it is sometimes an important and necessary tool, seems to have become our daily goal. Whilst meeting and connecting with our thoughts and our ‘stuff’ can be scary – this is also where the holy grail of self-development lies – going inside brings huge mental clarity and wisdom, unlocking the door to a calmer, more self-assured state of mind.

Tuning in to our internal world and reducing the mental noise, even just for a few minutes every day has a dramatic impact on our coping skills, our sense of self and our relationships. As Carl Jung so defly put it: “Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.”

Nicky is a Naturopathic Nutritionist practising in Dublin. She writes, speaks and advises nationwide on all aspects of health, nutrition and wellbeing. Check for further info, upcoming courses and workshops.

By Nicky Flood