Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief

Don’t Just Do Something… Sit There!


I went to see Bill (my spiritual director) today. We were discussing the lifting of my depression, but the trade-off being more angst-filled. Stuff like, what the heck is this all for anyway? Keeping it together so that you can keep it together for another day so you can keep it together for another day kind of thing. We talked about how I have never avoided pain in my life, always dealt with it head-on. Without realizing it, I think I assumed there would be some sort of pay-off eventually. So far, it’s just been another helping of tough stuff to deal with. At 48, I’m ready to move on to something new.

Anyhow, we didn’t solve the problems of the world, but we decided to start doing some meditation/prayer type stuff in session. I don’t do so well with it on my own, so if we do it together, I can probably practice it more easily at home. It was simple, interesting stuff, so I thought I would pass it along to you. Each of them were only one to two minutes long.

Exercise One:
Just sit there. Sit there quietly and just see what happens. Not for a long period, but just see what happens. I close my eyes when I do these kinds of things because it’s just easier for me. So I sat there and I was surprised that I was actually blank for a few minutes before the train left the station. Then it was, “Oh, I have to blog today. Maybe I should blog about sitting here.” And then my mind just goes from there.

Exercise Two:
Similar to the first exercise, you sit quietly but this time you actually count how many thoughts you have. I had six. I thought that was a lot, but Bill had six too. I don’t remember all of his, but his were:
1- Here. I’m just here.
2- Darcy. She’s here too.
6- Here. Here I am.

Mine were:
1- Nothing to start.
2- Have to call my friend as soon as I leave to confirm plans.
3- It’s blog day and I don’t know what to blog about.
4- I’m really hungry.
5- I wonder if that new guy I’ve been texting will contact me or not.
6- Nothing again. Can I count that twice?

Exercise Three:
Counting breaths. I had eight. Bill had three.

Does it all sound kinda goofy and pointless to you? It sounds funny to me as I write it. But when I was there, it was really cool. The object is to diminish your numbers. The goal is to be able to sit with blankness. For cripe’s sake, it was only a minute but it seemed like forever. The goal is to get your thoughts down to one or zero and be able to be empty. And the goal is to get your breaths down to three or less. Bill says the practiced monks can get down to one. That’s crazy.

Anyhow, I’m actually gonna try this the next few days. I asked him if the goal was also to increase the time you do it and he kind of chuckled. Typical question from someone like me. He said the goal is for time to be meaningless.

He doesn’t know a whole lot about acupuncture, and neither do I for that matter. But I told him it’s interesting that the big goal of those treatments is to relax. She puts a thousand needles in my body, then turns the lights off and tells me to take a nap. The more nothing I feel, the better. Hmmm… do you ever have the universe send you consistent messages?

So another paradox. Finding meaning in my life apparently requires me to conquer being empty. And yet the ultimate goal is to feel less empty. Weird. Maybe I’m just a quack that is hanging out with a bunch of quacks. But I’m liking it.

If you attempt any of these exercises, please feel free to share your stories. I’m fascinated! Really folks, it’s safe to try it at home. Just sit and try to be empty.


Author: Help for Healing

My name is Darcy Thiel. What people say they appreciate most about me is my genuine nature. I utilize my professional and personal experiences to increase my understanding and compassion to help others. My career has many faces, so let me tell you about a few. I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in NY State and am a couple and family therapist. As an Adult Planning Specialist and End of Life Doula, I take my experiences with my parents’ and husband's illnesses and passing to help others navigate the crazy, complicated medical world we live in. This dovetails with the books I have written. Bitter and Sweet: A Family’s Journey with Cancer, the prequel to Life After Death, on This Side of Heaven is an honest and raw perspective on coping with the diagnosis and subsequent loss of Tim, my spouse. I have done extensive speaking on the above topics through live audiences, radio shows, and an occasional TV spot. For more information, see my websites at,, or Copyright Help for Healing by Darcy Thiel © 2012-2019. All rights reserved.

7 thoughts on “Don’t Just Do Something… Sit There!

  1. God can’t fill a full vessel. Maybe that is the point to your stresses… becoming empty means God has room to fill you up to overflowing with what He needs inside for you to better reflect His Glory.

  2. Yes. He also talked with me about a Psalm that refers to God like a mother bird feeding her young. The verse talks about opening your mouth wide and God will fill you. You’re a smart cookie, Christal 🙂

  3. I do this when I’m watching the ocean. (wish you were here to try it!!) Never thought there was a purpose to this when I just “zone out” love you

  4. perfect timing; I need to give this a try! 😘

  5. Darcy, I have a lot of thoughts and would express them but they may offend. Yes I believe in God but some of this spirtual advisment stuff I just dont get. Nuff said on that. Relationships. Whatever happened to telling some one how you feel or simply asking some one out. This edating and texting someone stuff is so impersonal and how in the hell do you get to know someone if you simply can’t spend time with another. Ok after you meet someone I get the whole texting or talking on the phone thing, but is this how things are really done now? As things in my own life are changing I know this, if getting to know someone involves texting before I even get to meet in person, than I think I would rather be alone. Two sides of a spectrum here, but if we sacrifice personal interaction and choose to communicate and interact through a damn phone than what is the point of having a relationship.
    Maybe I need to zone out. Wish I could. Hope to talk to you soon.
    Hugs. and I hope I am not pissing you off.

  6. Don’t ever worry about being offensive. Well, unless you are personally attacking me… I could do without that. I don’t know what I think about some of this stuff either. But it’s interesting that this blog has garnered a lot of response- people/clients texting me what they’ve been doing and trying. The proof is in the pudding. I’m not sure if it’s helpful yet, but I’m willing to try it and see what happens…
    I agree with you about the whole dating thing. Dating online reverses the entire process. If you are out and meet someone, then you see them, find something attractive about them, then find the courage to talk to them. If it goes well, then you exchange information to continue contact.
    Dating online, you have to start somewhere so you email/text then you can talk on the phone. Then you meet. It is backwards. But in theory, it has to be. So you can chat but then you have to find a mutual time to actually meet. So yes, my friend, this is how it’s done now. Bizarre, that’s for sure!
    Hope to talk soon….

  7. I’ve been partially doing this for years; not counting breaths being the un-partial part. So I tried it and I am disappointed in the total of 15. Though I may be getting sick, so that could explain that impressively high number. I am no Monk. I have work to do.

    Direct “hit” there for me, Battleship Queen. “What is this all for anyway?” is my wall that appears anytime I am not doing something I enjoy. It’s why I chose to avoid anything that I do not enjoy. And why I am, the way I am, when forced to do something I would rather not be doing. I’m still not sure if that’s considered normal.

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