Is sitting good or bad?

by Alice Dommert
February 26, 2018
Meditation, Mindfulness

Happy Almost March!

I’ve been musing about the mixed messages around sitting. One day the headlines scream, “Sitting is the new smoking!” and “Sitting is Killing You” or an article pops up about “The Sitting Disease”. Here sitting means the time at your desk or on the couch.

The next day the news flash is that “Sitting May Save Your Life.” In this case, they are usually referring to sitting in meditation or a mindfulness practice of some kind. Meditation is often called sitting.

Both claims are the sound bites that get our attention as we speed through life. Both have more in-depth information, and truths beyond these alluring headlines.

First, I want to officially declare, sitting in a chair at work or on your couch at home is NOT killing you. That single act is not the culprit. Your chair and your couch are not enemies and you cannot catch the sitting disease at work from a co-worker or on a crowded Septa train. Most of us who sit to work need not buy into the doom of these headlines.

The truth about these statements is this. It is prolonged, uninterrupted sitting that is the problem, not sitting itself. It is a sedentary lifestyle that is the problem, a basic lack of movement and disuse atrophy.

 These are solvable issues that we can address in simple lifestyle changes and befriending gravity. I love the work and depth of research by Dr. Joan Vernikos who was the former NASA Director of Life Sciences and a pioneer researcher in the physiology of immobility. Her latest book, Designed to Move, has great lifestyle habits that you can incorporate into your day.

We’ll also be exploring the way that you can incorporate the practice of yoga into your day with our Wholebeing Workshop: Yoga@Work, this Friday at 12:00 at The Barnes Foundation. There are simple ways yoga (which includes stretches, breathing and being present) can work for you throughout your day. No mat or special clothes required for these practices or for the Yoga@Work program on Friday.

The other claim is that sitting, as in sitting in meditation, will save your life. I must say I can be a witness here. Having a meditation practice, I know has saved me from many struggles in my life and kept me healthy. I was conditioned as a mover and doer. There was a tremendous amount of energy resulting from an overactive worrying mind that generated a lot of anxiety within my body.

The movement of a yoga practice helped. Cultivating the ability to calm my mind greatly reduced that useless anxious energy that kept me scrambling much of my life. For so long I ran in circles thinking I would discover the better way to manage it all, to juggle all the balls.

Then I learned to sit. To allow all the balls to fall and even be okay when some of them hit me on the head or rolled away. I found that in stopping, in sitting, all I needed was right there, already within me.

What might it feel like for you to have less anxious energy?

Join me tomorrow for a 30-minute webinar, A Prasada Wholebeing Appetizer, Mindfulness@Work to learn how a mindfulness practice and the meditation kind of sitting might work for you. We’ll also be offering the full Mindfulness@Work Wholebeing Workshop at The Barnes Foundation on April 27th.

In closing, I will share that sitting is like so many things in life, all things in moderation. The details and how you practice sitting of both kinds matters. We’re here to help you find the balance.

Alice Dommert

Alice Dommert

Founder, Wholebeing Architect

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