Moving into stillness, what an interesting concept. Action into a state of non-action. The more I navigate along my yoga journey, the more I have learned to act in a dynamic state of stillness. Attaining equanimity is presenting oneself as calm and collected in the most stressful environments. As an ICU nurse, creating a sense of stillness in hectic situations has been key to balancing my stress levels and resiliency.
A good way to explain dynamic stillness involves a realization that I had at an elevation of 9170ft in Jackson Hole, WY. According to the National Park Service, 4,822,972 people visited the Grand Teton National Park in 2016. One of the most popular tourists sites within the park is Jenny Lake. Tourist flock to Jenny Lake to ride the ferry across the lake in order to hike up to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. For the more extreme hikers, Jenny Lake also houses numerous trailheads to other locations. The only caveat is you have to weed through the chaos to get to the quiet beauty. In addition to thousands of people, the area is under construction. At the start of our journey, the masses, construction equipment, boats, bikes, cars, buses, and wildlife surrounded us. There is sensory overload and no trace of stillness noted.
After hiking 3000ft above the crowds, I became overwhelmed with a sense of calmness and finally took hold to the idea of stillness. Gazing down, nothing moved. The lake was smooth, and the trees appeared frozen. I could not see any sign of life- human or animal. Even the clouds stayed perfectly placed in the backdrop of the sky. The elevated tranquil scene seemed so far removed compared to the scene below.
At this point, it all made sense. Creating stillness combines the two scenes of my hike. Life is chaotic with disorder and noise but you must work hard to attain a tranquil and quiet mind. For me, this is where yoga comes into play. Yoga incorporates using your breath to drown out the noise of life. The clutter, the negative, the unnecessary noise that is taking up space. With your breath, you can move those thoughts out of your mind to create space for positivity, productivity and self-love. In yoga, we can use breath in our daily meditative practices and as a partner to our asana. Yoga is not yoga without the incorporation of breath.
A wonderful way to feel a sense of dynamic stillness is through Vriksasana, tree pose. Tree pose is a balancing pose, a hip opener, and stretches the thighs, groins, torso and shoulders. The posture also builds strength in the ankles and calves, and tones the abdominal muscles. With balancing poses, one must become at ease with the fluctuations of being supported by only one limb. Steadiness and concentration are crucial. In balancing poses, the mind quickly begins to stray to negative thoughts if balance is lost. Remaining constant, grounded and comfortable with the current state of the posture is key. In doing so, you train your mind to stay present during times of distress. Everything we learn on the mat prepares us for life off the mat…one of the true wonders of yoga.
In tree pose, you can imagine yourself as your favorite tree. Grounded and strong in the root. Confident. From the waist up, your limbs are free to move around without disturbance to your base. A wonderful tree to envision is the palm tree. Palm trees withstand some of the craziest storms. Even hurricane winds find their match with the palm tree. This is life. Being able to find balance with whatever life throws your way. Finding dynamic stillness has saved me. I use my yoga practice to train my body and mind so that I am able to better deal with the storms that are life.