How to Find Stillness Every Day, Throughout the Day

How to Find Stillness Every Day, Throughout the Day


Here’s how you can find more stillness in your life—no matter how busy you are.

It’s hard to be still when you’re constantly moving. You’re working long hours, running errands, making school lunches, cleaning up, paying bills, washing and folding your eighth load of laundry.

And yet, even though it’s not exactly easy, we can access stillness at any time. Because it’s always within us.

We can think of stillness in various ways. According to artist and author Carissa Potter, stillness is a state of mind. “You could be running and be still.”

Potter finds stillness in the shower and in swimming. She finds stillness in keeping a garden, too. “I like to think about things from a plant’s time signature...They seem to note the subtle changes around them so profoundly, and in a literal sense live by them. Plants are able to at the same time know the season and the day down to the hour, moving with the wind and noting the clouds.”

Stillness also can be acceptance, said Potter, author of the book It’s OK to Feel Things Deeply: “that you are good where you are in your life, that you are not in a rush, that you are right where you need to be.” Sometimes, she accesses this acceptance with a lovingkindness meditation or a prayer for herself and all living beings.

For psychotherapist Lauren Dalton-Stern, LPCC, NCC, stillness is ignited when she focuses on her breath and draws her attention to the present moment.

Artist and author Roman Muradov practices stillness for about 20 minutes a day with his “eyes closed, white noise in earphones and cellphone out of reach.”

Stillness is powerful. For Muradov “instead of mindlessly plowing forward,” stillness gives him the time and space to reflect and reconsider his artistic style and methods, which change from book to book.

“[I]n a way, stillness helps me to stay in motion,” said Muradov, whose latest book is On Doing Nothing: Finding Inspiration in Idleness.

Stillness helps us to check in with ourselves and listen to our thoughts, feelings and sensations. It’s when we ask ourselves, how am I doing? really doing? And this is when we discover and rediscover who we are and what we need.

Even struggling with stillness can provide valuable information. As Muradov said, “We can note where our thoughts escape to at the first opportunity and watch these movements at a remove instead of following them blindly.”

Here’s how you can find more stillness in your life—no matter how busy you are.

Reflect on your definitions. Many of us think that living a meaningful, satisfying life means filling every second of our day with something “productive,” with another task to check off.

But does this really reflect the kind of life you want?

Perhaps, the answer to living a more gratifying life may be in changing our perspective on how we define reaching success and how we can achieve it by acquiring more stillness and stability in our life…,” said Dalton-Stern, who specializes in yoga therapy and meditation at her private practice. “Perhaps, if we practiced doing less more often, we could possibly become more or be more in our lives”—like being more present and showing up more fully for ourselves.

Focus on connection. Dalton-Stern suggested going to a sacred place—a park, beach, yoga studio, home—or creating one inside your mind where you can connect deeply to yourself.

Next close your eyes, and fully inhale and exhale. Tune into your body and your senses. For instance, listen to the surrounding sounds, such as birds chirping, waves crashing onto the shore, leaves falling on the ground, Dalton-Stern said.

Focus on what you’re feeling, such as the breeze “brushing your body, the warm sun against your skin, your feet rooted into the earth, helping you to feel more grounded.” Focus on what you’re smelling, “natural scents from the earth, the salt from the sea, fresh grass.” Or bring along essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus, lemongrass and orange, Dalton-Stern said.

Lastly, after you’re done, spend a few minutes reflecting on this question: Which senses made me feel the most connected?

Accept the discomfort. Stillness can sometimes spark discomfort or unpleasant feelings, Dalton-Stern said. Muradov has been meditating for several years and he still frequently finds it difficult or frustrating.

Instead of resisting these feelings, try to lean in to them. Sit with them—without reaching for your phone or some other distraction. This is how we “find our inner strength, recognize our divine wisdom and build greater resilience,” Dalton-Stern said.

And remember that this is not a talent or trait, Muradov said. “It’s a skill. You wouldn’t expect to be good at any practice by default, so why should you expect to have an inborn capacity for [being still]?”

Stillness doesn’t have to be complicated or a big ritual. It can be as simple as noticing your breath. “[I]sn’t it astonishing how we go all day, all week, and sometimes even all month without taking a second to sit still and get in touch with the very thing that keeps us alive each and every day: our breath?” Dalton-Stern said.

What if you changed that?

Enjoying this content?

Get this article and many more delivered straight to your inbox weekly.