The Art of Stillness Within: Learning To “Just Be” With Myself

June, 2019 my husband and I repatriated back to Canada. Since then, a lot has happened. So much so, I recaptured the events of the entire year in a blog I wrote a few months ago, on my 51st birthday! Click on the link below to read about it:

Today is my 51st Birthday! Reflections of my First Year in the Second Half of my Life – What a Hell of a Ride!

Important Note: Today is not my birthday, the above title reflects the day I wrote the blog, on April 25th!! Thank you friends who noticed this bit of confusion, so I could better clarify what I am trying to communicate!

In this blog, I explain the process of my staying in Nova Scotia to work, while Michael traveled to British Columbia to start the process of putting our house there, that had been rented out for the past six years, up for sale. The interior was well cared for, however the exterior and property itself had 6 years of neglect to repair. Michael left for British Columbia in November. I was on my own in Nova Scotia from November to March. My five months alone, up in the low mountain in a small cabin, was truly a time of personal reflection and growth.

COVID-19

COVID-19 changed life for everyone. I work in education, therefore I was able to travel during March Break. I flew to British Columbia to visit Michael. My one week stay in March evolved into three months. I’m still here!

Ironically, Michael is now in Nova Scotia working on an electrical job for family, while I am here continuing the repairs and improvements on the house.

I’ve been here, on my own now, for a month. It looks like I’ve another month of solitude ahead.

I’m at a very different place then where I was during my November – March days in the cabin up in the low mountain. I’m alcohol free. I’m successfully using CBT for anxiety. With Nova Scotia schools closed for the 2020 year, I don’t have to be anywhere specific on any given day.

I am basically free of responsibilities, except for the home improvement work I have to accomplish, sooner rather than later.

I’m in a beautiful province, on the Pacific Ocean. I’m planning kayaking day trips from Quadra Island as well as a train ride from Vancouver to Seattle.

I have a handful of people I know here, through my husband who lived here for most of his adult life. But, basically I stick to myself. I’m an introvert. The thought of socializing evokes strong anxiety within me.

With services like dentists, optometrists, hair stylists, etc… opening their doors again…I’ve had to navigate my way to book appointments that hopefully end in success. So far, I haven’t been disappointed.

I’m Writing This for Me – To Get Perspective on My Thoughts

The oddest thing is happening. I’m not sure how to describe it and that is why I am writing this blog – to explore it and see what I find.

I’ve created a routine. I practice self-care each day with healthy eating habits, running, time to relax, spending less time in front of a computer screen and more time outside as I paint the fence and tend to the garden and lawns.

I take time to connect with others, not my strongest habit as I truly do keep to myself, but I make small steps.

What I am noticing is how often my brain wants to be in the victim role, that I am “stuck” here, powerless (fear) and”poor me” that I am here all by myself.

I’m not sure why.

I’m known as “Joyful Stephanie”. I have a reputation as being a positive, happy person.

So why this? Now?

Negativity is Hard-wired, Happiness is Learned

I’m listening to, and plan to memorize this book during these upcoming summer months by listening to it over and over again, because it truly resonates for me:

before happiness – the 5 hidden keys to achieving success, spreading happiness and sustaining positive change – by Shawn Achor

I’m fascinated how the author speaks to the research that proves our brains are hard-wired to be negative because our prehistoric ancestors had to see danger, the sabor-toothed tiger in the woods about to pounce, to stay alive. Back in those days, we were not at the top of the food chain, and had to predict worst case scenarios to stay alive.

Today, that is why we are so preoccupied with negative news, drawn to negative people (misery loves company), gossip, assume the worst, etc… our brains are hard-wired that way.

But times have changed, humans have evolved to the top of the food chain. We don’t need this inherent survival skill anymore. It actually hinders our happiness.

We have to rewire our brains to see more than the negative outcomes of any given situation. While it is true to “be prepared!”, why not be prepared for the best outcome, rather than the worst! Why be a self-fulfilling prophecy of a negative outcome, when you can strive for the best!

Happiness is a learned skill!

Finding Meaning

Shawn Achor also speaks about meaning – finding what is most meaningful to you in life and filling your life with that.

He lists five daily practices in his Discovering Happiness Masterclass on Calm, to help bring happiness and meaning into your life:

  1. Gratitude: for 21 days list three new reasons each day to be grateful and why
  2. Journal a Meaningful Experience: pick one experience in the last 24 hours that was meaningful – write three details about that experience
  3. Exercise: 15 minutes of fun cardio – every day
  4. Meditation & Thought Training: two minutes every day
  5. Connection: Spread happiness to others – spend two minutes a day telling another person how wonderful they are

So, Here I Am – Sitting With Myself

I’m practicing these. They for sure help.

But…it is being alone – being with myself. Learning to sit with myself that is the challenge.

How do I fill my day with moments of meaning so I don’t feel powerless to the series of events that brought me here? How do I embrace the stillness and quiet of solitude?

As I write this, I see that this time here is allowing me the gift of truly living in the moment – finding meaning in each moment. I can observe my moods. Observe my habits. Observe my surroundings. Observe my behaviors and choices.

I am completely free of external distractions. It is like I’m on a silent retreat and I’m the only attendee!

Stillness Reflects There is Nothing to Resist

It is FASCINATING observing how often my brain wants to be fear-based. Yes, I have a history of debilitating anxiety, but CBD has helped immensely. It chills me out, quiets my mind, while allowing me the ability to detach and observe fear, when it arrises.

While our brains are still wired in prehistoric times, categorically, we humans have evolved to be at the top of the food chain. I am a competent woman who has nothing to fear, as I have all the skills I need to successfully navigate life, however it unfolds.

Yet, there it is – fear – a visceral pit in my stomach. Like a parasite, trying to feed.

I observe: Yes. Fear. There is it. I take a breath. Take in, my now. I do not resist. I do not engage. I observe the fear. I observe my reality right now in this moment.

Perceiving My Reality

Shawn Achor speaks of our perception of reality; how there are many alternative views, perceptions of any given moment or situation in your reality.

As I observe the internal fear parasite in my belly, and observe my external reality that grounds me in my now – I have a choice on what lenses I wear to determine my perception of the external reality around me.

This is my work now.

I am not a victim, powerless to how I perceive my reality, no matter what life brings my way.

I have a choice.

Happiness is a choice.

A Spiritual Sabbatical

As a Reiki Master Teacher, I’ve been slowly immersing myself in refreshing my studies and building my practice in Nova Scotia. But, I’ve had to put this on hold for the time being as I adjust to the now of living on Canada’s West Coast.

I truly have an opportunity here, to take this time alone and treat it like a spiritual sabbatical. To practice “being” while I’m “doing”, as I train my brain to view positive alternatives. Not in an irrational “pollyanna”, blind optimistic way. Positive alternatives, that see a full pitcher of water on the table next to the glass that is “half full or half empty.”

When I return to Nova Scotia, and step back into the process of evolving my own Reiki practice, I see a positive reality where the personal growth I achieve during my “spiritual sabbatical” will enhance my ability to lean into the intuitive nature of energy work.

In Closing…

I’ll close this blog with this happy moment:

While running the other day, this little fella was fearless of me as I stopped for a picture!!

It would appear as though this deer has evolved his instincts, his perceptions of reality to feel higher up on the food chain around me in an urban surrounding, rather than stumbling upon me, a human in a forest. I might add I wasn’t wearing camouflage… (and never will!!)

My point is, is that this little deer has more than one view of his reality when he saw me because he didn’t run away in fear.

I hope you take a moment today to be still, review the lenses of your reality, to see if you can interpret more than one way to view it…

Perhaps in a way that makes you feel happier and at peace…

S, 🌻

About me: Stephanie Wells

I’m a Reiki Master Teacher of Usui Shiki Ryoho – the Usui System of Natural Healing. I was attuned in Levels I, II & IIIA in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. During a 6 week stay in Mararikulam North, Kerala, India I was reattuned in Levels I, II, & IIIA as well as acquiring my Level IIIB Master Teacher attunement.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Margie says:

    Dear Stephanie, Oh My Goodness, today is your birthday!
    I find it hard to believe you are 51 but if you say so, I will take your word! LOL
    It;s always such a pleasure to read in your posts and share in your life!
    You are a bright spirit shining brightly in the world.

    Today
    may you never find trouble
    all crowding and shoving
    but much peace
    all smiling and loving ~

    Happy Birthday, beautiful lady ~
    ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Eekkk!!!! Today is not my birthday! Ah, the power of the pen! You’re the second reader to wish me a happy birthday!! I was not clear in my introduction of my birthday blog! My birthday blog was written a few months back as a segue into why I am here in BC. I’ve edited it. Hopefully, it makes more sense!!!
      Thank you (again) for your birthday wishes and poem!!! As always Margie, you’re kindness and poetic talent fill me with joy!!!! ❤️❤️❤️ And perhaps we can giggle a bit at my mistake!!! 🤪🤪🤪

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Margie says:

        Oh gosh, I now remember your birthday was in April.
        But who says you can’t celebrate all over as you have reason to celebrate the amazing and joyful Stephanie that you are! 🙂
        I am giggling ! hahahaha!
        Don’t miss Michael too much, you will be back together soon!
        ❤ ❤ ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re so wonderful, Margie!!!!!! ❤️❤️❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Margie says:

        Thank you darlin’ you are too! ❤ ❤ ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Margie says:

    Oh, I forgot to tell you, I so love the photos! 🙂
    They made me smile! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s good, considering my false birthday declaration!! 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Margie says:

        LoL
        ❤ ❤ ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  3. bionicOldGuy says:

    I had read about the default programming for negativity as a survival instinct, but also that we can reprogram that.
    I like calling this a “spiritual sabbatical”. And the Finding Meaning tips.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey!!! Thank you for you feedback! 🌻🌻I’m really enjoying listening to the audiobook, “Before Happiness” by Shawn Achor. He gives researched based strategies (like the Finding Meaning Tips!!) to reprogram our negative survival instinct, just like you mention, to a more positive, reality based instinct! I am soaking it all in to be able to apply the skills not only in my personal life, but to promote positive social scripts in the workplace (I work in education!) and help increase my focus on the positive meaning of my work, to enrich job satisfaction.

      Like

    2. What books are you reading now? How is your meditation practice going? I’m horrible at it! I listen to the “Daily Calm” meditation on Calm as I settle in to sleep. It’s the only way I can sit still for meditation, by laying down for sleep!! 🤣🤣🤣

      Like

  4. KJ Smith says:

    I love those 5 daily practices for discovering happiness. #1 is a big one for me. In fact, 3 years ago, I challenged myself to find and share a reason to SMILE each day. If you visit my blog, you’ll see them everywhere! Some are meaningful, some are very personal, some are silly and some may seem insignificant. But I believe even the smallest thing that makes someone SMILE – a greeting, holding open a door, a short text message – can make a huge difference. And when we focus on gratitude and sharing that with others, you can’t help but find happiness. Wonderful post!!

    Like

    1. Thank you KJ! I will check out your blog!! It’s true…how spreading kindness, a smile…..makes a huge difference!!! Thank you for reaching out and connecting with me!!! I’m so happy to meet you!! 🌻🌻🌻

      Liked by 1 person

      1. KJ Smith says:

        Happy to meet you, too! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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