I’ve reflected on a precise way of identifying the optimum level of ‘sitting still’ in meditation.
Two initial points:
First, ‘sitting still’ is not synonymous with ‘meditation’. Sitting still is simply an activity thought to be conducive to a meditative state.
Second, ‘meditation’ is not separate from life itself. Thus, meditation is by this definition a 24/7 process.
“Sitting still” I feel is a healthy activity. Just like with the cycles of sleeping, eating, drinking, and sex, sitting also is a cycle. However, as with other cycles, one must seek out the Middle Way — a balance between extremes. All of us have different karmic loads and experiences we are working through, so all of us will be tuning in a different way.
To reach the Middle Way, let me describe the two extremes we can use for tuning – “under sitting” and “over sitting”.
“Under sitting” can be described as lethargy in change, resistance to engage with what’s inside of ourselves, cowering from our demons, not willing to face reality, trapped by inertia, and a clinging to comfort and security in what we already understand.
“Over sitting” is spiritual machismo, trying to control the world and ourselves, trying to prove our level of balance or clarity to our self and others, and a grasping for breakthroughs and peak experiences outside the mundane.
We’re going to be more on one side or the other – that’s part of being human. That said, what is the Middle Way for sitting?
I’d say the answer to this question best captures it:
“What’s the LEAST amount of sitting necessary to transform my current experience?”
Any less, and we don’t taste transcendence and transformation.
Any more, and we are reveling in sadomasochism and ‘breakthrough addiction’.
It’s up to us to find that Middle Way…and it is different for each of us. Those of us trying to work through ‘spiritual materialism’ for instance will in fact appear to be going in the opposite direction of those working through ‘worldly materialism’. Thus, we must know for ourselves what experience we’re resolving in the moment, and do the needful.