Sitting in the Orange Chair

Everyone needs a spot where we can just STOP.

I was talking with a friend about practicing with agitation, anxiety, restlessness, loneliness… what we do when we start spinning out. When things start to rattle around with uncertainty or boredom, and we’re seeking distraction.

He sits in the Orange Chair.

Though I’ve never seen it, I’ve heard about the orange chair. I picture it as a comfy and enfolding armchair, perhaps a little worn. And of course it’s orange. When he notices he’s wandering around, checking the fridge yet again, checking email aimlessly… he sees the orange chair. It’s hard to miss. He plunks himself down in the chair. He just stops. And sits. Breathes. Until it all slows down.

In my home, my orange chair is a pretty ordinary sitting cushion, or zafu. Actually, I recently set up a small altar — which I resisted doing for a long time. Until my birthday, when friends brought me objects that belong on an altar: a turkey feather from Spirit Rock, a sand dollar from Ocean Beach, a mirror with the word “contentment” written on it, leaves, an evergreen branch, an empty box, and poems. And until my beloved grandmother was actively dying, and I needed a place to sit with her photos and a candle.

That’s where I go to stop. And sit. Breathe. Until it all slows down.

Acronym moment: Last night, in the MBSR practicum I’ve started (MBSR = Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction), I learned about “STOP“:

S – stop
T – take a breath
O – observe
P – proceed

For me, it’s often like: STOTOTOTOTOTOTOTOTOTP….

We can stop anywhere, but it sometimes helps to have that special stopping spot.

What’s your orange chair?


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