If you know you need to create more space for peace and balance in your life, if you’re stressed, overbooked, overworked, anxious, hurried, and harried – the simple practice of Stopping is for you.
And even if you’re not so stressed, Stopping can give you a simple system of improving the balance of your life. Stopping is doing nothing, as much as possible, for a definite period of time– whether a moment or a month – for the purpose of becoming awake and remembering who you are and what you want.
Stopping is nothing new, and it’s nothing at all like a quick fix or magic cure. It’s based on a logical human process as well as on the teachings of literally all major spiritual traditions; the briefest research into any one of them will reveal rich material on the practice of Stopping, but with other names (for example, meditation, contemplation, retreat, mysticism, inner life, soul work, spirituality, etc). Thus Stopping fits with any spiritual or religious tradition, or with none, and is designed specifically with the needs and propensities of the contemporary Western mind and lifestyles.
Here’s a closer look at the definition:
Doing Nothing: spending time with nothing specifically to do. Just how do you do nothing? What do you “do” during these times? Again, nothing. Just hang out, breathe, walk, sit, mess around, pace, gaze out the window, wander down the lane, observe, notice, daydream, take a break, slowly drink a glass of water, be still, practice smiling, stretch…. The list is limitless.
As much as possible: Probably it’s not literally possible to do absolutely nothing, but we want to get as close to that as possible. More than anything, one should have a feeling of freedom, a feeling of having no pressing needs (even though there are often pressing needs), as complete a state of relaxation as is possible right now. No need to be absolute about this.
For a definite period of time: Whether a moment or a month. The stopping time can be from a few seconds to a few hours. These are Stillpoints. It can be a few hours or an afternoon, called Stopovers. It can even be a longer time, a whole day, a weekend, few weeks, or a month or more, which are Grinding Halts.
For the purpose of becoming awake and remembering who you are and what you want: This is the ultimate purpose and motive for Stopping – to make sure that we remain as awake and aware of what is going on in our lives as we possibly can, and not allow the considerable and strong distractions of the culture to blind us; to keep in mind – remember – what our ideals and goals and standards are and not allow them to be gradually and imperceptibly devoured and distorted.
Here are some of the benefits of Stopping. It works – it does what it promises to do. It is totally simple – you probably already do it in some form or another; now make it intentional and regular. It is easy: you just do nothing in whatever way you can at the moment. It’s enjoyable: this is a time of rest, renewal, with no agenda. No new equipment is needed. It accommodates all religions and spiritual systems – or none. You don’t have to join anything. And it costs nothing. I guarantee that a day punctuated with little moments-of-doing-nothing (Stillpoints) will bring you to its end more refreshed and centered than you might expect. And a whole afternoon of doing nothing (Stopover) could become the cornerstone of your week. And if you get to the point of spending an extended time in quiet retreat (Grinding Halt) you’ve already realized the benefits of Stopping. Stopping will keep your life, your life.