Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Power of Sitting

Everyday I sit for fifteen minutes. Everyday. You may be saying, well that's not a very long time, and you would be right. Fifteen minutes of your day is actually a very small amount of time. Or you may be saying ,well I sit everyday for hours, whats fifteen minutes?

 Well let me clarify my definition of sitting. For fifteen minutes I intentionally sit in zazen (seated meditation) and still my mind. The running track we all have in our heads gets quieter. I connect to my breath on a deeper level and I just am. On some days (more often than not) those fifteen minutes feel like an hour. Bombarded by random thoughts that seem to be waiting for just this moment to assault me, I do my best not to hold on to any of them. Rather I am an observer as they come and go, always returning to the anchor, my breath. On some rare days (very rare days) the time seems to pass by in a compressed manner. Fifteen minutes seems like five and I marvel at the relativity of time in the context of perception.

So why should you sit? At the very least it gives you quiet time to yourself, to be with you. It highlights ( at least for me) the deeper level of connection we all share. When I sit I can "see" that I am part of a greater whole. Sitting also serves to focus your breathing. You will notice your breathing pattern withing the first minute. We have a tendency to breathe from our upper chest, shallow and rapid. When you take a moment to focus on your breath and move it downwards to your diaphragm, you fill your lungs, oxygenate your blood to higher degree which in turn sharpens your thought process.
 Let me list some of the benefits of meditation, I wont go into detail since there are many sources of information on this:

  • Increased pain tolerance
  • Decreased stress
  • Higher cognitive function as you age
  • Access to greater creativity
  • Stronger immune system
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Emotional balance
This short list presents some very good reasons to sit for a few minutes each day and breathe.  
The list is by no means exhaustive and yet if there were a pill or a drink that offered all of the above, people would get it in droves.When we find out all you have to do is just sit for a short time each day, it seems too good to be true.

 When we train in our school like many other styles, we start and end our training with a moment of seated meditation. It is actually a moment of reflection and contemplation on our training path. It prepares us for the class that is about to begin, and at the end of class it allows us to reflect on the class that just took place, our performance and where we need to focus in our training. We prepare ourselves to leave the dojo and to face the world once again. While this sitting is essential to training, it is the sitting we do in our daily lives, the one we make part of our day that effects a change in us.

We have a tendency to live our lives at a breakneck pace. Our days are full of activities and we are constantly running from dawn until we go to sleep. In the course of all this activity (because many of us will say I don't have time) I invite you to allocate 5-15 minutes just to sit and be still. Some of us will find this very easy. Most will find it difficult at first. What do you mean be still? Do you mean not do anything? Does this mean I cant go online, get on the phone, send a text, read my email and call someone?  If that sounds like your idea of  not doing anything this will be a real challenge for you. 

For 5-15 minutes just sit and focus on your breathing. Period. 

Give it a try and let me know how it goes, I will be curious to hear the stories. Leave me a comment.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

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