BookClub Blog: Stopping: How to be still when you have to keep going


Last September my brain was a tizzy with all this things I needed to accomplish through the fall. I was constantly on the move and I was making myself (and my friends) nuts. One day, I spent the morning at the local thrift store and something fell off the shelf, hit me in the head, and landed (face up) at my feet.

It was this book: Stopping How to be still when you have to keep going

I had to stop and pick it up! After reading the title, I understood. It was ok not to have to GOGOGOGO every second of the day and accomplish everything at once. It was ok to stop, sit in the sun, recharge and reconnect.

Stopping is not about inactivity. It is about being present, this moment, THIS moment, right now. When you take that step out of the fast lane, slow down, and look around,  you can see clearer with greater awareness of who you are and where you want to be. I had forgotten to take time to listen to my voice again and this book was my reminder. Remembering to be still for a moment helps ground me, regain my balance, allowing me to strongly step into my future.

Being a single mom with sole custody of a precocious 6 year keeps me hopping. Many remark to me that I must “get a lot done” when Mina is with her dad. What is your definition of productivity? Do you mean, did I clean the house from top to bottom or get all my errands done at 10 stores? My answer to that is probably going to be no. I usually take that time to sit, read, and be quiet. That is what I feel was productive use of my alone time.

Life gets too loud and noisy, moves too fast, and distracts me from who I am, inside. This book talks about 3 ways to Stop: Stillpoints, Stopovers, and Grinding Halt. A Stillpoint is short moment: a few seconds to a few minutes. A Stopover is like a mini vacation for your inner self lasting from about an hour to several days. A Grinding Halt requires a bit more planning as it quite long: a week to month.

For me, a Stopover once or twice a month when Mina is away for the weekend helps me quiet noise in my head and in the stillness I can hear my thoughts and get to know myself on a deeper level. In the end, this concept called Stopping actually helps me move in the direction more aligned with who I am at my core.

I will leave you with a poem that was included in the book:

My Life is Not This Steeply Sloping Hour

My life is not this steeply sloping hour,
in which you see me hurrying.
Much stands behind me; I stand before like it a tree;
I am only one of many mouths
and at that, the one that will be the soonest.

I am the rest between the notes,
which are somehow always in discord
because death’s note wants to climb over –
but in the dark interval reconciled,
they stay there trembling.
And the song goes on, beautiful.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Selected Poems, translation Robert Bly, Harper Row, 1981.

My friend, be the “rest between two notes,” take a moment to stop and make space for yourself within the chaos.


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