The Art of Sitting

The following excerpt is from The Art of Living by Thich Nhat Hanh.

There is an art to helping your body sit still in such a way that you can feel relaxed and at ease. It may take some training. But it is possible. You do have the capacity to experience stillness; you do have the capacity to touch peace. Each one of us has a buddha body; we just need to give the buddha in us a chance.

For many of us, when we sit still, we’re so restless that it feels as though we’re sitting on burning coals. But with some practice, we’ll be able to skilfully tame our restless body and mind and sit in peace. As soon as there is ease and relaxation, there is healing and well-being. And wherever we sit, it’s as though we’re sitting outside on fresh grass in a beautiful spring breeze.

Why do I practice sitting meditation? Because I like it. There’s no point doing it if you don’t enjoy it. It’s not hard labour. Every breath can bring peace, happiness, and freedom. Just sitting down and doing nothing is an art. It’s the art of non-doing. You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to struggle with yourself in order to sit. You don’t have to make an effort to be peaceful. Paying attention to the breathing going on is like the sun shining on a flower. The sunshine doesn’t try to impose itself on the flower or try to alter the flower in any way. The warmth and energy of the sun penetrates the flower naturally. You can just sit here and enjoy breathing in and breathing out.

You may like to adjust your posture a little, so your back is straight, your legs comfortable, and your shoulders open and relaxed to give enough space for your lungs. Sitting like this allows the breathing to flow naturally and allows our body to relax completely. With relaxation comes healing. Deep healing is not possible without relaxation. You need to learn how to be completely at ease, how to do nothing.

Sitting meditation is an at of civilization. These days we are so busy, we don’t even have time to breathe. To take a moment to sit in stillness and cultivate peace, joy, and compassion – that is civilization. It is priceless.

You simply sit there, not doing anything. You are happy to be aware that you are sitting on a very beautiful planet, revolving in a galaxy of stars. You are sitting in the lap of the Earth and over your head there are trillions of stars. If you can sit and see that, what else do you need to sit for? You are in touch with the universe and your happiness is immense.

4 comments

  1. Every morning I wheel myself onto my deck overlooking my backyard and I sit facing Marilyn’s garden, which has many plants with flowers blooming right now. I simply observe everything in front of me. I become aware of the songs/sounds of the different kinds of birds and insects that inhabit my backyard. I become aware of the interactions between two robins playing or maybe fighting, and two squirrels chasing each other around the tree. A hummingbird buzzes right by my head (they’re louder than you think) and heads straight for the feeder. This has become a daily ritual that puts me in touch with nature. I consider this a kind of sitting meditation. As you say, it gives me immense pleasure to perform this simple, quiet, ritual. Thanks for your beautiufl post, Lesley

    Liked by 1 person

    • How I would love to be able to see a hummingbird! We don’t have them here in the u.k. It made me smile to think of the tiny hummingbird and its loud buzzing. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wei, wu wei.

    I love it. The secret of fulfilment lies here. In being present, practicing mindfulness in every action and observing gratitude We align to this peaceful sitting meditation. Then it can be duplicated in all other areas of life.

    Liked by 1 person

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