If you alternate movement with stillness of mind, you open the door to a new level of awareness and perception. It’s a powerful mind hack. Learn this simple but powerful formula to speed up your personal development.
The most powerful tools are often the simplest. Anyone can create a routine with periods of rest and activity. You can alternate action and rest with almost any spiritual practice or daily task.
“Rest and activity are the steps of progress.” — Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Most people do not consider “thinking as a type of movement,” but thoughts are moving ideas and pictures within the mind. It is easy to prove. If you have a job where you sit and work on a computer, you’ll be just as tired as someone who works at a physically demanding job.
This tactic of action and rest will increase your learning capability. Thinking is movement. Clear thinking helps us gather information accurately. Stillness helps the mind solidify or normalize what we learn. Learning increases awareness. It is a valuable tactic that is used for grounding and centering.
When you cycle between rest and action, it grounds the mind and body, giving us the ability to normalize learning. It provides the mind with time to move from immediate memory to short-term memory. Then, the more you practice, short-term becomes long-term memory. And it has a synergistic effect, which accelerates the growth of awareness. Stillness, movement, and awareness is the formula that unlocks your learning potential.
Alternating Action and Rest
“The body benefits from movement, and the mind benefits from stillness.” — Sakyong Mipham
You find this tactic in many ancient systems of consciousness exploration. Some call this series of rest and action a “round.” An example is to practice moving meditation alternating with seated meditation. Repeating this rotation several times a day deepens your familiarity with the moving method and the silence of your mind. It ensures you are grounded and centered for each successive session.
“Let exercise alternate with rest.” — Pythagoras
Also, this strategy provides the best learning outcome for more advanced techniques. It’s a simple but effective way to increase your success. And all you need to do is add short periods of rest or meditation throughout the day to refresh your mind. When you alternate action and rest results, you think more clearly and come more quickly.
Our movement doesn’t have to be vigorous exercise. It can be as simple as walking. The stillness or seated meditation can be in short increments of 2 minutes. This type of activity is a great stress reliever and a centering tool. It can help you think more clearly, and many business enterprises teach this exercise to their executive staff members. Everyone can benefit from this type of calmness and clarity of thought.
Alternate Movement with Stillness of Mind
Action and rest are a part of the blended learning experience as it benefits all learning styles and increases learning outcomes. Learning is reinforced by teaching others and receiving feedback. Then there is time for rest and reflection. By combining these ingredients, the learner gets the best learning outcomes. Here are the critical elements of this forum that make it an ideal learning environment:
- Learn and practice the strategy, alternate movement with stillness of mind
- Build meaningful partnerships and health community
- Focus on adding tools to your spiritual tool belt
- Schedule Time to normalize and practice new techniques
- Develop your path and help others
The best way to cement learning is by teaching it to someone. So, the opportunity to share and help others is a part of the process. It makes us all students and facilitators throughout the process. As we learn more, we can also help others learn. This process isn’t a new model. It follows an ancient pattern Joseph Campbell calls The Hero’s Journey. (1)
Promoting Stillness, Movement, and Awareness
The pattern of the Hero’s Journey is at the core of many traditions, but you’ll also find this pattern in many famous stories like Starwars and The Avatar. The core elements of the story remain the same; it just uses different characters. This story resonates with us deeply because it reflects our spiritual quest. You can see this formula reflected in our “blended learning process.”
A straightforward way to break down The Hero’s Journey pattern is to divide it into three phases “awakening, transforming, and inspiring.” These phases revolve, intertwine, and overlap. We’ll find this pattern in our own lives if we look closely. It’s not a one-time event but a pattern of cycles again and again.
You will see the pattern of action and rest repeated over and over in these stories. When you alternate movement with stillness, you enter a sacred space, which is what the Hero’s journey is about.
Phase One ― Awakening
The goal of the first phase is to build a healthy learning community. We also want participants to become familiar with inner work tools.
- Readiness to learn assessment
- Enneagram Personality Profile
- Comparative Analysis (structured comparative religious study)
- The Repeating Question Exercise
- Beginning progressions of meditation
These tools provide the data we need to identify any roadblocks to learning. They help us learn about ourselves, our personalities, instincts, and cultural-level programming. We show how to use a spiritual journal to track our progress. It is also a tool for documenting other exercises.
We also provide opportunities to learn different meditation types and participate in other small-group learning exercises. Meditation is the platform of stillness. But even in this quietness, the mind is still active, not asleep. The use of a mantra or sutra is activity and movement. Exercise increases our awareness. It is how the formula of stillness, movement, and awareness works to speed up our development.
You can see why learning to “alternate movement with stillness of mind” is integral to the journey. Once you build the habit, you will alternate actions and rest with every component of your life.
Phase Two ― Transforming
The second phase works best on a weekend retreat. It separates people from their routine and allows them to focus all of their attention on learning and enjoying the company of others.
The weekend experience allows us to teach several techniques in a progressive sequence. Logistically, it takes a weekend to learn and practice this set of methods incorporating moving and sitting meditation.
The model is to Learn techniques in the morning. Then rest and reflect. In the afternoon, we practice the new procedures. Then in the evening, we alternate with fun and relaxation. This multifaceted learning approach can accommodate everyone’s learning ability and style.
We have time to assimilate what we have learned, share, and celebrate in the evenings. The weekend provides the time to delve into more advanced practice. Find a way to alternate movement with stillness of mind as you do your daily tasks.
Participants describe the weekend experience as “an oasis” from our hectic lives. It’s a special time of rest and learning. We can share and recharge. People enjoy being able to experience new levels of positive energy. You can feel the community’s energy even when we conduct the weekend virtually. Our virtual events can connect people around the globe.
Consciousness and awareness have no boundaries except for those we impose on ourselves. Building a community is also a positive way to increase our awareness. Here it is again—the formula of stillness, movement, and awareness.
Phase Three ― Inspiring
The third phase is meetings after the weekend. It is a time for deeper community building and problem-solving. It provides the opportunity to share and receive help to face and overcome any roadblocks.
Examples of How to Alternate Action and Rest
By Alternating movement with stillness, you can build a daily routine that is both restful and refreshing. It’s not only for spiritual practice.
For example, we do a lot of work on computers. If we use a computer screen for long periods, it is unhealthy. So, we schedule breaks every hour. At the end of the hour, we get up and walk around for 3 minutes, stretch, and rest.
Another example is the use of music. We like to work with music in the background. So, we also stop the music when we stop for a break. Silence for just a few minutes makes the music even more enjoyable when we turn it back on.
“Alternating periods of activity and rest is necessary to survive, let alone thrive. Capacity, interest, and mental endurance can wax and wane. Plan accordingly.” — Tim Ferriss
“There is a rhythm in life, a certain beauty which operates by a variation of lights and shadows. Happiness alternating with sorrow, content with discontent, distilling in this process of contrast a sense of satisfaction, of richness that can be captured and pinned down only by those who possess the gift of awareness.” — Louis Bromfield
The strategy of “alternating movement with stillness” is something you can incorporate into both your daily routine and spiritual practice. Remember, the formula for growth and development is stillness, movement, and awareness.
(1) Joseph Campbell’s book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Wikipedia