Sitting With What Is

We have a million ways to distract ourselves from ourselves.  What's your distraction of choice?  Television, film, music, being busy, talking, drinking, eating, shopping, working, reading.  Modern life seems to lead us ever-further from the skill of being quiet and still.  Nowadays we can use every spare moment we have to do something... to catch up with e-mails, to call or text a friend or to listen to music.

But there is much to be gained from being still and quiet: It gives us the opportunity to gather ourselves together.  Time to reflect.  Time to notice how we feel.  Time to gauge how high or low our energy levels are, so that we may tailor our day accordingly.  It helps us to live well.

It's not always easy to be still and quiet and to listen intently to the quality of our body and emotions.  There are some feelings that we might be trying to hide, or that we think we have successfully dealt with, but which rear their heads when we become quiet enough.  If there is unhappiness inside you, it doesn't matter how well you think you have hidden it, it will be there when you look.  Likewise if there is anger, disappointment, sadness or grief.  But there is also love, joy, peace and wonder.

We lose a great deal by ignoring the thoughts and feelings that disturb us.  Those feelings might manifest themselves in other ways... through lack of sleep, tension headaches, physical pain, or bad digestion.  We may feel depressed or anxious.  We may have an inkling that we are hurting ourselves or other people by not recognising and admitting feelings that we can't help but feel.  We may look outside ourselves to assuage our pain, using alcohol, drugs, self-help books, or medication.  If you want to be happy, how can you continue to shield yourself with fear and anxiety?

And here's the thing: you know already.  You know what is right and what is wrong for you.  You know the things that bring you joy and the things that bring you heartache.  If you become quiet enough and you listen very intently, you will be able to tune into the innate knowledge that exists inside you.  Once you start to hear it, you can start to live by that inner wisdom. 

Know that you are perfect.  Know that life is there to teach you.  Look at life with honesty, clarity and courage.  We all have our stuff to work on. Commit to living well.

"Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him."

Aldous Huxley

You can start by setting aside 5 minutes every day just to sit quietly with yourself.  Everyone can find 5 minutes.  You don’t need to sit cross legged, or on a yoga mat, or in any particular way, but it does help if you can go to the same spot every day and know that you will not be disturbed for 5 minutes.  Set an alarm on a stopwatch or clock, so that you don't need to keep glancing at the time.  Close your eyes.  Sit with a straight spine.  And watch, listen, feel, notice yourself.  Sometimes you’ll fall asleep; sometimes you’ll feel impatient or frustrated; sometimes you’re head will be so full of thoughts it will give you a headache.  It’s all ok, it’s all good.  Your mind never stops; it’s job is to keep on going.  Your job is to watch it for 5 minutes without judgment.  Breathing in; breathing out.  Being still and watching.

© Sarah Raspin


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