Just sitting
Words by Sonya Russo

It always happens after the first session, they sit and stare at me with a look of disappointment, distrust and resign. This wasn’t what they had signed up for. I always wonder who will come back. Some don’t... some persevere.

Week after week they feel frustrated, bored, and angry. They question themselves, they get distracted, they beat themselves up, they swear and shout, some even cry.

I can relate to my clients, go back a few years and I myself was sat in a treatment centre being weaned o a cocktail of prescription pills that I had leaned on to cope with crippling anxiety and I was in a high ceilinged room being asked to simply just sit and be.

The previous three months I had done nothing but sit and be still, signed off work I sat at home with my cocktail of drugs and drifted in and out of the present. Watching Real Housewives and popping diazepam every time a real thought popped in my head. I thought I was the master at sitting still, physically I could achieve it – mentally it was impossible.

My first sober meditation lasted 20 seconds. The image of my mother popped into my mind and it was the first time I’d truly felt the loss of her (she’d been dead seven years by this point). I was consumed with an overwhelming sense of fear and abandonment – so much so that I leaped from my chair and ran for the door, crashing into the locked second door behind it (seems the Priory were used to runners) and ending up a crumbling mess on the floor. Banging on the door and pleading with the therapist to let me out, I didn’t want to be in there... not the room, not my head.

“Sit with it” he said.

I came very close to knocking him out in that moment, but as I sat and followed his instructions I began to notice the upset and trauma both physically and mentally disappearing. I’d spent seven years doing the opposite; working, parenting, eating, joking, iPhone surfing, pill popping, keeping myself so very busy to ensure I had no opportunity to face my mental health issues and my steady decline.

In session one I ask my attendees to write out their average day on a piece of paper. It shows them how busy their days are, and how often we lack the time to devote to ourselves. But for me it shows me who needs my help the most. There’s always one whose list is endless. The master of distraction.

“Sit with it” I tell them.

Sonya is the founder & director of wavesmindfulness.com, a holistic well-being service in London and surrounding areas.

This feature was first published in Issue One of SATORI. To explore issue one further click here.

Created by Duncan Woods & Seb Camilleri