Sitting still is hard.
Have you tried it?
I have . . .
I see why it’s called a “practice”.
It has been a short while (er, 3 years . . .) since I wrote a short little piece called How to Meditate: Part 1 where I attempted to take some of the complicatedness (is that even a word?!) out of the idea of meditation.
In Part 1 my intention was to bring awareness to mindfulness practices that are accessible to all of us at any time, anywhere.
In Part 2 I wanted to have a little chat about being still.
This whole meditation thing can get pretty complicated with so many schools, teachings, trainings, classes – so I just wanted to talk about 3 simple things.
- Being Still
- Being Still for Long Enough
- Fidgeting and Compassion
Like anything in life, meditation can be as complicated or simple as we like it to be. In essence, this is a practice of spending time with ourselves. Without distractions. Without filling in the time. Just simply spending time getting to know ourselves. Developing our relationship with ourselves. How do we do this? We simply need to be still. That is, we need to develop a habit of setting aside a bit of time (see number 2) and space to sit with ourselves.
Being Still for Long Enough
How long do we need to sit still? At first, we might start with 5 or 10 minutes. Then we might work our way up to 15, 20, 30 minutes or even an hour. But how do we know how long is long enough? It’s very simple. How much time do you have? 5 minutes? 15 minutes? Set a timer. Sit, stand, lie, and be still. Regardless how long you choose to sit for, try to just sit regularly. Remember this is not a competition – not even with yourself. There is no grand prize reward for meditating longer and harder. There is no destination here. Just practice being here.
Fidgeting and Compassion
First off, it’s important to understand that fidgeting is normal. The urge to fidget – whether it’s to wiggle, scratch an itch, or follow a fascinating thought out into space – happens. There are many schools of thought on the topic of the wandering mind and distractions of the body, so I only want to stress one thing:
Above all else, Compassion
Be kind to yourself. We have enough voices of criticism, shame, blame, and low self-worth running through our thoughts on a regular basis. We do not need to throw wood onto the flames. Be kind to your physical body – choose a chair, a pillow, a blanket, or whatever you might need to be physically able to be still for a while. You do not have to sit on the floor. You do not need to light candles, chant mantras, or look like anyone but yourself being yourself.
Be kind to yourself. Listen to those voices of criticism with the same gentle and nurturing quality of a loving mother listening to a frightened child. Remember that you embody the capacity for love and kindness. Remember to impart that love and kindness towards yourself in these simple moments. Remember to absorb that sense of compassion.
Remember that it is hard. And you are practicing. And that there is no right or wrong.
Just you being with you – no more, no less.