Sunday, June 20, 2010


Friday, while driving back from visiting my parents in Wisconsin I hit a blinding thunderstorm! Traffic came to an almost standstill while the rain came down in buckets! Leaves and branches were blowing across the streets! It took much longer than usual, but finally we made it home. The neighbors tree was down in their yard – but we were safe and unharmed.
The next morning when I went out to walk the dog the sky was clear and blue. It was a pleasant temperature and there was little wind. How serene! How tranquil! What a difference from the night before!
Erin Diedling has written a blog article about Inner Stillness. I hope it helps you find the serenity and tranquility within you!
PS to all dads out there – “Happy Father’s Day”

It’s more than just a Travel Channel ad: "Stillness"

A friend asked me recently what I’d be doing on a recent vacation. I responded with great joy and a big smile, a resounding, “nothing”.

Our culture values doing and productivity. It’s our right as Americans to do and be productive. We take pride in and give value to being a productive nation – and rightly so. As a culture, we’re wonderfully productive. And in order to keep up with the value of doing and productivity, we have these remarkable vending outlets for caffeine to help us keep doing all day…Starbux, 5 Hour Energy, Red Bull, sodas, etc.

And then, there is the less often valued concept of stillness. Stillness is just as immediate as a caffeine fix, (perhaps even more so if you wait for the caffeine to take effect) but it is so elusive. What is this stillness? What is the calm, tranquility, the peace of it? How do you get to it?
Often we fear the stillness because it seems that there is something in between oneself and the availability of the still experience. This is often true of much of the eating disorder behaviors we treat at The Awakening Center. The behaviors are often well-intentioned but misguided attempts to get to a point of stillness.

When I teach meditation, this is the messy thing. Everything that stands in the way of the person being still will come up. Some traditions call it the “monkey mind”. One way to get past the messiness of moving toward stillness is to think of stillness as an anchored boat (your presence of mind) and think of the anxious thoughts as nothing more than waves passing by.
Stillness is all about non-doing. Stillness is a way of being (vs. the oft applauded doing). Getting to stillness seems such a nice concept in theory, but how do we get to stillness? There are those rare people, you know who you are, who seem to have a grace or a peace about their very nature. For the rest of us, stillness, non-movement, non-doing may begin with a decision – a simple intention to be still.

Stillness often involves being grounded in the present moment. Some ways I’ve seen that work for people to get into the present moment and find stillness:
***Taking a deep breath or even letting out a sigh has physiological impact that allows for stillness.
***Noticing beauty, in the color of the sky, a type of intrigue in architecture, or a flower growing next to the sidewalk, seeing a meaningful exchange between two people, stopping for a pedestrian at a crosswalk and simply noticing. In the city, design is a form of beauty and allows us an opportunity to be present.
***In a Tich Nhat Han book, the buddhist monk describes the tail lights on a car at a stop light as the eyes of the Buddha smiling.
***Being present with the smell, taste and texture of food.
***Doodling gets a mixed review, but actually allows the higher part of the mind to be present and free.
***Journaling can be a gateway to stillness by allowing one to be in the moment with emotions and thoughts.
***Bathing – water is a gateway to stillness that speaks at profound levels.
***Sitting with our breath and noticing our breath.
***Something as simple as feeling wrapped in a blanket or resting on a pillow and the noticing the texture, warmth, feel of it. Allowing oneself to be comforted by the feel of it.

What are the ways that bring you to stillness? When have you felt still? How can you bring more of that into your life. What do you get to have if you allow more stillness into your life? Maybe you can give yourself permission to bring in the still. You’re worth it!

Erin Diedling, MEd, LPC
(773) 929-6262 x19

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Check Your Time

I recently finished reading A Whole New Mind, by Daniel H. Pink, which makes an argument for why right-brained individuals are at an advantage in our evolving society, particularly in the world of work. Throughout the book, Mr. Pink supplies ideas and resources that are meant to assist readers in developing the right-brain and its creative aptitudes.

One aspect Mr. Pink identifies is the seemingly gradual shift from the focus on and emphasis of material things towards the importance of finding meaning in one’s life. He offers a simple exercise that I want to share.

Called “Check Your Time,” this task is meant to examine whether or not our daily routines reflect our genuine hopes and dreams. To begin, make a short list of the people, activities and values that are most important to you. Try to keep it brief, noting no more than 10 items. Then, think back through the past month and approximate how many hours over the past four weeks you spent doing something linked to one of the priorities you listed.

When I did this activity over a month ago, it was hard not to notice that many of my daily goings-on did not reflect what I truly value. As a result, I decided to change some of my behaviors and made a conscious effort to incorporate activities into my life that better matched the items on my “important list.” The shift has not been that difficult, as I’m actually living more in line with what I most value and have been feeling more fulfilled in both my personal and professional life.

I encourage you to give this exercise a try. In addition to identifying areas where your values don’t match your time, it will also serve to highlight when your values are in harmony with the way you choose to spend your days. Ideally, checking your time will provide you with an honest assessment and lead to a more meaningful existence.


Katie Anson, MA, LPC