Movement and Stillness – a Deeper Look. I want to delve deeper into the topic of stillness. It’s a big topic! What is stillness? Is it just when the body is at rest? Let’s start there.
The importance of resting after working out or practise is well known in the yoga and movement world. Workouts are generally followed by a cool-down of gentle stretching and soft movement. This is beneficial for the body. The mental freshness after the ‘workout high’ has been well documented.
In Yoga, Shavasana (the corpse pose) is usually the final pose of one’s practise. It is a time to consciously relax every muscle in your body. In the relaxation the neurological system get a chance to fully integrate the new pathways and information generated by the postures and patterns of the movement.
In Somatic Yoga we take many purposeful pauses to allow the system to fully absorb and integrate the patterning after each series of movements. This is stillness on the body level, the stillness to allow integration and rest.
But there is that deeper level of stillness that we sense but often don’t recognise or understand. When we stop moving and take some time to rest, we often become more aware of our thinking mind. We become freed from our body consciousness and begin to observe the mind dwelling on the topics of the day. The nature of the mind is to dwell on something that has occurred in the past, or wonders and often worries about something that may or may not happen in the future.
During deep and conscious rest, there is the chance to recognise that which is more subtle than the thoughts of the mind. We can tune into a vaster awareness. As the mind is subtler than body, and awareness is subtler than the mind, resting after a workout gives an opportunity to become free from the identification with just the body, and the mind is able to rest in subtler realms of knowing awareness. Awareness is knowing all. It knows body, mind, sensations, feelings, and imaginings that are always changing. The changes are known by the ever present unchanging awareness. This unchanging awareness is itself stillness.
Awareness is always there, but is often covered by our attention when it is only on the body and our thoughts. We miss true stillness when we become identified only with all the changing, moving parts.
The unchanging awareness is the power from where all movement begins from. If we keep observing, we see that all thoughts arise from and dissolve back into that awareness. All our physical movements originate from the very power that sparks the neurological processes in the brain, and that speak to the bodies operating system.
So after moving, we can refresh the body and mind by freeing ourselves from body consciousness for some time in rest. When our body is still, we can observe our breathing and let our attention be with the awareness that underlies all movement – gross (body) and subtle (mind). That freshness and stillness of pure awareness will flow back with you as you activate your body and engage your mind and once again get up and move.