Book Review – How to sit

Author : Thich Nhat
Print | Kindle
 
When you read the phrase ‘How to Sit’, it sounds quite funny. You have been doing this all your life and you wonder what is there to know about it now.
 
You should read this book to know how sitting in the right way can change your life. Thich Nhat explains the basics of where, how and why of sitting.
 
Where
 
You can sit anywhere. What do you do on your commute? Worry about every possible thing about life. Thich suggests that the best way to make use of commute time is by sitting.
 
How
 

  • Sit straight with your body relaxed.
  • Smile so that it relaxes your facial muscles.
  • Don’t sit with an expectation because you won’t be in the present moment then.
  • When you sit, you should be at ease, happy and relaxed.
  • You can use a bell to practise your attention on breathing.
  • Just sit daily. It will help you create a habit.
  • When you sit, you can name your feeling as a pleasant feeling and a painful feeling which is the first step in distancing the feeling from you.
  • Count one to ten for every breath, if you lose focus anywhere come back to one. This is not as easy as it sounds.
  • Use a clock and breathe with its rhythm.
  • You can use a notebook to write notes while or after sitting about thoughts or insights.
  • Sitting in a group helps in utilisation of collective energy.

Why
 

  • You need a stable posture to ground your mind.
  • An ease in sitting helps in nourishing the body and the mind.
  • Sitting and breathing mindfully will bring into your life – peace, clarity, compassion and courage.
  • It helps you weather storms like strong emotions.
  • It is not an obligation but daily nourishment like eating.
  • It develops concentration.

 
The book makes you ponder on whether there is so much to sitting. When was the last time you sat doing nothing? With no thoughts? Just sitting there and observing how you breathe?
 
He defines sitting as “sit in such a way that you enjoy sitting, to sit in a relaxed way, with your mind awake, calm, and clear.” Did you ever feel the union of mind, body and breath? Did you know that just by paying attention to your breath can make it calmer, deeper, and more harmonious all by itself?
 
The book doesn’t tell you something new but presents the known in a calm way. Reading the book itself provides a sense of calm and motivation to pursue meditation. The book doesn’t have long chapters. Just a paragraph or two in each chapter. You can finish the book in half an hour but the satisfaction it leaves makes you come back to it again. Because you feel that you lost something and there are certain concepts you have not mastered yet. 
 
It doesn’t talk about meditation as a tough affair. It asks you to just sit. Practise sitting without worry first. Then learn to focus on breath. Then provides tips on how to keep the focus and make it a habit and how to save yourself from the possible distractions. 
 
Once you are into sitting, Thich talks about how you should start sitting in groups to make the meditation easy and how just being there for others. The book ends with guided meditation and how you can create one on your own.
 

Quotations

“I like to describe sitting as enjoying doing nothing”
 
“People can try to steal many things from us, but they can’t steal our determination and our practice.”
 
“I have passed through many storms. Every storm has to pass, no storm stays forever. This state of mind will pass”
 
“ Every in-breath can bring joy; every out-breath can bring calm and relaxation. This is a good enough reason to sit. We don’t need to sit with an intention like getting smarter or becoming enlightened. We can sit just to enjoy sitting and breathing.”
 
“Sit in order to sit. Stand in order to stand. There is no goal or aim in sitting. Do it because it makes you happy.”
 
“In the present moment, we can be free from regret concerning the past and from fear concerning the future. Happiness isn’t possible without freedom.”
 
“When you sit, sit in such a way that you feel you have already arrived. To sit doesn’t mean to struggle”
 
“Breathing in, I know that this is only an emotion. It’s not the whole of me. I am more than my emotions.”
 
What is your favourite book on mindfulness? What other books by Thich have you read?
Happy Mindfulness!