Teach Us To Sit Still…

by Rosalie Dores on 1st October 2015

Our motivations for enrolling on a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course are varied, to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, to sleep better and/or to live more fully in the present moment. Many of us are not used to sitting quietly by ourselves, with ourselves, for any length of time. After all our society emphasizes productivity, popularity, success, busyness and all this needs a lot of energy and effort to sustain. It’s an all too familiar conversation:

“How are you?”


“Oh, that’s good.”

But is it always good? I know many people who are frantically busy, sometime to the point of exhaustion…and they don’t know how to stop. Often when I say I’m busy, and people say “Oh, that’s good”, I think, no not really, I need more quiet time, and I’m a meditator and mindfulness teacher!

It’s counter cultural to sit still, which is perhaps why Tim Parks wrote the brilliant and highly popular book, ‘Teach Us How To Sit Still’. Being still may be counter cultural, but not necessarily counter productive. We can experience, and uncover, through being still on a regular basis, a well pool of internal resources such as renewed energy, enthusiasm, contentment, greater self esteem, and a greater sense of overall well-being, ironically this can support us in being more creative, easier to be around, and generally enhance the experience of greater life satisfaction.

It is a practice in and of itself to carve out more quiet time, whether this be in formal meditation practice or taking moments throughout the day. For example, sitting at a bus stop, on a train, in a queue, do we need to look at our mobile phone? What might it be like to ‘take’ that time to be with ourselves, to look around, pay attention to life as it is happening, the people, the places, constantly changing.

Mary Oliver asks’ What is it you will do with your one wild and precious life?’ It can seem like a big question, but what if it were a question we asked ourselves regularly throughout the day, particularly when we notice the habitual reach for a piece of technology. What if that habit, could be the very leverage, reminder we need, to pay attention, to be present to life as it is happening moment-to-moment.