HYuj Matters – The Movement of Stillness

Sit up straight. Bring your attention to your abdomen. Inhale and expand your belly imagining your bellybutton pulled by a luminous string; careful not to puff up your chest. Exhale pressing your navel towards your spine. Now close your eyes and repeat this for five breaths. Note how you feel, note the awareness of your body. It’s okay if your mind distracted you when you got to the third breath asking if you’re doing this correctly, whether you are breathing deep enough, what effects this has or more immediate distractions about the work you need to get back to but have distracted yourself from doing by reading this. If you at any point noted your mind wandering off to things that were more interesting than following something as simple as the movement of air in and out of your lungs, then I need you to ask yourself… what still part of you caught your mind wandering from the task you had set out to do? To catch your mind wandering away means there is a still part of you that never moves and observes the curious cat like movements of your mind chasing a laser beam darting across your attention span for the nearest distraction to react to.

Asked by a grade 9 pupil why I would open every one of our poetry classes with a guided meditation session, I told them that it was to show them that I am not trying to instill stillness into them but rather make them aware of the stillness they are made up of. I also did the meditation to bring their attention to the fact that they are in control of their minds, they are in control of their emotional state and if they can influence their internal environment then they can influence the art they create using their mind as a tool.

To me meditation/Yoga has been instrumental in a struggle I had with my temper. Cultivating in me a tool that I could turn to instead of using physical violence when I felt I could not control the people or things I was engaging. The last human being I ever hit was my little brother five days after my father’s passing, and it was over something as insignificant as changing TV channels because a show he’d asked to watch was now on. I have been meditating since 2002 and noted the shift in how I reason and how I deal with emotions. Meditation brought awareness and a slowing down of how I reason through anger and the impulse to hit. It helped me slow down my internal processes to note what exactly was at the core of my anger.

I have guided many students, adults and even my own children through meditation sessions simply asking them to note what they already have at their disposal; a layer of awareness from which they navigate their emotional terrain. We live in a world where we spend a lot of time influenced by what comes in through our senses triggering us to react. Media and people have us tuned into reaction mode. Meditation offers an alternative where you can take action and control how you feel and even think.

So, sit up straight.

Close your eyes.

Relax your shoulders.

Loosen and unclench your jaw…

Take a breath into your belly through your nose, exhale through your mouth pushing belly button towards your spine.

Repeat for 15 minutes each day and note how you feel.