Joshua Keel

A Quiet Morning Just Sitting

March 18, 2017

In the stillness of the morning, I like to spend time just sitting, meditating. There’s no agenda. No right or wrong outcome. Just the intention to let anything that flits across the screen of your mind simply be there. Thoughts, sensations, feelings, desires. Whatever happens to arise, be still. Don’t chase after any particular thought. Don’t struggle with any thought or feeling in an attempt to keep it away. Put down your weapons. The only reason it can feel like there’s a war going on in your mind is that you haven’t stopped fighting yet.

Just rest in the quiet. Allow yourself to sink into your surroundings. A lot of meditation is done with eyes closed, but I encourage you to keep your eyes open for this one. Notice the room you’re in. Take in the sights, sounds, the feel of a couch or chair, the sensations of pressure where your body meets the chair. Rest as the scene. Realize that you are an intimate part of what’s happening in this moment.

Listen to the subtle sounds that are here. Road noise from outside. Maybe sounds in your body. A slight ringing in your ears, air moving through your nostrils and lungs. Focus for a moment on your breath. This is how I often begin meditation, by gently resting my attention on the sensations of inhale and exhale. Is there a space between breaths? Not with your eyes, but by noticing the physical sensations, watch your breath. Where does it come from? What does it arise out of? Where does it go to?

Your mind may want to answer these questions with something like “It comes from the atmosphere. It goes out of my body back into the room.” Minds are so helpful that way. But in meditation we realize that thinking isn’t the only way to discover something. The question “Where does it come from?” is pointing to a subtle sense of awareness that lies behind every thought, sensation, feeling, sight and sound. So we’re not looking for the kind of ready answer the mind provides. We’re looking deeply into what we can sense, what we can feel, and simply noticing what’s there when we look, when we feel around.

Watch the breath for a few minutes, then relax any attempt to control attention or what your mind goes to. You may find that a lot of thoughts come up. Your mind may be quite active, and you will be drawn to take up various lines of thinking that feel very relevant. Watch all of this happening. There’s no need to change it. Meditation isn’t about achieving some kind of perfect empty state of mind. It’s not necessary. The mind quiets down on its own when we simply let it be. Noticing is so much more powerful than any attempt to control.

Let everything simply be for 5, 10 or 15 minutes. Sit for however long feels comfortable to you. You may feel a sense of peace or rest. You may not. Either one is okay. When there’s a goal to meditation, when we feel like we have to achieve something by sitting, it’s easy to feel frustrated or start beating ourselves up about how we aren’t good enough at quieting our minds or controlling our tendency to fidget. If this happens, simply notice it. Notice the feelings of frustration coming up, along with the thoughts about how this is too hard or I’m not good at it. See if you can let them be without trying to change them.

Try starting off your day with a few minutes of this practice. Just sit with no agenda, for as long as you feel comfortable.

If you find this meditation helpful, please drop me a line and let me know. And if you have questions about anything I said, I’d be happy to hear them.

Parts of this post were inspired by Gary Weber over at Happiness Beyond Thought. I highly recommend checking out his work.