For three days in a row, my attempts to enter into the Stillness have been laughable - in a torturous, unfunny sort of way. I am well and truly out of practice. I finally realized, this morning, that I'm carrying around too much residual stuff to enter in to any sort of Stillness - and by "stuff," I mean strong emotion based on past events. For me, this typically means rage, grief, guilt and/or shame. When I get Still, all this stuff rises to the surface, which makes any sort of peaceful quietude impossible.
It's amazing how long said stuff can stick around. If I don't have a regular practice, every day is about managing the emotional fallout from a decade ago, at least on some level. In my experience, Stillness melts away all rage, grief, guilt, shame, etc., but only after a while and, obviously, only if one can get to that place of Stillness in the first place. If, like me, you're having trouble, precisely because sitting in silence is a bit torturous, fear not. Often, a simple clearing will do the trick.
Our bodies store unprocessed emotion - of this, I am certain. I inevitably feel better if I make a point of clearing whatever emotion is lodged in my cells on a regular basis. If I don't, it builds up, causing all manner of difficulty.
There are myriad ways to clear out pent up emotion, and you'll have to experiment to find what works for you. For the not-too-serious daily stuff, my husband uses the slam ball in our gym. Other folks listen to loud music, watch a tear jerker on TV, run in the woods, or have a long-overdue Fierce Conversation.
For me, by this point, it's not quite that simple, and I'll have to be more intentional about this clearing. The thought makes me teary; solid evidence, I suppose, that I'm on the right track. (I tend to put it off, this clearing business, because it's rarely pleasant. It makes me feel out of control. Ugly. Nonetheless, it has to be done. Sigh.)
12:33 pm. I always start by sitting cross legged on the floor and closing my eyes, as if to meditate. I immediately feel all kinds of resistance, mostly in the form of sudden, crushing boredom. Classic.
I let my tremor go ( I have an essential tremor, which makes my head shake) and shake out my arms and hands as well. Anything to release some of this energy and discomfort. The urge to rush through this process and get back to writing about it (also classic) is strong, but I stay where I am.
I often use the EFT tapping technique. Don't ask me to verify that it works for the reasons the EFT folks say it does - I can't speak to that, one way or another. But I do know that it helps me to have a formal process of identifying and releasing difficult thoughts, emotions and experiences - and so, in this way, it works for me.
I identify more grief than rage, and go through a few rounds of tapping, though it's all pretty superficial, at this point. But even the superficial attempt helps, and within minutes I'm able to sit still and actually feel - very specifically - the haunted feeling, which sits in my head and neck. I tap again, and morph (this is where it gets interesting) into my own version of The Scream. No kidding. My face contorts, and torrents of emotion rush out - silently, as I'm not alone in the house. Incidentally, the silent scream has never seemed to be a problem, honestly. I have screamed out loud, on occasion (I lived alone for years), but mostly that just leaves me feeling exhausted. But while silence is Ok, stillness, in this instance, is NOT. I let my body shake and move and contort and release, and I scream, silently for as long as it takes.
It takes, and, 15 or so minutes later (having alternated between this physical release work and quietly checking in with my body), I feel better. I might have more to do - we'll see how my next STILL practice goes - but I've started the process.
We have to fall in love with this process, somehow. Somehow, we have to fall in love with our ability to feel and release these strong emotions - or at least not shy away from them at all cost. We are domesticated humans, by this point, and our gruesome faces and contorting bodies aren't typically on display. Which is all fine and good, until it's not.
If you're struggling to reach a place of Stillness because you're overwhelmed by intense discomfort - or even if you just have the vague sense that something isn't quite right, get off by yourself, identify what haunts you, however grotesque, and release it - celebrating the gift of full expression all the while.
The discomfort I experienced the last three days was its own gift. A sure sign that I had/have (holy) shit to deal with. Welcome the dissonance. Inevitably, it points in the right direction.
For more about clearing the way for a STILL/WILD practice, consider starting HERE.