COLUMN: The art of being still

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It was out there. It did not like anyone invading its territory. I held my grandfather’s hand tightly while holding a basket with the other. As a 6-year-old girl, admiring his brave and confident demeanor, I followed him to gather the chicken eggs.

Growing up on my native island of Puerto Rico, chickens and roosters were as common as squirrels are in my surrounding neighborhood here in New York. Heading towards the eggs, the dreadful rooster was not in sight. At least, not in my sight. But my grandfather spotted it. There it was!

This feisty rooster would challenge anyone that encroached upon its territory. Hurrying up to grab as many eggs as possible, I placed them in my basket ready to retreat to the safety of our home for breakfast. That is when I heard my grandfather whisper, “Estate quieta” (Be still). Slowly I turned only to find the gaze of those icy cold blue eyes of the ready-to-fight large rooster.

Panic entered. Running started. Chaos ensued. Dropping the basket filled with eggs, I began to frantically run while this wild beast chased after me trying to jump on my back. This is when the real rooster fight began. My screaming alerted curious neighbors and my worrisome grandmother to peek through their windows. What on earth is happening?

Neighbors began to laugh at the spectacle. My grandmother began to scream. I cried. My grandfather, who was no longer “still,” began chasing the rooster that was chasing me. Eggs scattered everywhere. So much for listening to my grandfather’s advice of remaining still.

Even as an adult, being still is not my greatest strength. It is like a story I once heard of a little boy running around the dinner table. The mom kept asking him to sit down and be still. After several attempts the boy finally sat down while gently telling his mother, “I am ‘still’ but I continue going around the table on the inside.” This is how my mind operates at times. I may look peaceful and relaxed, but my mind continues to race.

Being still may not come naturally. Amid chaotic situations and trying circumstances, it has been a challenge to listen to my grandfather’s gentle voice telling me to be “still.” Oh, the mess of broken eggs I have brought upon myself when not taking the time to be still, remain calm, think things through, evaluate, analyze, and breathe. How does one practice the art of being still? Let us be still for a moment to learn how:

S - Stay calm. We are built with an abundance of emotions many of which are difficult to manage. Like a freight train out of control going hundreds of miles per hour, if the emotions are not properly managed, derailment is inevitable. To avoid a catastrophic event, one must stay calm, step away from the stressful situation, take a deep breath to receive the necessary oxygen to the brain and give it the opportunity to think and then act.

T – Train your mind to become proactive instead of reactive. Make it a daily habit to focus on activities that bring about clarity and calmness. Prepare your mind and body to preemptively deal with stressful situations. Preventative measures may include gratitude, exercise, good nutrition, proper hydration, meditation, journaling, and prayer.

I – Identify what is triggering the uneasiness. Ask yourself “Why am I feeling this way?” Take time for self-evaluation and discovery by attempting to identify the uneasiness in each situation. Perhaps talking to a professional health care provider to determine the care needed may assist in discovering the root causes of “those feelings” to help determine healthy steps towards a calming disposition and an at ease feeling in the mind.

L – Live in the moment. Focusing on the past may bring about depression. Focusing on the future may bring about anxiety. However, focusing on the present allows the mind the opportunity to deal and cope with what is happening now and better able to handle the chaos. This requires a conscious effort but achieves great rewards.

L – Listen to that “whisper.” My grandfather’s gentle whisper to “be still” has lingered in my mind from the moment the rooster left its claw marks on my neck to long after my grandfather’s passing. Through the years, those silent whispers continue to remind me: do not panic, take a deep breath, and calmly think through each situation that may present itself as a challenge.

There may be times when the situation calls for simply to be still, think, and not react. I should have done this with the creature that threatened my life and did not allow me to enjoy my favorite egg breakfast. Instead, I suffered through my roughage of oatmeal and goat milk. At that point I realized I had learned my lesson. Peering through the window, our eyes met. Glaring at one another, I heard it mocking me with a boisterous COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO.

Diana Jaworski, F.O.C.U.S. Coaching Services, is a certified coach, teacher, trainer, and speaker with Maxwell Leadership Certified Team. Learn more about personal growth by visiting her website at www.dianajaworski.com.

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