Monday, April 19, 2010
Though the expression "Zen meditation" is used, meditation in zen is often referred to as "sitting" or even "just sitting." It is what we do when we aren't doing something else, but in a sense, we try to be present no matter what... so sitting is really all one can do.
I did try for awhile "dynamic meditation" which was done at a Thai Buddhist temple near our house. In it, your arms are moving in a complex pattern during the entire time, so unless you are Einstein, all you can focus on is having your arms do the right thing. I felt like I was building pathways in my brain that would live on to haunt me like when I spent a few very long days in college saying the same phrase over and over again trying to sell newspapers to cover my tuition ($350, not the current $52,000).
Sitting is not something one studies. What is studied when sitting is oneself. It is looking in the mirror, but rather than doing it with one sense, you are doing it with six senses (the mind is included as a sense). Though you focus on your breath, often other thoughts come and go. I feel when I sit down that I'm a stream and someone threw in a pebble. As I sit, I calm down. It seems to take less and less time to settle down as I sit more and more. I'm fortunate to have another "meter" to see how my sitting is going. My ears ring. When I am sitting (really sitting), they quiet down... sometimes so I can't hear any ringing even if I try.
Initially I was anxious for the time to be over...esp. since my legs would hurt, or my face would itch, or my back would hurt. Now I realize that when the hurts appear they will go away. And I thank them (the pains and itchings) for visiting and then say goodbye to them. Tonight my nose itched. My first thought was that I should scratch it because it could be an alien trying to take over my consciousness. But I waited. And either it went away, or the alien did his thing and I am him/her. I used to get tired and fall asleep. Now I'm not so tired. Maybe I'm breathing more deeply.
I'm not sure that sitting is a path, but rather a tool like clothes that one wears when taking a journey. Rather than keeping you warm, sitting keeps you quiet so you can feel the ground.
I told my grandson Charlie what my teacher told me 60 years ago... that a work of art is finished when none of the original idea remains. So...