The Healthcare Professional’s Practical Guide To Practicing Stillness
“Once you know yourself in this living stillness there is nothing in this world that is greater than you”
As human beings, we often hear the word “Stillness”, but what does that really mean? How can we, as healthcare professionals, incorporate it into our busy lives when we have been trained to move and move fast because the pace at which we move can mean the difference between life and death for those we care for causing little to no time for us to “BE”?
Martha Beck, the author of The Joy Diet, has this to say about stillness: “doing nothing is the most productive activity you will ever undertake.” Michael Hyatt elaborates, saying that stillness is nothing more than being; it means being still, quieting your mind, and just existing in that moment.
Let’s take a deep dive into the practice of stillness, but first let’s lay some fundamental ground rules for the practice of stillness:
• If you want to live purposefully as a healthcare provider, then you have to go through the process of discovery and stillness is a critical component of discovery.
• The information provided in this guide are actual things that I have done to get into the practice of stillness and they WORK if you WORK.
• The practice of stillness takes time!! It will not happen overnight, and you will NOT start off doing it for 1 hour at a time. Start off doing it for 5 minutes daily for 1 week and then increase to 10 minutes the next week and so on from there.
• When you first start your mind is going to be all over the place (when I first started my mind had 50 things running through it making me say “now how is this peaceful” (LOL), but the more you do it the more your mind will become trained and know this is “Being time”.
Now here are some actionable steps that you can start taking NOW to begin your journey of stillness:
1. Set a daily quiet hour (or 10 minutes!) routine in a quiet place that brings you serenity
As healthcare professionals, we have routines established for many different areas of our lives, but none for the most important part, which is “ US”. Make time for yourself no matter what! Start your day 20-30 minutes earlier if needed to ensure you make this time for yourself (if you are anything like me, then you hug the bed to the last minute trying to get every minute you can get. But these extra minutes that you will allow yourself to sit in stillness will be worth it, trust me!) I recommend doing it first thing in the morning after brushing your teeth to avoid getting caught up in the business of the day and forget.
2. Cut off ALL electronic devices
I mean every single one of them! Our family and friends, emails, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. can do without you for 10-60 minutes per day. You don’t have to be accessible at all times, honest. Make it a practice to spend meaningful time each day unplugged.
3. Learn to listen
This one sounds easy, but sometimes it can be challenging because as humans we often feel that we have to talk, give our opinion, and respond, but everything doesn’t require you to open your mouth. Make a conscious decision to listen more and talk less in your relationships with others and with God.
4. Like Nike… JUST DO IT!
Don’t worry so much about how to do it (I know the people on T.V. like Russell Simmons do it so pretty with his nice pillow, yoga gear, & candles, LOL), but that is not critical. You can start off by laying in the bed on your back, sitting in a chair, sitting on the sofa, or sitting in the car and then work your way up to sitting on the floor with your yoga mat with your legs crossed perfectly, shoulders back, etc. In the beginning, just focus on doing it!
Steps 5-11 on page two.
5. Get to know thyself
Start to get in tune with yourself and your feelings (get all in your feelings, lol). Get to know if you are having feelings of anxiety, sadness, happiness, frustration, business, etc. However, you feel is completely OK. Learn about yourself and your mind.
6. Count your breaths
Focus on your breathing as you take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to count “one” when you take in your first breath, then “two” as you breathe out. Repeat this to the count of 10 and then start again at one.
7. Refocus when your mind wanders off
Your mind will wander, (there is no if, and, or buts about it) and it is perfectly normal. When this happens go back to your breathing technique previously discussed. Stillness is a practice and it will take practice to make it perfect.
8. Don’t focus on clearing your mind
Most people automatically think that stillness means they will block all information in their head or block all thoughts, but you won’t. Your brain is going to do just what God developed it to do and that is to bring in information. So when you have thoughts and information on your head, just practice focusing your attention, and practice some more when your mind wanders. Remember practice make perfect!
9. Stay with whatever arises
Now I know that I have told you to practice breathing when your mind wanders off, but after you have been practicing stillness for about a week or two, stay with those thoughts and feelings that come up. At this point, those thoughts and feelings
10. Be attentive to light, sounds, energy
After you have been practicing for 2 weeks or so start to go deeper and pay more attention to the lights in the room, sounds you hear, and energy you feel (if needed focus on each of these one day at a time and then focus on all 3 together).
I am telling you that, in the beginning, you will feel lost but the more you practice the better you will get at it and the better result you will get, so really commit yourself to practicing stillness. A key to discovering your purpose as a healthcare professional is stillness, so just “BE”.
Nicole Thomas is an educator, motivator, and purposeful living enthusiast. She has 11 years of experience in leadership, healthcare management, clinical knowledge, and business acumen. Her mission is to help female healthcare professionals to awaken their God-given purpose as a healthcare professional through education and empowerment. Nicole earned her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Southern University A&M College and her Masters of Nursing with a specialization in Nursing Education from Walden University. She is currently working on her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and her forthcoming book entitled “In Health, On Purpose”.
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