What is inner stillness and how can I find it?
The phrase inner stillness sounds lovely but really, what is inner stillness? In this post we’ll look at what this phrase means as well as discover how you can find your own inner stillness within you.
What is inner stillness?
I find inner stillness to be one of those phrases that is difficult to describe in words, kind of like people say about samadhi in yoga, but I’ll do my best.
Inner stillness is the point in meditation where the mind becomes so still that you no longer have thoughts running through it although you’re still awake and alert. At this point, you’re observing the mind and body and realize that you have control over both. When you’re in the state of inner stillness, you don’t notice the external world and are completely absorbed in the internal world. Often at this point, you’ll feel a deep sense of connection. Here you’re able to tap into your subconscious mind which is where deep healing and true change can occur. When you come out of this state, you feel incredibly refreshed and a deep sense of love for life.
In this state of inner stillness, you’ve taken control of the autonomic nervous system and have completely come into a rest state (meaning you’re in the parasympathetic nervous system). Teaching ourselves to live more in the parasympathetic nervous system is overall healthier for us in many ways. I’ve talked about this a lot previously so I won’t go into too much detail here but basically when we’re experiencing high levels of stress, the sympathetic nervous system tends to be overactive which isn’t ideal for the health of the body. This part of the nervous system should only be active in short bouts so teaching the body to live more in the parasympathetic nervous system is beneficial.
Cultivating inner stillness allows for us to have more control over the body and mind and this is profoundly healing.
The description above in bold is what I consider true inner stillness. It’s based on my own experience as well as on what I’ve learned along my yoga path. So while what we’ll call “true inner stillness” can really only be achieved during meditation, I think you can experience qualities of inner stillness in your everyday life in times where you’re truly present in the moment and feel a sense of peace, calm, and connection.
Why is true inner stillness only found in meditation?
True inner stillness only happens during meditation because we need our body to be still and the mind to be quiet for this to happen. While other activities can help to quiet thoughts, to find complete silence in the mind you need to meditate. Meditation guides your mind towards this stillness. For most, it will take time sitting in meditation to achieve inner stillness but with consistency and practice, you can find it faster. Finding this true inner stillness within meditation helps you to feel the qualities of inner stillness such as peace and calm more often in your everyday life.
With that said, I do think that there are activities other than meditation that can help to prepare your body and mind for true inner stillness and can help you to cultivate the qualities of inner stillness.
In the next section we’ll dive into how you can find inner stillness within yourself.
How to meditate to achieve true inner stillness
There are many options when it comes to meditation and how you like to meditate is based on your personal preference. I often enjoy meditating by just listening to relaxing music and focusing on my third eye region. So your meditation practice can be as simple as this.
If you have difficulty meditating in this way, here is another option to help you to find true inner stillness:
Mantra is a form of meditation that can really help you to get to a state of inner stillness. Mantra is when you repeat a word or phrase over and over again in order to allow the mind to focus and to quiet other thoughts. Mantras can be said aloud or in your head.
Mantra is a great way to guide yourself towards inner stillness because it helps you focus on one thing and allows you to start to let go of attachments to anything external. When practicing mantra, sometimes you’ll feel the point of inner stillness take over and at this point you release the mantra and sit in this state of complete calm, surrender, and peace.
How to activate the qualities of inner stillness
1. Being in nature
Just being outside in nature can really help to activate the qualities of inner stillness that we’ve been discussing in this post.
We often move at such a fast pace, always rushing and needing to get things done. Being in nature allows us to slow this pace down. Tuning into the pace of nature helps to calm the mind and the body. Remember, to reach inner stillness we need to slow down and observe. In true inner stillness, you are the observer of the mind and body so by observing nature, you’re teaching yourself how to be an observer.
2. Physical based yoga practice
We often think of physical based yoga practices as just a form of exercise but they go deeper than this. Yoga practices, such as vinyasa, work on allowing your energy to flow in a healthy manner. If energy is stuck or stagnant, inner stillness will be hard to find, so working on this flow of energy can be helpful.
Also, physical based yoga practices can help to work on what is called “tapas.” Tapas is the part of yoga where we work to “burn away impurities” as well as working on discipline. You can tap into tapas in other ways other than movement but vinyasa is a wonderful to do this. Working on discipline in your physical practice and in essence “burning away impurities” with your yoga poses that build up heat in the body (such as plank pose or warrior poses) can help to “get rid of” what is blocking you from attaining inner stillness. This is why many find it easier to meditate after a physical practice. It’s like preparing the body and mind for relaxation.
I have definitely felt a state of stillness while holding a warrior 2 while my legs were burning. That sense of intense focus and realizing that you have the power over your physical body. It’s a little different than the inner stillness found in meditation, but it’s still healing and empowering.
To work towards that true inner stillness where the mind is completely still, try a meditation after your physical practice.
Final thoughts to contemplate
Any type of inner stillness you find will be healing and beneficial to you, even if it’s not exactly my definition of “true inner stillness”.
Part of bringing a yoga practice into your everyday life is finding out what these terms mean to you, there isn’t just one definition. So ask yourself, “What would inner stillness feel like for me and how can I get there?” If you don’t know the answer right now, that’s ok too, part of the journey is giving yourself the time and space to find this out. Know that we all have the capability to experience this stillness within ourselves.
Love and Light,