Recently I came across a quote by Timber Hawkeye, the author and founder of the Buddhist Boot Camp.
Instead of chasing happiness like a hamster on a wheel, I say slow down. Sit. There is nothing you need to buy, and there is nowhere you need to go. Just a few minutes each day of taking inventory of everything in your life worth appreciating, is the first step we can take to guiding the next generation away from this growing sense of entitlement, and toward a deeper appreciation for life itself.
Having worked in a digital agency that is fast-paced, always on the get-go and non-stop interactions (actually, that sounds pretty much like most jobs), it would have been the hardest thing for me to sit still even for 10 breaths, let alone a few minutes. For most of us, sitting still feels unnatural when we’re used to a lot of movement.
I was determined though, with my new lease of life that I would slow down and be more aware of my conscious self, starting with the basics.
And so I sat.
I have to admit, I’m still pretty novice with meditation, so sitting and not thinking of anything was a bit of a challenge.
I chose instead, to sit ‘actively’.
It still keeps your mind focused, but instead of a single source or the breath, I chose to be mindful of my body and taking the time to focus on one part at a time.
I encourage you to try active sitting, with any sort of seat you can find where you can sit upright and place your feet firmly on the ground with your legs unfolded (so leave out the bean bags and meditation cushions for now). It could be a high stool, regular chair, a park bench, even the edge of a firm sofa. I chose a big bouncy gym ball that helped me work on core stability at the same time.
You can think of this as a seated tadasana.
- The soles of your feet evenly placed on the ground, hip-width apart
- Spine long, chin ever so slightly tucked, creating space in the neck and vertebrae
- Arms flowing down from your shoulders, palms either on your lap or at the side of your hips
- The core actively keeping you upright on your seat (and on a gym ball, this aids balance and stability)
- The hips ‘rolled’ under ever so slightly to protect your lower back
You can opt to keep your eyes open and hold gaze at a steady spot, or close them lightly with your focus on your third eye.
Stay in seated tadasana for 20 to 30 breaths, or even longer if you prefer.
In that duration take notice of how your body feels, starting from the soles of your feet and work your way up to the crown of your head. Pick 10 spots in your body that need a little tender loving care. Breathe into those spots and as you exhale, imagine letting the tightness go like sand passing through your fingers. You can take one breath per spot or two, then slowly move on to the next spot with the next breath.
At the end of the 20 (or 30) breaths, take one last big, deep breath.
Crack open your eyes, and smile.
And give thanks to yourself for taking the time out to sit.