Sitting still for an entire hour—it sounds easy enough. It’s simple to turn off your phone, power down the computer, find a quiet space, and sit. You don’t even do anything—the requirement is to literally do nothing! Almost seems like cheating, right?
Recently, I had the opportunity to see for myself just how “easy” it would be.
One World Still is an organization with a simple objective: meditate for an hour once a month. No dues or fees are necessary to be part of this event, and no registration is required. You don’t even have to go anywhere–we just sit, collectively, all over the world, at the same time, in the comfort of our own homes. The honor system at its most basic and unexpectedly emotional level.
I found One World Still on Facebook through an advertisement generated from my search engine results. Big Brother works when it works–Google knows that I’ve been attempting to integrate meditation into my life.
For years, the idea of sitting quietly for several minutes seemed absurd to me. I’d either convince myself that I had too much to do (all five seasons of Breaking Bad can’t watch themselves—thanks Netflix!), or I was worried I wasn’t “spiritual” enough. I might follow the Dalai Lama on Twitter, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to lead a nomadic lifestyle and give up said Twitter.
I’ve been trying to meditate a few times a week for several minutes for the past year, and I still have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve found an inkling of peace through the process though, and once this opportunity landed on my lap, I couldn’t pass it up.
So, on May 9th, I settled myself down on my home-made meditation area (a blanket and a couch pillow, smack-dab in the middle of the living room) with a belly full of hot tea and a heart racing in anticipation.
I propped open my laptop to check the One World Still clock—1 minute, 58 seconds left until 5:00 a.m. GMT time—grateful that it was 10:58 PM my time. Two minutes left, and I was ready.
The following is an approximate transcription of what was running through my mind during the process; because, let’s face it, my mind didn’t shut off for an entire hour.
Welcome to the meditative ramblings of an impatient mind:
1st minute – Super excited, pounding heart, already supremely uncomfortable, obsessing over what I’m going to put in my article, thinking of the right pictures—Google Images always had the best meditation pictures, I’ll find something good.
5-10 Minutes – Roommate and his friend came home; worried that I will have to explain myself for sitting in the middle of the floor on a pillow with all the lights off, then resolved to power through it. He goes downstairs without comment , and the finality of his bedroom door shutting made me realize: oh shit, I really have to sit still for the next 40 something minutes. Frustrated, but ready to power through
20ish minutes – Cat decides my folded legs is a perfect bed, hung out for about 20 minutes, purring loudly against my stomach until he falls asleep. Losing blood, losing blood, my leg’s getting numb, keep breathing, focus on the breath, it’s going to be okay, the cat won’t make you lose your leg just because he’s laying on it
30ish? – I shift my leg, cat moves; strongly resist urge to bend down and cuddle him. Without his weight, suddenly things aren’t feeling so good. Strong emotions, fears, subtle bitterness ; nearly break out into sobs and sift through a sudden panic that everything hurts and this hour would never end. Begin ruminating on recent losses–a friend’s passing that was inevitable but still unexpected, time is marching on as I sit here, what am I even doing here? Keep breathing, focus on the breath, but it’s getting so hard just to breath.
40ish – Slowly calming down, and new feeling enters—calm, almost silent. The cat found his bed in my legs again, but I barely feel his presence. It’s silent, except for the gentle wind coming in from the cracked window. Too exhausted to recognize when fears cropped up again, briefly go through my mental list of all the things I need to do the next day, then realize my eyes are drooping, my back is killing me, and my stomach is starting to turn on me very quickly. Feeling very ill very quickly for no known reason (Only ate a sandwich and mint tea beforehand, although quickly; is drinking hot liquid quickly a bad thing? Must Google that later) Cat leaves my lap again, disappointed that I didn’t cuddle him. Must apologize to him later.
Last ten minutes – Fighting droopy eyes, look up at VCR clock for the first time, no glasses so the orange numbers are extremely fuzzy—11:55? Wait, 11:59? It can’t be?
Within minutes, or seconds, or years, my phone alarm goes off—it says 12:00 AM.
I did it. I sat for an entire hour. I sat mostly still, by myself (except for the occasional cat assistance), in the dark, through noise, distractions, extreme onset of mental pain and anguish, and physical sickness, for an entire HOUR!
So excited! So sore—so ready to just lay down.
I spent the next two days in a state of quiet awe, with occasional waves of strong emotions as unavoidable as the tide. The sudden appreciation of everything, from the newly green leaves to the very concept of space and time (and how little it mattered as an entire international community managed to meditate at the same time)–it was overwhelming sometimes. And suddenly everything was much funnier than I ever imagined it could be.
I offer these unfiltered notes of my mental state not to detract anyone from trying meditation, but to be honest about my experience. It’s only been through the sheer honesty and kindness of more experienced sitters that I’ve had the courage to even try.
So, in short, no it wasn’t easy to sit still for an hour. But every hour, minute, second we try to meditate, we’re meditating—so every attempt is worth it.