Sitting is something we do all the time. We sit at our desks, around meeting tables, and in our cars, but how often is it that we sit just for the purpose of sitting? When our bodies and minds can rest instead of becoming attached to racing thoughts, tensing up in the process? This is the focus of Chapter 3 in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Making Space.
Nhat Hanh suggests creating a designated space in the home for nothing else but sitting. And not the same spot where you sit to eat or read or hang out with friends… no, this spot is solely for sitting, breathing, and being.
Sit in a chair… sit on the floor – with a zafu (meditation cushion) or without. Wherever it is that you sit, make sure you feel stable.
For me, that place is right here in the middle of my floor, on top of a beautiful blanket. I always know that when I come to this spot, it’s time to re-ground myself, breathe deeply, and smile.
Sometimes I’ll surround the area with candles, incense and plants, to deepen my state of comfort and peace. Nighttime is when I usually find myself here – when the goings-on around me have simmered down, and there’s nothing being asked of me; nothing beckoning me to do.
Once you’ve settled in your spot, begin to breathe deeply. Be mindful and focused, while straying away from using your intellect. “Thinking requires strenuous mental work and makes us tired,” Nhat Hanh says. “This is not the case while resting in awareness, or recognizing thoughts and emotions that appear, or even when taking the time to look deeply into them.”
To sit in mindfulness without thinking is still a difficult task for me. I have to constantly remind myself to let go of my thoughts. I have to snap myself back into the present again and again. But it’s important that this is done without negative judgment. I think to myself, I just found myself caught up in my own thoughts again, and that’s okay. It feels good to even be able to recognize this… and right in this moment, I’m exactly where I need to be.
Perhaps the most powerful paragraph in this chapter is the one that follows:
Our minds create everything. The majestic mountaintop, brilliant with snow, is you yourself when you contemplate it. Its existence depends on your awareness. When you close your eyes, as long as your mind is present, the mountain is there. If your eyes are closed, it’s so that your mind can see better. Sitting in meditation, with several sense-windows closed, you feel the presence of the whole universe because the mind is there.
It really makes you think.
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