• Dana Halle

A Soft Start Towards Stillness

2020 has been dramatically different from anything we could have envisioned. Despite all of the difficulties Covid-19 brought, many of us found a small silver lining in the forced reduction of "out of the house" obligations.


Ironically, that type of stillness (however attained) was something I was missing in 2019 when I wrote this piece. I thought I'd share it now. I wrote it after my mom had a major stroke and my sister was diagnosed with Stage 4 Follicular Lymphoma. I was trying to juggle far too many responsibilities and desperately wanted to find some stillness in the midst of the chaos. The prompt was use an aspect of your life that you wanted to change and to write a letter to yourself about it as if it was from your favorite spiritual or philosophical teacher.


After reading my piece, you might wonder why I decided that taking a run would be my soft start. I have always found peace in movement and, in particular, while running. If you are a runner, I'll bet you understand.

Dear Dana,

I am so proud of you! You did it! You made it through the firestorm that 2019 delivered. You made it through six months of living in the “unknown” with heavy and unexpected burdens. Not only did you make it through, you excelled.

But I knew you would. You thrive on chaos. Chaos simply adds items to your already carefully crafted skill set in the “Art of Keeping Busy.” The big question is “what comes next?” I have a challenge for you. Are you ready?

In the second half of 2019, I challenge you to find stillness.


You’re probably already thinking “that will be easy.” But will it? Right now, I’d venture to guess that you are already googling “stillness,” while ordering Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, downloading 10% Happier (the meditation app for fidgety skeptics), writing “find stillness” in your Mel Robbins 5 Second Rule Journal under “Today’s Top Project,” and thinking about whether you can fit “stillness” into your day between your Peloton Team Ride at 10:00am and your online teaching session at 1:00pm.

STOP.

Stop making plans to attack “stillness.” Instead, I have an assignment for you that is due immediately. I want you to take a run around the Back Bay. When you return home, you can finish reading my letter, but not before. This assignment will be pass/fail, but to pass, you must follow each of my instructions:

1. Close your computer. 2. Place your iPhone on its charger (you do not need it). 3. Put on your running clothes and shoes. 4. Give the dogs a treat (they are not invited). 5. While running, focus your thoughts on what you can see, smell, and hear. 6. Now, go take your run!

I asked you to finish reading this letter AFTER your run. I will wait.

GO!

NOW!

Did you do it? Yes?!! Fantastic. You passed! What a great start. I have a few follow up questions!

· How did it feel to be running without music? · Did you see many people? · How would you describe the Back Bay’s beautiful super bloom? · Could you smell the beach? · Was it warm?

· What did you hear?

· Did you sweat? · How did your body feel during the run? · How do you feel now?

I know that your mind and body are hard-wired for motion. That is great, but you also need to find stillness. Since you have such a difficult time sitting still, I thought running would give you a soft start.

During the next three months, try to take more nature runs or hikes or walks. If you must, try that meditation app, but don’t go crazy with it.

Let’s plan to meet at the beach (44th Street Tower) for a three-month check-in. I will bring snacks and you can bring a bottle of wine (whatever you have on hand). At that time, we can talk about the next steps for you in finding stillness. You can do this!

Until Then, Yours in Stillness, Me

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© 2020 by Dana Halle. All Rights Reserved.

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