Where do you find calmness? It can be on an airplane, at home, on the beach, in the mountains, in a retreat, with your grandparents. Peace depends on many things, but above all, it depends on yourself. You can be in Kye Gompa and find more turbulence and noise than being in the middle of the Tsukiji market, why? Your mind is the answer. On the other hand, you can be in a noisy and frequented place and instead, enjoy the same calmness of a retreat, how to achieve that? In the stillness of your mind, you will find the answer.
Stillness means not being in a hurry, not doing something for a moment and jumping into something else. Don’t check your email, and do not think about what you will say when you finish saying what you are saying. For me, the last part is the key. Do not think about what comes next.
Look inside yourself for a moment. Only a moment. How much time do you stop a day to stay still? When do you practice the stillness of body and mind? Are you on the move all day? What happens if you stop to contemplate every day? Have you done it for even 5 minutes? What happens if you lengthen that space of time dedicated to stillness?
What the Total Stillness experiment consists of
I started a new experiment, one hour a day for 20 days without moving. Without doing anything, without even meditating. It was for an hour being. Still, one day was with eyes opened, others with eyes closed. One day maybe sitting, another may be standing. What I did was embracing the stillness for an hour, Adhiṭṭhāna-style (resolute determination – one of the ten perfections of Buddhism). That was, without moving a muscle, I breathe (obviously), blink, and swallow, nothing else.
Objectives to remaining still
The act of remaining still will not exclude the time I spend meditating each day, 32 minutes in the morning when I wake up and another 32 before going to sleep. This exercise will be an extra where I will not move at all for one hour. I am very interested, and I am curious to know what can happen at that time and how that will affect my emotions, my thoughts, my mind, and my body. It is undoubtedly a high-performance experiment.
Things that I think I can discover with total stillness:
- More space between thoughts and actions/reactions.
- Mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual calm.
- A big “stop” to the pace of the day and what that entails.
- Get better inputs and therefore outputs.
- See better, listen better, understand better, work better.
- Achieve greater mental clarity and focus.
- Gain peace and perspective.
Only when you are calm, can you see, hear, and understand what matters. Inside and outside of you, because you get a sophisticated perspective to obtain in the current panorama that we live in.
As in each experiment, I will create a scorecard that follows the parameters that I consider key to analyzing in this experiment. When I finish, I will publish the final report (with video included), as I do with all the experiments.
Questions? Improvements? Something to add to improve?
In mid-February, while I was in Hong Kong, I started a new experiment called Total stillness. This experiment consisted of remaining completely still, immobile, for one hour, for 20 days in a row. In this post-report, I detail everything that has happened before, during, and after it.
Index of sections
- Reflections and impressions.
- A validated lesson
- Limitations and considerations.
1. Context of the experiment
I was doing this experiment to test the power of total stillness, how it could influence by stopping and doing nothing for an hour each day. That after meditating, the Vipassana retreats and other experiences that could add strength to the result that I obtained.
The context, once again is to add points and techniques to maximize high holistic performance. On this occasion, pronouncing more the spiritual and emotional part.
This is the dashboard, which I have worked to measure the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the Total stillness experiment.
These are the parameters used and the meaning of each of them:
- How many movements made.
- The causes of those movements.
- Duration of the practice
- Position when performing the session.
- Modality in terms of posture.
- Sounds used.
- Place where the practice was performed.
- Time of the session.
- Resulting sensations.
- Difficulties encountered
- Discomfort during the session.
In the scoreboard itself, you can see the data and statistics.
The feeling that I have right now at the end is excellent. A considerably higher mental clarity than before starting the session. I find all my being aligned, and this is powerful.
3. Reflections and impressions (video)
This video-analysis collects the highlights of each of the 20 days of total stillness and second reflections and conclusions 40 days after finishing the experiment:
4. The full stillness assumption
The hypotheses formulated before and during the Total Stillness, experiment respond to this one question: What is the relative importance of this experiment? The answer is divided into four sub-responses:
- Test the positive impact that the total stillness generates in an individual who practices it for a long time.
- The increase in consciousness and perception by remaining still. More ability to focus.
- Less physical movement, less mental movement. The same leads to a better evaluation of emotions.
- Demonstrate the healing and soothing property found in “nothing” and in stillness.
- Use the stillness of mind, body, spirit, and soul as a tool to enter a flow state.
- Differentiate the sensations and results that exist between meditating and remaining still.
- The more you practice, the more sensitive and fluid stillness you become.
- More stillness leads to more stillness, that allows you to observe, listen, and understand more inwardly than most people.
- Learn more about the interior of yourself. Find peace in your body, mind, and spirit.
- The space that is generated between thought-action-reaction grants supreme control over each of the three phases.
5. Validated learning – Total Stillness
The initial discoveries are linked to the initial objectives of total stillness of the experiment:
More amplitude between stimulus and reaction: proven. So much that what came before or what goes after are left hanging and you lose attention, focusing on the present moment.
Calm and mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual connection: proven. To stop being behind or in the future, being where you are, leads you to enter a state of notorious harmony. The worries, guilt, regrets, what you do, “I have to,” obligations and other harmful feelings disappear because you are by yourself. Then stress, sickness, sense of loss, demerit, etc., vanish.
A great daily stop: a stop that not only realigns you with yourself but finds and discovers things that were either forgotten or that had not yet surfaced.
Inputs – outputs: connected with the point above, the ability to observe and perceive is more exceptional during those 60 minutes, which allows you to take things that can be seen with a clean lens. Instead of the mind jumping from thought to thought, much more solid scrutiny takes place.
Improve your seeing, listening, understanding, working: stillness gives you the point of view to start improving because you have that space to be able to appreciate it or even realize that you are already growing. Also in this particular case, understand that you have already developed
Mental clarity and focus: as above it has been demonstrated, the focus and clarity have increased and improved. The reason, once again, to create that space of stillness.
Activity and restlessness (movements): the ratio of actions versus no changes has been less than 3%.
6. Limitations and considerations
Barriers and aspects to consider within the experiment:
The days of practicing total stillness lying on the bed may not be as active as they should be.
The sessions that carried related music (mantras, pujas, shamanic sounds, Buddhist chants, enveloping melodies, etc.) induced moments of trance.
Fatigue on two occasions has played a nullifying role during practice.
On one occasion, in the last few days, I spoke with Oscar while he remained still. Enduring an experiment like this from the outside is somewhat complicated.
There were movements, but rarely. Except for a few days due to external factors such as insects or unexpected interaction, changes were more frequent.
I have come to see hallucinations, feel abrupt temperature changes, and stop thinking to such an extent that I do not remember what had happened before or what was going to happen next.
I think that being able to share this experiment with another person has to be a very chemical experience.
What I have concluded after 20 days of practicing Total Stillness:
Stopping allows you to see everything in a way quite different from what you are used to seeing it.
Nothing is nothing; it is something; only we are not familiar with its sensation.
Being completely silent, without movement, agitation, and calm, energizes, heals and gives much more sense than the rest of activities destined to fulfill that function.
People end up surprised when you do not move for 10 minutes. After an hour, many people have appeared, even worried and hopeful. Some people felt even violent and left or rebuked.
The total quiet style you adopt will determine the difficulty of the practice for one or more hours.
An hour without moving is equivalent (by sensations) to two or three hours. The feeling that everything stops are amazing.
I have been able to have conversations with myself, moments of learning, and above all, absolute disconnection, more important than those I have had while meditating.
I have learned to live with who was my worst enemy, “to do nothing / to be still,” this has filled a gap with serenity and calmness inside of me.
The creative moments, reflections, conversations, calm, focus, and clarity that is felt at the end of the practice were worth mentioning. It is effortless to be in a state of clarity when you stop everything and only observe, listen, feel, and see — nothing else.
As a final point of the Total Stillness experiment, I would conclude that when you breathe stillness, you find yourself face to face with nothing, when you stay there, something inside and outside changes you. You see what you did not see; you understand what you did not understand, you listen to what you did not hear, you feel what you did not feel, you think what you did not believe. I believe, after the experience, that after breathing, stillness, is the key to a new dimension of being.
No doubt mastering the art of stillness is mastering the art of living.
Let’s continue experimenting.