Newton’s First Law of Motion: “A body in motion will stay in motion, and a body at rest will stay at rest, unless acted upon by an external force.”
Once you’re up and moving, it’s easier to stay moving. But you’re not going to get moving without a good shove.
Once you’re at rest, it’s so easy to stay at rest. This is what we call “inertia.”
And this is what’s so hard to remember when depression pulls me down. It’s so easy to stay stuck. So easy to sit down on the couch after the kids are in bed and stare at my phone until midnight, then wake up tired the next day.
This morning, after I took Carlos to school in the rain, I pulled into my garage and turned off the car. The sadness wasn’t too close to me at that moment–I didn’t feel like crying. I wanted to be still. I closed my eyes and leaned my head against the seat. The quiet of solitude settled around me. It only took a few seconds for my monkey mind to start jumping around. Need to fill out benefits forms. Carlos left his jacket at school. I should take the dog for a walk, get the deck refinished, call a tree guy, check on my neighbor. I should quit saying should. I wrote about that..right? I gotta learn how to do SEO. It’s time for breakfast. What’s for breakfast? How many Diet Cokes are left in the fridge? Oh wait, I’m supposed to be meditating. What was that meditation app that Casey mentioned? What’s my data limit? I need a new phone. Well, I don’t need one, I want one. I wrote about that too a while back. And this car needs power steering fluid. On and on and on.
I tried to nod to each thought with loving kindness then lead it off to the side. Focused on breathing until I couldn’t get a deep breath. Two minutes, sitting there in my car. I couldn’t quiet my mind for two minutes, even as my ass became one with the warmed leather seat.
That’s when I realized the vast difference between stillness and inertia. Inertia is being stuck. I’ve mastered inertia and the couch has the ass-groove to prove it. My body is at rest and it will stay at rest until I give it an equal and opposite shove in the direction I want to go. But my mind is in motion and will stay in motion.
Stillness isn’t just sitting on the couch staring at my phone. Stillness is a generative state, a place to grow. When I am still–if I ever reach that place again–I will be fully present in my stillness, with quiet mind and some space to just BE.
So I gave my body a shove today. More stairs, no elevator. More steps, less sitting. Use the incline on the treadmill…shoot, even use the treadmill. At the same time I’m focusing on moving my body, I’m also learning to quiet my mind. I stared out the window some instead of surfing websites. I put on headphones to listen to the hum. I went for a massage and made a point of not talking. I let the therapist work on my ears, my neck, my face. I sat still and breathing came easy.
Thus ends today’s lesson in Newtonian physics. Move your body; quiet your mind. And here’s a puppy to recap: