How to “Be Still” Today

Sep 10, 2019 | 10 comments

As long as I kept moving, my grief streamed out behind me like a swimmer’s long hair in water. I knew the weight was there but it didn’t touch me. Only when I stopped did the slick, dark stuff of it come float in around my face, catching my arms and throat till I began to drown. So I just didn’t stop.” (Emphasis mine.)

These words, from Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, are spoken by Orleanna after the death of her youngest, Ruth May.

My mother tells the story of me rolling from one side of my crib to the other on my fifth day of life. To say that stillness comes naturally to me is to say that I enjoy holding my breath and seeing how well I do without oxygen.

Most of us are from cultures that value movement. And movement is not bad! To this day, I love moving and doing. But I learned how much I need to practice stillness in my life when I went rafting with friends. Having completed the paperwork and gotten the gear ready, I went to the bathroom.

Standing in line, waiting my turn, a wave of grief snuck up. I grew up rafting with my family and my deceased dad loved rafting. I honestly wasn’t thinking about him or family memories, I was having fun with friends. But like Orelanna, it was only when I stopped that I could hear and notice something the Holy Spirit had for me.

If you are like me, stillness, silence, and solitude will feel a bit ridiculous at first. And unnatural and eternal.

I can produce like a workhorse. If you need something done, I am your person. But withdraw and sit alone for five minutes? Agony. Be quiet without any background noise or multitasking? (Isn’t that why God made podcasts?) Boring. Stop moving without reading or scrolling through my phone? I start jonesing like the distraction addict I am.

Today, instead of merely talking about stillness, you are going to practice it. I found an eight minute nature video on Youtube for us to practice being still.

Play it on full screen without doing anything else. (One short warning, the video does abruptly end after 8:45 and goes on to another nature video.)

Sit by this stream, and be still.

Practice Stillness

If you don’t see the video, you can watch it here.

In preparation for this post, I sat in stillness with God, this beautiful video, and allowed the Holy Spirit to “float around my face” like my hair in water.

I’ll be honest, it was awkward and harder than it “should” be—it is only eight minutes for heaven’s sake! But that is why we have Soul Tending Tuesdays. To create space for us to tend our souls in ways that allow God to speak.

How was it? I’ll share my experience in the comments and I’d love to hear yours.

Photo by Art of Hoping on Unsplash

Amy Young

Life enthusiast. Author. Sports lover. Jesus follower. Supporting cross-cultural work.




  1. Amy Young

    Sitting watching this stream and the leaves as I listened to the birds, I was no entirely surprised how often my mind drifted to what I need to do. But God gently kept inviting me to just be at the side of this stream with him. Closing my eyes helped me to just listen to the birds and the leaves to listen to God. In the midst of it, the eight minutes felt long, but when it was over, it felt short. How was your experience?

  2. Hadassah Doss

    I also found it difficult it to think about this or that while I listened. But, because this is a practice I want to get better at, I will continue to go back. Maybe I can start with two minutes and work up to the eight. I do think it would be helpful to picture Jesus with me. And to possibly have a Vera I can go to if my mind starts to wander. Thank you for sharing the video. I may even play it as my students do Math!

    • Hadassah Doss

      I meant *NOT* think about this or that!

    • Amy Young

      Two minutes sounds a good place to start 🙂

  3. Elizabeth

    “Making” me do this was a gift. I would like it to be required of me every day. 🙂 It helps that I’m in a lull before some major involvements pick up next week, but–being a do-er myself–it’s always hard to give myself “permission” to sit and do nothing. I need to put it in the list of walking more and drinking more milk. Then maybe?

    • Amy Young

      Lulls does help to try new things!

  4. Dave Lewis

    Quit a while back my spiritual director helped me to repackage my attempts at silence. My brain had no pre-existing wiring for such a thing! He told me to think of stillness rather than silence. Part of my current practice involves listening to 12 minutes of babbling brook (built up from 5 minutes months ago). It is too often still a battle to settle my soul, to quiet my head, and just let the “living water” flow over me…but I so look forward to it each morning. Thanks for putting this out there!

    • Amy Young

      Dave! Thank you for your insights . . . your spiritual director sounds wise. I’ve got some other ideas for us here at Global Trellis and spiritual practices. Keep sharing your journey, we need others who are a little bit ahead!

  5. Petra

    After some hours of ‘laptop work’ I reminded about this blog and decided to take 8 min. of being still. I had to put my earphones otherwise the outside traffic sound would be louder than this calming river and birds sounds. As I started I wished I could sit there on a stone and put my feet in the stream…….It was relaxing! Mostly I sat with my eyes closed, just listening. Of course my thoughts went here and there, but I tried to re-focus on the sound of nature again and again. More of this ‘Be Still’ during each day will be a good practice I want to continue from this day onward…..:)

    • Amy Young

      Petra, isn’t the stream so welcoming! And here and there thoughts are to be expected :). I’m working on next week’s Soul Tending Tuesday (I’ve got this week’s ready, don’t get too bogged down in time and when I’m responding—HA. But my point is, we will keep weaving these practices into days and look forward to the ways God ministers to us!) 🙂


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