Sitting Meditation is a time to be still. In Plum Village we have a song called Happiness is Here and Now. One line goes, “No where to go, nothing to do.” I think sitting meditation is when we can stop and be in our body. We can feel happy. Sitting meditation is a designated time for us; it is “my time.” When our body has stopped moving, it gives our mind a chance to calm down also. Practicing sitting meditation we want to unite our body and mind. This desire to feel our body, to be in our body, to understand our body, to fully embrace our body and to heal our body is an act of love. It takes determination to settle into our body and to become aware of this world within us. When our body is at ease and comfortable, it does not take effort to sit like a mountain – to sit solidly and in freedom.
But I think we all know that when we are unhappy or we have strong emotions, whether pleasant or unpleasant, it is a challenge to be still. What allows us to be able to sit still and be calm is to follow our breathing. This exercise of being aware of our in- and out- breath brings the light of awareness to shine forth onto these strong emotions. When we understand something, or want to understand something, it is much easier for us to be present for it, unconditionally.
Mindfulness of our breath is an anchor that grounds us to our Mother Earth. It keeps us in place even when the winds of thoughts and feelings are blowing forcefully. Training ourselves to be mindful of our breath is like making a best friend. When we have a best friend, we connect more openly with other people, because we have someone to take refuge in – someone we believe understands us well. If our best friend is friends with someone else, then we too can be friends with him or her and at the least manage to hang out with him or her. That someone else, our “next friend” we meet on this path, is our body. Once we have made friends with our body, then it is easier and we have more confidence in making friends with our mind.
Sitting to relax, to enjoy, to understand
As our practice deepens sitting meditation can become like sitting and having a good cup of coffee or juice with a long time dear friend. You are just sitting and enjoying each others’ company and listening wholeheartedly without any judgment. You are there simply in order to understand, so you can be there for your friend. It is like that with sitting meditation as we get to know our body and mind. We want to sit so we can understand and know how to live our life more fully and happily without regrets. Since we are sitting with our best friend the breath, we feel secure and blessed to have someone so faithful by our side. We do not need to be afraid of “not being enough” because we understand ourselves, and our limits and our potential. We know we have weaknesses but we know our faithful friend will be by our side and shed light on these areas as is needed throughout our life, so we can take it easy. This awareness of “being enough” is a great insight that can only come when we stop and care for ourselves, not allowing ourselves to be caught and carried away by the mainstream of society. We learn to live wisely from our understanding and wish to love life.
Bitesize sitting sessions
We do not need to sit for long. If we can sit peacefully and joyfully for 5-10 minutes in the morning, that is enough to water the seed of stopping and of coming back to ourselves. We can also sit for 5-10 minutes, breathing in and out in the evening before crashing on our bed to knock out for the night. Sitting for short periods like that is enough for us to be more aware of our actions of body, speech, and mind in order for us to develop and grow into a beautiful human being.