Sitting Practice

This post is for those readers who perhaps like me struggle to feel calm.

I have been encouraged over the last two years by my coach to make time to be calm by just sitting for a few minutes each day.

Sitting practice involves sitting on a reasonably straight backed chair with your feet squarely on the floor and your arms relaxed in your lap. In silence or perhaps to some soothing background music look in front of you and allow your body to relax.

It is useful to check in all elements of your body at the start of the sitting practice by tensing and relaxing your toes, then your feet, calves, thighs, buttocks – feel the small of your back on the chair and move your shoulders and become aware of the weight of your arms and hands and then rest them – move your head gently and feel its position on your neck – blink your eyes and become alert to the senses of the eye, ear and nose, breathing

You are ready to start – allow your mind to rove as you sit in silence and as thoughts come into your head notice them and let them go – I have found it useful to categorize my thoughts as past, future or present as they crowd in, however, it is important to let them be – this is not a time to resolve the concerns that emerge – that will come later – this is the time to be aware of them.

Perhaps the most enlightening moments of the eight or so minutes is the awareness of self  – I have found this particularly helpful if I have sat outside for my sitting practice – once the mind has settled and brought up a few issues, over time I have become very conscious of my self as a living being  – all my body is important and not just the thoughts in my head.

Understanding yourself as a unique, special and complete human system is very powerful especially if you are able to contextualize yourself as existing in the physical environment of the garden – being part of nature and perhaps a spiritual dimension may emerge to your sense of self – the important element of the eight minute daily routine is to let thoughts come in and let them go.

I have found that my best sitting practice experiences have occurred after physical exercise – I run quite regularly before work and after kicking of the running shoes I have entered into my sitting practice in the changing room before showering and changing for the events of the day.

My favourite sitting practices are those that I have shared with others  – on one occasion in an earlier blog I recorded how after a great upheaval in communicating my sexuality on a retreat I sat in silence with a nun who was extremely supportive  – the idea of being supported by someone at this time of reflection is very powerful to me.

My coach starts all her sessions with me with sitting practice. Although we have both always prepared in advance of my visits to see her I experience a deep calm as I wait for those few minutes to start our conversation – so much comes up and these thoughts perhaps shape how I approach with her issues that are causing me pain.

I should admit to failure with sitting practice – sometimes I struggle to fit them in at the start of the day – running late, early meetings etc, but i know in my heart on these days that I am denying myself the potential for self-healing.

A calm start to the day invariably leads to calmness throughout the day – try it!

My next blog will be – The Judge

William Defoe

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