Section 7: Sitting in Stillness
We can intentionally enter stillness anywhere at any time. However, if this practice is new to us, it may be best to start with a daily practice of sitting in stillness for fifteen to thirty minutes shortly after we get up in the morning, before the activities and responsibilities of the day are upon us.
There are two reasons for this. First, our mind is generally less active at this hour than it is later in the day. Second, we will take the benefits of our practice of stillness into the rest of our day.
To begin this practice, we choose a quiet place. Sitting comfortably upright, we keep our body still and close our eyes. As we sit in stillness, we let go of any expectations of what is supposed to happen. We simply hold the intention to enter the stillness within us.
The key is to allow our breathing to take us inward. Breathing naturally, we simply become conscious of our breath. Next, we notice the inhale stage and the exhale stage. We then intentionally make the exhale longer than the inhale, and as we do so, we feel ourselves going deeper into the stillness. This can be achieved more easily if, when we let go of our exhale, we also let go of any tension in our body, allowing the body to deflate as it were.
After we have done this for several breathing cycles, according to what feels comfortable to us, we return to breathing naturally. At this point, if we wish, we can take our attention off our breath and simply be in the stillness.
If thoughts come or emotions arise, we allow them without resistance, letting them subside just as effortlessly as they arise. If an insight or an impulse to do something emerges out of the stillness, we make a mental note of it, then return our attention to the stillness.
This also applies to any bodily sensations we may experience, including discomfort or pain. Since most of us put little, if any, of our attention on our body, when we become still the body often takes this opportunity to tell us where it hurts or where it’s holding frozen energy as a result of suppressed emotions that seek to be released. Whenever we feel soreness or a twinge of pain, we can send loving energy to this area of our body, breathing into the place we feel the discomfort until it passes.
As we go within, we will become aware of an animating force that gives life to our whole body. This was referred to earlier as our “inner body.” The best way to remain anchored in stillness is to keep our attention on the sensations of our inner energy body.
If we are new to feeling our inner body, it may be difficult at first to experience the sensation of the energy of the inner body. This is because we have been conditioned to give almost all our attention to thoughts, emotions, and the external experiences of our everyday life.
In such a situation, it’s important not to make an effort to feel our animating life force. If we struggle to experience something, we can’t be in stillness. Instead, we are patient with ourselves.
Since it’s easier to feel our inner energy in the body’s extremities than to feel it in our trunk, it’s helpful to start by putting our attention on one hand, then our other hand. Next we feel both hands at the same time. Following this, we bring our attention to one foot, followed by the other foot. As with our hands, we next feel both feet at the same time. Then we allow ourselves to feel the energy in both hands and both feet simultaneously.
Next we focus our attention on the whole of one arm, followed by the other. Then we place our attention on both arms together. Following this, we switch our attention to the whole of one leg, then the other. Next we place our attention on both legs simultaneously. From here, we move to feeling the life within all four limbs at the same time.
In this way, we continue to bring our attention to other parts of our body until we can feel the whole body as a single energy field. The more we sit and practice feeling our inner body, the easier it will be to do so. The more intensely we feel the energy, the more sublime the experience.
With practice, we will carry this inner body energy with us beyond our isolated sitting practice into our daily activities. In other words, we will be aware of and participate in the external circumstances of our life, while simultaneously sensing the energy field of our inner presence.
When we are attuned to the energy of our inner presence, we can’t become lost in the world of everyday events. On the contrary, we bring the healing and corrective power of presence into all we do and to all we meet.
Opportunity for Self-inquiry and Sharing:
- Have you experienced feeling your inner body? If so, describe what it felt like and the effect it had on you.
- Share your daily practice of sitting in stillness. What does it feel like? How does it help you?
This ends Section 7
The next section will be posted on May 3