5 Benefits of Practicing Stillness

By Mia Barnes for Yoga Medicine.

You might have heard people say that “sitting is the new smoking.” How is it, then, that stillness can be one of the best things to benefit your health?

Life is all about balance, juggling physical activity with quiet time for introspection. Unfortunately, you might be one of many who strive to fill every waking moment with distraction, reaching for your phone or the remote each time you hear the sound of silence. Despite your many “toys,” you may still feel empty.

There are mental, physical and spiritual health perks to quiet practices like meditation and yin yoga. Here are five benefits of practicing stillness.

1. You Tune Into Your Physical Self

You’ve probably heard people advise you to listen to your body — but how often do you take the time to tune into your physical self. Performing a quick body scan meditation can bring awareness of minor discomforts that could otherwise affect your mood and behavior without you recognizing it.

Who hasn’t snapped at a loved one when they felt sick or had a headache? However, it’s not fair to mistreat others because you’re in pain, and practicing stillness can remind you to appreciate your support system.

Practicing stillness helps you address minor physical matters before they become big problems. For example, you might notice discomfort when sitting in certain postures that tell you an arthritis flare may be sneaking up on you.

Recognizing this reality can help you take proactive steps to prevent the worst of the pain’s ravages, increasing the number of anti inflammatory foods in your diet and cutting back on your workload to decrease stress.

2. You Ease Mental Health Symptoms

Practicing stillness can also ease symptoms of mental health disorders. Breathing deeply activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which tells you to relax. Sitting quietly and focusing on your inhales and exhales says to your body, “It’s OK to let your defenses down. You are safe.”

Practicing stillness allows time for you to nonjudgmentally observe your thoughts. Once you recognize maladaptive ideas that don’t serve you, you can cognitively reframe them to improve your outlook and emotional well-being.

For example, you might notice that you often put yourself down internally — counter this by listing your good qualities. Remind yourself that nobody is perfect, and what matters most is the effort you put into learning, growing and becoming better each day.

3. You Learn to Appreciate the Present

Part of positive mental health entails avoiding ruminations on a past you can’t change. Doing so only encourages depression. Likewise, spending hours worrying about an unpredictable future can spur anxiety.

Practicing stillness enables you to remain in and appreciate the present moment. When you come to your meditation cushion, focus on the gratitude you feel for the time to dedicate to introspection and personal growth. Reflect on your many blessings — what is good in the here and now? After all, you are alive to see all the beauty in the world. You have lungs to breathe and a heart to feel.

4. You Cultivate Empathy

Practicing stillness helps you recognize your connectedness to all living things. As you discover deeper insights into yourself, you acknowledge that other sentient creatures share these experiences, too, and you marvel at how they survive, adapt and overcome. Once you recognize that you have more in common with other people and animals than the differences that separate you, you want to wish them well.

Empathy is a vital skill that’s highly valued but rarely seen in today’s world. Although many people consider it an innate trait, the truth is that you can learn it — the Danish even teach it in schools.

Reflecting on others’ experiences can do more than make you feel connected to others. It can help create a better world. Only when people listen to each other’s truths and realities can society address the problems that keep many in despair. Love and a genuine desire to ease suffering, not only for the self but all humanity, can work wonders.

5. You Discover Spiritual Truths

There’s a good reason that practicing stillness is an integral part of many religions. Those who kneel in silent prayer embrace meditation as much as a yogi tied up in lotus pose.

Stillness is the best teacher there is. The quiet and solitude allow truth to arise from deep within, replacing racing, irrational thoughts like muddy pond waters clearing in the calm after a storm. The silence provides space for your inner wisdom to speak.

Put It in Practice

Each day this week, dedicate five minutes per day to sitting in silent meditation. Don’t come to the practice with any expectations — simply observe. At the end of the week, journal about your experience. What did you learn?

Benefits of Stillness

Why should you adopt quiet practices like yin yoga and meditation? The stillness you’ll find within holds perks for your mental, physical and spiritual health.

Reflect on these benefits of stillness before you begin your next practice session. You’ll ease any guilt about taking time for yourself and feel good about letting your inner wisdom grow and thrive in silence.


About the Author

Mia Barnes is a health and wellness freelance writer with a passion for covering topics related to yoga, meditation and mindfulness. Mia is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine. Follow Mia and Body+Mind on Twitter and LinkedIn!

Leave a Reply

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.