This new lifestyle has given me a whole new concept of time.  I keep wondering now, where had it all gone before?  I seem to have more time for everything and so much less to put into the void.  Handy hubby toils alone with the raised beds, but I can’t seem to force myself to help him in this chilly weather.  I have been searching for other avenues to fill this excess time.  In the last few months I’ve started yoga even though it’s a 3 hour roundtrip; I have made church visits, accepted a volunteer committee role, committed to the local Master Gardner’s course and service, joined an online woman’s community, and am taking several online continuing education courses and workshops.

Then very recently I recalled why country living and the simple life seemed so appealing to me in the first place, and how quickly I had fallen back into familiar patterns.   At least I know I’m not alone.  It is extremely common in our culture to forget to cultivate stillness.

When we lost electricity all day Tuesday I decided to take on that challenge, and I committed to stay as much as possible for as long as possible, meaning as long as the electricity was out, in a state of mindful stillness.   The outage lasted eight hours, my stillness around one.  So I sufficed for quiet mindfulness during my numerous self-imposed tasks instead.

There was no sound but the wind and intermittent rain. No humming of fridge, fan, computer.   In the last months in the house I’ve been trying to apply my own principles of fung shui , I call it Shellfungshui, which includes deep cleaning and decluttering and organizing mostly, but also redecorating along new principles of abundance and permanence.  In this day’s stillness that suddenly became very easy.   So again to accomplish all that, I engage in busyness again, albeit relatively more mindful and purposeful.

Only because of my location and hubby’s work schedule and our lack of satellite TV am I experimenting in this atypical existence. If you could recreate your schedule and even your entire life along your own terms how would it look?  My very first authentic realization was that I really had had no idea how much time and energy my social life actually required.

In the stillness I remember how fulfilling are creative endeavors.  This could very well be some sort of mid-life deal for me– it feels spiritual, religious even.   In the past spirituality has drawn me in no further than considerate observation.  I did not grow up with ritual and/or worship, or even much of a sense of community outside family.  Because of this it’s hard even to describe how uncomfortable it all makes me, and still like the committed believers in the human potential movement, I find myself repeating phrases like, why not?  And, couldn’t hurt.  And, what the hell else have I got to do?

Many of us have lost, or never acquired, an adaptability to stillness, and still it is such an integral part of the natural world.  Most species can sit still for extraordinary periods, and our human ancestors certainly knew moments of very few diversions, and more prayer.

When I lose the grip on needing to fill the space with something, in that created space stillness opens room for spirit, and when I am in that place I understand, sometimes again, and again, what people mean when they say faith is a choice.  How often do we choose it?  For how many of our hours can we allow it to fill us?  Can we even afford to believe?  Or not to?

I thought I’d prefer the life of a quiet studious monk out here, but it seems instead I’m being pulled again toward busyness, along with all the ego effects of being or not being busy.  It’s too easy to forget how to find our own equilibrium when in our culture we allow ourselves so little freedom to do so.  So much to learn.  There’s been a large curve in learning how to prioritize time, so I helped edit a book on time management and attended a faculty workshop on the topic.   Sounds like a lot of folks could use a dose of simplified living.

I am led next to the timely latest by Joan Borysenko’s Fried: Why you burn out and how to revive. It sounded serendipitous when I heard her speak in an online event and I recognized my life and attitude before we came out to the country, and then I admitted to myself we have stayed deep in busy-ness since arriving.  I seem to have tapped into a cultural nerve here.  Adyashanti repeats it, and then tells me the answer, stillness.

It seems a lot of people are burned out, and I just realized recently that I had been among them, and could continue on with that country style also, indefinitely.  The to-do list still grows every day.  In March we will have moved here two years ago, and that’s exactly how long it’s taken me to realize I still don’t religiously cultivate stillness.

I know to some this is nothing new and to others I am way out on a limb, but in the state of Git-r-Done, in mind and being, my new commitment is learning deeply how to not do.