Just Sitting Still —

The Kafka Museum, Prague

“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”

—–   Franz Kafka

“Just-sitting” in Zen practice is called shikan-taza. It doesn’t involve counting breaths, it doesn’t involve concentrating on koans: it’s, well, just sitting. What good is it? I don’t know. Just-try.

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9 Responses to Just Sitting Still —

  1. Pauline says:

    As a practitioner of just sitting, I can tell you that of all the types of meditation I’ve tried, this is the one that works for me. As a child, I did it all the time and yes, the world does roll in ecstasy at your feet. When I became an adult and attempted to learn other types of meditation, I constantly reverted back to what I called “thunder and daisies” as a child, that pure letting go and tuning in that came naturally back then. (My teachers called it spacing out 😉


    • Touch2Touch says:

      You were always a precocious and reflective child, Pauline.
      Your teachers maybe didn’t know what to do with you! I love your phrase “thunder and daisies” —
      I didn’t discover just sitting till middle age, but it certainly is powerful!


    • Stef says:

      Some experienced meditation teachers call it “choiceless awareness” – and do consider it a very ‘valid’ form of meditation. 🙂


      • Touch2Touch says:

        One case where a rose (meditation) by any other name is still worth its weight in gold.
        (I like shikan-taza because I can be snobby and elitist and esoteric, and it makes me laugh to say it :-)— at myself!


  2. Jen Payne says:

    I “just sat” yesterday – on a stone bench along a trail I walk. I closed my eyes and just sat. Who knew there were so many birds? or that the wind sounded like THAT as it moves through the pines? It was as if the volume on everything around me was turned UP the moment my eyes closed!


  3. Stef says:

    “Just” sitting is one of the most difficult practices I have ever experienced. And one of the most rewarding.



  4. xties says:

    I enjoy that those oh-so-apt words from Kafka are NOT from the Zen tradition; they are a gentle bulldozer demolishing the wall between eastern and western traditions.


    • Touch2Touch says:

      There’s a wonderful poem/meditation by Dorothea Solle that someday perhaps I’ll find again: also same theme, same observation, also a Western discovery. I think it’s called Retreat Day.


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