Sitting Still for Dummies

Exercise: Sit Quietly for 5 Minutes

Step 1 Break away from whatever you’re doing. Set aside 15 minutes (fluff the 5 minutes so you’re not rushing).

Step 2 Choose a peaceful spot outdoors (beach, park, yard, porch) or a quiet corner of your house (by a window, at your kitchen table, in your favorite chair, on the floor).

Step 3 Take your phone with you to use as a timer. Turn the ringer off, dum dum. Program it so that an alarm goes off lightly when the time is up. That way, you won’t have to keep looking at the clock. 5 minutes marks the spot.

Step 4 Decide whether you are going to sit or lay. If you choose to lay, be present and do your best not to fall asleep. If you choose to sit, find a position that is sustainable, comfortably, for the full duration. Be mindful of your posture. Hands can be cupped around each other, on your knees, or down beside you. Eyes can be open or closed, however it may be less distracting to close them. Your entire body should be relaxed and easy.

Step 5 Set the timer out of view, and press start.

Step 6 If it helps to focus on your breath, do so. Allow it to be natural. Maybe you have a one word mantra for your inhales and exhales. On the inhalation: LOVE. On the exhalation: FEAR. Or something like that. Maybe you repeat the word QUIET or PEACE over and over again. Maybe you visualize something very basic, like waves or a field. Or you might set a simple, one-phrase intention: I AM LIGHT.

If you’ve never meditated sat quietly before, this might seem a little hippie for you. But it WORKS, dammit. So trust me.

Step 7 If you find yourself distracted, that’s OKAY. Calmly bring your awareness back to the exercise. Don’t judge yourself for thinking too much or fidgeting. The aim is to sit for the full period of time. That in itself is a huge accomplishment.

Step 8 Once you’re finished, give yourself a big ol’ hug for sitting still. It’s freakin’ hard. CONGRATULATIONS.

Step 9 Reflect on how you did. Notice what you could improve upon next time.

Step 10 If 5 minutes felt like torture, stay here. With practice and a bit o’ dicipline, this exercise will become smoother. You’ll require less and less effort to quiet your thoughts. Increase to 7, 10, 15 and so on.

The more you progress, the clearer your mind will become. The clearer your mind becomes, the more productive you will be. The more productive you are, the more time you will have. The more time you have, the better life is. Dig it?

::  If you’re anything like me (which you totally are), your attention span is that of a toddler. You will find this exercise very HARD. We’re conditioned to be busy, to multitask, for our senses to be loaded. Sitting quietly for 5 minutes will make you feel vulnerable, raw, naked. Thoughts will race. To dos will pop up. Songs will stick in your head. You’ll feel anxious. You’ll be tempted to open your eyes, look at your phone, squirm around. You’ll get itchy. You’ll suddenly feel a compulsion to get up and break dance, run around a building, complete an American Ninja Warrior obstacle course (because ENERGY). Or you’ll want to fall asleep, because it’s BORING.

It’s normal to be BAD at sitting quietly. If we were any good at it, we wouldn’t need this exercise, now would we? But it turns out, most of us really suck at slowing things down. So we have to put a bit of work in and make conscious efforts to clear our minds. See it as regular self maintenance. The quality of your work, your sleep, your ideas and your actions will benefit. Promise.  ::

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