With NiederHeim B&B’s stoeps (as porches are known in South Africa) fully covered with vines, we wish to invite you to engage in stoep-sitting in this ideal setting. For the uninitiated we wish to share some thoughts on this age-old activity which the ‘slow living movement’ is currently rediscovering.
There comes a time in the lifecycle of humans when it becomes necessary to engage in contemplation, reflection and/or cognitive activity. Meditation, prayer, fasting, saunas and steam baths have all been used in the past to channel and focus mental activity at such times.
What is stoep-sitting?
It is a mental activity in which the participants analyse their own particular situation, weigh up the issues and resolve problems with a dignified, comfortable and relaxed physical posture. By definition, this activity is carried out in the sitting position, in order to free the brain of the activity of keeping the body erect.
Proper support to the thighs, buttocks and back is of paramount importance and your seat surface should be a soft, natural material that does not induce perspiration, skin irritation or produces distracting sounds mimicking socially-unacceptable bodily functions. Then of course, you must have a stoep on which to place this seat.
What to wear to Stoep-sit?
No uniform or specially designed clothing is necessary to engage in stoep-sitting. Everyday comfortable attire in keeping with ambient atmospheric conditions is in order. Serious stoep-sitters totally exclude suits, dinner jackets, ties and glossy satin materials. Natural fibre such as cotton is preferred as these are softer on the skin and extend the endurance of the stoep-sitter. The wearing of anything with a Gucci, Dior or similar designer label will, most likely, be totally unsuitable and should never be imposed on the stoep-sitter.
What are the benefits of stoep-sitting?
The practice of stoep-sitting reduces blood pressure, relieves stress and improves mental aptitude and fosters general well-being. The stoep-sitter will be able to relax better, think better and become a better member of society. The intake of soothing liquid refreshments during stoep-sitting further enhances this effect. Herbal or conventional tea, fruit juices and alcoholic beverages in appropriate quantities further eliminate feelings of malaise in the stoep-sitter.
The Long-term effects of stoep-sitting.
Regular stoep-sitters have a relaxed, friendly and approachable demeanour. They adapt their everyday life to make provision for more stoep-sitting and are keen to share their stoep-sitting expertise with others. In extreme cases, zealous converts to stoep-sitting have been known to totally resign form the pressure of urban civilized society in favour of almost exclusive practicing of stoep-sitting.
The Grades of Stoep-Sitters
The initiate often discovers stoep-sitting by accident or by the timely invitation of a more experienced stoep-sitter. They are clearly identified by their unsuitable attire, their discomfort at being permitted to relax and by the repetition of ‘Isn’t this just beautiful!’ or similar phrases.
The novice engages in stoep-sitting on other people’s stoeps whenever the opportunity may arise, whether by invitation or coincidence.
The senior intentionally engages in stoep-sitting, deliberately making extensive use of other people’s stoeps. They can be found in private homes, affordable hotels and bed and breakfast establishments equipped with suitable stoeps.
The veteran purchases, builds or rent their own stoep and makes frequent use thereof.
The expert has little need of other living spaces or activities in their life and will spend the majority of their time engaged in stoep-sitting.
The retired is easily identified by the tombstone or memorial brass plaque erected on the stoep.
I am interested – how do I begin to be a stoep-sitter?
No tutor or special training is required. Of course, its easier and much more fun to be initiated by a veteran or expert stoep-sitter, but self-taught stoep-sitters abound.
Find an appropriate stoep, dress suitably for the prevailing weather, secure a comfortable seat and allow the vista to seep into your conscious mind.
Shut out external sounds, either mentally or by using earplugs, and savour the sensation of sitting quietly.
Permit the troubles of mundane daily existence to fall like autumn leaves from the vine of your psyche and feel the strength of your inner-self rise. Dust the cobwebs off those ideas you parked a while back or recollect the memories of a quieter time.
Mentally take a child’s journey through life and smell the breeze, taste the roses, touch the grass.
If it is sunny and there is nobody around, take off your shirt and feel the sun on your skin for a few minutes. Allow your senses to reboot, reset and re-calibrate. Take your life back into your hands and get in touch with yourself.
Don’t close your eyes though – you’ll miss the vista if you fall asleep!
(with acknowledgement of The Stoepsit News 2010 / 2011)