In this episode we look at what it means to build a foundation of calmness, and stillness within your life. What kind of tools and practices may be needed.
It isn’t as simple as waiting until something happens, and then creating the stillness. It’s about having their groundwork and foundation to be ready for when something happens.
Welcome to Stillness in the Storms, the podcast that helps you to find that little inner peace when you have it least and you need it most. I’m Steven your host and thank you for joining me. This is the second podcast and today we’re talking about building the foundation of stillness. How do you cultivate that much needed foundation that when things do go wrong, you’re ready and you can respond in a calm, nice, enjoyable manner instead of reacting and then regretting it later. That’s what the show is about.
So on this show, we’re going to cover what is the foundation of stillness? Can anybody have this foundation or is it just reserved for calm, quiet people? Why is the foundation so important and how can we start today? And I’m going to end today’s podcast with a little meditation, to give you an experience, a little sense of what this stillness is all about because unless you experience and you know what it’s about, you don’t know what you’re going for, you don’t know what it feels like. And I’m a great believer in teaching that I could do a hundred podcast episodes and I could tell you all day long, every day what it’s like and how you can do it but unless you experience it, it’s like there’s no point. It’s very much like me telling you that water is hot, no matter how many times I try to explain what it feels like, just putting your hand in it, you’re going to know instantly and that’s what the meditation is all about. So, let’s start.
First of all, thank you for being here, thank you for supporting me on this podcast. As I said, this is a second episode and you can head over to Patreon, subscribe, and you get the whole podcast without the outtakes, with the outtakes and you get to hear more of when things go wrong and when things go right and I answer your questions and you also get standalone meditations and that’s a way of me thanking you and me of helping you to create a little more stillness in your life. So let’s get on with today’s show.
What is the foundation of stillness?
Well, let’s first tackle the subject of what is the foundation of stillness? Well, foundation is very much like when you build a house or you build a building. The building could be an amazing building, it could have the most elegant design, it could have really large windows, it could have the pillars in front of the doors, it could be this big mansion or whatever you decide for it to be. But if it hasn’t got the foundations and you haven’t given it a firm decking. To build the house it’s going to be no good when things start going wrong. It’s like when they say building your house on sand, the sand moves, the house is going to move, your house is going to fall down. There’s going to be no firm foundation for your house.
So that’s what I want to do. I want to help you build the foundation of stillness so it’s not when you’re sitting on the cushion or when everything’s going well that you need the calmness. You don’t need it when you’re sitting down in front of Netflix watching your favorite program, it’s when things are going wrong, when you need it, when you’re in a traffic jam or when you’re at work and your colleagues and your boss demanding something from you, it’s when all the kids are hungry and you’re hungry and everyone around you is wanting a piece of you and then your partner comes in and then the phone goes. The building of the foundation is so that in those times, you’ve got the tools and you’ve got the experience and you are ready to deal with them in a skillful way rather than just, ah, go away, leave me, go, can’t deal with this right now, I’ve had enough of this right now, I’m tired.
So, it’s about building this awareness and when we have this awareness, we’re no longer buffered and we’re no longer reacting, we’re no longer running around putting fires out, we don’t start the fires and that’s the main thing. And living with this foundation means you just have to be more understanding and caring, you’re going to be more loving; the people around you will have more of a sense of enjoyment because they won’t be treading on eggshells anymore. I’ve been in relationships where I’ve been fighting to know what to say; whereas, with a calmness, I feel now I don’t have to say everything I’m thinking. I can take a step back and go, that won’t be kind so I choose not to say it, even sometimes now I’m almost there now.
And I can remember two years ago, my daughter came in one day and I lost it. I cannot remember what it was about. It was something so insignificant, I laugh now, but it wasn’t insignificant at the time. And she came in and she looked at me and I went off for one and I was, in my word, I was shouting, I was being quite loud, but I wasn’t actually being that loud. She said to me afterwards, I went off for about a minute, two minutes, and she just stood there and goes, “Hmm, that’s not very zen of you, is it?”
And I laughed and she knows I’ve been trying to deal with that side of me. I’m trying to deal with the monkey brain, the subconscious mind that reacts to these moments. So that was a wonderful reminder that I still have work to do. And what we always do, and this is why we need a structure and a practice, this is why we need the foundations put in place because we often think we can, a moment of calmness where we do a little bit of practice, then we began to traffic jam and we remain calm and we chill. And when I’ve got it, I understand now, it’s cool, I’ve got this calmness and stillness in storms and things like that but then a week later, boom, back to square one. So that’s why we need some structure and some kind of tools in place.
What are some of these tools?
Well, meditation, I hate to say it, no I don’t hate to say it, it’s just difficult saying it because so many people believe they cannot meditate and that was me for many years. I said in the first podcast that I was reading all these books and in the books they said about, do meditation, that will help you meditate. I kept turning the page just thinking, oh God, a solution that I cannot have is a solution that is not available to me cause my mind thinks too much. I’ve always got something on my mind, something is always happening and my mind would not go peacefully sit down. So I couldn’t sit there and have nothing. But I’ve learned now, it’s not about that. And I’ll cover meditation more in depth in future episode, but I want to briefly outline how you can build some kind of foundation as well.
So I’m just going to just touch upon them. So mindfulness practices are number one and meditation mindfulness can be done in everyday life, they can be done washing the dishes, walking the kids to school, doing everything, you don’t literally have to go out and buy a cushion, get some monks robes, you don’t have to shave your head. The monks, they used to shave their heads, not because of some kind of practice or anything, it was purely so the teachers would know when one of the monks would run off, they could then instantly recognize cause they were the ones with the bald heads which I was told, I believe there’s some truth in, but I don’t know.
There are breathing techniques we can use. Just go into our simple breath when things are overwhelming us or when we’re angry, we can just pause and take two or three deep breaths and although they are easy to explain now, it’s not so easy to do. We can also set up triggers in our lives. Perhaps traffic lights, something like that. Whenever we get to traffic lights and they do turn red that we just take a few deep breaths and we take notice of what’s going on around us. Perhaps we listen to the other cars for just a moment instead of automatically go into our subconscious mind. Because that’s what this is about; it’s building the stillness into our conscious mind instead of allowing our subconscious mind to continually go back to the habits that it’s used to doing, there are more in depth things we can do.
We can do journaling. We can have lists and other things that we know triggers us, we know that gets to us. I’ve said it a couple of times, it’s all about knowing, it’s all about being here present and knowing what’s actually happening, that is the only way of really intercepting it and cutting off these habitable reactions that we’ve been doing for so long in our lives. There’s nothing wrong, the subconscious mind is not broke, it has kept us alive and served us really well.
Very often when you hear these advice in the spiritual world, it’s like, ah, our subconscious mind, it will get us in trouble all the time. But no, it’s kept us safe, anything that we could improve with the subconscious mind is given some moral compass, it has no moral compass. It’s just, how do I stay alive? How do I repeat what I did last time? It worked, it doesn’t matter whether you get in trouble or whether it hurt somebody or whether or not it’s damaging you long term. It’s all about instant gratification and how do I react in this moment? What did I do last time? Whereas the human mind is all about, well, how do I do things in this moment to improve my later on? So it goes from instant gratification to eating healthier, being more healthier, having a healthier mind instead of just going with the thought. We work with the thoughts. We are in control of what we do with them.
Can anybody have this stillness?
Yes, anybody can have this stillness. When I hit my rock bottom, my mind was giving me so many questions and pain and feelings, it was awful. I was having a drink just to go sleep at night and that drink become more and more and more until I was so embarrassed to ask the carer for like, “Another shot, please.” I was drinking spirits just to get to sleep, just to shut my mind up. It was too much for me, there was too much going on and they were not just thinking, they were painful thoughts. So when I sit down to meditate or sit down to try to even just have a little bit of moment’s peace, I couldn’t even get disconnection when watching movies or anything like that because every movie reminded me of the pain I was going through. So I was really struggling.
So if I say I can get to this place of stillness, I know you can too. And I know people that are even more thinkers than me, over thinkers, real in their head, stuck in the head people and real emotional empaths that feel everything. I’ve helped all sorts from all the way from in the head to in the heart find stillness and normally few cut some kind of meditation. So yes, it’s possible and I want to bust one of the myths about stillness. Stillness doesn’t mean losing control, it doesn’t mean stepping back and allowing the world to just burn. Stillness is more control. Stillness is remaining calm, present totally with it so therefore you actually have more control over what’s going on, you’ve got the control to respond properly.
You know when you stub your toe on the bed and you jump up and down, “ahh,” who’s doing that? You’re not doing that. I just have conscious mind just like, hey, dance on one foot for a moment because your toes hurting, I don’t know where that reference comes from but it’s in there now. So there’s more control of it and there’s an awareness with the control of the outside world.
What can you do about the outside world?
Well, very little. When people say they’re not in control, it means they’re not in control of the outside world and what they want to do out there. Really, we need to learn to control ourselves inside so that when you see something out there that you don’t like or not the way you expect it to be, you can be okay with it, you can be like, well, you know, it’s not the way I think it’d be ideal, but it is the way it is and I’m not going to work myself up about it. And I know you’re capable of doing it because at least once in your life you’ve done that. Not my monkey, not my circus. So it’s possible, but some people would just might take a lot more practice than others, it may not be so easy for some people.
Why build the foundation now?
Now then I spoke a little bit about the foundation of stillness and what it is for you, I want to talk about why build the foundation now. And the best thing to do with that is compare ourselves to nature sometimes. You take the tree, a tree that hasn’t got decent roots and a decent foundation, it’s going to get torn up on the first sign of any kind of storm, it’s going to get torn out of the ground. If kids go climbing and all, it’s not going to last longer, it’s going to be blown down. It’s the trees that have a decent rooting in the ground, in a decent ground that can grow taller, that can bend in the wind and bend with all the rain and the storms and all the different weather. It even protects itself in the hot sun because the ground below won’t dry up.
So a tree is a perfect analogy for building a foundation. However, we don’t want to build a foundation where we cannot move and we’re not flexible. We want to have this foundation that we can take with us and the foundations cannot rely on other people around you. Well, I can stay calm in Steven’s presence, I very often get it, how can I do it with you? How can I feel this calmness? And I cannot do it by myself. Well, you can, it’s not dependent on me. You’re the one doing it. If I take you through a meditation in a minute or when I take you through a meditation in a minute, you really are doing it yourself. You just believe you can do it when you’re with me and that makes a difference and you don’t want to end up like a weeble wobble. Can you remember those weeble wobble things? Those silver things that you spin around and they just woo. You don’t end up like that. You’ve been pushed around by everybody so much that you don’t even know what direction you are in and you don’t even know what to do.
So I hope that makes sense? Let me know in the comments. Let me know a review how am I doing on this podcast.
How do build this foundation?
Well, listen to this podcast, subscribe to this podcast for one because we’re going to be talking about how to build this foundation and what this foundation looks like and different practices and techniques and we’ll be going deeper and deeper and deeper into them. So don’t miss them.
So that’s one of the major ways in which you can build foundation and also become aware of what’s going on around you. Just become aware. Just sit there and every now and again, during the day and go that’s a cup that’s in my life because it holds my drink. What am I feeling right now? What am I seeing right now? What’s happening outside right now? What can I hear right now? When you ask these questions, it brings you to the present moment because it forces you to answer the question. You cannot walk or hear outside right now and not be present to what the sounds are outside, not the sound 10 minutes ago or a week ago, it’s the sound right now, what’s going on right now.
You can also download three meditations that I recorded to help you find a little calmness very quickly. One is five minutes, “A peaceful place” and you just literally take a few breaths and you’re straight there. I mean, you can head over to connect with Steven and there’s a button right in the middle of the screen so you can download and listen to that in the mean time, completely free.
Apart from that, we can open our hearts and live a genuine freedom. When we live like that, it opens us up to whatever’s happening as opposed to the way we want things to be. And I’m going to talk about expectations in the next podcast because expectations, very often we say that we should get rid of all expectations, but no, we shouldn’t. Some expectations are healthy, some expectations are not healthy. Some of them are dragging you down, some of them, yeah, people need to bloody respect and you need some expectations of some people.
So we will be talking about that in the next episode, but until then, head over to connect with steven.com. There’s a link there to my Patreon page and that’s the way you can support this podcast so you can help me to edit it. Apart from that, thank you. Your time is the most valuable thing you have and you spent it with me today. So I’m really deeply humbled and honored with that.
So, let’s just have a little stillness and we’ll sit together. And the easiest way of doing this, as we bring our attention to our breath and we move our attention from our mind, not thinking, down through our body and during this practice, I urge you to keep your eyes open, wide open in front of you because we want to establish this stillness, in life. Not only when we can close our eyes, every time we’re triggered, when every time we feel like reacting, we have to close our eyes for like five minutes and just breathe. They do that on the comedy shows whereas we need to do it and stay calm in the midst of that storm and we do it like this.
So if we just do this now, if you take a deep breath in and put your arms above your head, now as you let your arms down beside you, just breathe out slowly in a controlled way and place your arms down next to you so they’re just relaxed. And now, just recognize that you’re breathing in and you breathing out and you can even breathe in the word calm and breathe out the word relax; breathe in calm, breathe out relax.
And notice how your body just relaxes around every breath that is released. Notice how when you’re exhaling your breath, notice how when you’re breathing out, your body naturally relaxes. You don’t have to make it happen.
Just stay being aware of what’s happening in this present moment. You’re breathing in and you’re breathing out. If your mind wanders and thinks about anything else, just smile and bring it back to your breath. Say thank you for the thought but we’re just breathing at the moment.
And you may notice calmness, everything just suddenly starts to get a little quieter around you. The body just lets go a little bit and your mind just humors at the moment and just says, okay, I’ll focus on the breath.
And what we notice is the gaps between the breathing and the gaps between the thinking. See there’s no such thing as no thinking, it’s a matter of focused awareness and that’s where the stillness is, this focused awareness.
Have you recognize that softness? There’s not the harshness in the body of when you’re uptight or stressed or anxious. There’s a softness of letting go and this is what stillness is about, it’s about letting things be. Nothing is different in this moment than what was a few moments ago, apart from you’re aware and alert, I’m relaxed.
And I hope you get time to subscribe to this podcast and you can head over to my website, connect with steven.com and download some more meditations; they’re completely free. It would help you to create this stillness quickly when you have it least and you need it most. Thank you. So, till next time, take care, love deeply, strive to understand and above all, be kind to yourself, take care, Namaste.
And don’t forget to subscribe, hit the review button, if you heard enough that you’d like the podcast, give me an honest review. Give me some feedback if you would like me to change it up in any way and if you can head over to connect with steven.com you can go to the page on the site and support the podcast. That’d be amazing. Thank you. Take care.