go ahead, be still.

Get present to your breath. This is how meditation classes often start. The first time I ever sat in a meditation group, I thought, “How in the hell do I do that?”

Then I spent the next twenty minutes feeling as if I’d crawl out of my skin while everyone else was so blissed out. For years I was drawn to books on meditation, but I never could quite make it gel.

staring at walls.

So I just started staring at walls. I’d light a candle at night, turn out the lights, sit in a chair with some chill music, and just watch the candlelight flicker and try to think. I never would have called that “meditation.” I had more than a few negative associations with “meditation” at that point, because basically, I sucked at it.

you live, you learn.

Fast forward a few years and I end up realizing that I’d been practicing “meditation” for years. I did finally manage to get myself to a zendo, where I sat in the Soto Zen style and practiced with a community off and on for a few years. But my real practice started when I actually just started being still.

Don’t discount flickering candles, slowly walking, breathing in nature, observing closely, staring into your baby’s eyes for hours, daydreaming. These are all stillness practices.

They are not formally meditation, but they can be enough to save your life when you feel like you’re at your limit.

Practice: So choose five minutes, and be still. Do it tonight. Then the next night. Do it every single day for the rest of your life and you’ll come to believe in the power of five minutes.