Practicing Ease: Sitting Within Yourself
When I took a mindfulness class at the University of Virginia, they taught us to simply focus on our breath--the standard for mindfulness meditation--and/or to do a "body scan" which simply means paying peaceful attention to each part of one's body in turn, starting with the feet and moving up.
They told us if we found our minds wandering (which mine does, frequently and with great gusto) to simply bring it back to our breath and body, gently and non-judgmentally.
A lot of people refer to this whole process simply as "sitting."
I've been doing that for a while now, at least for a few minutes most days. It's a lovely interlude in my day, and I think I am generally calmer and more hopeful because of it.
Recently, a phrase came to mind that gives me a slightly different orientation for that meditation time: "Sit within yourself." Which, to make it more personal, and less of an "outside" direction, I've changed to "Sit within myself." A reminder.
When my mind wanders--though that seems like too relaxed a word for my slightly wacko mental peregrinations--I am no longer present in the present, no longer aware of myself and my body. I am having a conversation with someone who is not in the room with me. I am planning what I'll do in the future. I'm thinking about something I saw yesterday on YouTube or Instagram. I everywhere but here.
So, I wrote down "Sit within myself" on a piece of paper and keep it next to the stack of pillows I sit on. Three words. So simple.
And the rewards?
1) I find out, again and again, that the world carries on without me. I don't realize how much part of me thinks I have to run the world, or at least my segment of it, or to help God run it, until I sit quietly, within myself, and stop trying to do that. This is probably the source of some of the peacefulness I referred to.
2) A lot of those mental peregrinations I mentioned are about trying to control what others think of me, or are plans for making or trying to make connections, or self-criticism for how I messed up with this person or that. When I sit, simply, within myself, I become more aware that I am already intimately loved and connected--with God and with others--without trying to be. I just have to slow down enough to allow it.
3) When I get quiet, stop trying to run things, and allow the connection within myself, I can better receive from the Great Giver. Whose gifts are often very simple, very quiet. Unearned. And remarkable.
Hoping this offers you a bit of support during your prayer or meditation.
Until next time,
Hands, Umit Bulut
Girl, Annie Spratt
Rose, Carlos Quintero
All from unSplash