Monday, June 18, 2012

Fear of Sitting Still

Sara, over on Do Restorative Yoga, is blogging about her 30 Day Meditation Challenge.  In this post:  Day 13, she noted that she had a difficult time coming to stillness this particular day and how she addressed that; which got me to contemplating about movement and sitting. 

In the Ashtanga tradition as I have learned it, one moves for an hour and a half, focusing on the breath and bandhas.  This in itself becomes a moving meditation.  A very traditional version of this would be the practice, followed by pranyama, seated meditation and chanting.

Select Buddhist lineages incorporate a walking meditation that may or may not use a path.  The practitioner follows the path inward, each step being placed in mindfulness, mind focused on the here and now.  Buddhists don't necessarily focus so much on the breath, feeling that the body can breath well enough on its own.

And I don't recall where I was at the time, but I found a similar prayer/mediation wheel based off of Native American spirituality, where the practitioner would go from compass point to compass point within the circle and mediate at each cardinal direction. 

And some people use running or cycling or swimming as a form of meditation, a way to clear the head, to think things through, or to let thoughts and emotions settle.

But what I got cogitating on was: are people really afraid of looking inward? or are people actually afraid of sitting still

It's as if there is a stigma, a black mark, something, about the act of not moving that some people just fight.  I especially see this in the A-type personalities.  NOT moving = bad!  If you aren't moving then the house isn't getting cleaned, the kids are getting shuttled, the [insert job/task here] isn't being done, you are a slacker!  Your fitness levels are going to decrease!  The kids are going to fall behind in activities!  Checklists aren't getting checked off!   There is palatable angst about just sitting.

Now, granted, sometimes work schedules, families and outside forces do dictate what a person can and can't do.  I do not want to trivialize anyone one who is juggling work schedules and families. 

Admission time: yes, I have a hard time coming to stillness - I LOVE sitting still, I just have a hard time getting there! 

So, what can a person do?  Here are some of my recommendations:

  • If you do yoga, sit in stillness before or at the end of class.  Are you able to arrive early?  Some studio's are open before class to permit the practitioners to come and just sit.  Take 5 or 10 minutes if you're able.  For some people, traditional savasana doesn't work for them - they take deep relaxation as a meditation. 
  • I purposely taught myself how to knit so I would sit still.  Yes.  The action of following my stitches and sitting still induces a meditative state for me.  I can now sit in contentment for upwards of an hour now.  Ahhh....
  • If possible (you are kid free or rise before the kids), just sit over your cup of coffee in the morning.  Turn of the TV, turn off the radio, sit and feel the warmth of the cup between your hands.  Look out the window or close your eyes.  Just take 5 minutes of quiet and stillness.
  • Taking a longer trip somewhere and you're not driving?  Plug into one of the resources Sara has mentioned, take a few grounding an centering breaths and meditate! 
Just remember to put the phone in another room, turn it to vibrate, or even just turn it off.  In most circumstances, there is nothing that can't wait 15 minutes. 

Does anyone out there have any other recommendations for coming to stillness when the body or mind doesn't want to? 

1 comment:

Sara said...

Kristin - I found today (Day 29 of 30) that I could not sit still in a traditional easy seated pose but I could be still in child's and reclining hero's. Sometimes I think my body needs more sensory input than easy seated pose provides.