I would like to share a few thoughts on quiet sitting. I usually try to keep these posts concise, but I’m going to let this one go, so please humor me. I am intentionally not using the word meditation because I think sometimes we put ourselves on the wrong track by deciding that “now we will meditate.” That being said, we can call it meditation, contemplation, relaxing, resting, kicking back, practicing awareness- the name or word that we use isn’t important.
The impetus for this post is an ongoing discussion that I have shared with many people in many forms over the years, and that I expect will continue as long as there is life. I think the essence of this discussion, the seed of all this commotion and despair is: How would I like to express my self in this life I’m living? and its shadow- how do I express myself in this life? (are they one and the same?)
It is a question of what we do with ourselves in our short time in this world- what do I do for fun, for work, for artistic expression, where do I shop, what clothes do I wear, which scenes do I fit into, who’s advice do I follow, what foods do I eat? which crowds do I run with…which all boil down to: WHO AM I?
I think its good to check in with ourselves every so often to evaluate: Does my life give me fulfillment or leave me feeling empty? Do I like what I do? Am I spending most of my time doing things that I don’t like to do so that I can have a few minutes of pleasure once or twice a week? If any of these questions bring up negative feelings, maybe we can put some creative energy into finding a more positive alternative. It may not be easy, but with hard work over time, we all have the capacity to build the life that we want to live, the life that expresses who we really are, not the compromised version that we settle for when we feel discouraged.
OK, enough rambling- let’s get back to sitting. What’s the connection here? If we want to build something, we need to know what we are building. Try sketching out a plan for building an ejkir. Hard to do, because ejkir is a random group of letters that doesn’t represent anything in reality (that I’m aware of). Without a clear vision of what we want to build we are in the dark. If we want to build a house, we at least have a picture in our mind of what a house is, and if we really want to make life easier, we can get hold of some blueprints with materials and measurements to guide our building process.
So quiet sitting- how do we know who we are, who we want to be? I think it is not by thinking, analyzing, nor by beating our head against the wall trying to decide. If we can restore our center, reconnect with our deeper being, tap into our root; then the branches- the things we do (for work, for exercise, for fun)- these are all expressions of our self- they will be grounded in our root, and will become more clear. We can decide from a place of peace, a place of strength, which branches to trim and which to cultivate. Sometimes there is no way to know until we put some time and energy into growing a branch. But come next fall the leaves drop and life recedes into the roots. And the following spring life’s energy will come back into some branches and others will fall dead- abandoned because they no longer serve the greater vision of the life-being that is this plant.
so take a little time every day (maybe 20 minutes?) to sit quietly, by yourself with no music, and feel your body. feel the breath coming in, listen to the sound of the air moving through your nostrils. feel all the parts that make up the whole. sit quietly, but you don’t have to be still. move if your legs need to stretch, sit in any position you like, on the ground, in a chair, on a couch- stand if you like. there’s no way to get it wrong- if you get distracted just return to listening to your breath. give yourself this quiet space every day for a week and see how it goes. maybe you’ll like it and continue doing it, maybe just sometimes, maybe you’ll think its a waste of time. but what’s 20 minutes- that’s all it is, just 20 minutes.
may we all find a way that brings us peace and fulfillment.