You grow, learn, and find meaning, ordinary wisdom, and stillness through stillness practice and through your lifestory. However, the restorying journey does not involve simply choosing a better story to replace the old one. Also, new meaning does not come from forcing yourself to think positively about a troublesome situation. In fact, I agree with the statement that positive thinking can become a prison.
Your life as a story is made up of thoughts, emotions, and actions or behaviour—that is, how you think, feel, and act. It may be possible to change your thoughts about something, and there are techniques to help you try this approach.
Yes, positive thinking is one of these techniques. However, the effort it takes to maintain this attitude may become exhausting, as with such challenges as chronic pain, for example, or an addiction. The problem is that you are still attempting to control or fix the problem, as your thinking mind scrambles around to find a positive solution. In addition to this, it is a prison in the sense that you are either a winner or a loser, depending on how successful you are in keeping up the program. In contrast to this, a stillness approach, such as restorying, suggests that you first get out of your thinking mind, step back, and try to see the larger picture.
In this way, instead of fighting or denying the particular change that has occurred in your life, you make room in your present story for the change that has occurred, or that you want to occur. It is about finding new meaning in your whole story, not just attempting to fix the broken part.
During this season emotions become more intense for many of us—joy, love, happiness—but also anxiety, sadness, loneliness. I know I can experience some of both the highs and lows in the same season. It may be helpful to allow and accept these emotions as they come and go. One way to do this is to find a stillness practice or refuge as I call them in my book. Whether it is a relax-into-stillness Tai Chi movement, meditation, prayer, coffee in a quiet café—alone or with a friend— this stillness practice can bring you to a place of peace beyond the turbulence. It can also bring more stillness and presence to the positive part of the season.
Thank you to Chapters in Fredericton. I had a great book-signing event on Saturday. There was a steady group of shoppers who visited my table and shared some soul-talk about “Pathways to Stillness”. I particularly enjoyed the conversation with folks from The Netherlands, my favorite European country, and the chats with friends from St.Andrews, who were shopping in the big city for the day. A big thank you to my wife Liz, for being there and helping with the setup— and to my very good friend Geoff Slater, for taking the photos. I like to think that lingering over a book on stillness in the shopping mall might help to bring some balance to an otherwise hectic season.
The Daily Gleaner, October 2016
Gary Irwin-Kenyon finds solitude in waking up early and taking a bike ride with his wife down to the ocean in their hometown of St. Andrews, where they sip coffee, nibble on breakfast sandwiches and savour in the sounds of the water.
“It’s how we can find peace or meaning in our lives in the midst of a pretty crazy world,” said Irwin-Kenyon.
In his book he writes about the importance of finding stillness in the middle of a busy schedule, a passion he’s had for quite some time.
“For a long time I’ve always wanted to write a book that just spoke to people more directly,” he said. “I feel like I have something to say about how we can approach our lives to find more peacefulness.”
In his book, the St. Andrews author offers a collection of stories from people discovering stillness through different activities such as painting, exercise, hiking in nature, talking with friends so they relax into stillness or simply enjoying a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop.
He said people often get caught in their everyday lives and forget to make time to recharge.
“In our culture we tend to think we can fix everything and control things, find an expert to give you the answer to something,” he said. “We tend to forget there is such a thing as an experience of quiet and stillness in the centre of our own life story. We tend not to pay attention to that because we’re too busy.”
“Dr. Irwin-Kenyon is not just an expert in his field, but is also a wise communicator. His professional experience and writing talent have combined to create a guide that is useful and relevant to regular people in their everyday lives. So many of us often feel overwhelmed and anxious,” said Christian Jensen of FriesenPress, Irwin-Kenyon’s book publishing company in Victoria, B.C.
“Dr. Irwin-Kenyon’s book offers a clear path to restorative stillness.”
Tai Chi philosophy tells us that human life itself is yang energy, meaning that it is a stressor. Tai Chi is yin energy because it attempts to balance that stressor by receiving, accepting, and neutralizing. Tai Chi involves a giving in, but by no means does it involve a giving up. It is not resignation but acceptance, which means that you attempt to follow the situation until it can be brought to a balanced or healthy conclusion. You are asked to blend with the oncoming force, meet it, follow it and, eventually, direct it. You try to not interfere with the momentum of the force, whether physical or emotional. In other words, do not push the river. I continue to learn and practice this pathway to stillness with Sifu Martin Kennedy at Wu’s Tai Chi Chuan Academy in Fredericton New Brunswick.
Pathways to Stillness Blog
My Blog is about how you can discover your own Pathways to Stillness, and why that is so valuable to your life. We will explore what it means to lose and regain our sense of “our story” in the midst and aftermath of loss—negative beliefs about aging and how we can make them more positive, and the many benefits reaped by creating a refuge of stillness within.