September 12 th


Invitation to Stillness


Recently I have been immersed in creative flow. I have been engaged in rich conversations. And I have been consuming a vast amount of information relevant to my work as a coach, consultant, Enneagram teacher, writer, entrepreneur and small business owner.

Ideas are coming fast. My mind is abuzz. And my body seems poised for action every waking minute. So much is gestating that I wake up and feel like I have been working even while I dream.

I have a morning pages practice where I write stream-of-consciousness for three pages every morning. This is typically a time to empty and clear. Usually it’s full of feelings seeking expression and random nonsense. It’s about clearing, not about performing. That’s what I love about this practice. But somewhere along the way my pages have turned into design sessions. It seems that even the parts of my life designed for quiet time have become infused with activity. 

Can you relate?

What I know about the creative process is that stillness is essential. Stillness means quieting the mind. It means refraining from “doing” for awhile in favor of “being.” It might look like inactivity. And if your strengths are achievement-oriented like mine (see 3-part series on strengths and take assessments here), it can be hard to slow down.

How do you invite stillness into your life? Sleep and morning pages are two ways to create some stillness. When these are not working, it may mean other areas of life need attention.  Here are 5 ideas.

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1.  BREATHE. Consciously. Never underestimate the power of a slow, deep, mindful breath. When I feel like I am spinning, I take a few minutes to breathe consciously.  Even 30 seconds helps.

I take a slow breath in through my nose and let the air out slowly through my mouth. I notice my body. Stiff areas like my neck and shoulders soften.  When I am busy or stressed, my breathing is shallow and stops at my throat. When I am relaxed and conscious, I breathe all the way into my belly. A few belly breaths allow my whole body to relax. My brain shuts off and I feel a few moments of stillness. Practice it now.

2. STRETCH. I notice the areas of my body that seem tight or constricted and move them. I roll my shoulders back and forth. I roll my neck clockwise and counterclockwise. I wiggle my toes. I point and flex my feet. I roll my ankles. I stretch my hands and wrists. If my environment allows, I can also do more full body stretching on my exercise ball or on the floor. But even a few of these practices done throughout the day will allow oxygen to circulate and create pockets of stillness. What can you stretch right now as you read this?

3. WALK. I have what sometimes seems like a superhuman ability to sit and focus for long periods. Thich Nhat Hanh introduced me to walking meditation. Walking while noticing the breath, the body, and nature is another way to be alive in the body and be present to what is.  Walking without my iPod, I focus on my breath. I feel the wind against my body. I watch the leaves falling from the trees. I notice my thoughts and let them go. Mindful walking moves the body and stills the mind. When will you take your next mindful walk?

4.  EAT. Mindfully. I have a tendency to over-schedule myself and to become so engrossed in what I am doing that I can forget to eat. Others may be challenged by overeating or not eating foods that support a healthy and vibrant life.

Whatever your particular challenge, mindful eating is another way to still the mind. Jon Kabat-Zinn popularized this practice with his raisin exercise. The idea is to s-l-o-w  w-a-y  d-o-w-n. Anticipate eating before doing so. Notice what happens in your mouth as you imagine this. Then put a morsel of food on your tongue and let it sit there. Notice it. Then begin chewing slowly. Notice. And then swallow. All the while noticing the sensations in your mouth and body.

Remembering to eat, consciously choosing what to eat, and eating mindfully are all ways to invite stillness.

5. SMILE. A lot. Smile genuinely. In the west, a smile is typically something we do to acknowledge the presence of another human being. In the east, meditators smile while meditating alone. A smile is a form of stretching that opens the heart almost automatically. Try it. Can you smile without relaxing?

Smile at yourself in the mirror. Feel it in your heart. Smile when you’re in meetings. Smile on the phone. Smile as you type. Smile while driving. If you’re active in social media, every time you click “Like” or “+1” smile as you click. Notice your smile. Feel it in your heart. In those brief moments, there is stillness.

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We live in a fast-paced and crazy busy world. We are inundated with information. If you are ambitious and passionate about service, chances are good that you also need to make space for stillness.

These are just a few quick practices that we can easily integrate into a busy day.

I would love to know what YOU do to create stillness? What quick practices (30 seconds – 10 minutes) would you add to this list? What more extensive activities (e.g., yoga, sitting meditation, singing, chanting, dance, drumming, retreats . . . ) would you suggest?

Take action now. Click “like” if you like this post (and smile while doing it!). Share itTweet itPlus One it. And leave a comment below.




  1. Sue Ann says:

    Wow, so many cool buttons to push! What does “plus one it” mean? I love that.

    But more than the buttons, I loved reading about the nourishing aspects of being still and choosing mindfulness over multi-tasking, breath over mind chatter.

    Much as I love the idea of emptying my mind into morning minutes, I’ve never been able to stay with that practice for long. Perhaps I’ll try it again. I like the idea of adding a quieter ritual to my morning.

    Thank you for inspiring me. 😉

    • Thanks Sue Ann. Plus One is the +1 icon above (at the end of the post). It is the Google+ version of a Facebook “Like”. And you can click it even if you don’t have a Google+ account. 🙂

      The beauty of stillness practices is that different practices will resonate with different people. There are so many ways to invite stillness in. It’s just great to notice what slows you down. Morning pages usually help me but lately I need additional practices.

      Your work with conscious eating and honoring body wisdom springs from stillness. I love that. To discern when I am full, what I crave, what satiates me, and to keep the rhythm around eating requires a quiet mind. When my mind is still I can listen to my body. Thanks for your inspiration!

  2. Terry Jordan says:


    I love your invitation to stillness. During my morning pages I got distracted by hunger, of all things, went to make breakfast and got distracted by e-mail, which I had just vowed not to open until I had finished those three pages.

    While on the computer, my dog started nudging me and I remembered that we had not gone for our walk, yet. (Nothing like a yellow lab to encourage me outside every day.) Well, I closed the laptop, sat down and ate breakfast while reading the comics and trying to be aware of “every luscious bite,” which is not exactly easy or even recommended by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

    I went for a lovely walk in the woods with Ozzie and came back to finish my pages. Tomorrow, my rhythm will be much better and somehow within all the distractions, I remembered to find a few moments to be still. Reading your post was a wonderful reminder, especially the deep breathing and smiling.

    I am so glad to visit your website and to be in the same Inner Circle with you.

    • Terry, welcome! Thanks so much for visiting and commenting. I smiled as I read your story. I can so relate to starting one activity and then getting distracted by something else. What’s amazing is that awareness is the first step! So congratulations on noticing the activity and the rhythm. And congratulations on being gentle with yourself. Isn’t it amazing that something as simple as conscious breathing and conscious smiling can create pockets of stillness? I am all about small steps. 🙂

      So glad we’re in the Inner Circle together. Lots to learn, play with and integrate! 🙂

  3. Marissa says:

    Fabulous post, Laurie, but most of all I love the title. It’s evoking a a deep, almost visceral pull in me that feels very powerful. Well done!

    • Marissa, thanks so much for visiting and for the feedback. I am still a relatively new blogger and finding my way with content and titles. I appreciate hearing that this title was powerful for you! Hope some of these ideas support your invitation to stillness. 😉

  4. Kathleen says:

    Like Marissa, I too LOVE the title… particularly with the image. Wow! that IS stillness… at the same time I can feel a tension in that drop. Its not going to last there forever! haha!

    sighhhhhhhhhh…. breath… thank you for that. Yes, good one to remember. For me.. it is a run in my canyon. I live on the edge of the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles… millions of people packed in… and I am on the border next to this canyon = wilderness. Never been in a city like LA which has more people than any place I have lived except perhaps New York… yet there is wilderness everywhere! So I go for a run in my canyon.. walk/run. And just as you describe… I feel the earth beneath my feet… I feel the breeze on my face… the sounds of the crickets and the birds, the owls and frogs recalibrate my brain waves! back into the alpha wave. oooooooo I love that! and when the wind blows the sound of the tree tops whoooooooshhhh! tonight, I went at 7:30 and the orange moon was rising on my return… peeking through the cracks of the clouds.

    So I don’t know about that as qualifying as stillness. But what I DO know is that it is so nourishing for me on all levels… and the frustrations and challenges I am dealing with in my work melt away and I know nothing but that living moment in my canyon.

    Other practices for me are authentic movement (which I woudl LOVE to share with you!) painting from the source… and yes, the morning pages… which perhaps I need to pick again. I was dedicated to them for years and continue in cycles. Perhaps it would serve. I think I will try it in the moment.

    Had to take a break from my break and peek in at what you have written! its really lovely, Laurie! Enjoy very much the symbols you inserted. Very fun and pleasing for me. It sounds like things have shifted for you. I know this place you are talking about being in. It sounds like you are really working to weave consciousness in to your work through these practices. I really need to do more. Thank you for the reminder.

    • Kathleen, I am honored that you peeked out from your digital sabbatical to check in with me! So glad the title and image at the top spoke to you and that the images in the body were fun. I really appreciate the feedback. 🙂

      It sounds like you live in the space between opposing poles … city and canyon … and that get to reap the benefits of both. Love your description of your run through the canyon and all that you are aware of as you experience it. While it might seem like an oxymoron, the mindful running that you describe can surely facilitate stillness. To me, stillness is another word for presence. And it is SO nourishing.

      Authentic movement and painting from the source sound heavenly. These are new to me and I would love to learn more. I have a love/hate relationship with my morning pages but the truth is I am a lot more grounded when I do them.

      Thanks for noticing that my energy seems to be shifting. And yes, conscious awareness is very much a part of my work — externally with clients and internally within myself. They say that “we teach what we most need to learn” and so the learning and integration continues!

      Something I love about blogging is that I can show up authentically and share whatever energy I am feeling at the time that I sit down to write. I love how dynamic it is and I trust the process. At another time in my life I would have strategized methodically. Now I collect bits and pieces of inspiration and then trust what comes. There is something very freeing about this. As always Kathleen, I am so touched by your generous spirit. I learn something new from your every comment. I so look forward to the birth of your blog. xoxo

  5. Sheila says:

    Laurie, I LOVE this post. We have a lot of similarities ~ I always remind myself to come back to breath when I am feeling stressed and I focus on breathing through my heart. I am also in the midst of facilitating an Artist’s Way group so of course, we are all doing our 3 pages of Morning Pages each day – I love the practice and brain dump and use it often if I am having difficulty sleeping. And I love a good walking meditation in order to connect with nature and the divine. I even led a Goddess Gathering where a large group of us walked through a park without speaking – we certainly caught people’s attention, it is not often that women are together and not speaking. Ha. My favorite form of stretching is yoga, but you remind me that just a few simple stretches could be a lifesaver between yoga classes. And last but not least, smiling while driving – check out my video on my home page at to see my take on just that! Love to you and all the beauty and thoughtfulness you bring to this world, Laurie!!

    • Shelia, I love The Artist’s Way and am not surprised that you already practice all of these ideas and then some! The walk through the park in silence sounds powerful. You are doing some juicy work and I am looking forward to more! I am moved by all the joy and consciousness you bring to the world. This goddess is grateful to be connected to The Grateful Goddess that YOU are! xoxo 😉

  6. Ashley says:


    You’re right — stillness is SO important. I’ve also felt like I’ve been plotting and idea scheming in my sleep! Then, I think, “Isn’t this what it’s supposed to be like? The don’t eat, don’t sleep, work 24-7 entrepreneur who will work herself into the ground to make her dreams come true… Isn’t that doing whatever it takes?”

    Something I’ve been working on this month is honoring where I am right now. If things start to feel really tough, and like I have to push for the ideas to come, it means I need stillness. I remind myself that tomorrow will be here for me to knock x, y and z off the to-do list.

    BUT, it’s hard! One thing I like the idea of is putting little reminders to slow down in your work space. Whether it’s a beautiful sign, an inspiring quote or if possible, a change of scenery that involves a little bit of nature.

    And I can totally relate to the getting so busy, you just forget to eat thing! I’ve been really weird about that in the past too. If I’m low on groceries and the only option for quick food is fast food, I’ll choose to work and eat nothing instead of going to the store or eating fast food. I’ve been getting better about that by keeping almonds and other little snacks around.

    On a side note, I love reading your blogs Laurie! Keep writing =)

    • Ashley, I can relate to so much of what you write! The entrepreneurial lifestyle is unique. And it is so easy for dedicated, ambitious types to work themselves into the ground. Ideas spin about and there is so much to do. Two years in, I will admit that I am still seeking balance and finding my rhythm. I do know that stillness is essential.

      I love that you have taken this month to honor where you are right now. What a gift!

      And you make a great point that when things feel tough or when we are pushing for ideas to come, it’s time to slow down. For me, sometimes it means the idea just isn’t ready yet. And that’s okay too. 🙂

      Great idea about little reminders in your workspace! I have a little card from my meditation center of a blue sky with a white cloud and the word “Breathe” on top. It is framed and sits next to my computer. It’s one way I try to remember to slow down. As for remembering to eat, perhaps I need a photo of food to remind me as well! And having some almonds around is a great idea.

      It means a lot that you enjoy reading my blog. Thanks so much for the feedback and the encouragement! xoxo

  7. Ellen says:

    Thanks SO much Laurie – great reminders and great tools. For me, the biggest factor in my day is eating a healthy lunch between 12-1- no matter what. Some days it’s super hard, but it always serves me so well. Last night I went swing dancing for 3 hours, till midnight! And it was impossible not to feel happy and relaxed afterwards. Though that was movement, I felt calmed and an inner stillness afterwards, that’s carried over to today. Cheers!

    • Ellen, your commitment to eating a healthy lunch between 12-1 no matter what … that is a great idea. That was easier for me to manage when I worked in the corporate world. Working for myself, I find that I work through meals a lot more easily. But you have re-inspired me. I have thought about scheduling meals into my calendar. 😉

      It sounds like swing dancing, brings you lots of joy. Glad to hear it brought you a calm and inner stillness that carried on long afterward. Ironically, even movement can quiet the mind. Thanks for sharing!

  8. pat novak says:

    Meditation is key for me. it is the time I spend to withdraw from the world and connect with the deeper parts of me. It’s often just re-connecting with my feeling self and allowing my mind to quiet, so inspiration or realization has the space to occur. I call it *the pause, where we push in the clutch of daily living , disengage from our activities, and spend time in the silence. So we can return to the present and move deeper if we feel the need to. Like you and Kathleen, connecting with nature is vital. Reconnecting with the elements. Clears my head and simply renews me.

    • Yes Pat, meditation is a great way to still the mind and body. And the pause from daily living is so important. I was just on a walk with my dogs. The fresh air, the fall wind, the leaves changing color and rustling about, and watching my dogs happily sniff everything in sight as if for the very first time … what a way to connect with nature and be in the now. Thanks for reading and sharing.

  9. I’m book marking this one for my next Serenity Week! Fabulous. Only six weeks? This is one of the best blogs I’ve ever seen! So happy to make your acquaintance!

    • Kathy, so grateful to have connected with you through G+ and your blog Bliss Habits! I love what you’re doing and so grateful you popped in here to comment. Your feedback and invitation to post on your site is so encouraging! Thanks to your blog, new ideas are already percolating. 🙂

  10. I crave stillness + silence often. it’s like some magic portal for me. Conscious breathing is everything. insight meditation is essential. feeling into stillness is magical. xx

  11. Jenn Burton says:

    This is a great reminder. Stillness is where the seeds of creation take place. To fully realize the potential of action, stillness is a necessity. I personally use the meditative walk. I call it my self approval walk. I use it most when I am frustrated and focusing has become impossible. I also find stillness in gratefuls, that ability to stop for a moment and appreciate exactly what is. Hugs!

    • Jenn, love this: “stillness is where the seeds of creation take place.” Yes! And I fully agree that stillness is essential in order to take fruitful and aligned action. Your “self approval walk” is a great idea. And gratitude is a great way to practice stillness. Thanks for sharing your ideas Jenn! xoxo 🙂

  12. […] Invitation to Stillness-  By Lori Rosenfield. Five quick practices to invite stillness. My favorite: Mindful eating.  “Remembering to eat, consciously choosing what to eat, and eating mindfully are all ways to invite stillness.” […]