Quiet Sitting and its Distractions

请坐片时   (Qingzou pianshi)  Sitting quietly for a while

Some styles of Qigong,  such as Blossoms in the Spring,  start in a seated fashion. This is known as “quiet sitting” or Qing Zuo. It is also called “sitting and forgetting”. At first this seems like the easiest thing in the world. Unlike meditation   you don’t even have to do anything. Just sit there like a cat.
meditationsitting1Sitting quietly is so difficult for some people they would rather be beaten with a stick. They wiggle, sigh, slouch, stretch, twist, shrug, and generally do everything but get comfortable. Some move so much they resemble a mime rendition of a one man band.

The problem is stimuluation. We’ve allowed the world to house a hive of messages to move and do something. We’ve been sold on the idea that constant movement = life.

I remember a scifi story I read many years ago. This average man lives in a future of rampant commercialism. When he wakes up in the morning his ceiling is running advertisements, when he shaves his bathroom mirror flashes promos, all his clothes sport blurbs and banners. At one point he can’t stand it and does something illicit; he rents a room in the poor side of town where the ancient walls are just that: walls. As I recall the police break in at the end of the story and arrest him for evading his consumer responsibilities.

The thing that stands out about the story now, decades and thousands of stories later, is that it had become so common that no one even notices. Now people are actually happy to wear their clothing brand stretched across their rear ends like cattle (people have forgotten even the meaning of the term “brand”); athletes are essentially living bulletin boards; TV commercials run at the bottom of the screen during the show; cities allow their municipal facilities to bear the names of companies and special interests; products exist for about six seconds before they are branded-wired-and-spun-out.

The problem lies in a landslide of “buy”, “do”, “acquire” symbols which have cascaded into every corner of our lives. If we were Pavlov’s dogs we would have, long ago, succumbed to psychotic breakdown.

So, to just sit there, seemingly doing nothing, is a huge task. A moment of reflection costs you a moment of not “belonging” to the world of obligations and-most importantly-acquisitions.

Can it even be done? How do you find the stillness in the storm? In future Harmony spots we’ll ask this of people who should know the answers which you can use in your life to make it your life.