Stillness is a practice that can evade, elude and still entrance.
This past weekend I had the blessing of a private beach camping experience .
It was a long overdue vacation. The weather was clear albeit chilly. Restoration would be mine!
I was actively planning my nothing time.
I was going to immerse in this practice.
I had pined for it, outside of my home meditation practices.
This was gonna be prime optimal zen.
I set up camp at a beautiful rustic site in the dunes along Lake Michigan in the Upper Peninsula.
No electricity. No running water. No distractions.
Except my own mind.
At first I found it easy and justifiable to be distracted by the busy-ness of camp life. Tending to the shelter (it rained the first day). Tending to the fire. Tending to food. Tending to the dog.
All of this can consume the day and time and thoughts.
After a day of this I started to feel weary. I had been pushing myself to “stay ahead” of the tasks to keep the environment as comfortable as possible.
Yes. I had stood at the top of the dune and marveled at the wonder of the lake at dawn and dusk.
I had spent some time dipping my toes in the icy waters.
But I had also gone on hikes and accounted for miles and time. I’d gone on runs looking at my personal record distance and measuring altitude.
I was “doing.”
Even my prayer practices and yoga practice were “things to do.” I needed to set up the space and the location and the time. Was the sun too hot? Were the bugs too bothersome? Was the sand too sandy for certain yoga postures?
So the practices were fraught with the details and logistics of practice.
On the third day I was able to identify this tug of war inside that was craving the nothing but fighting against the doing.
I had thought that removing the frantic energy of internet and smart phones and all e-things and i-things would be enough. But the battle over distraction is formidable.
I had to decide to be still.
It came as I sat in a chair and looked at the sky and was thinking, “what to do next?”
I watched the clouds roll by.
And I thought, “Be here.”
From then on I was where I was.
I was in each granule of sand as I strolled miles of beach with no destination and no watch.
I was in the sounds of the waves as I sat and watched a misty horizon.
I was in the changing hues of yellow to orange to darkness in the hours of the sun setting.
After three days I began to practice relishing the stillness and forcing myself back into practical tasking as opposed to struggling to pry myself from the doing to find the stillness.
I’ve even tried to practice finding the stillness even WITHIN the doing so that I’m carrying “placid effort” into all my actions now that I’ve returned to the land of all e-things and i-things.