Just Sitting: a “non-meditation meditation”

This is a preview of the first of the posts from our online meditation course, “Just Being, Just Sitting.”

“Just Sitting” is a meditation practice where the aim is just to be, allowing thoughts, feelings, and sensations to come and go within awareness. It’s a very open and spacious meditation practice, in which there is simply the observation of whatever arises in experience, whether that’s from the body, the mind, or sensations arising from the outside world.

In a sense, this is a meditation practice without a goal. We’re not trying to do anything, except to return in a gentle way to an open and accepting awareness. Just sitting is essentially a state of aware rest in which the mind self-organizes. In other words, “you” don’t do the meditation practice. The meditation practice does itself. “You” simply notice this happening.

At least that’s the ideal. Just as we may have to do a lot of preparatory work before going on vacation, in practice we may have to do a certain amount of work in order to achieve a state of aware rest in Just Sitting. Sometimes the turbulence of our emotions and thoughts is such that we need to consciously apply the brakes—slowing the mind down in order to create a little calmness. As with any meditation practice, the mind will tend to wander, and again we have to make an effort to bring our attention back to our experience. But gradually the mind settles down, and as it does so we can make less effort. Eventually, we can let go of any effort or willed intention, and simply let the meditation practice happen.

The “non-meditation” of Just Sitting is a useful complement to other, more active, forms of meditation. Overall it is necessary for us to make effort in meditation, and to have goals at which we aim (e.g. cultivating calmness or kindness) but sometimes our efforts can backfire on us. For example, we can become addicted to doing, so that we become unable to sit back and let our experience unfold. Or we can end up repressing certain aspects of our experience, not allowing them into awareness as we make a willed effort to focus. The radical letting go that takes place in Just Sitting helps us to trust our own deeper nature, giving us confidence that the mind, on some level, wants to be calm and spacious, and also knows how to bring this about.

Just Sitting can be a standalone practice, but it is also something we can do at the start and end of other, more effortful, meditations. For example, we can Just Sit at the start and end of a period of mindfulness of breathing or metta bhavana (lovingkindness practice). Over the next two days I’ll discuss in more detail how we can start and end other practices with Just Sitting, but for now try setting a goal of spending five minutes “arriving” at the start and at least two to three minutes “assimilating” at the end of every meditation you do.


2 Comments. Leave new

  • when I click to register it says the link is broken or the page has been removed Page not found is also displayed. (I am responding form India)

    • Hi, Sreedharan.

      The post was about a course that ran seven years ago, which is why the link no longer worked. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, though. I’ve now deleted the links.

      These days my courses are generally available only to people who support Wildmind financially (you can learn more about this here), although sometimes we make them available to the public. Subscribing to our newsletter is the best way to stay informed about that.


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