Follow along with the transcript below for episode: Discovering the Power of Stillness with Jeanine Thompson
[0:00:02] PF: Thank you for joining us for episode 399 of Live Happy Now. After a busy holiday season, we all could use a bit of stillness in our lives, and this week’s guest is going to tell us how to find it.
I’m your host, Paula Felps. And this week, I’m talking with Jeanine Thompson, a former clinical psychotherapist and Fortune 50 executive, whose new book, 911 From Your Soul, is all about how to learn to listen for what you need and discover your greatest potential. Today, she’s here to talk about how important it is to learn to do nothing and listen to the lessons that are waiting for us in that stillness. Let’s have a listen.
[00:00:43] PF: Jeanine, thank you so much for coming on Live Happy Now.
[00:00:47] JT: I am so excited and delighted to be with you, Paula, and your listeners.
[00:00:53] PF: We’re delighted to have you. Our timing on this is so perfect. It’s the beginning of the year. People are really being reflective and thinking about what they want to do differently, and your idea of stillness is so important. But it’s a word that’s become almost foreign in this busy world that we live in. I mean, we are always on. It’s 24/7. So I guess before we talk about how to even accomplish that, can you tell us what you mean when you mention stillness?
[00:01:22] JT: Yeah. So stillness, to me, means awareness, shifting our attention from our busy brain, our 70,000 thoughts a day that data says we have, shifting our awareness from our head into the inner intelligence, our inter Internet. Typically, I tell people place one hand on your heart center, one on your sacral or near your belly button, and just close your eyes. We follow a touch in the body. So it’ll help you move from the hamster wheel into the eternal infinite wisdom that is just waiting to support and guide you.
[00:02:08] PF: So is stillness a physical app? Or is it all in your brain? Or where does stillness take place?
[00:02:17] JT: I think it’s a multi-level experience, right? So I think that there is a physical shifting of attention from the busy brain to the core of your body. I think it’s an energetic intention. I usually tell people, say the words I am still. Even if your brain keeps rattling on about what you got to do or what you didn’t do sufficiently the hour before, there’s an energetic intention to say I am still.
When you connect with prana, that vital life force consciously moving in our body, you’re making a spiritual connection to say, “I want to connect with the truth of who I am.” So it’s this multi-level both practice and experience.
[00:03:12] PF: It doesn’t need to take a whole lot of time. It’s something you can do real quickly. Like if there’s anxiety, if there’s something going on in your life, you can do these little quick hits to get your stillness. Is that correct?
[00:03:24] JT: Yes. Thank you for saying that. That is the truth, and it’s really important because I had a narrative. My narrative used to sound like there is no way I can be still. You don’t understand how busy I am. You do not live inside this head. It never shuts up. I was in a plane 2 to 300,000 miles a year, a single mom. Stillness was unproductive. By the way, I can’t do it.
So we must have a narrative that says we just can’t be still. Yet it’s the most natural act. It’s how we’re born in stillness. It’s actually the truth of our highest nature, peace, quiet, stillness. We just have been duped a little bit along the way. We got seduced by all the external expectations and invitations that constantly moving meant worthiness, meant productivity. So everybody can do it. I tell people, if you are like me, and you have a narrative that says you can’t, just commit to 30 seconds.
[00:04:35] PF: Oh, wow. We can do that.
[00:04:37] JT: We can do that. Anybody can do that, right? 30 seconds to two minutes. Close your eyes. The brain data actually shows on brain imaging, if we don’t take a break every hour, our stress levels are significantly higher. So just close your eyes. Feel the breath. Feel that hand on the belly expand and fall and expand and fall. So everyone can do it. If that busy brain of yours kicks up and says, “You must do this. Don’t forget to do this.” I want you simply to say, “Noted.” Don’t fight the thoughts. If we try and stop them or fight them, they get more persistent. So simply say, “Noted.” Retouch, hand on heart center, hand on belly, feel the breath again.
So do that for sure in the morning, ideally before you even hop out of bed, if you can. Then ideally, we would say after every transition. So after we finish this meeting, I will go into breath, just as I began before you with breath. That’s true for people at home. If you’re working from home, between every kind of transition or shift, close your eyes and practice being still.
[00:06:00] PF: And does that become a habit for you now? Because you’ve been practicing it, you teach it, and you definitely walk your talk. So is it something that comes naturally? Or do you have to remind yourself?
[00:06:11] JT: No. Now, it’s like brushing my teeth. I would never leave the house without brushing my teeth first. I don’t begin my day without being still and getting centered in who I want to be and how I want to show up in the world that day. That’s very different for me. I used to get up to my device. What emails did I need to answer? What does my day look like, kids needing love and attention as they woke up in the morning? I still will do all those things, but I do them differently. I make sure I can start my day in stillness and with consciously connecting within.
[00:06:57] PF: What a huge difference that makes. I know that I’ve started a practice of not turning my phone on until after I am done with breakfast. You cannot imagine. Well, maybe you can. How crazy this makes some people. It’s not that their need is so urgent that I address it. It’s that they can’t imagine like why are you not talking until eight in the morning. It makes a huge difference in the way my day feels as I enter it.
[00:07:24] JT: Absolutely. Listen, we even know that I’m the beauty of the and girl. We know that from science. We know it from brain imaging. We know it from the High Performance Institute, that when you start with self, you connect with self first. You experience more satisfaction during the day, more calm during the day, better productivity. You’re not reacting all day to someone else’s agenda.
But then I would say, energetically, you will come to feel a sense of taking command. What really matters today? What are the real priorities? Calming the body, it’s incredible. It really is life-changing, actually, that simple act of being with a breath and being still.
[00:08:13] PF: Yeah. I want to talk in a moment about the benefits of practicing stillness. But I’m really interested in hearing how you discovered the importance of stillness because to your point, you were traveling. You were a busy professional. You’re a single mom. I mean, it’s like how did you go from that pace to becoming the go-to person on stillness?
[00:08:34] JT: Yeah. Thankfully, it was through the intelligence of the universe. In all candor, I wouldn’t have gotten there on my own. Had my other solutions, had always been on call almost 24/7 because I had an international role, had that continued to work for me in my life, I probably wouldn’t have changed. I think that’s true for your listeners too. Sometimes, we know something needs to be shifted. But honestly, until life starts to get really loud or like, “I’ll get to it, but not today.”
[00:09:06] PF: Right.
[00:09:07] JT: Right? So the practice of stillness came through a time I was going through a 911 in my soul, from my soul. It was a time when the details of my life looked really good from the outside. People would just like, “Gosh, wow. Big job. She loves her kids. She’s got a great relationship, really cool travel, the accoutrements of success.” Yet every day, I was successful yet unfulfilled. I had this little whisper that said, “Yoo-hoo, there’s something more for you. There’s something more through you.”
Make a long story short, I ignored the whispers because it wasn’t in line with my human plan. I wasn’t to leave that job until my kids graduated, until I had reached a certain security. I had a human plan. Then there was the plan of my soul. Ultimately, my familiar solution just didn’t work, and I was led to yoga and Reiki and energy work, which is hilarious because I was an evidence-based psychotherapist before I was a Fortune 50 executive.
I thought it was woo-woo. I thought I did not have time for this. It taught me that I wasn’t just a human being. I was actually this spiritual being traversing in a wonder suit of a body.
[00:10:34] PF: I love that.
[00:10:35] JT: It taught me that I was living my life through my false self, through a lens of not enough. Don’t rest. It’s not enough. There’s always something to do. I needed to be more. So ultimately, it was through my life kind of falling apart on some levels, my familiar identity being shaken. When our familiar solutions are shaken, we’re invited, but it felt forced at the time to turn –
[00:11:06] PF: Absolutely.
[00:11:09] JT: To tune inward. I now realize that that yearning, that restlessness, those challenges weren’t really a crisis at all. They were the greatest invitation of my life, masquerading in the details of discomfort.
[00:11:28] PF: That’s so important to hear because I think that happens to us a lot, where our plan is not working out according to plan, and we keep trying to force it. It’s difficult, and it’s almost unnatural to us to sit back and say, “Okay, what is being taught to me? What am I supposed to do for next steps,” instead of, “What do I want to do as my next steps?” That’s a change in thinking that takes some time.
[00:11:55] JT: It’s a huge change in thinking. I call it earth view and soul view. In our earth view, we say, “I got a problem. Fix it. I’ve got an issue. Find the solution.” Go external. Go to the experts. Go to your friends. Go to somebody. Got a problem. Fix it. The soul view says, “You already know the answer. Rest. Be in the discomfort. Talk to it. Say what do you got. What do you have to say? What do you want me to know?” It’s about allowing. It’s about resting in the stillness of your breath or resting in the stillness of a sunset or perhaps resting in the stillness of a freeing run, anything that softens that busy mind.
When you rest in that stillness, the treasure trove of intelligence you actually are starts bubbling up and whispering. You’ll start to get an inspired idea. You’ll see number sequences. You’ll see animals. You’ll be in a store, and you’ll overhear something, and you’re like, “Ha, that’s it.” All of a sudden, that shift from outward is my answer to tuning inward becomes your greatest lighthouse, your greatest guiding path to your highest life, honestly.
[00:13:25] PF: Don’t you think it’s interesting because we resist that? It’s like I want the answers. I want the answers and the thing that will ultimately give us those answers. We intrinsically know that we can get the answers that way, but we push against it. It’s like, “Nope, not going to sit down and be still with myself. I’m not going to listen to what’s going on because I’ve got too much going on in my head.” So we resist it.
[00:13:49] JT: We absolutely resist it until we can’t. So that’s what happened to me. There was a time where I actually had heard my truth. I heard the inner whispers. I heard I was to be like a matchmaker for the soul, helping people actually reunite with the part of themselves they’ve lost sight of. Most of my folks were over functioners. They were too much of a caretaker or a peacekeeper, lived for others, and they truly lost sight of themselves. They got to midlife and they’re like, “Who am I? What made me come alive?”
So avoidance numbing, external solutions, we’ll all do them for a while. But I promise you, for all of the listeners, there will come a time where life is going to say there’s a greater possibility for you. So I’m going to get a little noisy. I’m going to get a little uncomfortable. But ultimately, you long to meet you, and I’m going to help you remember the truth of who you are.
[00:15:00] PF: That’s so powerful. Can you talk about what the benefits are when we begin to practice stillness? Let’s talk because there are so many. Your book is just such a magical guide to all the things that this can unlock. Let’s talk about some of those benefits.
[00:15:15] JT: So one of them is clarity. This is – It’s a noisy world.
[00:15:20] PF: Yeah. And it’s getting noisier.
[00:15:21] JT: It is. It’s exquisitely beautiful. There’s so much beauty and love every day and a lot of heightened division, a lot of struggle. So there’s a lot of and. I think one of the first benefits is clarity. No one else, and I don’t care what their expertise is, I don’t care who they are, will never know your unique truth. So one is discernment of personal truth.
Secondly is access. We have this treasure trove. It is amazing jewels of the soul; kindness, compassion, love, infinite intelligence. Truly, this wisdom of all ages resides within us, and it connects us to – I would call it the field of all possibility. So it gives us an access that we cannot access in our normal 70,000 thoughts a day. Our mind is going to go to what’s wrong. I got to fix it. I got to protect, right? That’s our mind. Our soul says, “You are literally everything you seek. Rest, dear one, and I’ll show you the way.”
[00:16:34] PF: It’s beautiful.
[00:16:35] JT: Alignment. When we pause, whether it’s 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 15 minutes, whatever it is, we get to choose again. We can choose a higher quality thought. We can choose a higher quality action. Especially when we get triggered, most of it’s automatic. 40 to 90 percent of what we do every day was repetition. It’s behaviors that are habitual. So stillness helps us choose a better choice. Rest and renewal.
I think the breath is a sanctuary. It’s better than your best vacation. It is more peaceful than anywhere you’ve ever been. It can be a grand adventure. I mean, it is just this sanctuary of goodness, and we all need it. We’re all actually trying too hard. If we’d allow just a little bit of faith and willingness, we can let go of the steering wheel. Or at least let go of their grip.
[00:17:39] PF: We don’t feel like we ever can. There are so many people who feel like, “If I take my hands off the wheel for a moment, this whole thing, and there’s about 30 cars connected to it.”
[00:17:48] JT: The house of cards.
[00:17:49] PF: It’s going to crash.
[00:17:51] JT: Oh, man. Do I have empathy of any one of you listening right now who is saying you don’t understand. I can’t do this, or it’s all going to fall apart. I wish I could look you in the eyes and give you a giant hug and say, “I actually do understand. I don’t understand your unique life circumstances. However, I really understand the reluctance and the fear of letting go because you’re worried your life is going to crash.”
So I totally understand that, and then I’m going to ask you to say, name five times because I bet she can. Name five times in your life where kind of the synchronicity happened. You met this person who opened up a door. You drove down the street, and you don’t even remember stopping at the stop signs. Or you could’ve hit the car in front of you. By the grace of whatever you believe, the great mystery in life, the universe, you didn’t hit that car. There have been so many times in our life. There’s this brilliance that weaves together our life experiences. It’s our training ground. It’s our training ground to live our highest possibility, and it’s a falsehood.
I believed. I made myself sick in my 20s with ulcerative colitis. Because I was so perfectionistic, I thought he had to control everything. So it was a lot of lessons learned along the way that, actually, as powerful as I am, I am a co-creative agent, and there’s also something else going on. There’s a little something bigger than me going on here. Thank God, we never travel alone.
[00:19:37] PF: Yeah. Yeah. That’s wonderful. What a powerful thing to recognize. You and I talked about this a little bit before we started recording that, that our age kind of factors into it. Because when we’re younger, when we’re in our youth, in our 20s, and even into our 30s, we can go on autopilot. There’s so much that we can just like, “Here’s our path. We know we’re supposed to go to college, get these jobs, do this, start this family.” Then you hit this point where it’s like, “Wait, I’ve been on this treadmill, and I didn’t even mean to jump on this particular treadmill.”
[00:20:11] JT: Yeah. You know what? Days turned into decades like in a blink of an eye. So I think for a lot of people in their 40s and beyond, there’s this sense of urgency like, “Wow, I cannot believe how fast it’s gone.” They want to make sure that they don’t have regret, honestly, that they look back.
I do a lot of hospice work from my – The last 30 years. I learned from my hospice patients, in particular, that they never wanted to look back and said, “Geez, I wish I would have worked a little more,” which they usually will say the moments that mattered most were the moments they connected with something meaningful for themselves, connected something meaningful, or shared a meaningful connection with someone else. It was truly the small things, the ordinary things that became extraordinary.
[00:21:16] PF: When we start practicing stillness, intentionally practicing stillness, do we start finding that more? Do we start recognizing that? Is it already there, and we just recognize it more? What really happened?
[00:21:28] JT: It’s already there. It is in our truth. We really – Our pure essence is simply love, joy, peace, wisdom, compassion, those jewels of the soul. That’s our true essence. The longer we were in earth school, I call this gig earth school, we got encumbered. We kind of got covered up. We were told by the outside world, “You are not enough. You don’t dress right. You don’t weigh the right thing. You don’t have the right bank account. You don’t have the right education. You don’t have the right house.”
If you turn on the news, it’s some version of you are not enough. So our real work here in earth school is to uncover all of that gunk, all of those old messages, all of those old narratives. That’s why it’s so important to sink into the deeper truth and listen to what the highest self in you wants to whisper.
[00:22:28] PF: I love that. So another thing that I want to make sure we touch on is you talk about stillness that can be active. So this is great news. There are some people who the idea of just sitting down and being still is actually kind of horrifying.
[00:22:45] JT: Yes. We totally get that.
[00:22:47] PF: So explain this. Tell us because you talk about it can be music, running, dancing, weightlifting. I mean, this is great news for a lot of people.
[00:22:55] JT: So I’m the beauty of the and girl. There are quiet and there are active. So quiet might be with a breath, might be with a sunset, might be with a flickering candle, etc. Then there are more active pursuits if they get into a place of transcendence. What I mean by that is a lot of people will say when they go on a run, there’s a certain point where their mind softens, and they just feel more free, right? In dance, there’s a certain point. You’re almost not listening to the music, and you’re just moving, right?
So the active pursuits are active pursuits that also allows for an emptying. So the hamster wheel is not spinning. You do you and commit to starting with 30 seconds to two minutes of just being with your breath. So let’s do the beauty of the and. If you really want to be active in physical exercise, that’s different than an active pursuit that softens the mind. Does that make sense?
[00:23:59] PF: Oh, interesting. Yeah.
[00:24:00] JT: Agree to learn to still again. See, it’s a falsehood we’ve taught ourselves, just like I did. I can’t do this. I can’t sit still. I’ve got too much to do. It’s not true. We’ve got to tell a new narrative. This might feel funky. It might feel a little weird. I might not even be still. I’m practicing stillness, and I’m not still. I’m a little antsy in my chair. My little head is racing away. That’s okay. I promise you in time, if you just commit to learning to practice stillness with the breath and whatever way you want, in time, you will start to reclaim more of your natural true nature.
[00:24:44] PF: What kind of changes do you see like the subtle? We talked about the benefits of it, but what kind of changes can people kind of look for that like, okay, this is adjusting me, and I’m thinking and living differently?
[00:24:57] JT: I think that they’ll come to what I call expanded solutions, kind of things that they had never thought of before. All of a sudden, they get an inspired idea that maybe takes them down a path they would have never have went to. So there’s some inspired ideation that happens. There is a sense of empowerment. It’s like, “Oh, my gosh. I always thought it was outside of me. And now, I recognize that it is within me.”
There is – And this is a key. One of the things we’re all searching for is what is sacred to us. What is precious to us? When we get to this stage in life, I have people ask the question. If you don’t like the word sacred, use the word precious. What is sacred within me? Just rest with the answer. Either that day or that moment, you’re going to start to notice maybe even something in a magazine or on a billboard or whatever. It’s like, “Wow. [inaudible 00:25:57]. I want to go play with that again.”
When you start asking those questions, what’s sacred within me, around me, and beyond me, you are going to start to feel a spark of feeling a little more alive, more empowered, more of your natural true self.
[00:26:18] PF: That is so wonderful. What do you hope that the people listening today who are hearing your voice, what do you want them to walk away from this with?
[00:26:27] JT: Oh, my gosh. I want you to get so excited because there’s somebody you have been longing your whole life to meet, and it’s you. It’s your true nature. It is that part of you that knows exactly where you’re headed, what this year is about, what this life is about, how to surf through the seasons of life with more ease and more joy. So I’m excited for you to reconnect with the deeper truth of who you are.
[00:27:02] PF: That’s excellent. Jeanine, thank you, again, for sitting down with me today. You have so much to teach us. This was a wonderful experience, and I really appreciate your time today.
[00:27:12] JT: Thank you. It’s been a gift to be with you and gift to be with your listeners as well.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[00:27:23] PF: That was Jeanine Thompson, talking about how to discover stillness. If you’d like to learn more about Jeanine and her book, 911 From Your Soul, or follow her on social media, visit us at livehappy.com and click on the podcast tab. While you’re there, we invite you to sign up for Jeanine’s free email course that will walk you through the steps to help you learn to listen and lean into the stillness.
That is all we have time for today. We’ll meet you back here again next week for an all-new episode. Until then, this is Paula Felps, reminding you to make every day a happy one.