Why Bother Sitting Quietly?
Paging through one of my little notebooks that I’ve filled with quotes from other men and women who are wiser than me, I came across one that I wrote down from Blaise Pascal. It read, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone”
Can all of life’s problems really stem from something as simple as our inability to sit quietly in a room alone?
Nothing New Under the Sun
Pascal was an intelligent man who lived in the 1600s. He was a physicist, religious philosopher and master at prose. Though Pascal’s world at the time was different from our present one, he still lived with the same dilemmas we live with today. Every period of history experiences sickness, death, family feuds, rotten politicians, natural disasters, religious differences, poverty and injustices. Someone once said that in times like these, there have always been times like these. To clarify, this crazy world of ours has always been a crazy world.
So, what good does it do to sit quietly in a room alone? How does that solve the problems of poverty, heal wounded families or bring world peace? Maybe sitting quietly does not solve the quandaries of the world, but when we sit in silence we do learn a thing or two about ourselves.
Meditation, contemplation, and mindfulness are all similar practices, ones which lead us to training our minds and our breath to slow down. While sitting comfortably in a chair or lying still on the floor, we give our bodies permission to relax and our minds follow the cue.
Quite a few years ago, I began practicing, in one form or another, sitting by myself, in silence for ten to twenty minutes a day, first thing in the morning. When I started this practice it felt awkward. I did not know what the results were supposed to look or feel like. On top of that, I wasn’t sure if I was going about it correctly. But like any new habit we begin, we find what works best for us.
Lying down with my legs up the wall and a foam block under my back gives my body a restful position. I don’t concentrate on anything, but become aware of everything: how my body feels, the silence surrounding me and how easy it has become for me to rest without placing any expectations on myself to be restful. My quiet time has become the best part of my day. It sets me up for success because when the world is coming at me, I know how to slow it down. I know how to breathe slowly, and think clearly even when I’m tempted to panic.
Have I solved any of the world’s problems? No, I’m sure I’ve not. But I know that in the thick of any one of the conundrums that I encounter in a day, I’m thinking my way through them instead of letting them pull me down.
Why bother sitting quietly? It is worth it to sit quietly in a room alone so that perhaps we might learn something about calming ourselves down.