The Subject of Stillness

SITTING IN FRONT of 40+ people in a meditation class is an amazing experience. From my unique vantage point, I get to see almost every single physical and mental reaction, as well as emotion, playing out in front of my very eyes.


This constantly takes me back to my first practice at meditation at a cosy and often cold little hall in Clapham, London. Memories of intense physical pain with my first attempts at sitting cross legged with a straight back. The feeling of heat rising throughout my body as I attempted to sit still for 20 minutes at a time. The sensation of noticing my eyes darting back and forth with seeming complete separateness from myself or any intention I may have set myself.


The thing is, sitting still and doing almost absolutely nothing during our waking hours is really hard when we first attempt it. Not only is getting to the point where we are actually doing it (‘I really should be checking the expiry on the warranty of my phone’, I think to myself as my mind finds any reason not to meditate), but once we get there our natural habit is to move and fidget as we spend our days in a constant state of motion.


Think about the times when you might be waiting for a coffee, or the bus. Can you sit or stand doing essentially nothing, or is your need for that of stimulus and entertainment? Now, there’s nothing wrong with this in isolation, but when this becomes your constant state, you are going to find yourself in a position of scattered and depleted energy. Not only does it become hard to concentrate on one thing at a time, we can also start to find ourselves in that feeling of never quite being at our 100% in terms of energy levels.


So, we go back to the students meditating and my own first experiences. The thing is, after a while (just as my teachers and many masters would say) an amazing thing happens. You begin to stop fidgeting and find a wonderful stillness in your body and mind. This is where the magic happens. Your body has a chance to move out of ‘fight or flight’ mode and begin to relax and repair. Your mind finds a break from the constant stream of thoughts and you begin to find the ability to concentrate on one thing for a longer time.


You find happiness and the time to enjoy life’s little gifts.