Nicholas Whitaker Sitting 3:24:12

My name is Nick, I’m a 34 year old photographer, teacher and video producer, living in NYC for the 10 years. I have a background in meditation, but I’ve been off my sitting practice for some time now.

I’ve made all sorts of great excuses to keep me from sitting. Too busy, too stressed, too under deadline, but the truth of the matter is that I built up too much expectation around the idea of sitting. This is counter to everything that meditation has ever given me.

For me, sitting is about being totally present and aware of my body and mind. It is about letting go of the expectations of performance or success, and just being. It is about letting go of ego and really being in touch with who I am, vs who I think I am.

Meditation for me has always allowed me to move more smoothly through life, and it’s when I haven’t sat for a long time that I realize things have gotten stressful, I’m not as happy, and most importantly, I’m not present.

I wanted to help create The Sitting Project to bring awareness of meditation to a wide audience, and show that it’s possible to cultivate a positive sitting practice, no matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of lifestyle you live.

Here is my second sit for The Sitting Project. The first one I tried to record with Facebook’s video recording feature, but after a 10 minute sit, it failed to record. That’s ok though, I just get to sit again for another go.

I decided to sit on my girlfriend’s balcony. It is a little noisy, and filled with the sounds of the city, but sounds have never been a terribly distraction for me, and tend to only further root me in the moment. The cat however is another story.

The video is about 8 minutes long, which might not seem like a very long sit, but the length and quality of the sit isn’t terribly important at this stage. Just the intention of sitting.

I chose to do my sit in a chair, as my previous sit was disrupted with frequent back spasms while sitting on the floor. I find it easier to fall into a good sit while on a chair on days where I’m really caught up in my body.

When I sat, I made sure that my spine was straight, and that I felt like the vertebre were all stacked neatly on top of one another. The image of a string, pulling me up from the top of my skull to the sky, and another one pulling me down from my sacrum or base of my spine works well as a calibration tool for me.

I begin my breath with a few big mouth breaths, and then switch to breathing in through my nose, and out through my mouth. I try to let the breath find itself, and not try to force it into a particular cadence.

As I start the meditation, it takes me a few minutes to fix my eyes in a neutral spot without closing them, and takes a few minutes for me to find my breath.

Right about that time the cat starts rubbing against my leg and I get pulled out. After she leaves I find it easy to slip back into my breath and posture and have a few very deep minutes of sitting.

At this point I become very aware of my sitting, and make the decision to stop. Not because it was a bad sit, but I just felt like a good place to end it.

Sometimes a sit only lasts for 5 minutes, sometimes an hour feels right. I find that going into it with the expectation of how long I’m going to sit, always leads to failure.

Feel free to message me with comments about this or other sittings. I’m happy to discuss my difficulties, solutions and benefits of meditation or any other question you may have.