In today’s world of social media, it’s often hard for me to find stillness. There is this huge demand to stay connected. Even before I felt the pressure of social media, I struggled with finding serenity. It was one of the things that appealed to me about sailing. Being able to quiet my mind and find peace in the midst of the mental storm was something I craved desperately. The solitude of being on the ocean with nothing but the flap of the canvas as the wind moved the sails seemed to be the answer.
While there is busyness in the work of sailing, I find it brings me to a place internally where I am able to recenter. Once the auto pilot is set, I try to find a comfortable spot to just sit and breathe in all that is around me. I take a deep breath, filling my lungs with the salty sea air. I listen to the lap of the waves as they slap the hull and the cries of gulls circling overhead wishing I were a shrimp boat. I push the anxious thoughts that continually plague me and instead take note of the way the canvas flutters and the direction of the tell-tales on the sail as we glide across the water. It never ceases to amaze me how still the Bay here can be, almost like sailing on a lake. As I take in my surroundings, I again quiet my mind from intruding thoughts, and then do absolutely nothing. That’s right nothing. The age old wisdom from the Psalms says “Be still and know that I am God.” Sometimes I have to remind myself that He is God and I am not. I am not in control of the wind or the waves, He is. Practicing stillness isn’t trying to problem solve or even pray. It’s literally making everything in my life silent. Not an easy task for this over thinker.
There are several reasons I practice stillness at least 15 minutes everyday. I use this time to reconnect to my true self. It’s easy to get caught up in the image that I present to the world, but I want to live from the inside out. I want to be able to love the person I am today in this moment. I am extremely hard on myself so taking this time to just let all of that go and just “be” is essential. My favorite place to practice stillness is on my boat, whether it be at sea or docked. I can just as easily apply this practice to my morning cup of coffee while I sit topside as I can at sail. I first set aside a time each day for what I like to call my “quiet time.” Stillness isn’t necessarily prayer, but it can be an act of worship. I relax my body, become aware of my breath, and quiet my mind. This has so far been the hardest part for me. My mind runs 1000mph, with flurries of thoughts popping up everywhere. I try to use non-judgmental observation, or mindfulness, to help keep the thoughts at bay. When I first began practicing stillness, I found this was often when the negative thoughts and voices in my head were the loudest. They would remind me what a failure I was, or how everything that had happened in my marriage was my fault. They would point out all the moments in time when I had really screwed up and let everyone down. As I learned to push those thoughts aside and focus on the present, my surroundings, it got a little bit easier. I am learning to be present. I watch the clouds or birds as they pass by. I smell the ocean, the way the teak oil smells on the boat. I feel the wind on my face and listen to the water. Sometimes I close my eyes and visualize a place I’ve been that gave me peace, recalling intricate details. I like to close out my quiet time with prayer, but sometimes just say out loud positive affirmations. I remind myself that I am loved. I am worth loving. I am healthy. I am a loving mother. I am a loving and nurturing daughter. I am a kind and caring sister. I give and receive love freely.
This practice has definitely helped me move towards healing. I hope you are able to incorporate this into your day and learn to live in today.
Much love everyone! Fair winds and Following Seas!